This beautiful 12 gauge double barrel shotgun was made in Liege, Belgium under contract by the famous T.W. Cofer of Portsmouth, Virginia. Cofer was a well known importer of European shotguns before the war and he is documented as having provided both long arms at roughly 50 revolvers of his own invention to the Confederacy before Portsmouth was captured in by Federal forces in May, 1862.
This particular shotgun is identical in just about every way to the Cofer-imported shotgun listed on pg. 232 of Russ A. Pritchard's excellent book, Confederate and Southern Agent-marked Shotguns. As an importer, Cofer contracted with the European gunmakers to produce arms to his specifications in regards to length of pull, architecture, cap box styling etc, and based on the example in Pritchard's book, this shotgun is almost certainly one from Cofer's contract. The stock, distinct German Silver cap box design, even the engraving on the hammers, are all identical to the Cofer gun in Pritchard's book.
Further evidence of Confederate usage is found in the gun's firing cones - the stock pistol cones were drilled out and replaced with musket sized cones. This is type of alteration is almost exclusively seen on military-used shotguns as musket caps were both easier to obtain than pistol caps and easier to install during the heat of battle. Conversely, this type of alteration is very rarely seen on civilian-owned shotguns as pistol caps have been traditionally easier to obtain on the civilian market than musket caps (this is why many sporterized rifle-muskets can be found with pistol-sized cones installed).
The only way this shotgun differs from the gun listed in Pritchard's book is the lack of the traditional "T.W. Cofer, Portsmouth VA" marking engraved on the barrel rib. However, unlike many Southern importers who stamped their names on the ribs of their shotguns, Cofer opted to hand engrave each of his guns. Pritchard notes that the hand engraving of Cofer's marking on each of his shotguns "must have been time consuming and costly". It is likely Cofer ommitted his elaborate hand engraved importer marking when the war began and his time became consumed with manufacturing revolvers.
This particular shotgun is in very good condition. The stock is in great shape and has a few minor chips and dents, but no major damage or cracks. Both locks function correctly. The right hammer has no half cock, but the action is smooth and the hammer holds solid on full cock. The left hammer holds solid on both full and half cock. The original musket cones show a lot of use and are quite battered down after years of firing.
The barrels are full length and both ribs are joined solidly. The bores are fair with some rusting and scattered pitting.
Confederate-used shotguns are extremely rare; and Cofer-associated long guns are even more scarce. This shotgun is sure to be the crowning jewel of your Confederate collection.