A GERMAN needle gun from the 19th century is one of the last things you would expect to find in country Victoria, yet that is precisely what a Rochester farmer ploughed into.
The discovery of the barrel of one of the earliest needle guns to be produced has left the Rochester Historical Society and the Glass family who found it perplexed as to how it got there.
‘‘We really have no idea how it got here, but for it to survive as long as it has shows the quality of the metal that was used,’’ said Rochester Historical Society secretary John Foster.
‘‘There are no major poke marks along the barrel, which is surprising for a barrel that’s been left abandoned for as long as this one has.
‘‘These guns in good condition are probably worth around $7,000, but this one is not going to get near that stage with the wear it has sustained over the years.’’
The barrel is believed to belong to a Dreyse model of the gun, which began mass production in the 1840s.
Murray Glass owns the property on which the gun was found, having bought it from former owner Ted Mackenzie in 2011.
‘‘My oldest son, Vaughan, actually found the gun while he was putting up new sheep fencing; he saw it sticking out of the ground and collected it,’’ Mr Glass said.
‘‘No one knew what it was when we found it but the breach was jammed when we found it so we soaked it in sump oil and that did the trick in freeing up the bolt to move.
‘‘We asked Ted to see if he knew what it was but he didn’t either so we gave it to Ben Dwyer and Owen Watson, who is a ballistic expert.
‘‘After digging around online they managed to figure out what it was.’’
The barrel, which is bent slightly after the damage sustained before discovery, is on display at the Rochester Historical Society.