Boer Lee-Speed Rifle from the Jameson Raid

Lot 1687 in the September 2019 RIA auction.

The Jameson Raid in December 1895 was one of the key events in the lead to the second Boer War. Leander Jameson took a force of about 600 men on December 1895 to make a surprise attach on Johannesburg, incite support form the multitude of British miners who felt oppressed by the Boer government, and ultimately bring in British forces to take over. The plan failed in a complete and public manner, though, as Boer forces knew about it from the very beginning. The raiding party was ambushed at Doornkop outside Johannesburg and forced to surrender. It was a tremendous public relations setback for supporters of British intervention.

In addition, the Boers captured a nice selection of very modern arms, including half a dozen artillery pieces, a dozen Maxim machine guns, and about 500 Lee rifles. This Lee-Speed is one of them, given to a Boer burgher who used it in the war that eventually broke out in 1899. He carved his name into the stock, as was common for the Boers. This is one of only two known and documented surviving rifles form the Jameson Raid, and it is both a very cool piece of history for that reason as well as a great time capsule of the Lee-Metford MkI pattern of rifle. Most of the early Lees in British military service were updated and repurposed over the decades, and finding them in original configuration is quite difficult today.

19 Comments

  1. Interesting that you didn’t see a need to mention that “being left alone and doing their own agrarian thing” included keeping slaves.

    Also, I notice that the Rock Island Auction page you link to is much less certain as to whether or not this rifle was in fact carried on the Jameson raid, whereas you seem certain. Would you care to comment on the discrepancy?

    • “interresting” to bring up a totally unreleated thing like slavekeeping ( which was btw officially abandoned even in South Africa at that time and frowned upon by most Boers..) to a weapons-page. Why would Ian have to see the “need” to.. Pls, go be politically correct somewhere else.

    • I do have to agree with you. It really deeply bothers me that Ian has this deep interest in South Africa and speaks at length about history and political developments and has not one word to say about the black population. I love and support the site but something is missing in this aspect and its so glaring and strange to me, I can’t square this circle. I don’t know what I want or expect I’m certainly not the PC police or crying cancel culture. Is there room here in this community to be a person of color who’s troubled by the amount of content that features South Africa, but never talks about the black experience? I mean just from an arms development perspective, the fear and racism inherent in they’re government certainly played a part in what weapons were developed and why. If this community was just a racist cesspool I wouldn’t post this comment, but its not, but it troubles me, this think were we talk about Africa but never Black Africans.

        • Agreed! This is a firearms website and let’s leave out politics. As far as I have been able to ascertain, Black Africans had not developed any firearms by 1900, so including them here is a moot point.
          There has been too much ignorance, mis-, and dis-information surrounding South African politics in order to have a civil discussion on a website.

          • We’re not here to turn everything into a “shame the dead imperialists” party. If anyone wants that, he can go to China where plenty of people are still intent on ethnically (and culturally) erasing Japan as revenge for the atrocities of World War Two.

        • “Black experience”

          Losing wars against other blacks, and being sold into slavery to muslims or jewish slave traders, then blaming america for it hundreds of years later and trying to make money off it.

          Thats the black experience.

          Other than that, they have exactly the same opportunities to work life and education than any white person does… but they just get tons more money thrown at them to do it. And still dont want a bar of it. Its too hard.

          Easier to accuse wyppo of racism and demand they give you everything.

      • Let me ask you the contrary position: would you think it proper to add comments to an anti-Apartheid page complaining about the lack of firearms discussion? Or, heck, lack of Ford pickup discusion, or lack of women’s equality discussion, or lack of LGBTQWERTY discussion, or lack of vegan discussion?

        Where do you draw the line? I draw it at weapon discussion.

    • Yeah, really its interesting some people have a glaring need to want to turn Ian into (yet another) of PC-SJW shaming poster-boy, or “useful idiot” for spread of their ideology and agenda.
      Whats next?; Ian badmouthing all guns because “they killed millions of innocent people in history”, LOL.

    • And the rest of the world finds it interesting that the people who insist on inserting discussions about black south africans and apartheid into every conversation that has nothing to do with black south africans or apartheid are the same ones that run a mile when you ask them what they think of black south africans murdering and raping white south africans.

      because they are now, always have, and always will be, low IQ savages that still live on solely because the white man goes against his own advice about not feeding animals.

  2. Excellent article! It also explains the origin of the less than stellar popularity of the British in certain sectors of the population in South Africa.
    As a young man in the 1960’s, I remember being instructed on firearms by an old Boer farmer. According to hime there were only four kinds of rifle. The “Lemetford” (.303 Lee Metford), the “Mauser” (7×57), “Maanskyner” (Mannlicher – Maanskyner translates into moon shiner), and the “Saloon” (.22).
    He seemed to have had little formal education but was a good hunter and an excellent shot. He had no concept about calibers.

    • That old guy sounds like a good teacher for shooting, if only because he did it well. A well-drilled person with a bolt-action can still out-perform a novice with a select-fire in the department of effective hits scored at a distance. As it is said, a tool can only do so much when the user is an untrained idiot. And whoever gave the fool that fancy toy is even more foolish. I could be wrong.

  3. Not only can you have a historic rifle, you can have a book with the rifle pictured and a Iconic Video to go with it. Just checked my lotto tickets…sigh, won’t be bidding. This is when I like Ian best, when he humbly presents a video on an individual firearm and doesn’t get carried away with his own ego.

  4. Welcome to the SJW crowd, figgered you’d show up – now quit whining and go watch Ian’s recent video on a South African firearm designed explicitly for the post-Apartheid black gun owners market. Unless, as I suspect, you’re just here to whine.

    • oh, thats thats those pieces of wood that they use in the african civil wars constantly going thats powered by yelling “BANG! BANG!” isnt it? with the ‘Black people are bullet proof” body armour? I keep seeing those videos…

  5. I’m quietly chuckling at the SJW newcomers

    They love this site so much… that they can’t even remember Ian’s presentation on a gun designed to appeal to black South African buyers.

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