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Auction Date: April 20, 2012

Lot 3093: Harpers Ferry Armory Muskets And Carbines - 1850

Sold for Harpers Ferry Armory Muskets And Carbines  - 1850
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Outstanding Harpers Ferry U.S. Model 1855 Percussion Rifle-Musket
Estimated Price: $4,250 - $6,500
Item Views 286 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Harpers Ferry Armory Muskets And Carbines  - 1850 ManufacturerHarpers Ferry Armory Muskets And Carbines Model1850
TypeMusket Gauge58 Percussion Catalog Page148
Barrel40 In FinishBright Grip
Stockwalnut ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionModel 1855 rifle-musket manufactured by the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1858. The Harpers Ferry Armory produced a total of 12,158 Model 1855 rifle-muskets between 1857 and 1861. Nearly all of these muskets were issued and used in the Civil War. Examples in very good condition are scarce. The musket barrel, lock, trigger guard, buttplate and barrel bands are "National Armory Bright". The rear sight and percussion nipple are blued and the black walnut stock is oil-finished. The lock has the distinctive Maynard tape primer magazine utilized on the Model 1855 rifle-musket, the Model 1855 rifle and the Model 1855 pistol-carbine. The magazine door is roll-stamped with a bold eagle and shield motif. The barrel has a long range, folding leaf, rear sight graduated to 900 yards and an iron block front sight that serves as a stud for a socket bayonet. Late in 1858, the long range rear sight was replaced with the simplified, two-leaf rear sight used on most Model 1855 rifle-muskets. The stock has the early, brass, forearm tip that was replaced with a steel tip in 1859. The musket has an iron, 'tulip head' ramrod with swelled shank. The flat, iron, barrel bands are secured by band springs. The nipple bolster has the clean-out screw introduced on the Model 1855 rifle-musket, The lock plate is dated "1858" behind the hammer and roll-stamped: "U.S./HARPERS FERRY" in two lines in front of the primer magazine. The top barrel flat is dated "1858". The inverted inspection mark "W.C.K." is stamped on the right barrel flat in front of the bolster. The left barrel flat is stamped with "V/P/Eagle Head" proof and inspection marks. The right side of each barrel band is stamped with a "U" facing the muzzle. "U.S." is stamped on the heel of the buttplate in front of the buttplate screw. The left stock flat is stamped with the same "W.K.C." inspection mark that is on the right side of the barrel and Ordnance Final Inspection and sub-inspection marks. One of the Ordnance marks consists of two script initials an oval border, the other mark consists of three initials surrounded by an oval border. The Model 1855 rifle-musket was the most advanced percussion rifle-musket manufactured when it was introduced in 1855; it was the first regulation U.S. weapon to use the famous, .58 caliber, expanding base "Minie' bullet, the first U.S. musket fitted with a long range rear sight and the first U.S. rifle or musket to be fitted with the Maynard tape primer. Model 1855 rifle-muskets were in great demand at the start of the Civil War and most of the available rifle-muskets were issued to regular U.S. Army regiments or elite volunteer units with political connections. Many Model 1855 rifle-Muskets were acquired by the Confederate Army and used throughout the Civil War. Virtually all Model 1855 rifle-muskets saw Civil War service.

ConditionExcellent. The musket is completely original. The Maynard tape primer is complete and functional. The barrel appears to retain the original "National Armory Bright' polish; wear is limited to a few shallow and very minor patches of light pitting along the edge of the stock. The bolster has traces of flash pitting and dried grease. The barrel date and inspection marks on the barrel flats are crisp. The bore is excellent with strong rifling. The barrel tang has been professionally drilled and tapped and fitted with a small screw. The lock plate and iron furniture are bright; the surfaces of the lock plate, magazine door and hammer are smooth and free from pitting. The lock plate and magazine door markings are sharp. The barrel bands, trigger guard and buttplate are in the same fine condition as the lock. The stock is in very good overall condition and shows only scattered and very minor handling and storage marks. The Ordnance final inspection and sub-inspection marks on the left stock flat show some handling wear but remain clear and legible. This is an outstanding example of a scarce, 1858-production, Harpers Ferry Model 1855 percussion rifle-musket with desirable long range rear sight. It would be difficult to improve upon this important Civil War rifle-musket
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