Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 2: Scarce and Desirable Jennings Breech Loading Single Shot Rifle

Auction Date: September 11, 2015

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $3,000 - $4,500

Scarce and Desirable Jennings Breech Loading Single Shot Rifle

Manufacturer: Jennings
Model: Breechloading Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 54
Barrel: 29 inch round
Finish: brown
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 2474
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 6
Class: Antique

Only a small number of the Jennings rifles were manufactured by Robbins and Lawrence in 1848-1852. The Jennings rifles mark the important second step in the evolution of what eventually became the Volcanic, Henry, and Winchester lever actions. Work on the Jennings rifles at Robbins and Lawrence is credited with bringing together B. Tyler Henry, Horace Smith, and Daniel Wesson under the same roof and thus helped lead to both what became the highly successful Winchester lever action series and the iconic Smith & Wesson partnership. This example is the single shot variant produced circa 1850-1851 using Jennings repeater components adapted for single shot use. The magazine tube used on the repeaters was adapted to hold the cleaning rod. A small rectangular loading gate allows loading of single "Rocket Ball" cartridges. The ring trigger pushes the breechblock into place and operates the automatic pill primer. Beginning in 1852, Robbins and Lawrence abandoned the underpowered rocket ball cartridge in favor of building muzzle loading variants. Many of the original breech loaders were altered by outside gunsmiths into muzzle loaders as well and consequently many of the already scarce single shots are no longer found in original form. This example escaped conversion. It is marked "PATENT 1849/C.P. DIXON AGENT/NEW YORK" on the left side of the action. "WJ" is stamped behind the trigger guard. It features post and notch sights and is fitted with a straight wrist walnut stock with German silver inscription plate on the right and a sporting buttplate. A sling swivel is fitted in front of the trigger guard, and a stud for a second swivel is on the barrel band.

Rating Definition:

Good as partially refinished (wood). The rifle retains a mixture of the faded original brown finish and a well established brown patina with some patches of oxidation and pitting and scattered minor scratches. The otherwise good wood is revarnished with a several minor repaired cracks. The action is fine. The area around the markings on the left has been cleaned, and the markings are crisp.

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