This a very fine example of a U.S. Springfield/Lee rifle that originally was invented by James Paris Lee, who was one of the more prolific firearms inventors during this time. A total of only 143 of these vertical action rifles were manufactured under his supervision at the Springfield Armory in 1875 before the small amount of money appropriated for them ran out. This unique rifle features a Martini type dropping block action with centrally mounted spur hammer. The breech closes automatically on insertion of the round in the chamber. The rifle is chambered for the .45/70 cartridge and has a 32 5/8-inch round barrel with a Model 1873 Springfield rifle rear sight and a small blade front sight. The left side breech end of the barrel is marked with a small number "2". The rifle is fitted with a Model 1873 ramrod with slotted knurled head. The one-piece trigger guard has a sling swivel fitted to the front. The receiver tang is marked "U.S." followed by "PAT. MAR.16.1875". The rifle is mounted with a smooth full one-piece black walnut stock with an oil finish and iron carbine buttplate, that is marked "US" on the tang. There is a stacking sling swivel on the front barrel band. The left side of the stock just ahead of the wrist is marked with a clear "ESA" oval cartouche. There is a small "J" stamped behind the lower tang followed by a circled script "P". The trowel bayonet is marked PAT APR 16TH 72."
Very fine. The rifle retains 75% original blue finish with areas of smooth plum and gray patina. The buttplate retains 80% original blue finish with a smooth gray patina on the heel and toe. The stock is fine with scattered minor pressure dents and scratches. The markings are clear. The action is excellent. The bayonet is fine with the blade having a bright mottled patina and the mounting hardware retaining 95% of the blue finish. This is a very fine example of one of the rarest U.S. breech loading martial arms. It would be a stand-out piece in advanced U.S. martial arms collection.
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