This Spencer sporting rifle was likely manufactured just after the end of the Civil War and is chambered for the 56-46 Spencer cartridge (.44 rimfire) commonly used in the Spencer sporting guns. It has an inscription on the pewter forend cap. "Presented to," "by," and "Genl" are legible, but the recipient and presenter names are partially faded making positive identification of the names difficult (see the close-up photo provided). The presenter might be a General Wallace. While an estimated 144,500 military carbines and rifles were produced by Spencer during the Civil War, only an estimated 1,807 of these sporting rifles were manufactured between 1864 and 1868, and only a scarce few have presentation inscriptions. Other known presentation pieces were given to Frank Cheney of Spencer Repeating Rifle Company, Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria, and U.S. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles. The assembly number "27" is stamped on the forearm, barrel, front of the action, and various action components, and "517" is stamped on the action partially obscured by the peep sight mounting screws. The first and possible last digits of the serial number were obliterated when the receiver was tapped. For this reason, during the post-war years, Spencer marked most of the sporting rifle serial numbers to the left of the screws. It has an octagon barrel fitted with blade and notch sights. The action has the Spencer cut-off and single set trigger as pictured on page 113 of "Spencer Repeating Firearms" by Marcot. Like the Civil War Spencers, the sporting versions were fed by a tubular magazine in the buttstock. Relatively few Spencer sporting rifles were produced before the company closed in 1868 after the firearms market broadly took a significant hit as government contracts ground to a halt with the end of the war and commercial sales were hampered by the glut of surplus arms. Provenance: The John Fox Collection
Good with an attractive "frontier issued" look. The rifle has a dark brown patina with some spots of oxidation and pitting common on western used firearms. The wood is very good with some slight chipping and hairline cracks and overall minor pressure marks and scratches consistent with use. Some parts are absent, and the lock will not hold full cock. The markings are mostly clear. This rifle definitely look likes it saw some real use in the West and would add interest to any antique American arms collection, especially a collection of frontier firearms.
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