Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1152: Documented U.S. Hall Model 1817 Breech Loading Flintlock Rifle

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Incredibly Rare and Historically Significant Documented Hall Model 1817 Breech Loading Flintlock Rifle with Bayonet, Part of the Very First U.S. Federal Contract for 100

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $35,000 - $55,000

Incredibly Rare and Historically Significant Documented Hall Model 1817 Breech Loading Flintlock Rifle with Bayonet, Part of the Very First U.S. Federal Contract for 100

Manufacturer: Hall
Model: 1817
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 52
Barrel: 34 inch octagon
Finish: brown
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 606
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 106
Class: Antique

This is an incredibly rare example of a Hall Model 1817 breech loading rifle, manufactured at John Hall's original shop in Maine under a U.S. government contract for 100 rifles. The Hall Model 1817 rifle was the very first breech loading firearm procured by the federal government, and the subsequently adopted Model 1819 would become the first mass produced firearm with completely interchangeable parts. Hall Model 1817 U.S. contract breech loading rifles are described on pages 460-464 of George D. Moller's book "American Military Shoulder Arms, Volume II", with this exact rifle photographed on four of the pages. The book states, "On November 20, 1816, Maine gunmaker John H. Hall proposed to furnish the government with 100 of his patent breechloading rifles with bayonets at $25 each. Chief of Ordnance Decius Wadsworth accepted the proposal on January 10, 1817, with the provision that the rifles were to be delivered within one year. Hall completed the 100 rifles by October 1817. They were subsequently inspected by George Talcott and were accepted by the Ordnance Department on December 5. Some authors in the field have written that it was the successful firing trials conducted with these rifles that led to Hall's contract of 1819 and the subsequent manufacture of thousands of these rifles at Harpers Ferry Armory and under U.S. contract. However, the only known firing trial of any Hall 1817 contract rifles consisted of five shots fired from a single rifle. This trial resulted in a negative report on the rifle. Ninety-eight of these rifles were shipped from Boston, via Baltimore and Pittsburgh, to St. Louis in 1818. An 1822 report of the arms at Bellefontaine Arsenal, Missouri, included ninety-four 'Patent Rifles.' Forts Smith and Atkinson had a total of three more rifles at this same time. All ninety-eight rifles were included in an 1827 inventory of arms at Bellefontaine Arsenal. Available information indicates that these rifles were issued to a Missouri militia unit entering federal service in the mid-1830s. If true, they probably were issued for militia use in order to conserve the armory-made Model 1819 Hall rifles for the riflemen of the regular army. This information, which has not been verified, asserts that the Missouri militia unit took the rifles to Florida, where they were used in the Seminole Wars." Features an octagonal barrel with eight-groove rifling the length, a 3 5/8" rounded section at the muzzle with a rectangular lug on top for socket bayonet mounting, wedge barrel retainers, left offset dovetail mounted front and rear sights to accommodate for the right offset flintlock action components at the breech. Brown lacquer finish on the barrel, casehardened breechblock, wooden ramrod with a brass tip. The top front of the breech block is marked "JOHN H. HALL/PATENT" in two lines, and the right side of the breech block is marked "R.B." and "32" (partial 2). The brass upper tang is "US" marked. Golden age American long rifle influence is evident in the stock and fittings including the brass trigger guard with a prominent finger spur, brass patch box, and curved brass buttplate. "GDM" (George D. Moller) collection initials marked at the toe of the stock. Includes a socket bayonet marked "JB" and "US", wood tampion, tools and an extra flint in the patch box. Outside of museums, surviving Hall Model 1817 rifles are nearly nonexistent in collections today. One is known to reside in the Harpers Ferry Armory museum and one in the Missouri History museum, with their collection record stating fewer than five are known. As the first, and likely the only, Hall U.S. Model 1817 rifle this writer has cataloged for sale at Rock Island Auction, the extreme significance and rarity of this rifle can not be expressed enough! Provenance: The George Moller Collection

Rating Definition:

Very good, with gray/brown patina surfaces, scattered light pitting evident of period field use, and sharp markings in the metal. Brass fitting retain their original attractively aged patina. Stock is fine with an overall gorgeous figure, scattered light scratches and light chips, a small hairline crack behind the upper tang and at the rear of the left flat, and defined edges all around. Mechanically excellent. This historically significant Hall U.S. Model 1817 would be the cherished centerpiece of any early U.S. martial collection!

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