Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 200: Documented Merrill Alteration U.S. Harpers Ferry 1841 Rifle

Auction Date: September 10, 2021

Rare Documented Merrill Breech Loading Alteration of a U.S. Harpers Ferry Model 1841 Percussion "Mississippi" Rifle

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $9,000 - $14,000

Rare Documented Merrill Breech Loading Alteration of a U.S. Harpers Ferry Model 1841 Percussion "Mississippi" Rifle

Manufacturer: Harpers Ferry Armory Muskets And Carbines
Model: 1841-Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 58
Barrel: 33 inch round
Finish: brown/casehardened
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 1172
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 156
Class: Antique

Reportedly, 100 each of the Model 1841 "Mississippi" rifles, Model 1842 muskets, and Model 1847 cavalry musketoons were converted using James H. Merrill's breech loading system c. 1861-1862. Merrill breech loading alterations of the Model 1841 rifles are described on pages 172-175 of George D. Moller's book "American Military Shoulder Arms Volume III", with this exact rifle photographed on page 173. The alteration of these Model 1841 rifles involved boring out the barrel and rifling it for use with .58 Minie balls, removing the original breech plug and installing the Merrill breech system as well as adding the lever catch to the barrel, adding a screw through the lock plate, and using a bolster with a cleanout screw. It has a brass blade front sight, three leaf rear sight, "V/P/eagle head" proofs on the left at the breech, the three-line Merrill marking on the lever, standard Harpers Ferry markings on the 1850 dated lock, "JLR" and "R" marked on the left stock flat. "GDM" (George D. Moller) collection initials marked at the toe of the stock. Includes a period leather sling, brass tipped wood tampion, and tools in patch box. Provenance: The George Moller Collection

Rating Definition:

Very fine, retaining 75% original brown finish on the barrel, strong traces of the original black oil-quenched casehardened finish on the breech lever, and the casehardened lock turned to a smooth gray patina. The brass fittings retain an attractive bright color. Stock is excellent with attractive original wood grain, some light handling marks and occasional dents, and defined edges. Mechanically excellent.

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