Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3133: William Jenks Muzzle Loading Rifle

Auction Date: September 12, 2021

Extremely Rare Documented William Jenks Muzzle Loading Rifle

Estimated Price: $9,500 - $16,000

Extremely Rare Documented William Jenks Muzzle Loading Rifle

Manufacturer: American
Model: Flintlock
Type: Musket
Gauge: 62 smoothbore
Barrel: 35 1/4 inch round
Finish: bright
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 552
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 80
Class: Antique

This is one of less than 100 of these distinctive rifles manufactured in the late 1830s. Very, very few are extant today making them incredibly difficult to find and acquire. This is the first we have had the pleasure of cataloging, and we may not see one again for a very long time. It is documented on pages 478-481 of "American Military Shoulder Arms, Volume II: From the 1790s to the End of the Flintlock Period" by George Moller and has his discreet "GDM" collection mark by the toe that looks like a government inspector mark. Moller's introduction to the rifle provides excellent details. He wrote: "No contract or delivery information has been located regarding these rifles, but all observed examples bear the inspection and proof markings of U.S. inspectors James Harris and Nahum W. Patch, which indicate at least limited government procurement. Because Ordnance Department procurement for the army during this period is well documented in the National Archives, and because no mention is made of these rifles in those records, it is speculated that a small number may have been procured for firing or shipboard trials by the U.S. Navy, of which a great deal less is known during this 1838-1840 period. It has also been speculated that a quantity of these rifles were procured by the Republic of Texas in 1840. Information in Texas documents concerning the procurement, transportation, and issue of 250 Jenks arms refers to 'rifles' and 'carbines' at different times. It is possible that both were included." The rifle has a brass blade front sight, bayonet lug on the underside near the muzzle followed by the "fishtail" bayonet retaining spring, "U" notch rear sight, three barrel bands with a ramrod ferrule on the front band and "5" marked on the right of the rear bands, a leather sling fitted to the swivels on the middle band and front of the trigger guard, "J.H." and sunken "P" at the breech, "CHICOPEEFALLS CO./MS." on the rear of the distinctive back action lock, oval "JH" cartouche on the left flat, another faint cartouche by the buttplate tang (likely "NWP" based on Moller's writing), and rather slender walnut stock. Provenance: The George Moller Collection

Rating Definition:

Good as rebored and professionally reconverted to flintlock configuration. The barrel and furniture have mostly gray patina with mild pitting. Artificial brown is visible on the lock plate and the breech section of the barrel. The latter also has artificial "pitting" at the vent and erosion above from use with corrosive percussion caps. The lock has brown patina, patches of mild pitting, a brazed repair at the resting point of the cock, and light buff lines. The stock is also good and has mild scratches and dings, dark oiled finish, a few faint cracks, loss at the breech, and some small flakes and slivers absent at the edges. Mechanically fine.

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