Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1202: Manton Eli Whitney Variant Model 1861 Rifle-Musket with Bayonet

Auction Date: December 4, 2021

Very Scarce Manton Marked Eli Whitney Variant Model 1861 Rifle-Musket with Bayonet

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $2,000 - $3,000

Very Scarce Manton Marked Eli Whitney Variant Model 1861 Rifle-Musket with Bayonet

Manufacturer: Manton
Model: 1861
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 58
Barrel: 40 inch round
Finish: bright
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 442
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 90
Class: Antique

This very scarce variant Model 1861 rifle-musket with a "Manton" marked lock was manufactured by Eli Whitney Jr. using inferior surplus European barrels and marked with the fake British gunmaker name "Manton" as a cover up since Whitney did not want to put his name on these due to quality concerns. These "Manton" Whitney variant rifle-muskets are described in depth on pages 495-498 of George D. Moller's book "American Military Shoulder Arms Volume III" in which the picture caption on page 495 states, "Available information indicates 1,070 Whitney 'Manton' rifle muskets were delivered by merchants Fitch & Waldo to the state of New York during the summer of 1863. One hundred and nine of them failed inspection." The same page of the book has a quote from a letter written by Whitney to a sales agent in which he states, "I can not promise more than 1,000 of the 'Manton' muskets and these only to be subject to State Inspection as good and serviceable work being as a general thing as the sample and if any are rejected it will lessen the number so much (from 1,000). My object in putting the 'Manton' on the lock was to avoid selling the muskets as mine." The European barrel on this example has 3-groove rifling and is fitted with a fixed blade front and flip-up Whitney mid-range single leaf rear sight marked "3" and "5" on top of the leaf (this rear sight is a leftover from his Connecticut contract arms). Dated "1862" on the tail of the lock. "V/P" proof marks on the top flat of the barrel at the breech and "G.W.Q." inspection initials on the top left barrel flat. "GDM" (George D. Moller) collection initials marked at the toe of the stock. These "Manton" marked Whitney rifle-muskets are also described in "Flayderman's Guide 9th Edition" on page 286 (5J-045). Includes a "U.S." marked socket bayonet and reproduction leather sling. Provenance: The George Moller Collection

Rating Definition:

Good with some scattered very light pitting, moderate flash pitting at the breech, and crisp markings in the metal. Stock is also good with scattered dents and scratches, a chipped/absent section on the right of the forend, and a crack ahead of the lock. Mechanically excellent. Included bayonet is fine with some light pitting.

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