Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 233: Crimean War Russian Contract Colt Alteration 1840 Rifled Musket

Auction Date: December 3, 2021

Rare Crimean War Czarist Russian Contract Colt Drum Bolster Alteration U.S. Springfield Model 1840 Rifled Musket with Bayonet

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $3,500 - $5,500

Rare Crimean War Czarist Russian Contract Colt Drum Bolster Alteration U.S. Springfield Model 1840 Rifled Musket with Bayonet

Manufacturer: Springfield Armory U.S.
Model: 1840
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 69
Barrel: 42 inch round
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 578
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 113
Class: Antique

This is an attractive example of a rare Springfield Model 1840 flintlock musket altered with Colt's patented drum bolster and rifled under Czarist Russian contract with intent for use during the Crimean War. These Colt drum bolster alteration muskets are described on pages 102-103 of George D. Moller's book "American Military Shoulder Arms, Volume III". A similar example is pictured on page 102 next to the caption, "The outer end of the cylindrical nipple bolster of Colt altered muskets are marked 'Colt's Patent' and it has a cleanout screw. The muskets were also equipped with a rear sight similar to some contemporary Germanic muskets." The same page states, "The Russians required arms because of their involvement in the Crimean War in the mid-1850s. Russian arms expert Captain Otto Lilienfeld was sent to procure muskets in the United States. On July 12, 1855, Lilienfeld contracted with Colt to deliver 50,000 percussion-altered smooth-bored muskets by April 28, 1856. The Crimean War ended with the Treaty of Paris of March 30, 1856. Two months after the contract's April 28 delivery deadline, the Russians notified Colt that he had breached the contract and it was canceled. Colt's subsequent attempts to obtain compensation were in vain." After the Russian incident, Colt attempted to interest the Ottoman and Italian governments in these muskets, claiming he had 25,000 on hand. Page 102 of the book goes on to state, "Nothing further is known regarding the fate of these muskets. Some students of American military shoulder arms believe that small quantities of these muskets were purchased by individual militia companies during the Civil War. There is some evidence that some may have been purchased by the state of Rhode Island." An example of one of these muskets is pictured on pages 176 and 203 of "The Book of Colt Firearms" by R. L. Wilson. It is not known how many of these muskets were actually completed or delivered by Colt, but their extreme scarcity today lends evidence to the fact that the numbers were only a very small fraction of what the original Czarist Russian contract called for. Features all blue finished surfaces done at the time of the Colt alteration, four-groove rifling, tall blade front sight on the forward strap of the front barrel band and fully adjustable leaf rear sight, an "eagle/US" mark is at the center of the lock and "1854" on the tail of the lock over top of where the original Springfield markings used to be before resurfacing at the time of the Colt alteration, "V/P/eagle head" (eagle head partial) proofs on the left of the breech, "1854" dated barrel tang, faint outline of an oval inspection cartouche on the left stock flat, and "US" marked buttplate tang. "GDM" (George D. Moller) collection initials marked at the toe of the stock. Includes a socket bayonet and reproduction leather sling. Provenance: The George Moller Collection

Rating Definition:

Fine, exhibiting mostly smooth brown patina with strong traces of Colt refinished fiery blue finish on the sights and in protected areas, scattered light freckling and a few areas of light pitting. Stock is also fine with scattered dents, chips, scratches, a crack ahead of the rear lock screw, and a repaired section beneath the lock. Mechanically excellent. Included bayonet is very good with some scattered patches of light pitting. These Colt altered rifled muskets are very rarely seen today, and are the missing piece to any advanced Colt or U.S. Martial collection!

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