Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3300: Whitney-Howard Thunderbolt Rifle-Musket

Auction Date: December 5, 2021

Extremely Rare Whitney-Howard Thunderbolt Lever Action Single Shot Rifle-Musket with Bayonet

Estimated Price: $5,000 - $7,500

Extremely Rare Whitney-Howard Thunderbolt Lever Action Single Shot Rifle-Musket with Bayonet

Manufacturer: Whitney Arms Company
Model: Howard-Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44
Barrel: 28 3/4 inch round
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 277
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 166
Class: Antique

This lever action single shot breechloader is also known as the Howard Thunderbolt. It is estimated that less than 2,000 of these arms in all variations (rifle, carbine and shotgun) were manufactured between 1855 and 1870. The design was invented and patented by brothers Charles and Sebre Howard and production was by Whitney. The arm was trial tested and rejected for military purchase by the State of New York and the U.S. Army. Offered here is a Whitney-Howard rifle-musket, the rarest of all Thunderbolt variations. In "Flayderman's" it is noted that only two rifle-muskets are known, and according to the consignor this is one of those two known examples. This is certainly a very rare post-Civil War breechloader made even rarer by the included bayonet believed to be the only known example. The rifle-musket was designed for a unique fitting semi-tubular socket bayonet. The concaved shape allowed the bayonet to slip backwards over the barrel when not affixed, thus allowing the bayonet to safety be carried with the rifle. The left side rear of the barrel is marked "C. HOWARD. PATENTED. SEPT. 26 &OCT. 10. 1865 - OCT. 28. 1862" and the right side is marked "MANUF'D FOR HOWARD-BROTHERS- BY-WHITNEY - ARMS - CO - WHITNEYVILLE. CONN". The straight grip stock has a checkered wrist. Provenance: The Milan J. Turk Collection

Rating Definition:

Very good. The metal surfaces have an as found smooth dark brown patina with slight hints of original blue finish on the barrel. A tang screw is absent. The stock is fine with some minor handling marks and crisp checkering overall. Mechanically fine. This Howard Thunderbolt rifle-musket with bayonet is a true rarity in post-Civil War arms collecting that is worthy of the finest collections.

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