Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 6: First Model Smith-Jennings Repeating Rifle with Automatic Primer

Auction Date: May 13, 2022

Rare and Significant Factory Engraved Robbins & Lawrence First Model Smith-Jennings Repeating Rifle with Automatic Pill Primer

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $8,500 - $13,000

Rare and Significant Factory Engraved Robbins & Lawrence First Model Smith-Jennings Repeating Rifle with Automatic Pill Primer

Manufacturer: Robbins & Lawrence
Model: Jennings
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 54
Barrel: 26 inch round
Finish: brown/blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 839
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 11
Class: Antique

This was Horace Smith's (later Smith & Wesson) improvement on the Jennings "Rocket Ball" rifle. He was issued a U.S. patent in 1851 for an improved action and the repeating rifle was manufactured by Robbins & Lawrence. Offered here is one of less than 500 first models manufactured in 1851. Features blade front and notch rear sights, seven-groove rifling, front loading tubular magazine mounted underneath the barrel, automatic pill primer operated by the ring trigger which connects to a rack and pinion mechanism, and light floral engraving on the receiver, hammer and buttplate tang. "ROBBINS & LAWRENCE/MAKERS/WINDSOR VT" and "C. P. DIXON AGENT/NEW YORK/PATENTED 1849" marked on the left of the receiver in reference to Lewis Jennings 1849 dated U.S. patent. Serial number "108" marked on the lower tang. Blank German silver oval plaque on the left of the buttstock. The Jennings and the Smith-Jennings rifles are important in the evolution of Winchester, having brought together the talents of Benjamin Tyler Henry (who later played a major role in the development of the rifle and ammunition for Volcanic, New Haven and Winchester Arms companies), and Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson (later Smith & Wesson, whose efforts ultimately led to historic developments in the lever action repeating firearms). The Jennings and Smith-Jennings rifles were properly classified by a detailed study in "Evolution of the Winchester" by R.B. McDowell. The majority of these Smith-Jennings repeating rifles were converted to single shot with a ramrod in place of the magazine tube, with this example remaining unconverted and in its original repeating configuration; making it far more rare and desirable than the few surviving examples left today!

Rating Definition:

Very good with smooth brown patina on the barrel, smooth gray patina on the receiver, some scattered light pitting, a few scattered small patches of moderate pitting, clear markings and crisp engraving throughout. The stock is also very good as lightly sanded and refinished with some minor handling marks, a few hairline cracks ahead of the left of the buttplate, a spliced and repaired section at the toe, and an overall attractive figure. Mechanically excellent. A rare and historically significant rifle that serves as one of the earliest American repeaters and an important piece in the evolution leading up to the famous Henry and Winchester repeating rifles!

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