VERY FINE EXAMPLE OF A C1850’S PERCUSSION RIFLE MADE BY J. M. HAPPOLDT & SON, CHARLESTON, SC

$4,950.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 766-1760

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Gracefully made percussion halfstock Sporting rifle by noted Charleston maker. Beautifully marked in very fancy Old English hand engraved letters and fancy script in two lines on lock:  J. M. Happoldt & Son / Charleston, S.C.

30” octagonal barrel, .41 caliber deeply and finely rifled bore. Deep smooth even age brown metal showing just normal smooth wear and use; would rate excellent and better. Few tiny patches of very fine negligible pitting consistent with its age. Markings and mechanically perfect. Has sliding safety device on lock just behind hammer. Platinum clean-out vent on the bolster below nipple.

Extremely beautiful and gracefully shaped, very fancy crotch grained walnut stock with cheekrest and fancy checkering at wrist is excellent plus. Some normal wear consistent with metal; few small nicks and bruises but all minor. Iron furniture; silver forend tip and wedge escutcheons. Original tiny folding tang peep sight inset at wrist. Silver tipped cleaning rod. Small silver oval inlay on underside of buttstock.

John M. Happoldt was born in in the Kingdom of Württemberg sometime around 1803. At about this same time, the Happoldt family, emigrated to America, locating in Charleston Neck, South Carolina. John’s father was also named John Michael Happoldt, and the elder Happoldt who had been born circa 1773 was a trained butcher. The father quickly established himself in this same trade on Charleston Neck and by 1807 had applied for citizenship in his new country. Apparently the elder Happoldt was rather successful, as the 1820 Census revealed that the household included not only the Happoldt family of six, but also eleven slaves. The elder Happoldt died in 1821 and his estate was distributed, primarily to his eldest son Christopher M. Happoldt. The 1830 Census reveals that the 27 year old John M. Happoldt was established as a gunmaker in Charleston, SC by that time, working at 45 State Street, which was also his home. He spent the next three decades becoming one of the leading gunmakers of the region, producing high quality rifles and pistols, as well as importing arms and marking them with his retailer mark. Many of the imported arms were English and Belgian percussion shotguns. The 1850 Census reveals that JM Happoldt had three sons living in his home, Benjamin G (22), John H (19) and Albert M (17). All were listed as gunsmiths. By the 1860 Census JM Happoldt was listed as having a personal estate valued at some $11,000 (about $343,000 in today’s money). His 29 year old son John H. Happoldt was working as a gunsmith as well, located at 35/36 State Street and was listed as having personal property valued at $3,000 (about $93,500 in today’s money), indicating that he was quite successful as well.

The younger Happoldt would do arms alteration work for the state of South Carolina and the newly formed Confederacy, with the work ranging from repairing guns, altering them to flint, “cleaning & rifling” Model 1842 muskets and altering M1841 “Mississippi” Rifles to accept saber bayonets. The elder Happoldt apparently concentrated on the civilian arms trade during this period and by 1870 had relocated to Anderson, SC. This was likely in an attempt to avoid being in the Charleston area when the Yankee forces came calling. Clearly the war had a catastrophic effect on John M. Happoldt’s wealth, as the 1870 Census revealed that although he had real estate valued at $800, his personal estate had been reduced to $100 from $11,000 only a decade earlier. In 1880, the 77 year old Happoldt was still working as a gunsmith in Anderson. Happoldt died in 1884 at the age of 81.

This piece is accompanied by a letter written by Norm Flayderman.  [ph:L]

DISCLAIMER: All firearms are sold as collector's items only - we do not accept responsibility as to the shooting safety or reliability of any antique firearm. All firearms are described as accurately as possible, given the restraints of a catalog listing length. We want satisfied customers & often "under" describe the weapons. Any city or state regulations regarding owning antique firearms are the responsibility of the purchaser. All firearms are "mechanically perfect" unless noted, but again, are NOT warranted as safe to fire.

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