AMERICAN MACHINE WORKS SMITH CARBINE MADE IN 1864

$2,500.00

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Item Code: 2022-379

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This Smith carbine rates very good or better for condition with at least 30 percent original finish, good lettering and numbers, and a nice fit, good finish, and color to the wood. The barrel is particularly strong, with full coverage of deep, original blue. The barrel band has shifted to plum, but the spring retains a lot of luminous blue with some small areas of loss around the screw, midpoint, and couple of other spots. The receiver shows some faint, mottled case color. The triggerguard and tang show some thin rubbed blue, as does the wrist collar. The buttplate is mostly plum, with some faint blue and silver gray from rubbing.

Both sights are in place and complete. The sling ring and bar are present. The left barrel flat at the breech shows a crisp L.F.R. barrel inspector stamp of Lafayette Rogers (or La Fayette Rogers: his parents were obviously admirers of the Frenchman and gave their son the full name, apparently including Gilbert Motier, but he managed to pare it down to something manageable.) The left wrist shows the “JH” inspection stamp of John Hannis, a little rubbed on the bottom, but pretty sharp. The wood in general has good edges and color with a slight bit of recoil chipping at behind the wrist collar on the upper right and some handling marks and shallow scratches on the butt. The bore is bright & clean, with light rifling. Mechanics are strong and crisp.

The left receiver is stamped vertically, “MANUFACTURED BY / AMN. M’CH’N WKS. / SPRINGFIELD, MASS.” partially under the front of the sling ring bar. The stamp apparently rebounded, making a double impression. At upper right rear is, “ADDRESS / POULTNEY & TRIMBLE / BALTIMORE U.S.A.” a little rubbed along the top. Below that, partly under the rear of the sling ring “SMITH’S PATENT / JUNE 23, 1857” partially behind the sling ring bar. The serial number 4489 is sharp and on both elements of the hinge on the underside.

Smith serial numbers have yet to be fully straightened out. Deliveries to the government by Poultney and Trimble, acting as agents for the inventor, are documented by date and quantity. Serial numbers, however, seem to have been duplicated between models, the first type, with sling swivels and the second, with conventional carbine sling ring and bar, and among three manufacturers as well. There seems to be some clarity, however, with those made by the American Machine Works. An October 1863 Springfield newspaper article mentions the company had subcontracted with the Massachusetts Arms Company for 5,000 of the carbines, and then for another 12,000. John Hamilton in 2006 noted that payment entries on the Mass Arms Company books for the American Machine Works only run from February to October 1864, dating those carbines to that year. Given the low serial number of this one, it looks like it fell under the first agreement and was likely made sometime in early 1864, giving it a good chance for active service in some of the major campaigns.

The Smith was among the top four cavalry carbines procured by the U.S. government and saw extensive service in the war. Patented by a New York physician in 1855 (with some additions in 1856 and 1857,) the .50 caliber carbine is hinged in the middle, exposing the breech for insertion of a rubber case or paper and foil cartridge pierced at the bottom for ignition by a standard percussion cap. Poultney and Trimble of Baltimore acted as agents on commission, selling the government some 31,002 from January 1862 to June 1865, with some others sold on the commercial market through military goods dealers such at Schuyler, Hartley and Graham. Flayderman lists the 3rd WV, 7th and 11th Illinois, 1st CT, 7th and 17th PA, 6th and 9th Ohio, and the 1st Mass. as among the cavalry regiments carrying it. This one would be a nice addition to a cavalry or general carbine collection, but also one showing variations of the Smith.  [sr] [ph:L]

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