WAR OF 1812 US 1808 CONTRACT MUSKET & BAYONET BY JENKS DATED 1812, ORIGINAL FLINT

$2,650.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 1037-135

This 1808 U.S. contract musket is complete, all original, and rates fine to excellent for condition. The lock is in original flint, not altered to percussion or reconverted. All metal matches, with a muted silver tone (these were issued in the bright,) showing just some scattered thin gray areas and one or two spots that were lightly and carefully cleaned. The wood to metal fit is tight throughout. As is correct for muskets produced by Jenks and Sons, it follows Harpers Ferry in the overall pattern, but Springfield in the lock. (See Moller, Reilly, and Flayderman.)

All bands, springs, swivels are in place, as is the ramrod. The bayonet lug is mounted on the underside of the muzzle, as is correct for Jenks. The barrel is stamped “US” over an “[eaglehead]/CT” in a depressed oval with a “V” (“viewed”) on the breechplug tang, the “CT” standing for “contract” and the eagle’s head facing the viewer’s right, which is correct for New England contractors following the Harpers Ferry pattern. The metal is generally smooth, with just some shallow salt-and-peppering on top of the barrel about halfway to the first band, and scattered gray spots. The top band has the sight in place.

The lock is in original flint and is marked behind the hammer in three lines: “JENKS,s / RI / 1812.” See Reilly, Fig. 252, for this plate marking. (The “,s” is taken to be “& Son” or “& Sons,” since Jenks had several sons working in the business with him.) As is correct for Jenks, the hammer has the Springfield-style straight tang. Forward of the hammer is a U.S. eagle on top of a US in an oval. The markings at rear are crisp. The eagle is rubbed and some very shallow freckling above, showing it was lightly and carefully cleaned.

The wood is excellent, with a tight fit to all metal components. The forestock has a tight fit to the barrel and the rammer channel shows just minor wear to the sides. The underside of the stock bears a “W.E.C.” stamp just forward of and just to the rear of the triggerguard tang, likely a stock inspector, subcontractor, or state inspection mark stamped after distribution by the U.S. government, and a lighter mark that could be a rack number. The lock apron and side flat have sharp edges with one or two very minor checks and some pressure dents on the side flat. The side flat, however, preserves an extremely sharp “V/CW” stamp in a three-lobed cartouche, the U.S. acceptance mark of viewer (inspector) Charles Williams. The buttstock is very good, with matching deep brown color and surface with scattered handling marks and light scratches, but no abrasion spots or chips. The buttplate matches the rest of the iron, though with more gray spotting.

The production of the 1808 contract muskets was directly linked to rising tensions with Great Britain and the 1807 Chesapeake-Leopard Affair. Congress authorized the War Department to contract with 19 gun makers for some 85,000 muskets to supplement production at Springfield and Harpers Ferry to supply the state militia forces. The muskets generally followed .69 caliber Charleville pattern being produced at the national armories, with some contractors receiving Springfield and others, Harpers Ferry muskets as models (which differed somewhat.) There were also complaints about inspectors introducing new and often contradictory specifications mid-production.

Stephen Jenks of Providence, RI, received a U.S. contract for 4,000 muskets, of which he delivered 3,925 from 1810 through 1814, withholding 75 over a pay dispute. Jenks also supplied some 250 muskets on a shared 1810 contract with Amos Sweet, and produced others for private sale. (The rising cost of materials made the 1808 contracts unprofitable and other parties to pay more than the U.S. government. Jenks was one of the few to complete his contract.) The Charles Williams view mark and lock date, however, clearly indicate this was one of 975 U.S. contract muskets delivered by Jenks to the U.S. government in 1812.

This comes with an original 1808 pattern bayonet set up for a bottom mounted bayonet stud. As is common with this pattern, it is unmarked. There are a few dings to the neck and the metal is shading toward brown, but the socket, mortise, point and edge are good, with the socket showing a fairly typically American crude weld. It bears a small collection label. The musket has collection tag attached as well.

This is an extremely nice 1808 contract musket with a good, early-war date, and shows off very well. These muskets offer interesting variations and were an important part of the nation’s effort to maintain its independence. [sr] [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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