$2,950.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 1117-107

Spencers need little introduction. They were the most widely used breechloading repeating rifles and carbines of the war, holding seven .52 caliber rimfire copper cased cartridges in a tubular magazine in the buttstock, fed into the chamber by lowering and raising the triggerguard. The company manufactured rifles first and the Navy led the way, contracting for some 800 in June 1861. The Army followed with a contract in December, but deliveries did not start for either service until December 1862.

This is the Army rifle in good to very good condition, complete and all original. Front are rear sights are present and complete. Both sling swivels are there, as is the magazine tube. The mechanics are good. The metal is smooth and the markings are clear. The barrel and barrel bands show brown. The lockplate is mostly gray with brown spots. The receiver shows light gray at the rear and more of a bluish gray toward the front, likely from case coloring, with some brown spots. When lowered, the sides of the breechblock show some of the same bluish gray. The top of the breech is clearly stamped, “SPENCER REPEATING / RIFLE CO. BOSTON MASS/ PAT’D MARCH 6, 1860. The rear of the receiver is serial number 23925.

The wood has good color and surface, but does show use. The forestock shows some narrow horizontal cracks at the receiver, one longer one on right and shorter ones on the left, and there is chipping around the rear of the lower barrel band, probably made in an effort to remove it. Otherwise it shows just average handling. The buttstock shows well on the top, with good edges and tight fit of the buttplate. There is some chipping around the lock plate on the right. The right flat shows small abrasions, scratches and dings from use and two narrow hairlines near buttplate in line with the magazine tube, which is pretty typical. The left shows more scratches, shallow divots and drag lines from more natural contact with the soldier’s body, but has a rectangular outline to the rear of the lock screw that seems to be from an inspector’s cartouche. The screw head itself shows some roughness to the slot and some chipping to the wood around it, likely made in an effort to get it out. Still, the gun is very solid and tight overall.

The serial number, 23925, places this rifle in a group of some 2,000 rifles completed in April 1864. The company had switched entirely to carbines the preceding October, but agreed to supply 2,000 rifles to the State of Massachusetts to replace the same number earlier diverted from the state to the U.S. government. 100 were sent to U.S. Ordnance in mid-April for a company of the “57th Regiment,” which is likely the 57th Mass., and may have counted among the 2,000. Another 1,868 were then “loaned” by the state to the U.S. in early May, with the company signing a contract on May 7 and delivering all 1,868 on May 14 complete with bayonet, combination tool, thong and cleaning brush. By Marcot’s tables they seem to fall in the 22-24,000 serial number range, which fits this and some other rifles we have seen. Number 23682 is an inscribed Spencer carried by member of the 37th Mass. (shown by Marcot,) so there is a good chance there was an understanding that Massachusetts troops would get a good number of them and also that this one may have been carried in the 37th or 57th Mass. It was a member of the 37th who, pinned to the ground by a Confederate bayonet, chambered a new round in his Spencer with one hand and killed his opponent.

This is a good example of a classic and advanced Civil War rifle, respected by both sides, that would nicely fit a Civil War arms collection or an infantry display. [sr] [ph:L]

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