SCARCE 1858 LOCK-DATED US MODEL 1855 TYPE 5 HARPERS FERRY RIFLE

$4,500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 490-3001

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This Harpers Ferry Model 1855 rifle shows use, as most do, but is a very good example of the Type-5 in Willyard’s typology: iron mounted with the short stock tip, patch box (or catch box in the new terminology,) and the M1858 short leaf rear sight. This example has an 1858 lock date. The barrel date is not legible, but is likely 1859 since barrel production typically lagged behind lock production, creating mixed dates early in a production year. Willyard says 1859/1859 dates are “expected” or “most likely to be encountered,” in the first Type-5s (p.150,) since production started “about mid-June,” but aside from the possibility of a stray 1858 dated lock or two being available at the point, he mentions 220 Type-5 rifles produced in June and July that were made initially without any rear sight and then retrofitted with the M1858 sight once it was approved in July.

The rifle is complete with both front and rear sights, bayonet lug for a saber bayonet, and all bands, springs, swivels, and correct ramrod in place. The catch box has the correct oval cutout for the production date. Buttplate and box door are smooth metal and good. The hammer is the correct, notched pattern and shows pitting. The lock and vent screw notches show rough slots. The lockplate has dings and light pitting on the rear, but the date is legible. The forward plate has good US / HARPERS FERRY stamps, a little light on the “US,” and a good eagle on the Maynard tape primer door. The barrel shows pitting and corrosion from firing at the breech, making the barrel date illegible, but the V/P/[eaglehead] barrel proofs at left breech are legible. From the rear sight forward the barrel is good, brown in tone with freckling, and the barrel bands match and have visible directional letters. The wood has nice color and fit, but of course with handling marks, scratches and shallow pressure dents, etc., to the butt stock, rounding to edges, a little burn out under the hammer from percussion caps, and no visible cartouches on the left side flat.

The 1855 series of arms included a number of innovations and improvements, including the Maynard tape priming system, intended to eliminate the need for percussion caps, and the standard use of a rifled barrel combined with the Minie ball, which increased range and accuracy without sacrificing speed in loading. The production of a rifle with shorter barrel along with one of musket length was a bit of a hold-over, but produced an elegant shoulder arm, and also a scarce one since it was made only at Harpers Ferry and only until destruction of that facility in 1861, though the machinery had a second life in Confederate hands. Model 1855 arms are interesting category to collect, with lots of variations, alterations, and a lot of history packed into some visually pleasing arms.   [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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