NEW JERSEY MARKED COLT SPECIAL MODEL 1861 RIFLE MUSKET

$2,950.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1184-56

This is a good example of a Special Model 1861 .58 Caliber Rifle Musket made by Colt in 1862, with matching lock and barrel dates, and (according to Moller) likely delivered to the state of New Jersey on a purchase order of July 8, 1863, for 2,500 Colt rifle muskets placed through Schuyler, Hartley and Graham, the well-known military goods firm in New York City. Hartzler, Yantz and Whisker speculate New Jersey marked Colt rifle muskets were delivered on an undocumented state contract and the number was larger, but the Colt company was likely more concerned to keep the Federal government happy with steady deliveries of their rifle muskets- perhaps in part because they were getting blowback from their revolver pricing. A second New Jersey order with Schuyler, Hartley and Graham for 1,500 was terminated for failure to deliver the rifles on time according to Moller, which would indicate where their priorities lay.

Not one to let a business opportunity slip by with the outbreak of war, Colt approached the U.S. Chief of Ordnance on May 13, 1861, with a request for new M1861 rifle muskets as patterns for production. The official pattern was not adopted, however, until July and Colt began producing a rifle musket for his initial contract of 25,000 that blended elements of the M1861 and the British P1853, elements later adopted for the M1863: notably, a contoured hammer and direct vent that used a flat-faced bolster without cleanout screw, thinner lockplate, clamping barrel bands that did away with springs, and several other changes that were copied by Lamson, Goodman and Yale, and Amoskeag because they were supplied with his patterns and gauges. Those differences prevented the “special model” from being fully interchangeable with the M1861, but they were needed arms. Colt delivered 8,005 in 1862, 47,000 in 1863, and 45,000 in 1864 on three different U.S. contracts.

This is Colt’s standard configuration: .58 caliber with 40-inch barrel, complete and all original, with both sights, and all bands, swivels and rod in place. The metal is in the white, or “armory bright,”as is correct, with generally smooth surface now a muted silver, with the exception of the two-leaf rear sight, which shows old blue, and some thin blue on the lockplate, which H.Y.&W. (p.57) attribute to a Colt preference or reflection of some U.S. contracts specifying blued locks. The action is crisp and strong. The bore is clean and bright with fair rifling. The wood to metal fit is tight, all markings are deep and clear. The buttplate tang has a U.S. stamp. The lockplate reads, “U. S. / COLT’S PT F. A. MFG CO / HARTFORD, CT” forward of the hammer and is dated “1862” to the rear of the hammer. The date is matched by a clear “1862” on the barrel. The bolster has a sharp, spread-winged eagle. The left breech of the barrel has strong “V / P / [eaglehead]” proofs, and a deep “NJ” on the flat just below, just a little light on the bottom edge of the letters. This is matched by and equally crisp “N.J.” stamp in the wood, just below and to the rear, on the counterpane. As is correct for a commercial purchase or state contract, there are no U.S. inspection stamps or cartouches, and the state markings were likely applied at the state armory at Trenton.

The barrel shows a few abrasions from storage around the lower band and a small check above that. The nipple is not battered down and the surface of the breech next to the hammer and bolster is excellent. The wood has good color and edges, though it shows more handling and storage marks with a few small pressure dents on the counterpane, a divot on the upper left butt near the buttplate and on the lower right forestock behind the middle band, with a chip off the edge of the barrel channel just above.

This would fit nicely in a collection of contract and commercial rifle-muskets, Colt arms, or Civil War New Jersey material.  [sr]  [ph:L]

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