EVANS 1795 PATTERN PENNSYLVANIA 1797 CONTRACT MUSKET: MARKED TO THE 25th REGIMENT PENNSYLVANIA MILITIA, CITY OF PHILADELPHIA

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Item Code: 490-3493

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Pennsylvania authorized procurement of 20,000 muskets in March 1797 to arm its militia. Half of these were to be imported, as faster, and the other half were to be made in the United States, to encourage domestic production. Domestic contracts actually totaled 10,900, but it was not enough to make up for the shortfall when the contracts for the imports through the Ketland company were nullified by the British government. A second set of contracts was then given in 1801 to domestic sources for an additional 9,000 muskets. Owen Evans of Montgomery County, PA, obtained a contract for 1,200 muskets in the first group on Dec. 7, 1797. In the second group, Edward and James Evans obtained a contract for 1,000 muskets, probably working with Owen Evans, in Moller’s opinion, though contracting separately, and the muskets from the two contracts are usually considered together.

This follows the pattern specified in the Pennsylvania contracts, a .69 caliber musket following the lines of the Charleville patterns being produced at Springfield by 1795 and Harpers Ferry by 1801. Barrels were to be 44-inches long. This one was obviously shortened during its working life, with the barrel reduced to 31 inches and the double-strapped nose band with integral sight moved down to the middle position (and the bayonet stud not replaced)- all likely done for handier use when the musket reached to the civilian market. Nevertheless, other elements remained unchanged. The musket is still in original flint. The rear sling swivel was left in place despite the upper swivel vanishing with the middle band. And, best of all, the markings were left undisturbed.

The lock is stamped vertically EVANS over CP behind the hammer indicating it was made for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The barrel is stamped at the left breech with a Liberty Cap over P proofmark. The cap is worn, but partially visible. The P is clear. The barrel breech is crisply stamped at center with a CP slightly at center, matching the lock plate marking, and in accordance with Pennsylvania contract specifications. Forward of that the barrel is crisply stamped: 1 F CO 25 REGT PENNSA M. The “1” likely refers to the first battalion and the company letter is self explanatory. “Pennsa M” is clearly “Pennsylvania Militia.” Bazelon, Defending the Commonwealth (1980,) illustrates on p.16 an Evans contract musket marked “24R PM” on the stock, which he identifies as the 24th Regiment Pennsylvania Militia. Both the 24th and 25th were numerical designations assigned to regiments in the City of Philadelphia and, incidentally, the 1797 Evans contract specified delivery to the City of Philadelphia. The 25th Regiment was apparently wealthy enough to mark their guns more extensively, and in the metal, but both regiments seem to have referred to themselves as Pennsylvania militia. The buttplate tang is stamped with individual musket’s rack number: “No. 52.”

The wood has pleasing medium brown tone and surface with a tight fit to the buttplate, triggerguard, lock and side plates. The wood at the rear barrel band seems undisturbed and the ramrod channel is good. The upper band fits well, though the stock was likely slimmed to accept it. There is a small chip out at the rear ti of the lock plate and a crack that runs back from the tip and curves up on the wrist to meet the rear of the breechplug tang, where the wood shows slight chipping. This is fairly common from recoil. The wood seems stable, the crack superficial, and no effort was made to repair it. Otherwise, the wood shows just minor handling marks, perhaps far fewer than most muskets past their two-hundredth birthday, and we see what may be the remnants of a “V” inspection mark on the side flat: Stewart and Reid mention an Evans Pennsylvania contract musket with a JH/V inspection stamp on the left flat. The metal is brown and generally smooth, with just a little crustiness on the tip of the buttplate tang. The markings are sharp and fully legible throughout, with the exception of some softness to the [Liberty Cap] / P barrel proof. The mechanics are good and hold at half and full cock, but are weak and there is some looseness to the hammer jaw. The lower trigger guard tang screw is likely a replacement.

This is a scarce musket and not to be confused with other Evans muskets or muskets later supplied to Pennsylvania by the U.S. government under the terms of the militia act. Please refer both to Moller and the American Society of Arms Collectors 2005 article and monograph by Stewart and Reid. As an offshoot, we also recommend the three-part monograph on Maryland 1812 arms by Gaede and Marsden.  [sr]  [ph:L]

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