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Rare Springfield Armory Model 1840 Flintlock Musket, c. 1840

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Rare Springfield Armory Model 1840 Flintlock Musket c. 1840

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This is a very rare Springfield Armory Model 1816 Type III Flintlock Musket dated 1840.

Following the War of 1812, the War Department created the Ordnance Department, which would be responsible for all weapons development and acquisition. One of the first acts of the New Chief of Ordnance was a proposed new model of pattern musket, which began at Springfield Armory in 1815. Springfield Armory's design was sent to Chief of Ordnance Colonel Bomford on August 27, 1816. Colonel Bomford then wrote Springfield Armory Superintendent Roswell Lee on November 27, 1816, that the new pattern musket design had been approved by the Secretary of War. This established the year-model designation of the U.S. Model 1816 Musket.

The U.S. Model 1816 Musket would remain in production, with various improvements, for nearly 30 years. The US Model 1816 Flintlock Musket was generally divided into three "types," none of which were considered different Models by the Ordnance Department during the weapon's period of active service. The "type" classification was only used by the Ordnance Department later when stocks of Model 1816s were differentiated for purposes of determining which weapons were most suitable for alteration to percussion. The Type I musket consists of the first production Model 1816 Muskets until late 1822 or early 1823. The Type II muskets were manufactured from late 1822 or early 1823 until sometime in 1832. The Type III, and final of the US Model 1816 Flintlock Musket types, was manufactured from sometime in 1832 until the end of production in 1840.

Prior to the end of Model 1816 production, however, the Ordnance Department was looking for a new pattern musket. This process began in the early 1830s when the Ordnance Department convened a board to consider “the proper caliber and modes for [a new] musket and rifle, and the materials of which they are to be made.” In keeping with the Ordnance Department’s original proclivity to model US pattern firearms on the French designs, a new musket based on the French Model 1822 musket was selected as the basis for the new pattern in November 1833. On November 13, 1833, the Ordnance Board ordered twenty-four models based on the French Model 1822 made at Springfield and Harpers Ferry. The muskets made at Harpers Ferry were stamped on the barrels, “MODEL 1835.” The new pattern was approved by the Board in 1835.

In 1836, the Ordnance Board ordered the national armories to begin tooling up for the new model and Springfield began the process in 1837. Springfield Armory would be the only armory to produce the new pattern flintlock musket. Except for the initial Harpers Ferry “MODEL 1835” patterns made in 1835, Harpers Ferry would only produce the earlier Model 1816 Flintlock Muskets until 1844 when the new Model 1842 percussion musket was introduced.

Although the new design was intended to be designated the “Model 1835,” in January 1840, the Chief of Ordnance ordered Springfield to make several changes to the new design, including lengthening the buttstock, shortening the barrel, changing the ramrod, eliminating finger grooves on the trigger plate and changing the types of screws used. With these changes, the Chief of Ordnance, Colonel Bomford, referred to the new pattern as the “Model of 1840.” With the approval of the new Model of 1840, the Ordnance Department ordered that the new musket would be produced not only at Springfield but also by numerous civilian contractors, including Daniel Nippes and Lemuel Pomeroy.

Total production of the new Model 1840 Flintlock Musket was 42,521 stands of muskets from 1840 to 1848 with Springfield manufacturing 30,421, Daniel Nippes producing 5,100 and Lemuel Pomeroy producing 7,000. In 1840, when this particular musket was manufactured, Springfield only manufactured 2,500 Model 1840 muskets. This low number was because Springfield was still producing the Model 1816 Musket, which would be concluded at Springfield the same year, 1840. It is important to note at this point that because the Model 1840 Flintlock was produced at the same time the Ordnance Department was beginning to transition to percussion muskets, the vast majority of Model 1840 Flintlock Muskets were altered to percussion before they even left the armory. According to George D. Moller in his work “American Military Shoulder Arms,” Volume II, (University of New Mexico Press, 2011), in Fiscal Year 1851 alone, Springfield altered 26,841 Model 1840 muskets to percussion. And as Kent W. Johns points out in his definitive work, “Springfield Armory Infantry Muskets 1795-1844,” (Andrew Mobray, Publ, 2015), of the 30,421 Model 1840 muskets manufactured at Springfield Armory from 1840 to 1844, it is believed that as few as two dozen remain in their original, flintlock configuration. That makes the Model 1840 Flintlock Musket one of the scarcest of all US military firearms. As a result, some of the original Model 1840 Flintlock Muskets that were converted have been re-converted back to flintlock configuration and this particular Model 1840 is one of those that was carefully re-converted from percussion back to flintlock configuration.

This particular US Model 1840 Flintlock Musket is in very good condition as reconverted. The original .69 caliber Barrel is present and still retains considerable traces of its original National Armory Bright finish. The bottom portion protected by the stock now exhibits a plum patina with areas throughout exhibiting evidence of old corrosion. The Barrel is 42" in length and has the correct bayonet lug brazed to the bottom of the barrel 1 1/8" behind the muzzle.

The upper left, rear portion of the barrel has the correct serif “V” over "P" proof mark over the eagle's head facing to the left. The bottom of the barrel has the serif “BBB” stamp over what appears to be the serial number stamp “C 12.” Adjacent to the “C 12” stamp is a witness line that aligns with a corresponding line on the bottom of the breech plug. The top, right, rear portion of the barrel has is where the original percussion modification was closed and it is barely discernible now. The touch hole appears to be the original one with the conversion plug expertly removed. The touch hole is clear to the chamber. There is no longer a date on the top of the tang. There are several stamps on the back of the breech plug, including two serif “H” stamps and two “F” stamps. The bore is dark with the expected pitting near the muzzle.

The original Lockplate is in fine condition and still exhibits the majority of its original National Armory Bright Finish. The Lockplate is the new Model 1840 dimensions of 6 7/8” by 1 ¼”. The front portion is flat with beveled edges and the rear portion is convex that arcs to a point. The rear portion has the original and still crisp "SPRING/FIELD/1840" stamping. Forward of the Cock (or Hammer) is the crisp Federal Eagle, looking to the rear with upward spreading wings and open shield above the serif “US” stamp. The Lockplate exterior shows some pewter colored patina and minor pinprick pitting but is in remarkably good condition.

The original Cock, or Hammer, is 3 1/4" in length has a convex outer surface and circle-shaped hole in the throat, which was a change from the heart-shaped hole in the Model 1816 musket. The original Jaw Screw Head is correctly slotted at the top and the upper Jaw moves freely when the Screw is adjusted. The Cock itself exhibits a pewter patina with small areas of old pinprick pitting, as does the original Cock Screw, which is the Model 1840 type with a flat head. The Pan appears to be an earlier Model 1816 pan and is Brass with an old, mustard yellow patina. This noticeable more on the interior surface of the lock where it does not fit securely against the left and right shoulders. The Frizzen also appears to be from a Model 1816 Musket and it measures 1 15/16" by 15/16" with the top portion inclining forward. The front portion of the Frizzen is convex and the rear, striking surface is flat with numerous flint impact marks. The Frizzen screw is present and the Frizzen Spring is broken at the front bend so it does not provide tension on the frizzen.

The interior of the Lock, and its component parts, are in very good condition. The original Mainspring remains strong. The interior surface of the Lockplate exhibits a pewter and plum patina and there are numerous sub inspection stamps including serif “B” and “T” stamps. The original Tumbler still shows traces of its original fire-tempered blue finish and has “S” and “1” sub inspection stamps. The original Bridle also shows the vast majority of its original fire-tempered blue finish and has "H" and “1” sub inspection stamps. The Bridle Screw appears to be a replacement. The Sear retains considerable, original fire-tempered blue finish and the Sear Spring and Sear Spring Screw retain their original bright finish. The Sear has a “1” stamp. The Action is still very tight and the Cock and Tumbler action are still crisp and precise and the Sear still releases crisply.

The Front Barrel Band retains considerable National Armory Bright finish and has a pewter-colored patina present and measures 3 11/16” overall with two ½” barrel rings on top. The front sight blade is integral to the front barrel ring and is steel. The Middle Band is present and also exhibits generous original National Armory Bright finish with a pewter patina. The original sling swivel is present and remains tightly riveted to the middle band’s lug. The Lower Band is present and shows its original National Armory Bright finish with a pewter patina with evidence of old corrosion and pinprick pitting. The inside lip of the Lower Band has a serif "V" stamp. All three retaining bands are present and the rear one is marked with a serif “S” on the bottom, the middle is marked with a serif “B” and the upper is marked with a serif “S” stamp.

The original oil-finished black walnut stock is present and is in fine condition. The stock is 54 3/16" long with the low comb that is approximately ¾” high. There is a "D" sub inspection stamp in the lock recess. The Lockplate recess of the stock has an serif “D” stamp. The left side stock flat has the two original cartouches, both of which are oval. The left one appears to be a "JM" script cartouche, which stands for Springfield final inspector Justin Murphy. The cartouche on the right appears to be an oval "TW" cartouche, which stands for Springfield Inspector Thomas Warren. The bottom of the stock wrist, just to the rear of the Trigger Guard, has a serif “J.R.” cartouche. There is a mating “VI” stamp in the rear barrel inlet. There is also an inlet for the Ramrod Retaining Spring, which was new to the Model 1840 Flintlock Musket. The original spring is present and it has a serif “S” on the outer surface. There is a period serif “I. K.” stamp on the left side of the stock between the upper and middle band. The Stock has very minor dings and scratches but is in remarkable condition given that it is nearly 180 years old.

The Stock wears its original Butt Plate that is 4 1/2" by 2" with a straight rear profile and convex rear surface and a 2 1/4" long tang with rounded end that is marked "US." The lower back of the butt plate has a serif “H” stamp. The Butt plate exhibits a mixed pewter and plum patina with evidence of old pitting. Both Butt plate Screws are present condition.

The original modified "L" shaped Side Plate is present and retains traces of its original National Armory Bright finish with some brown staining present and minor pitting near the screw holes. Both Side plate screws are present. The Stock secures the steel Ramrod, which is 42" in length with the correct trumpet-head end but it is not threaded on the end.

The original Trigger Guard Assembly is present and it retains considerable original National Armory Bright finish that is taking on a pewter patina. The original Trigger is present and it still operates smoothly on its Trigger Pin. The interior of the Trigger Guard has the "LC" inspection stamp. The rear Sling Swivel Assembly is correctly riveted to the lug, which is correctly offset towards the front of the trigger guard, which was a change in 1840.

This flintlock musket is one of the last produced by Springfield Armory and is a very scarce example, even in its reconverted configuration.

This flintlock rifle is an antique so it can be shipped to anyone. This rifle will also come with a historic writeup and a CD containing all of the photos in the listing. I accept Visa and MasterCard and charge NO FEES. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like additional photos posted.


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