S.C. Robinson altered 2nd Model Virginia Manufactory Musket
The Virginia Manufactory of arms' origin can be traced back to 1798. In that year the the General Assembly of Virginia enacted legislation to organize and construct a state arsenal for the production of arms. Construction would commence the following year just outside of Richmond on the banks of the James River. Musket production commenced in March of 1802 and would conclude in 1821. During that time a total of approximately 58,428 muskets would be produced.
Muskets produced by the Virginia Manufactory are generally divided into three classifications based on their specific features. The earliest arms, those produced from 1803 to 1809, are considered to be the "First Model", Those muskets produced in 1810 and 1811 are generally deemed a "Transitional Model", while the arms produced from 1812 to 1821 are considered to be "Second Model" Muskets.
The musket offered here is one of the later production, Second Model Virginia Manufactory Muskets, more specifically a Second Model type 2. These muskets are identified by the shape of their locks, which are generally similar to that of the US Model 1812 musket. The lock is flat surfaced with a beveled edge. The tail end of the lock is formed by two gently curving arcs that meet at a point. When in flintlock configuration these muskets were equipped with a flat faced beveled edge cock with a forward reinforcing strap. Those muskets produced from 1812 to 1815 are found with integrally forged iron pans, while those manufactured from 1816 on wards have detachable brass pans. The rear and middle barrel bands are retained by forward projecting band springs.
This musket is an 1821 production gun as indicated by the date struck vertically behind the hammer. As is correct for guns of that year the lock was produced with a brass pan which has been milled down during the percussion alteration. A small sliver of the brass pan remains as a support for the bottom side of the brazed on cone seat. The musket has a standard 42 inch barrel, although 36 and 39 inch barrels are also correct. Virginia Manufactory muskets are generally well marked with mating numbers on all of the major iron components. This example appears to have been marked with a 6 or 9 on its component parts. Virginia Manufactory muskets are not generally proofed on the tops of the barrels like most US muskets and this example is no different.
The percussion alteration on this musket has been identified as the work of Samuel C. Robinson of Richmond, Virginia. Most of the arms manufacturers that operated in the Confederacy during the Civil War were novices at firearms production, and S.C. Robinson was no exception. Prior to the war he ran a wood planing mill and was a lumber inspector in Richmond.
In the early Spring of 1861, Robinson took John H. Lester on as a silent partner in his revolver manufacturing business which would soon be turned over to Edward Spiller and David Burr. After that, Robinson turned the firm's attention to percussion altering arms for the State of Virginia, and the later manufacture of copies of the Model 1859 Sharps carbine.
Robinson would deliver his first lot of 600 percussion altered muskets in September of 1861. Between November 4, 1861 and December 15, 1862 the firm would receive 15 payments totaling $73,830.58 for the delivery of an estimated 18,782 percussion altered muskets (although approximately 100 rifles are known to have been altered as well) along with an additional 1,260 percussion cones.
Muskets altered to percussion by S.C. Robinson show a high quality of workmanship, although the parts may appear relatively crude when compared to Northern alterations. The alterations affected by Robinson are identified by the three faceted brazed bolster used in their alterations, which is very near identical to those of Model 1842 muskets. The percussion hammer is new made and of a military pattern. The thumb piece is knurled with two sets of oblique lines that intersect in the center of the hammer. The knurling was done nearly, but not nearly to the standards of a northern or National Armory alteration. Robinson appears to have utilized two style of mating numbers on their alterations. Those styles consist of a pair of chiseled Roman Numerals, one over another, or more neatly stamped Arabic Numerals in the same configuration. The reassembly numbers are noted in "Confederate Rifles and Muskets" as being stamped on the bottom of the barrel and on the inside surface of the hammer.
The musket offered here is a very nice example of a S.C. Robinson percussion altered 2nd Model Virginia Manufactory type 2 musket. Overall the musket rates in about very good condition with some minor handling marks along the stock and one small crack running from the left side of the barrel channel to the rear most lock screw. The wood shows an attractive dark brown coloration and has survived without sanding or cleaning.
The musket has, however, had some restoration work done to it which consists of stretching the forearm from just forward of the middle band spring head out, and the addition of a reproduction front band and forward sling swivel. The front band is of the correct style, although it is not a perfect fit to the musket. The forward sling swivel is an incorrect screw attached swivel that is rather crudely made. The wood splicing is expertly done and is essentially invisible externally. The inletting for the forward barrel band is somewhat sloppy, and shows a noticeable gap along the band's upper edge.
The barrel of the musket is still full length and free from any restoration. The balance of the metal shows an attractive toned pewter appearance. Most of the metal components show some very light old pinprick pitting, but it does not detract from the musket. The lock shows a clear VIRGINIA over a slightly worn Manufactory to the front of the hammer. Behind the hammer, stamped vertically, is RICHMOND over the 1821 production date. The barrel is unproofed. The musket is equipped with a correct style ramrod that appears to be original to the gun. The ramrod is complete with implement threads, and stands about 1/4 of an inch proud of the muzzle.
The inner face of the hammer is stamped deeply with an Arabic 17 mating number. This number is also found on the underside of the barrel and appears to have been stamped on the inside of the detachable brass pan. The pan looks to have been stamped prior to alteration, meaning these markings were applied during disassembly. The milling of the pan recess during the percussion alteration removed the upper portion of both numbers, but the "legs" of both the "1" and "7" are still visible.
Overall this is a nice representative example of a relatively scarce secondary Confederate musket. The tasteful restoration makes this musket display very well, and the look could be improved more by the substitution of a correct style forward swivel. The restoration work is reflected in the price of this musket, putting it in reach of many new collectors.