Transitional 1795 type IV - Standard Model of 1815 type I Musket
When the United States selected the French “Charleville” pattern muskets as the standard arm for the American military production commenced without the benefit of any official pattern guns to guide manufacturers. As contracts began being let with private armories for the procurement of arms for the militia they were issued Springfield or Harpers Ferry copies of French muskets. This repetitive system of copying copies lead to a huge variety in the features of American muskets and a near complete lack of any kind of standardization in component dimensions, making any kind of repair, or even fitting bayonets a difficult and time-consuming process.
To remedy this situation the Ordnance Department set out to create a standard pattern of musket for both the National and private armories to follow. The task fell on master armorer Marine T. Wickham, who completed his pattern muskets, which were heavily influenced by the French Mle 1777, in 1812. Production, however, would be curtailed by the exigencies by the War of 1812. It would not be until 1815 that a new musket would enter production at the Springfield Armory. This musket was a significant departure from Wickham’s original design.
The biggest departure from Wickham’s original pattern guns, and the primary feature for identifying them, are their locks. While Wickham had intended for the new pattern to be fitted with a convex faced lock with a detachable brass pan, the production guns would be fitted with a beveled edge, flat faced lock with an integral iron pan. When production of the Standard Model of 1815 commenced the Springfield Armory continued to use up remaining supplies of 1795 type musket parts. The earliest Standard Model of 1815 type muskets were fabricated with the old-style rear facing barrel bands, and even some 1795 type lockplates. These muskets are quite scarce, and it is estimated that several hundred to perhaps a very few thousand were manufactured before the new Wickham stud type barrel bands were introduced sometime in the middle of 1815.
The musket offered here is a very fine untouched example of what could be considered the earliest of Standard Model of 1815 type I Muskets. Like all Standard Model of 1815 Muskets, it is equipped with a 42 inch barrel with a nominally .69 caliber bore. The barrel is fitted with a top mounted bayonet lug. The barrel is secured by three barrel bands that are themselves retained by rear facing old-style band springs of the style used on 1795 type muskets. The lockplate is also a late production 1795 type lock dated 1814 at its rear and marked with a script “US” over an American Eagle over an arched “SPRINGFIELD”. The stock features a medium high comb with a well-defined recessed cheek rest. The buttplate is dated 1815. This mixing of dates is not especially uncommon, and helps us identify this musket as having been among the earliest of muskets assembled in 1815.
The majority of muskets manufactured prior to 1822, when encountered percussion altered, are found with civilian style drum alterations. Our example has been percussion altered with a military style chambered breech piece and hammer that appear to be left over from the Frankfort Arsenal’s Remington-Maynard alterations. These alterations are believed to be the work of Philadelphia arms merchant Joseph Grubb, and are often found with Andrew Wurfflein/City of Philadelphia markings. This example lacks that inspection and ownership stamp, but in addition to the distinctive alteration components, it is stamped with a small “50” stamped on the top edge of the lock plate as well as between the middle and rear barrel bands. That assembly number is found on other Grubb altered muskets.
The metal components have a medium black-brown patina that is completely undisturbed. There is some minor pitting around the bolster, as well as the buttplate, but the metal is generally smooth. The lock functions perfectly and crisply. With the exception of the missing sling swivels, the gun is totally intact and original with no modifications post-percussion alteration.
The stock is in fine condition and free from any cracks or major dents. It has a commensurate dark patina that is undisturbed. The edges are surprisingly crisp for a gun of this age, and the stock shows a number of small subinspector stamps as well as a script “US” on the stock flat. A number of initials are carved on the stock, the meaning of which is unknown. They were done a long time ago, and have the same dark coloration as the rest of the gun, and do not detract from its eye appeal.
Overall, this is a very nice example of a scarce transitional musket from the Model that was the first American designed musket to be produced. The Standard Model of 1815 is an important stepping stone in the evolution and development of US small arms and is overlooked by many. This musket is also a very nice and interesting example of a war-time percussion alteration with a nice Philadelphia connection. Pricewise, this fine musket will set you back as much as a run of the mill cone-in-barrel altered M1822/28 and it is nicer and much scarcer.