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Rare Original Flint US Model 1840 Musket by Pomeroy

Rare Original Flint US Model 1840 Musket by Pomeroy

  • Product Code: FLA-3999-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $8,500.00

The US Model 1835/40 was the last flintlock musket to be adopted by the US military. While the official model approval took place in 1835, production did not commence until 1840, leading to some confusion regarding the actual model designation. Some references use Model 1835, some use Model1840 and some use Model 1835/40. I have chosen the latter to indicate both the year of adoption and the year of initial production. The Model 1835/40 was a .69 caliber smoothbore musket that was largely based upon the French Model 1822 Flintlock Musket and was a refined version of the earlier US Model 1816/22/28 patterns that had preceded it. The Model 1835/40 was one of the shortest lived of official US infantry muskets, as it was very quickly replaced by the percussion ignition US Model 1842 musket, which was in many ways was nearly identical with the exception of the lock and ignition system.


The Model 1835/40 was produced from 1840 to 1844 at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts, with a total of 30,421 muskets produced there. This musket model never went into production at Harpers Ferry, where the last variant of the Model 1816 Musket (the Model 1822/28) remained in production until the adoption of the Model 1842 percussion musket. During the production of the Model 1816/22/28 series of muskets, the Ordnance Department relied heavily on numerous contractors to produce the necessary muskets required, particularly during the 1820s and 1830s. However, during the production run of the Model 1835/40, the Ordnance Department only contracted with two outside vendors to produce the new pattern of musket. The Daniel Nippes Company of Mill Creek, PA delivered 5,100 of the muskets from 1842-1848 and Lemuel Pomeroy of Pittsfield, MA delivered another 7,000 from 1840 to 1846.


With the adoption of the percussion ignition system in 1842, the US Ordnance Department moved to quickly alter all the newest and best condition flintlock muskets in storage around the country to the new percussion ignition system. This meant that the Model 1835/40 muskets were all almost immediately altered to percussion. The large majority of the muskets were altered by the Belgian System better known as the Cone-in-Barrel system. Very few of the Model 1835/40 muskets had been issued prior to the commencement of the alteration process and most of them were sitting in various armories in pristine condition, having never been used. The Ordnance Department had long used a delivery system that required contractors to deliver their work to the nearest Federal Arsenal, to keep the cost of shipping to a minimum. This meant that Pomeroy contract arms were typically delivered to the Watervliet Arsenal in New York, and Nippes contract arms were usually delivered to the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, PA. It was at these locations that the Model 1835/40 muskets delivered by the contractors were altered to percussion. The Pomeroy contract arms were altered between 1850 and 1851, using machinery that was installed at Watervliet in 1849. The Nippes contract Model 1835/40 muskets were altered in 1852 and 1853, after Frankford received the percussion alteration machinery that had previously been in use at the Watertown Arsenal. As a result, finding original flintlock configuration US Model 1835/40 muskets is very difficult.


Offered here is a VERY FINE condition example of a US Model1835/40 Flintlock Musket by Lemuel Pomeroy of Pittsfield, MA. Pomeroy delivered more guns than the other outside contract, Daniel Nippes, but as noted that only amounted to 7,000 of these muskets being delivered between 1840 and 1846. Pomeroy’s initial contract of 26 July 1840 was for 6,000 muskets. These guns were delivered between 1840 and 1845. He managed to deliver 600 guns in 1840, with 1,200 delivered in 1841, 1,500 in 1842, 900 in 1843, 1,200 in 1844 and 600 in 1845. In 1842 he had received a 1,000-gun extension to the original contract, and the guns from that extension were delivered in 1845 and 1846, with 600 submitted 1845 and the last 400 delivered the following year.


It is interesting to note that Pomeroy’s correspondence with the Ordnance Depart indicated that he had misgivings about entering into a contract to produce the new pattern of musket with such a small initial order. There would have to be a substantial investment made by the company to alter machinery, make new fixtures and jigs and just generally to change over to the production of the parts needed to assemble the new pattern of gun. From Pomeroy’s perspective, unless the contracts would regularly renew for several years, he would be usable to recoup the investment that he had made to be able to manufacture the new model musket. Eli Whitney Jr had made similar complaints about his 1841 “Mississippi” Rifle contracts, although in that case it was not necessarily the volume of work that was problematic from a profit-making perspective, but the price per unit the government was willing to pay. Whitney noted that he did not make any money on that Federal Government contract for the Mississippi Rifle but did by the manufacture of “Good & Serviceable” rifles and muskets. These were guns that were often made to the Federal pattern but were made with parts that would often not pass Federal inspection and the completed guns themselves were not subject to Ordnance Department inspection either. While there is no documentation that I am aware of that Pomeroy participated in a similar strategy, the financial pressure to make these guns as cost effectively as possible and to avoid any wastage probably weighed heavily upon him and his factory managers.


This very fine condition example of Pomeroy Contract US Model 1835/40 Musket in Original Flint may provide some insight into how Pomeroy approached this contract and tried to make it profitable. As noted, the gun remains in its original flintlock configuration and original flint US Model 1835/40 Muskets are extremely rare. When they are found, they are typically guns that ended up a state arsenal and often as state property, which meant the gun subsequently escaped the inspection, rating, and grading of the flint muskets in storage that took place during the late 1840s, immediately prior to their wholesale conversion to percussion. This gun shows indications of being just such a state-owned musket as the sideplate is stamped upside down with a gang stamp that reads STATE GUARD. However, as noted, not many of the US Model 1835/40 Muskets were ever issued in flint, even the contractor produced arms. An inspection of the very find condition wood of the counterpane shows that the gun has no cartouches and never did. The wood is too crisp to have had the cartouches removed. That means the gun never passed an Ordnance Department inspection. The question would be, why? Examining the breech shows the expected markings, a US over a set of sub-inspector’s initials over the raised in a sunken sunburst that was the standard Pomeroy internal proof mark. The initials are the italicized JH of armory sub-inspector Joseph Hannis.  Hannis inspected a total of 1,000 US M1835/40 muskets at the Pomeroy facility, 300 on 13 April 1843, 300 on 5 June 1844 and 400 on 9 January 1846. Of course, those were final inspections, but while he was at the facility, he also likely spent time sub-inspecting component parts like barrels, locks, etc. A clue as to what was going on with the gun was found during a detailed inspection, when a condemnation C was found on the inside of the triggerguard bow. After taking the gun completely apart another condemnation C was found on the left breech flat, stamped upside down just below the stock line; a location where a state buyer would not see it unless the gun was disassembled. Additional condemnation C marks are found on the bridle of the lock and on the sear as well. As there are no final inspection marks on the stock, the gun was almost certainly put together from a combination of condemned and extra parts on hand and then sold to some “state guard”, more than likely in the state of Massachusetts, as that was where Pomeroy was located and he almost certainly had the political connections to make it known that the state could purchase some of the most current pattern US muskets at a “special price’.


The gun is clearly marked on the lock plate {Spread-Winged Eagle} / L. POMROY in two horizontal lines forward of the hammer and is marked vertically behind the lock in two more lines: 1844 / U.S.. The tang of the barrel is marked with the matching date 1844. As noted, the three-line breech markings are U.S. / JH / {Sunburst} P and all of these markings are crisp and clear. There are no cartouches on the counterpane, which is to be expected on a gun sold to a state that was never accepted into Federal service. The buttplate is stamped U.S. as is typical and it is also numbered 48, likely a state or local armory rack number. The number 69 is also stamped into the reverse of the butt, near the buttplate. It is not clear if this is another rack or inventory number or simply a reference to the caliber of the gun.


The musket remains in 100% complete and period original condition and as noted remains in its original flintlock condition. The internal lock parts retain much of their brilliant fire blued finish and the brass pan fits the gun perfectly, with the matching mating numbers 3 found on the inside of the pan and on the inside face of the bolster on the lock it abuts. Many of the parts have additional number which appear to be assembly numbers, as in “order of assembly” since they are all consecutive. As noted, a couple of the internal lock parts show the condemnation C mark. The lock also retains a lovely, original “perfect circle” rounded reinforced cock. Internal inspection of the breech area with an video endoscope reveals no welding, repairs or restoration and touchhole remains unmolested. It is well centered in the pan and is slightly tapered and angled. The musket retains both of its original sling swivels, as well an original ramrod. The rod is the correct trumpet shaped rammer and is full-length, retaining good threads at the end. The original brass blade front sight is in place on the upper barrel band as well. The lock of the musket functions crisply and correctly in every way and is mechanically excellent. The metal of the musket has areas of lightly mottled moderately oxidized brownish patina over a mostly pewter base color. The barrel was likely carefully cleaned at some point in time, and some staining and discoloration was left on the metal. There are fresher freckles of oxidized discoloration as well but no real pitting to speak of. Some of the furniture has more surface oxidation present and the metal of the gun could potentially be made more even in appearance by some additional light and careful cleaning. The bore of the musket rates about FINE. It remains mostly bright with some frosting and scattered freckled oxidation. There is also some very lightly scattered minor pitting along its smooth surface. The stock is solid, full-length, and free of any breaks or repairs. The stock remains extremely crisp and sharp throughout, with strong lines and edges and no indication of being sanded. The stock still retains some very nice traces of its factory feathery texture over most of its surfaces. The stock does show some number of handling marks, bumps, and dings, as would be expected. 


Overall, this is a VERY FINE condition example of a very scare Pomeroy Contract US Model 1835/40 Musket in Original Flint. With only 7,000 of these guns produced for the US government, they are the second scarcest of all the US Model 1835/40 muskets. As noted nearly all of the Model 1835/40 muskets were altered to percussion, so finding an original flintlock example is very much like finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack”. However, here I present just such a needle. The “State Guard” mark is worthy of some additional investigation, to determine if it really is a Massachusetts mark or possibly that of another state. Also, the fact that this gun was assembled using some condemned parts makes it very interesting as well. For any US Martial Flintlock Musket collector, the US Model 1835/40 Musket in original flint is one of those “Holy Grail” items that rarely comes up for sale and rarely under a five-figure price tag. This is an extremely fine, crisp gun that you will be very proud to add to your collection and that I know you will enjoy for years to come.


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Tags: Rare, Original, Flint, US, Model, 1840, Musket, by, Pomeroy