Very Fine Nippes Contract US Model 1840 Musket - Extremely Rare in Original Flint
- Product Code: FLA-R021-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
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. 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 Daniel Nippes, the contractor who produced the smallest number of these guns. As noted, Nippes only produced about 5,000 of these muskets between 1842 and 1848. Of those guns, another 2,000 were altered to the new Maynard Tape Priming system between November of 1848 and August of 1849, many before they even left the Nippes factory as part of their original contract. As a result of those alterations, a maximum of 3,100 Nippes Contract Model 1835/40 muskets were even in existence in flint at the end of 1849. This wonderful musket remains in its original flintlock configuration with both the lock and the barrel in their original condition and never altered. The internal lock parts are marked with a small W mating mark, the removable fenced brass pan fits perfectly, and the correct "perfect circle" rounded reinforced iron cock is in place.
The gun is clearly marked on the lock plate D. NIPPES / U.S. in two horizontal lines forward of the hammer and vertically behind the lock in four lines: MILL / CREEK / PA / 1846. The tang of the barrel is marked with the date 1847with a single year difference in dates not uncommon on arms produced during this period, particularly for contract arms. The three-line breech markings of a U.S. / JH / (Circle) P are extremely crisp and clear. The initials “JH” are those of Springfield Armory sub-inspector Joseph Hannis, who inspected contract arms from the 1830s through the 1860s. Hannis inspected at Nippes facility during January of 1847. The buttplate tang is crisply marked with the usual U.S. marking. The left flat of the stock shows to relatively crisp and clear inspection cartouches; the script JH of armory sub-inspector John Hawkins as well as the final acceptance stamp of Ordnance Officer William Anderson Thornton, whose mark was a script WAT. This is one of the few times when the initials on the barrel and the stock flat are the same, and yet represent two different arsenal sub-inspectors. In this case the conjoined “J” and “H” allow us to know it is Hawkins’ and not Hannis’ mark. It is worth noting that Hawkins’ cartouche is normally encountered on late production Nippes contract 1840 muskets and in many cases these guns were altered to the Nippes-Maynard system.
The musket remains in 100% complete and period original condition and as noted remains in its original flintlock condition. 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 a mottled moderately oxidized brownish patina over a medium pewter gray base color. While I rarely ever suggest cleaning a gun, this is an example where a very light and careful cleaning might reduce the amount of mottling and make the gun’s overall appearance more even. The other option would be to allow time to finish the aging process and in another few decades, the musket will have an even and attractive brown patina. The metal of the musket is mostly smooth, with some scattered minor surface roughness as well as some lightly scattered pinpricking. The bore of the musket rates about FINE. It remains mostly bright with scattered freckled oxidation, and 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 a very nice, feathery texture over most of its surfaces. As noted above, two very nice cartouches are present on the counterpane of the musket, although the forward JH cartouche of Hawkins has a small ding in it, which made it somewhat more difficult to decide if it was the cartouche of Hawkins or Hannis. The stock does show some number of handling marks, bumps, and dings, as would be expected. The only real condition issued worth noting with the stock is some minor splintered loss along the sharp edges of the ramrod channel, which are pictured to allow you to assess their importance.
Overall, this is a VERY FINE condition example of a rather scare example of a Daniel Nippes Contract US Model 1835/40 Musket in Original Flint. With only 5,100 of these guns produced, they are the 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 a needle. With only 3,100 of those 5,100 guns still in flint at the end of 1849 due to the Nippes-Maynard alterations, and with nearly all of the remaining guns altered to percussion in 1852 and 1853, this is really a special and rarely encountered musket to remain in its original flintlock condition. For any US Martial Flintlock Musket collector, the US Model 1835/40 in flint is one of those “Holy Grail” items that rarely comes up for sale and rarely under a five-figure price tag. This is a 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.