The US M1835/40 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 Model 1840 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 M1835/40 was a .69 caliber smoothbore musket that was largely based upon the French M1822 Flintlock Musket and was a refined version of the earlier M1816/22/28 patterns that had preceded it. The M1835/40 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 M1835/40 was produced from 1840 to 1844 at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts, with a total of 30,421 musket produced there. This musket model never went into production at Harpers Ferry, where the last variant of the M1816 Muskets (the M1822/28) remained in production until the adoption of the M1842. During the production of the M1816/22/28 series of muskets, the Ordnance Department relied heavily on numerous contractors to produce the necessary muskets, particularly during the 1820s and 1830s. However, during the production run of the M1835/40, 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 musket in storage around the country to the new percussion ignition system. This meant that the M1835/40 muskets were almost all 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 M1835/40 muskets had been issued, and most 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 M1835/40 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 M1835/40 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 M1835/40 muskets is very difficult.
Offered here is a VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE condition example of a US M1835/40 Flintlock Musket produced by the smallest contractor, Daniel Nippes. As noted, Nippes only produced 5,100 of these guns between 1842 and 1848. At first examination, the gun appears to be in its original flintlock configuration. However, pulling the lock shows that the flash pan, although an original one, is a replacement that does not show the quality of fit and finish that would be expected were it original to the gun. There is also a hole drilled in the center of the lock plate that has been filled. The hole appears to be where the tape priming magazine for a Nippes-Maynard alteration was intended to be secured. I say intended, because I don’t think the lock was ever fully modified but was simply drilled at the factory for use in one of the 2,000 Nippes-Maynard alterations that Nippes performed during 1848 and 1849. The reconversion is very well done with the majority of the parts appearing to be original parts. The pan, frizzen and hammer are all original and bear sub-inspection marks. The top jaw and screw may be modern replacements as they bear no inspections but are so well made that they may be original as well. The frizzen spring and a couple of the screws appear to be modern made pieces, but otherwise the lock is assembled from original, period components. While the only sign that the barrel is reconverted to flint is an overly large, poorly centered touchhole, internal examination reveals the work. The barrel was drum converted to percussion, probably on a Nippes-Maynard alteration, the large threaded vent hole was filled with a screw, then welded and polished on the exterior to conceal the work. From inside, the screw body, extending into the breech is clearly visible, although it was coated with grease to make it less obvious from a conventional bore inspection. Only the use of a remoted endoscopic camera revealed the work. The work is beautifully done and were it not for the filled hole in the center of the lock plate, this gun could easily pass as a very rare original flint example.
The gun is clearly marked on the lock plate with a D. NIPPES / U.S. forward of the hammer and vertically behind the lock in four lines: MILL / CREEK / PA / 1848. The tang of the barrel is marked with the matching date 1848 as well. During 1848, Nippes delivered that 600 of his total production of 5,100 M1835/40 muskets. The three-line breech marking of a U.S. / JH / (Circle) Pare extremely crisp and clear. A much smaller, block JH is present on the left barrel flat as a sub-inspection mark as well. The initials “JH” were those of Springfield Armory sub-inspector Joseph Hannis, who inspected contract arms from the late 1830s through the end of the American Civil War, working with a huge variety of contractors and inspecting a wide range of arms. According to the most recently published research, Hannis inspected 300 of the 600 Nippes contract 1840 muskets delivered in 1848. The buttplate tang is crisply marked with the usual U.S.. The left flat of the stock shows two clear inspection cartouches; the script JH of armory sub-inspector Joseph Hannis as well as the final acceptance stamp of Ordnance Officer William Anderson Thornton, whose mark was a script WAT. As with the barrel, a smaller block JH sub-inspection is present as well, located at the tail of the stock flat. The musket remains in 100% complete and period original condition, with the exception of the parts noted above as part of the reconversion process to return the gun to flint. 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 is mostly smooth with only some very lightly scattered pinpricking and occasional flecks of minor pitting. The metal been carefully cleaned to bright and is now toning down slightly to a duller steel patina. There are some small scattered areas of minor surface oxidation and some flecks of surface discoloration here and there, but overall the gun has a very nice “arsenal” appearance to the metal. The iron furniture has been similarly cleaned and has a steel patina that matches the balance of the gun. The bore of the musket rates about FINE. It remains almost mirror bright with only some flecks of minor oxidation along its entire length. The stock of the musket is in about NEAR FINEcondition. The stock is solid, full-length and free of any breaks or repairs. The stock remains relatively crisp and sharp throughout, with strong lines and edges, although it has been cleaned and was probably very lightly and carefully sanded as part of that process. As noted above, two very nice cartouches are present on the counterpane of the musket. The stock does show some scattered handling marks, bumps and dings, as would be expected.
Overall this is a very nice, solid example of a rather scare Nippes Contract M1835/40 flintlock musket. With only 5,100 of these guns produced, they are the scarcest of all the M1835/40 muskets. Nearly all of the M1845/40 muskets were altered to percussion, so finding an original flintlock M1835/40 musket is very much like finding the proverbial “needle in a haystack”. As such, fine condition original flintlock M1835/40 muskets often command prices into the low five-figure price range! This gun has been expertly reconverted to flint and the job is very well done. Although I am not a proponent or supporter of the concept of reconversion, original flintlock examples of this pattern are so scarce that I understand that for most collectors a high condition reconversion is the only way they will ever be able to affordably add one of these guns to their collection. The gun remains very crisp with clear markings, clear inspections and matching production dates on the barrel and lock. As such, for the collector searching for a flint M1835/40, this about as close as you can get to an all original flint gun, without spending two to three time the amount of where this gun is priced. The gun displays very well and has a very nice look that would certainly pass as original flint to all but the most astute observers.