Susat Civil War Antiques
  • 1861 Sarson & Roberts Contract Rifle Musket


    1861 Sarson & Roberts Contract Rifle Musket. SOLD

    On August 3, 1861, Sarson & Roberts received a contract to deliver 25,000 US Pattern Model 1861 Rifle Muskets to the U.S. Government at the rate of $18.50 per stand. Less than a year later, on June 17, 1862, the contract was reduced to 20,000 stands. The reduction of the contract was the result of the work of the Holt-Owen Commission, which had been appointed by Congress in the spring of 1862 to evaluate all Ordnance Department contracts. The onset of the Civil War in 1861 led to a dramatic increase in Ordnance contracts for arms of all types and many of these contracts were let at inflated rates and to entities that had little or no arms manufacturing experience. In the case of Sarson & Roberts, the Commission reduced the contract to 20,000 stands of arms but adjusted the contract price to $20.00 per stand for first quality arms with reductions in price for stands that did not meet first quality inspection standards.

    The original Sarson & Roberts contract called for the delivery of 500 stands per month for the months of July, August and September 1862, 1000 stands in October and November 1862, and 1,500 stands per month thereafter until the 20,000 stand contract was completed.

    Sarson & Roberts were not, however, established firearms manufacturers and they had to source tools and equipment to manufacture the rifle muskets. They obtained a stock making machine and black walnut stock blanks by February 8, 1862, but had only produced a few hundred finished stocks over the next two months. The company had also underestimated the cost and time needed to manufacture the steel components and had to enter into a subcontract with Alfred Jenks & Sons to produce most of the hardware except for the stock, barrel and sights. At least one surviving document suggests that Alfred Jenks & Sons actually produced everything for the Sarson & Roberts contract musket except for the barrel. There is also evidence that Sarson & Roberts even approached Springfield Armory to obtain barrels, locks and other parts.

    Sarson & Roberts delivered their first 143 first class arms on November 22, 1862, along with 286 second class guns (at $19,90 per stand), 36 third class guns (at $18.00 each) and 18 fourth class guns (at $16.00 each). A total of 983 arms were delivered in 1862. Deliveries continued through November 1863 with a total of 5,643 muskets accepted, but only 3,761 of these were classified as first class arms.

    Under the Ordnance Department contract, Sarson & Roberts was supposed to deliver weapons that conformed to the US Model 1861 Pattern Rifled Musket. Clearly they were unable to do so as 1,882 muskets produced were either second, third or even fourth class arms.  

    This particular example is a nice example of the scarcest contractor produced 1861 rifle musket.  It is full length, complete and all original.  It is dated 1862 on the lock and the barrel. The marking are all sharp, deep and clear. The lock is marked NEW YORK 1862. There is a small amount of scattered light pitting.  The wrist is stamped in small letters Sarson and Roberts.  It is a small delicate stamp that would wear off easily.  There are two sharp clear cartouches in the wood opposite the lock.  The rear sight is a 1855 model rear sight.  They did purchase a number of their metal parts from other contractors and Springfield Armory.  The rear sight could have come from Springfield.  

    This is a early, clean example of a very scarce contract.   SOLD