SPENCER NAVY RIFLE
Christopher Spencer received a patent on March 6 1860 for his repeating arms. The initial government order for Spencers was placed in June 1861 by the Navy department. But due to the difficulties in starting production the first deliveries were more than a year and a half later. That being said Spencer's played an important role in the Union war effort. Over to 100,000 Spencers were produced during the war years making it one of the most common weapon for the men in Blue.
However, the Navy order off 700 rifles was the beginning of the production run and are the rarest of the Spencers sold to the government. The Navy order was increased to 1000 with the later 300 rifles taking socket bayonets. The initial order of 700 were fitted with saber bayonets and have the bayonet lug mounted under the barrel. The rifles produced for the army were fitted with socket bayonets.
The 30" barrel is rifled and this example has good rifling. The lock is unmarked and functions nicely. The receiver is marked " SPENCER REPEATING / RIFLE CO BOSTON MASS / PAT'D MARCH 6,1860" The serial number "287" is marked on the rear of the receiver. Spencer numbered his products in one serial number range so these navy rifles were the first group produced. Many of the navy rifles were sent to the western river fleet and were used on the gunboats up and down the Mississippi, Ohio and Red Rivers.
This particular example is all original and complete. There really are no traces of finish. There are some small patches of fine pitting but the metal in general has a pleasing grey smooth color. The sight is original and the action works well. The marks on the receiver are there and readable though the first line is somewhat worn. The sling swivels are both present. The rear band spring is not functioning correctly. It is there, but does not pop up and hold the rear band in place. The wood is complete with no repairs. There is the typical Spencer crack where the tube magazine connects with the receiver. Also there are some surface checks on the obverse side of the butt.
This rifle has a good look and is quite a rarity.