WOW, this one is NICE!!!! This is a very strong example of the US Model 1861 Contract Musket that was manufactured by Parker Snow & Company of Meriden, CT during the Civil War. This is one of the nicest examples we've offered to date as it has great metal and wood with strong inspector marks and cartouches. Standard .58 caliber with three-groove rifling and 40" barrel secured by three bands.
While it took the Union the first couple of years of the Civil War to ramp up its production capacity, it was contractors like Parker Snow, Providence, Norwich Arms, William Mason, Wm Muir, Mowry Jenks Eagle, Whitney, Colt, Amoskeag, and many others who gave the sole surviving National Armory at Springfield the necessary boost in production to fully equip its armies and end the dependency on imports from Europe. For example, the Union had imported nearly half a million Enfield rifles from Great Britain since 1861 but by the early fall of 1863, with domestic production in full swing, it had no need to purchase Enfields.
Parker Snow's story during the Civil War dovetails almost perfectly into the above paragraph. Prior to the war, Charles Parker and Snow had merged their operations to become the Meriden Machine Company. The company had both a machine shop and a foundry where they produced train wheels, steam engines, printing presses, and piano stools. During the early part of the Civil War, Parker Snow & Company had functioned in the role of supplier for various components, such as trigger guards and locks, for the Model 1861 which it sold to other contractors. As the war progressed, their foothold on the Model 1861 expanded and so did their confidence. On Sept 28, 1863 Parker Snow took things a step further and acquired its own government contract for 15,000 muskets. Having an excellent machine shop, skilled workmen, and prior experience manufacturing components for the Model 1861, there is little doubt these factors helped the company fulfill 100% of its contract with all 15,000 units delivered to the US government by November, 1864. See The Rifled Musket by Claud E. Fuller, pages 194-95. Following the war, the company became bettern known for its line of double barrel shotguns which we know today as Parker Brothers.
This particular musket is in Fine Plus to Excellent Condition and shows very little use and may have never been issued. The walnut stock is still a light honey brown with some minor stains and handling marks. Cartouches are really crisp. You can still see slight indentions in the wood around the buttplate made from the spacer from where it rested in the crate. The metal is bright with sharp edges and great markings down to even the small sub-inspector initials located on various parts throughout the gun. The lock is dated 1863 while the top of the barrel is dated 1864. Both dates fit the Sept 1863 to Nov. 1864 span of the contract, conditions are both Excellent, and wood to metal fit is PERFECT. Our only conclusion is that this rifle was built at the beginning of 1864 using a lockplate that came from a batch made at the end of 1863. Such was a yearly occurrence in nearly every US government arsenal and private armory throughout the 19th century. Barrel has the correct VP Eagle proof as noted in Fuller's book. Sling swivels are intact with original blued rear sight (about 80% original blue with brown freckling) and tulip-head ramrod with swelled end. The mechanics are like new. The bore is nearly MINT...it is bright and shiny and possibly unfired as you can clearly see the tiny machined lines made by the boring machine. The only thing that holds it back from being Mint are a few light pits near the muzzle from 150 years of storage. There is no corrosion around the nipple or burnout along to the top of the stock behind the hammer. Just a fantastic example from one of the more obscure contractors for the Model 1861. If you collect Model 1861's or Parker shotguns, this would make a great addition to your collection!