This Peabody Martini Rifle was originally built by the Providence Tool Company as part of a large military contract for the Turkish Government for 600,000 rifles (1873-1882) in Caliber 450 Turkish-Peabody Martini. However, due to the frequent payment defaults by the Turkish Government (which eventually doomed the Providence Tool Company) a few of these were sold commercially here in the United States in Calibers like this one in 45-70. This is the only example we've ever come across in 45-70 and Flayderman's Guide notes they were sold in "very limited quantities." 33" barrel. Standard military sights...rear sight has standard numeric graduations. Providence Tool Company marking is located on the left side of the frame. Buttplate is checkered...just like the early British Mark I Martini. Complete with bayonet lug and all 3 sling swivels. These were inspected by a team of American inspectors and a team of 27 Turkish inspectors headed by General Hussein Tevfik. The story of the Turkish inspectors in Providence, R.I. during the 1870's is a story by itself but here is a brief excerpt from William O. Achtermeier's article in Man At Arms Magazine Vol 1., Number 2, pp 12-21, 5557 March/April 1979:
Urbane and sophisticated, Tevfik belonged to that small clique of Turkish intellectuals who were quite cosmopolitan. Although his assignment was to supervise the inspection of both the rifles in Providence and the ammunition in New Haven, he preferred the less arduous roles of scholar and bon vivant. Much of his seven-year stay in the United States was devoted to the composition of a text in linear algebra and his enjoyment of the social life of the upperclass New Englander. He became a personal friend of John B. Anthony and an uncle figure to the Anthony children. What was needed, however, was not a polished general but a ferocious sergeant, with a heavy swagger stick to keep the unruly staff of Turkish inspectors in line. Tevfik, obviously, cast a disdainful glance at that aspect of his work. After traveling to and from Providence Tool as a group on a trolley car, the Turkish inspectors would gather in the bar of a Providence hotel for drinking, gaming, arguing, and, not infrequently, brawling. (One inspector had even shot a woman in a Providence boarding house!) Their antics provided a continual source of embarrassment for the tool company and harrassment for the Providence Police Department. Were it not for Anthony's influence and the importance of the Turkish arms contract to Providence Tool and thereby to the economy of the city (the company was now the largest employer in Providence), many of the inspectors would probably have spent a number of sojourns in the city's lockup. The Porte, however, was not as understanding. One inspector was recalled to Turkey for some infraction and went before a firing squad armed with rifles he had probably inspected. When another inspector received a summons to return, he chose to commit suicide by leaping from the Crawford Street bridge. A third inspector refused to return home and married the daughter of a Providence innkeeper. As the years passed, his bizarre appearance and demeanor became a conspicuous element of the checquered Providence landscape.
For the full story of the Turkish Peabody Martini, this excellent Man At Arms, Magazine article has been reprinted at www.militaryrifles.com .
If you look closely at this rifle, this frame does not have the Turkish monogram on the right side and the rear sight has standard graduations instead of Turkish numerals. However, since this was originally intended for the Turkish contract, you will see the various marks placed by some of these Turkish inspectors. For example, the barrel bands have a small crescent moon with a star in the Center of the letter "H". In addition to those, there also appear to be American inspector markings including a large monogram on the left side of the stock inside a circle. This would have been part of the American Team who inspected with the Turkish inspectors. While not the same, this marking bears a strong resemblance in style to A.O. Sinclair's Personal mark....a Springfield Armory Employee. Sinclair may have worked free-lance on behalf of foreign government's who were purchasing American-made arms for their military in the late 19th century. His mark has turned up on a number of 1866 Winchester muskets and carbines...which were also sold under military contracts to places like Turkey. This one looks like JA or SA. There is also a rather unusual marking just behind the frame on the left wrist of the butt stock....possibly Japanese. Flayderman notes that 7,000 were sold to the Japanese Navy, but I can find no mention of this contract being in 45-70.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Very Good+. The frame and barrel still retains about 40-50% faded original blue that is mixed with patina. Markings are excellent. Metal has small dings, scratches, and areas of light corrosion but still fairly smooth overall. Wood is untouched with some handling marks but VG+ overall. Nice wood to metal fit with no cracks, chips, or repairs. Action is in good shape and works nicely...except I believe the breech pin is probably from a British Martini as it is a tad loose. With a proper pin, it will be perfect. The bore is excellent, bright and shiny with perfect rifling.
A nice example of scarce commercial American Martini with a wealth of great markings.