1855 Springfields - need a refresher on types and styles

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#1
I'm going to be heading to a big antique arms show at the end of this month with a pocket full of cash intent on returning with an original 1855 Springfield, the last remaining hole in my US long arm collection. I'm quite excited, but I need a quick refresher of the different types and styles that it was made in.

There were at least three different variants of the 1855 in the 4-years it was produced, perhaps more. All of my reference literature barely mentions this model, so there's no breakdown of these types. Some had patch boxes, some had brass nosecaps, and there might have been a carbine version (?). I want to go to this show with a grasp of the variants and the years they were produced, and possibly quantities.

Also if anyone has tips on what to look out for when buying an original, i.e. how to tell a parts gun or one restored with repo parts from an all-original. I don't have a huge problem with a couple replaced parts, but I do want to know what I'm getting.

I would appreciate anyone sharing their knowledge, or directing me to an online source. Thank you.
 

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#4
[QUOTE="Groatski, There were at least three different variants of the 1855 in the 4-years it was produced, perhaps more.

That must be the Franklin{Nashville} show. Most of the major dealers and collectors will be there, and you will have lots of choices. Dealers don't like to offer opinions or appraisals of other peoples items.. It's a lose/lose proposition.
The publication being released by Mobrey after the show will be your best bet for up to date information, as all the other references are getting a little long in the tooth.
Good luck on your search. Prices are way off of the highs from a few years ago.

There are at least this many variations, and I'm still searching for more.
20181102_141944_resized (2).jpg
 
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#5
That must be the Franklin{Nashville} show. Most of the major dealers and collectors will be there, and you will have lots of choices. Dealers don't like to offer opinions or appraisals of other peoples items.. It's a lose/lose proposition.
The publication being released by Mobrey after the show will be your best bet for up to date information, as all the other references are getting a little long in the tooth.
Good luck on your search. Prices are way off of the highs from a few years ago.

There are at least this many variations, and I'm still searching for more.
View attachment 209353 [/QUOTE]

Thank you. My main question at the moment concerns the patch box; it seems most didn't have them. What lockplate date would be the most appropriate to see a patch box?
 

Jobe Holiday

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#7
A simple breakdown for a novice who is looking for a Springfield Model 1855 Rifle Musket, eliminate anything that has two barrel bands. Look at the three band rifle muskets with Springfield Maynard tape primer locks. Then break it down to three (3) basic types.

1 - Tape lock marked Springfield 1857/8, with a long range ladder rear sight, and a brass nose cap.

2 - Tape Lock marked Springfield 1858/9, with a solid base rear sight with three sighting leaves marked 1,3, 5 for yardage, and a brass (early/transitional) or iron nose cap.

3 - The same as #2, dated 1860/1 but with an iron nose cap only, and an iron patch box. The Springfield 1860 date is the most common you will see with an iron patch box, and the 1861 dated Springfield Tape Lock is extremely rare, as in I've never seen one!

This may be, as I said, a bit simplistic for some collectors, but it won't get you in trouble, either!

Good luck at the shows, and don't be afraid to ask other collectors questions, especially on this forum.
J.
 
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#8
Thank you, Jobe. That was exactly what I was after.

Doing some online research I found a site that sold original 1855 parts, and they had several brass patch boxes for sale. I also saw a supposedly original Harpers Ferry 1858 with a brass patch box and brass barrell bands. Was this exclusively a Harpers Ferry thing? (link below)

http://www.horsesoldier.com/products/26370
 

Jobe Holiday

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#9
You are looking at a Harper's Ferry Model 1855 Rifle. This is unique to Harper's Ferry, only. Do not confuse this two band, 33" barreled, rifle with what you originally asked about, which was Springfield M-1855 Rifle Muskets.

If you wish to delve into the field of "Rifles", we can do that, but it will confuse you to no purpose at this time. Remember what I said......don't look at two band arms if you want a M-1855 Springfield!
J.
 
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#10
Yes, I didn't originally notice it was a 2-bander. I guess the best thing for me to do is heed your original advice and stick with Springfields. Perhaps it's incorrect of me to do so, but when I say 'Springfield' I am referring to all US military spec arms of the type, regardless of manufacture as long as it was issued to the US infantry.

Besides, I doubt I'll find a Harpers Ferry in my price range that's worth owning.
 

Jobe Holiday

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#11
The term "Springfield" is to be taken literally, as an arm actually made at the Springfield Armory. There are two basic Civil War era Maynard Tape Lock arms made at the Harper's Ferry Armory. The Harper's Ferry Model 1855 Rifle, and the Model 1855 Rifle Musket....which was also made at the Springfield Armory. The Harper's Ferry Rifle ( two bands) is very expensive. The Harper's Ferry Rifle Musket (three bands) is usually only a few hundred dollars more than the same version made at the Springfield Armory.
J.
 

johan_steele

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#12
As a note remember that these were parts interchangeable arms. Armorers didn't give two figs so long as it worked when it left their hands.

There are also some truly skilled artisans who have put together arms from disassociated parts. I own one put together in the early 80's from original parts that passed through Bannermans hands.

Putting together a Springfield ACW collection would be a pretty good start to base a larger ACW US made collection then...

M1842, 3 x M1855, M1861, M1863, M1864 ... Excellent start.
 
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Craig L Barry

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#15
Check Mowbray Publishing, They have a new book, U. S. Model 1855 Series of Small Arms.
I have received a copy of this book to write a review for CWN...first impression is that the author was really channeling Claud E Fuller's classic from 1958 "The Rifled Musket." He probably said to himself, "I'm going to do something like that for the US 1855." And then he must have spent decades doing the research just to create some of the tables in the Appendix to chart the progression of the various changes in what was an evolving design. Also, something like 580 color photos in a 224 page book.

This one is going to take a while to read and digest. There is a lot of information here and what I have read so far is quite enlightening.
 

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