Help on markings for 1861 Springfield

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powelltc1

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#1
Hi! I recently purchased an "attic condition" M1861 Springfield with an 1861 date on the lock plate. The barrel has the "VP" and eagle on the side of the barrel, but there is no date stamped on the barrel. The area where the date would have been stamped does not seem to be heavily pitted, covering/destroying the date. The gun was obviously in an attic and not touched for many decades and comes from a reputable collection.

I guess my question is, did all Springfields have a date stamped on the barrel? Thanks for the help!
 

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Michael W.

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#2
Hi! I recently purchased an "attic condition" M1861 Springfield with an 1861 date on the lock plate. The barrel has the "VP" and eagle on the side of the barrel, but there is no date stamped on the barrel. The area where the date would have been stamped does not seem to be heavily pitted, covering/destroying the date. The gun was obviously in an attic and not touched for many decades and comes from a reputable collection.

I guess my question is, did all Springfields have a date stamped on the barrel? Thanks for the help!
Typically, yes they did, why that one does not puzzles me. Hopefully someone with more firearms knowledge will jump in on here. Possibly during the war as production was ramping up, they were in a hurry to get them out the door and left it off intentionally, I'm just not sure. Another possibility is that the barrel on that gun is a replacement, which happened quite frequently during the course of the war.
 
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#3
Typically, yes they did, why that one does not puzzles me. Hopefully someone with more firearms knowledge will jump in on here. Possibly during the war as production was ramping up, they were in a hurry to get them out the door and left it off intentionally, I'm just not sure. Another possibility is that the barrel on that gun is a replacement, which happened quite frequently during the course of the war.
Thanks for the response Michael! I appreciate the help.
 

Old Hickory

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#10
It didn't take much to eradicate the dates from the barrels. Check under magnification and you may see traces of it. The barrel dates were stamped much lighter than the lock plates.
 
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johan_steele

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#11
Hey Johan, thanks for trying to help me. It is a Springfield.
The reason I asked for the lockplate markings is that at least one contractor, Whitney IIRC, did not always have their arms pass inspection. A missing marking may reflect that. Keep in mind these were interchangeable arms. If you take a hard look at the breach area and see no date it may well be a barrel that did not pass Army inspection that was placed on the arm at a later date.

Old Hickory is also quite correct in that those markings do not always survive 150 years as they are not as deeply stamped as those on the lock.

Pictures might help as well.
 
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#12
It didn't take much to eradicate the dates from the barrels. Check under magnification and you may see traces of it. The barrel dates were stamped much lighter than the lock plates. Lol
Thanks Old Hickory...I hadn't thought of that. If I find anything I'll let you know...
 
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#13
The reason I asked for the lockplate markings is that at least one contractor, Whitney IIRC, did not always have their arms pass inspection. A missing marking may reflect that. Keep in mind these were interchangeable arms. If you take a hard look at the breach area and see no date it may well be a barrel that did not pass Army inspection that was placed on the arm at a later date.

Old Hickory is also quite correct in that those markings do not always survive 150 years as they are not as deeply stamped as those on the lock.

Pictures might help as well.
If it didn't pass inspection, it wouldn't have the eagle and "VP" would it? Was that a different inspection. Thanks for the training!
 

johan_steele

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#14
If it didn't pass inspection, it wouldn't have the eagle and "VP" would it? Was that a different inspection. Thanks for the training!
That's where I'm not certain on the Whitney contracts. Whitney had a tendency to play fast and loose with his arms during the ACW. His "good and serviceable arms" did not typically pass inspection or conform to govt pattern often being made up of condemned parts. There is some dispute about what happened to the M1861's that were not accepted by the govt. General belief is that they were sold to a state. Some ended up with the Finians and later with the Canadians which is how it's possible to run across an M1861 w/ the broad arrow of the British military.

In the past I have seen an M1861 w/ the VP, but no eagle and was told it was a post/end of war made contractor barrel. What I haven't seen, at least that I can recall, is an M1861 barrel w/out a date stamp.

Another thing is to dismount the barrel and take a look at the underside of the barrel, IIRC I've been told the early Yeck barrels did not always have all of the inspection stamps as he didn't wish to be accused of being a counterfeiter. His barrel will all have his mark on the underside of the barrel.
 
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#16
That's where I'm not certain on the Whitney contracts. Whitney had a tendency to play fast and loose with his arms during the ACW. His "good and serviceable arms" did not typically pass inspection or conform to govt pattern often being made up of condemned parts. There is some dispute about what happened to the M1861's that were not accepted by the govt. General belief is that they were sold to a state. Some ended up with the Finians and later with the Canadians which is how it's possible to run across an M1861 w/ the broad arrow of the British military.

In the past I have seen an M1861 w/ the VP, but no eagle and was told it was a post/end of war made contractor barrel. What I haven't seen, at least that I can recall, is an M1861 barrel w/out a date stamp.

Another thing is to dismount the barrel and take a look at the underside of the barrel, IIRC I've been told the early Yeck barrels did not always have all of the inspection stamps as he didn't wish to be accused of being a counterfeiter. His barrel will all have his mark on the underside of the barrel.
Great information...I really appreciate you trying to help me. No markings under the barrel, and I did not see anything under a magnifying glass either. Hmmmmmm...
 

johan_steele

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#17
Great information...I really appreciate you trying to help me. No markings under the barrel, and I did not see anything under a magnifying glass either. Hmmmmmm...
When I get time this weekend I'll try to look into my references. An M1861 with an 1861 date is exceedingly rare and yours looks to be in really good condition. Congrats.
 
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#18
Thanks. It was covered in decades of dirt and muck after being found in an attic. It even had some paint drops on it where someone had painted something and not bothered to move it. I just used a little bit of 0000 bronze wool and some Kramer's, and that was underneath. Still has the chocolate brown patina on all of the metal, it is just hard to see in the pictures. I was really blessed to find it. I know there is debate on if it is best to clean it or not, but I just really wanted to know what was underneath without destroying the patina. Hope I did the right thing!
 
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#20
In my opinion, it used to have the date on the barrel, but it was stamped lightly and at some point it was heavy cleaned and the date wore off. You can see the remnants of the piping on the metal parts.
 

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