Questions About How to Buy a Spencer Repeating Carbine

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I know relatively little about fire arms, either Civil War or otherwise. I am interested in acquiring a well preserved, functional (though I wouldn't shoot it), highly original example of a Spencer repeating carbine that is traceable to a CW federal cavalry unit. Not surprisingly, I have several questions I must ask. Thanks in advance to the kind, knowledgeable people who take the time to answer any of my questions. (Moderators: if this thread should have been started in the relics forum, please move it there. I wasn't sure. Thank you.)

1. What are the key things to look for in assessing originality and state of preservation of such a carbine?
2. Where can one find a serial number data base where it can be determined when a particular carbine was made, and to what CW unit it was provided?
3. Do these weapons ever carry unit insignia or personalizations, and if so, how do either of those attributes affect value?
4. Where are the best and worst places to look for such an item?
5. How many Spencer repeaters were issued to the Union army during the CW?
6. If it is permissible to ask valuation questions here, what should I be prepared to pay for a good example of what I seek? In other words, what would be a fair price? (Are there any publically available auction records that would help me here?)
 
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johan_steele

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Research, research and when you're done w/ that a little more research is in order.

First find a good book on the Spencer then find a dealer or company that you can trust and that has a good reputation so you get truth in advertising from them. Many of us on this forum have dealt with a variety of vendors and varying experiances wsith them.

Two reputable places that have one in stock right now for a reasonable price. Both outfits are IMO honest about what they have. Lodgewood has been around long enough to garner a reputation (it isn't a perfect rep but I don't believe they've ever intentionally bilked anyone) Dennis Fulmer is a really nice and knowledgeable guy who I've never heard anything but good things about.

http://www.lodgewood.com/Original-M1865-Spencer-Carbine_p_2159.html

http://fulmersantiqueguns.com/listing.asp
 
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Research, research and when you're done w/ that a little more research is in order.

First find a good book on the Spencer then find a dealer or company that you can trust and that has a good reputation so you get truth in advertising from them. Many of us on this forum have dealt with a variety of vendors and varying experiances wsith them.

Two reputable places that have one in stock right now for a reasonable price. Both outfits are IMO honest about what they have. Lodgewood has been around long enough to garner a reputation (it isn't a perfect rep but I don't believe they've ever intentionally bilked anyone) Dennis Fulmer is a really nice and knowledgeable guy who I've never heard anything but good things about.

http://www.lodgewood.com/Original-M1865-Spencer-Carbine_p_2159.html

http://fulmersantiqueguns.com/listing.asp
Thank you, J_S, that is most helpful!
 
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johan_steele

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I

1. What are the key things to look for in assessing originality and state of preservation of such a carbine?
2. Where can one find a serial number data base where it can be determined when a particular carbine was made, and to what CW unit it was provided?
3. Do these weapons ever carry unit insignia or personalizations, and if so, how do either of those attributes affect value?
4. Where are the best and worst places to look for such an item?
5. How many Spencer repeaters were issued to the Union army during the CW?
6. If it is permissible to ask valuation questions here, what should I be prepared to pay for a good example of what I seek? In other words, what would be a fair price? (Are there any publically available auction records that would help me here?)
IMO the one thing you can't go much wrong w/ is asking questions. Worst thing you get is a dirty look, best thing you get is good info.

1. I'm not a hard core collector; If I purchase something I want to be able to shoot, handle and share it in my displays. But take a hard look at the stock, crisp and clean is good, rough and sticky isn't. Take a look at the markings are the legible, crisp etc. Some people have taken to "freshening" markings in an effort to inflate value and worse still those who "clean" them in a little too enthusiastic a manner. There are tell tale signs to this that come from looking at originals.

2. There are several places to go for S/N info; not all of the places are cheap and not all are accurate.

3. First and foremost buy the weapon not the story. Stories can be corrupted or out righjt made up. Or they can have a legitimate factor that doesn't really mean much. An exazmple would be an individual I knew (he's passed) who had his GG-granddad ACW rifle, a very nice M1817 that had been converted to percussion and had a bayonet lug added. It also had "I carried this to Vicksburg" carved into the wrist and his name carved into the inside of the patchbox. Problem I recently found is that his company was carrying M1841's at Viscksburg; though it appears they may have been issued M1817 initially. Does that mean he was a fraud or does it mean the man bought it post war as a reminder of what he carried? We'll never know. I steer clear of most arms that have been personalized after I spoke w/ a collector that firmly believed most if not all of those had been done post war, very post war, in an effort to inflate values. His reasoning had merit.

4. The best place to look for an item is one that has what you are looking for; better if you have trust in the seller. I have a short lilst of sellers I trust and one I wouldn't give a cockroach. No, I won't pass on the latter as one individual threatened to sue me. It isn't worth the hassle.

5. Something like 200,000 Spencer's of all types were manufactured. How many were actually issued is an oft argued point. But the rifle first saw real service in 1863 and the Carbine from the fall of 63. By the end of the war it was a common sight amont US Cav.

6. For the carbine $1500 is a good price to expect to pay on the low end; up to $4000 on the higher end. Rifle about $2500-$5000. But I haven't really seriously been looking for a Spencer as I'm too poor to buy brandy so my price range may well be out of line.


Below is a list of older threads that might be of some interest.
http://civilwartalk.com/search/1335199/?q=spencer&o=date&c[title_only]=1
 
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IMO the one thing you can't go much wrong w/ is asking questions. Worst thing you get is a dirty look, best thing you get is good info.

1. I'm not a hard core collector; If I purchase something I want to be able to shoot, handle and share it in my displays. But take a hard look at the stock, crisp and clean is good, rough and sticky isn't. Take a look at the markings are the legible, crisp etc. Some people have taken to "freshening" markings in an effort to inflate value and worse still those who "clean" them in a little too enthusiastic a manner. There are tell tale signs to this that come from looking at originals.

2. There are several places to go for S/N info; not all of the places are cheap and not all are accurate.

3. First and foremost buy the weapon not the story. Stories can be corrupted or out righjt made up. Or they can have a legitimate factor that doesn't really mean much. An exazmple would be an individual I knew (he's passed) who had his GG-granddad ACW rifle, a very nice M1817 that had been converted to percussion and had a bayonet lug added. It also had "I carried this to Vicksburg" carved into the wrist and his name carved into the inside of the patchbox. Problem I recently found is that his company was carrying M1841's at Viscksburg; though it appears they may have been issued M1817 initially. Does that mean he was a fraud or does it mean the man bought it post war as a reminder of what he carried? We'll never know. I steer clear of most arms that have been personalized after I spoke w/ a collector that firmly believed most if not all of those had been done post war, very post war, in an effort to inflate values. His reasoning had merit.

4. The best place to look for an item is one that has what you are looking for; better if you have trust in the seller. I have a short lilst of sellers I trust and one I wouldn't give a cockroach. No, I won't pass on the latter as one individual threatened to sue me. It isn't worth the hassle.

5. Something like 200,000 Spencer's of all types were manufactured. How many were actually issued is an oft argued point. But the rifle first saw real service in 1863 and the Carbine from the fall of 63. By the end of the war it was a common sight amont US Cav.

6. For the carbine $1500 is a good price to expect to pay on the low end; up to $4000 on the higher end. Rifle about $2500-$5000. But I haven't really seriously been looking for a Spencer as I'm too poor to buy brandy so my price range may well be out of line.


Below is a list of older threads that might be of some interest.
http://civilwartalk.com/search/1335199/?q=spencer&o=date&c[title_only]=1
Many thanks to you, Sir! I am in your debt.
 

Kipling

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You wanted a Spencer traceable to a Federal cavalry unit.... Arsenal of the Alleghenies in Gettysburg, PA has a Spencer carbine id'd to Co. E of the 7th. PA in nice condition. I have bought items from Jay and find him to be reliable.
 
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hrobalabama

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I have owned a number of Spencer s down through the years. Try Gunbroker.com and Antiquearms.com Or just Google Spencer Carbine. Be careful though, if you want a Civil War Spencer make sure it has a 22" barrel. The 20" barrel Spencers were of Indian War use. They also had a Stabler cut off by the TG to use as a single shot firearm. Remember there were three types of Spencers. The Rifle, Carbine and Sporting Rifle.
 

rob63

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May I add that as a part of your research you should look at as many originals as you possibly can so that you can start to get a feel for what they should look like and the condition you typically find them in. It is critical to know all of the little details such as what the original sights look like, etc. so that you can spot replacement parts. This is a good place to start...

http://relicman.com/weapons/zArchiveWeaponCarbineSpencer.htm

Also, jmho, I would avoid the model 1865 altogether as the vast majority of the delivery dates for it are post civil war.
 
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hrobalabama

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I remember in the 1960's going to a gun show in Slidell, LA right north of New Orleans. There was two tables loader with Spencer Caarbines. "Take your pick, $45.00 each.".....oh well that how things go.
 
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hrobalabama

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May I add that as a part of your research you should look at as many originals as you possibly can so that you can start to get a feel for what they should look like and the condition you typically find them in. It is critical to know all of the little details such as what the original sights look like, etc. so that you can spot replacement parts. This is a good place to start...

http://relicman.com/weapons/zArchiveWeaponCarbineSpencer.htm

Also, jmho, I would avoid the model 1865 altogether as the vast majority of the delivery dates for it are post civil war.
The Spenser w/o- s/r could that be a Navy Model or a rifle receiver that was fitted with a carbine barrel and forearm?
I had a Sharps carbine at one w/o a saddle ring and I found out it was issued to the Navy.
 
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I would suggest getting a copy of Marcot's book "Spencer repeating Firearms".
There is a saying in watch collecting, which I am sure is valid in gun collecting as well, that, "Books are cheap. Mistakes are expensive." So I think maybe my next step will be to purchase that book. Thank you again.
 
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