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Re: 1861 L.G.Y. contract rifle

Posted by John on Sunday, 26 June 2011, at 1:10 p.m., in response to Re: 1861 L.G.Y. contract rifle, posted by ken on Saturday, 25 June 2011, at 11:15 p.m.

LG&Y only produced the "Model 1861 Special" along with Amoskeag and Colt. These were hybrids combining most of the features of the Model 1861 as made by Springfield, but with the lock guts of the Pattern 1853 Enfields, and a few other changes.

LG&Y was the successor (after some intermediate names) of Robbins & Lawrence of Windsor, VT, best know for making Sharps rifles. Robbins & Lawrence had made the machinery later used by Enfield to make Pattern 1853 rifles (the first 100% interchangeable machine made British military arms). Robbins & Lawrence also made a number of the "Enfield" style P1853 muskets under British contract circa 1855, but defaulted before completing the contract and were forced into bankruptcy. Perhaps the familiarity with the Enfield parts and maybe left over tooling and/or parts from the British contract(s) resulted in the Ordnance Department accepting the Model 1861 Special as being an acceptable variation at a time when musket contractors were having extreme difficulty delivering desperately needed arms.

The lock date is the manufacturing date. Contractors continued to deliver Model 1861s until their contracts were completed or canceled, so there are legitimate Model 1861s with 1864 and possibly even 1865 lock and barrel dates.

The Ordnance Department officially recognized the Models 1855, 1861, 1861 Special and 1863 and the Models 1865, 1866, which were derived from the 1855 series .58 caliber muzzle loaders. And, of course, the Model 1868 and 1870 .50-70s and Model 1873 .45-70s which recycled many parts salvaged from the then obsolete .58 caliber muskets.

Collectors seem to have invented the "Model 1864" or sometimes "Model 1863 Type 2" designation.

There is a widely reproduced chart from Springfield showing which parts are interchangeable among these various models. Relatively few of the Model 1861 Special parts interchange with the other 1855-1863 models.

A few parts were interchangeable for many years earlier or later, such as the small wood screw for the trigger guard which continued from 1855 (except for slight manufacturing changes in the slot, and the metal finish) on up through the Krag, Model 1903, M1 Garand, M1 Carbine and M14 rifles.

Collectors seem to more highly value (as noted above) the Springfield made arms, with the expected bump for Colts as well, over the other contract made counterparts. A few advanced collector will pay more for one of the scarcer contractors to complete a collection with an example from each...but they are more fanatical than the average collector.


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