.54 caliber, 25" rifled round barrel, no S/N. Browned finish, color case hardened lock and lever, brass mountings, sling ring in triggerguard tang. Top of breech lever marked in two lines: J.H. Merrill BALT / PAT. JULY 1858. Nocks-form and top of chamber marked Wm JENKS and with original USN inspection marks, including USN / RC / P / 1846. Old brass collection tag attached to obverse butt reads "37". In late 1859 the Navy agreed to allow JH Merrill of Baltimore to alter some of their existing stocks of Jenks "Mule Ear" Navy Carbines to the Merrill breech loading system. The alteration included filling the original round oval loading hole in the breech, replacing the breech mechanism with the Merrill mechanism and replacing the mule-ear lock with a conventional side hammer, back action lock. A multi-leaf rear sight, based upon the US M1858 rear sight was added as well, with its base serving as part of the breech locking mechanism. 294 of the Jenks-Merrill carbines were delivered to the Navy in September of 1860, and were rejected due to issues with the breechloading mechanism and the lack of reliable ignition of the Merrill cartridges. The guns were returned to Merrill for repairs, and in January of 1861, 240 of the guns were accepted into service with the other 54 rejected. No further orders for the Merrill altered Jenks carbines were forthcoming, making this one of the rarest of US Navy long arms to see military service. Jenks-Merrill carbines are known to have been in the small arms inventories of the sloop USS Richmond and the gunboat Michigan. Although few in number, at least some of the carbines saw service through the majority of the American Civil War.
Fine. Retains most of the period lacquer browned finish, with some added lacquer on the brass fittings. The breech mechanism retains some strong traces of casehardened color, mostly on the interior. Lock with slightly less color and a mostly smoky gray patina. Bore is fine, mostly bright and very dusty. Action is mechanically functional. Correct pattern rear sight and sling ring remain in place. Stock with numerous bumps and dings and some minor chipping around the breech on the reverse, but solid and free of any breaks or repairs. A really fine example of a very scarce US Navy carbine.
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