Relic Condition 4-Digit "Custer Era" Springfield Model 1873 Carbine with Broken Stock

.45-70. 22" barrel length. SN: 5261. Blued and color casehardened finish, smooth walnut stock broken at the wrist. Lock marked with the "{US SPREAD-WINGED EAGLE}" and in three lines "US/SPRINGFIELD/1873". Trap door marked "MODEL/1873/{EAGLE HEAD}/{CROSSED ARROWS}/US". Serial number at rear of receiver. No barrel proofs as is correct. No visible inspection marks in wood due to wear and loss. Narrow receiver, high-arch breech, spring-loaded steel firing pin, coarse checkered hammer without lip, smooth trigger, two-piece triggerguard. Rear sight missing, musket style front sight. Retains the thin sling bar and ring. Barrel band appears to be of the stacking swivel variety, suggesting the gun may have still been in US service circa 1877 when the Model 1877 upgrades took place.

The gun is accompanied by a notarized affidavit dated February 12, 2004 regarding how the gun came into the collector community, a copy of which is included with the photos of the gun. The story is long and extensive, but the crux of it is that the gun in its current condition walked into a gun show in Sturgis, SD back in the 1950s or 60s, and was purchased from an approximately 60 year old rancher from the Bear Butte area of Montana. The rancher's father had acquired the gun many years earlier from an elderly Indian who traded it in its current state, along with an 1885 Grover Cleveland Peace Medal for food. The detailed description of how the Indian fired the gun despite the lack of stock and it's mechanical shortcomings is rather funny as well. While it is hard to estimate when this took place, based upon the time line as laid out in the letter it seems reasonable to assume the trade took place sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century. In the current relic state, which was apparently how the gun was at the time the rancher obtained it, based upon the letter, it is impossible to tell if the stock was broken while in Native hands or if it the damage was why the gun was discarded. This particular gun is not found in the Springfield Research Service serial number books, but two close numbers, #5257 and #5265, both 4 numbers away from this gun, were in the possession of K company of the 5th US Infantry on October 11, 1879. The 5th US Infantry constructed Fort Keogh, near modern day Miles City, MT, in the wake of the Little Bighorn massacre. They and other regiments utilized it as a base of operations from which the US military hunted down many of the "hostile" Indians involved in the battle. The 5th, under command of Nelson Miles, was instrumental in the campaign that resulted in the capture of Nez Perce and their leader Chief Joseph. This very interesting relic condition, 4-digit 1873 carbine was almost certainly a part of the major campaigns of the Indian Wars in Montana and was likely a silent witness the US government's subjugation of the Native people of that region and may well have been present at Chief Jospeh's "I will fight no more forever" speech.

Provenance:The Collection of Larry Ness


Relic condition, heavily oxidized metal with scattered surface roughness and pitting. Markings mostly visible, in metal, none present in wood. Not mechanically functional, poor bore is heavily pitted and has only traces of rifling. Stock dry, broken and heavily worn.

Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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