US Model 1817 Rifle by Johnson

.54 caliber, 36" barrel with three barrel bands, no S/N. Browned and color casehardened finish, smooth walnut stock, iron furniture and patchbox. Flint lock marked R JOHNSON in downward arc over a spread-winged eagle flanked by the letters US, over MIDDN CONN in an upward arc and dated 1824 at the tail. Matching 1824 date on breech plug tang, breech marked with US over depressed-P proof over JN inspection. Counterpane with script JN cartouche and block JN at tail. Old brass collection tag with the number "6" is attached to the counterpane as well. Lock in original flint configuration with matching mating mark "x" on all internal parts and hammer neck. Pan fit is perfect, touchhole is unmolested, well centered in the pan and correctly tapered and angled. Retains both sling swivels and original, correct pattern ramrod. Patchbox is void of tools. Robert Johnson received a contract for 5,000 US M1817 Rifles in March of 1819 and delivered 5,002 between 1819 and 1823. Subsequently the firm R & JD Johnson received a contract for 3,000 additional M1817 Rifles in December of 1823, delivering a total of 3,060 between 1824 and 1828. Only 220 were delivered in 1824, the year this gun was produced. The fact that the rifle retains the earlier "R JOHNSON" marking, rather than the more common "R & JD JOHNSON" marking suggests they were using up left over parts on hand for the new contract, a practice well documented on the Deringer deliveries of M1817 rifles. Although Moller notes that only 1,780 of the 3,060 rifles under this contract were browned, based upon extra payments for this finish, and suggests that none of the 1824 deliveries were so finished, it appears that this gun retains much of its original brown finish, and is not in anyway refinished. As no extra payments for browning were included in the Deringer contract, but those arms were browned, the contract price obviously included that finish. No extra payments are noted for R Johnson contract rifles, but surviving examples indicate they were likely browned as well, with the price again included in the contract. This very early R&JD Johnson contract gun, assembled from parts remaining from the first contract, was likely delivered browned as that was the process then in use at the factory at that time. As the contract progressed, bright guns were delivered under the contract terms until it was decided by the Ordnance Department to return to the brown finish. A lovely example of a scarce original flint M1817 rifle with some nice period brown finish on it.


Very good. Retains some original lacquer browned finish, with flaking, wear and loss, the balance of the barrel and furniture with an untouched, thickly oxidized brown patina. Lock and hammer similarly oxidized with hints of case colored mottling. All markings remain legible, mechanically functional, very good bore is mostly bright with some scattered pitting and old grease. Stock shows wear and use with numerous bumps, dings, mars and a small chip missing on the reverse at the trigger pin. Stock retains good edges and some feathery texture to the grain.

Estimate: $5,000 - $8,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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