EXCEPTIONALLY FINE EXAMPLE OF 1780-1783 CONTINENTAL GOVERNMENT PHILADELPHIA PRODUCTION FLINTLOCK MUSKET WITH “SP” MARKS. MOST LIKELY ONE OF THE FIRST PRIMARY US MARTIAL ARMS.
inv # 01-19706
Charles W. Thayer in a University of Pennsylvania research paper titled “US GOVERNMENT MADE MUSKETS OF THE REVOLUTION, 1780-1783” describes 4 muskets similar to this well preserved piece. On page 14, he relates “Ebenezer Cowell invoiced the state of Pennsylvania for 100 rampart muskets cut & repaired along with 11 other arms labeled “SP’.” The guns described in the article are all stamped “US” & all had a distinctive cast brass buttplate with rounded top spur which he termed “thumb nail style”. It appears these guns were made up using any available bbls. & locks. Locally produced brass mountings were of British Short Land Musket pattern except for the buttplate.
The musket offered here has 43 1/8″ bbl. most likely sourced from a Long Land pattern Brown Bess & shortened (bayonet stud 1 1/4″ back from muzzle). Breech area deeply stamped “SP” at time of manufacture & has later stamp “M” (Maryland ? Thayer pg. 9 one of 1,018 muskets sold by the Continental Government to Maryland in 1781). Brunswick style lock plate is deeply arched & chamfered it has distinctive file decoration on tail. Faceted pan is inset & squared frizzen is unbridled. Feather spring is file decorated & has fluted fancy finial. What appears to be original cock also has faceted jaws. It appears all markings were removed at the time of rebuilding. Walnut stock has deeply fluted comb & pronounced palm swell, stock extends to within 3 1/4″ of muzzle & is pinned to bbl. in Brown Bess style. Stock is deeply stamped “SP” behind tail of trigger guard. This area is also stamped “5”. “RC” is stamped on right side of butt. Brown Bess pattern brass furniture consists of a formentioned atypical buttplate w/ short “thumb nail finial” & simplified Brown Bess type mounts. Like all of the Thayer described muskets, this example does not have sling loops. The “SP” mark has been variously attributed by (Neumann) as being from New Jersey, but by Thayer & Guthmann as being State of Pennsylvania or State Property.
PROVENANCE: The Estate Collection of Gary Parietti