Author Topic: Custer's Spencer??  (Read 8985 times)

Offline Fox Creek Kid

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Custer's Spencer??
« on: February 25, 2014, 02:19:12 am »

Offline major

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2014, 07:59:31 am »
Interesting saddel ring, never saw one like that on a Spencer carbine before.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2014, 12:12:49 pm by major »
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Offline Trailrider

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2014, 12:05:30 pm »
Fascinating! It is documented that various companies of the 7th were issued either M1860 carbines (cal. .56-56) or the NM cal. .56-50 (in modern designations) at posts in Kansas in 1866-1868. James Julia solicits bids on this carbine, but I doubt they would entertain a bid of $1.98! About all I could afford right now!  :(
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Offline Herbert

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2014, 01:44:58 pm »
There is a problem with the story that this carbine was sent in 1866 ,the NEW MODEL spencer was not made untill 1868.However it is another great find as it is another of only 4 carbines that have turned up that are identical to this one.All have NM sporting modle frames and but stocks and carbine lenth barrels and for stocks with swing swivels.I had a therory that these wer converted by Winchester from unfinished sporting rifles(they have a Winchester type carbine ring)but they may be a totaly seperat modle made by Spencer that was never advistised.The only photo of custer with a Spencer I have seen shows him with a standard barrel lenth Spencer sporting rifle with peweter for-end cap,but I am sure he had other Spencers as he mentions them in his writing from civil war times up to the Black Hills expedition

Offline treebeard

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2014, 02:22:43 pm »
As interesting as this rifle is I do not believe the provenance is stong enough to buy it as a
Custer owned weapon. When you start talking thosands of additional dollars a maybe
Is not good enough.

Offline Herbert

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2014, 02:35:33 pm »
As interesting as this rifle is I do not believe the provenance is stong enough to buy it as a
Custer owned weapon. When you start talking thosands of additional dollars a maybe
Is not good enough.
For me the provence that comes with this has to be pulled out of the air,it is a good thing that they dated it to 1866,if it was dated to 1868 there may have been a chance the story was true

Offline tn_shooter

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2014, 06:13:37 pm »
Buy the gun, not the story.  Julia had a 7th Cav SSA posted and ready to go about a year ago.  Engraved back strap from a Lt Smith that didn't fight at Little Big Horn, or at least not killed by the Cheyenne.  This SSA was supposedly taken off the dead Lt. and passed through the Cheyenne family, etc…  They took it down before auction because of the sketchy provenance and a lot of questions by very knowledgable people.   I'm not saying that they are a bad auction house, in fact they're a really good one, but I wonder sometimes if they post items knowing that there is a high likelihood that they're not what they say fro a story standpoint, or purely sensational just to get people to look around and dream…  Taking it down avoids legal issues but still allows for the lookie loos like me to get their kicks:-)  Nice Spencer, regardless.

Offline Herbert

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2014, 02:29:32 pm »
There is also the very small posibility that this Spencer was returned to the factory and up-graded to NM carbine spects and fitted with the Fogety or Winchester type carbine ring,but going by the serial number it was made towards the end of sporter rifle production
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 02:31:59 pm by Herbert »

Offline Snakeeater

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2015, 10:41:55 pm »
Why does it have to be a New Model? The Spencer cut-off was patented on 9 Oct 1866, just about 30 days after the letter to Custer was dated. As Marcot notes (p136) "evidently Spencer thought it wise to patent this feature, even though it had been in use for over six years by 1866", and as he pictures (p137), clearly the new cut off would certainly have been available 30 days earlier, and could well have been installed on a carbine intended for Custer. Just because the cut-off was not yet patented did not mean its inventor could not used his own invention, for indeed we find many such devices on the market then as well as today marked "patent pending". Marcot (p113) pictures another sporting rifle with the Spencer cut-off and tang sight, serialized "1486", just 161 above "1325". It's not stamped "M1867" or "NM" so it must have been made earlier than 1867?

Interestingly enough, I have a Spencer sporting rifle receiver with the screws for the tang sight, bearing the offset serial number of "1335" or just 10 above the serial number of this particular sample carbine. So I don't have any problem with the 1866 date as like Marcot adds the Spencer cut-off was "fitted to thousands of Model 1867 and New Model rifles and carbines" and evidently some specimens made as early as August-September 1866.

« Last Edit: April 24, 2015, 11:20:23 pm by Snakeeater »
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Offline Herbert

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2015, 03:51:30 am »
Spencer Sporting rifles were serial numbered as the frames were were finished not completed as options with barrels triggers and sights could vary, and serial number on this one puts it in the last 400 to be finished in late 1867-8,also that type of carbine ring turns up on some very rare Spencer Sporting carbines that have turned up that are exactly the same as the supposed Custer carbine all these have the short blade extractor(only fitted to NM Spencers) as well as the Spencer cut-off.I belive these carbines were put together from parts by either Foggert or Winchester to get rid of stock to the French were most of them seem to turn up butt they may also be a variation that was not advitised  by Spencer.Out of interest what type of extractor does your frame have,as I am trying to find out wen the change from Lane type extractor to the short blade extractor happened
« Last Edit: April 25, 2015, 03:57:28 am by Herbert »

Offline Snakeeater

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2015, 06:53:23 am »
This rifle receiver is cut for the long blade extractor (like the M1860) through was likely spring-assisted like the M1865 as it has the other features consistent with the M1865.
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Offline Herbert

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2015, 03:38:52 pm »
Some 1867 Spencers were cut for the long blade extractor but the serial number on your action makes this a oddity ,can you post a photo of the cut at the top of the action for the extractor.does your action show any sighns of  ever being a complete rifle ,I have a action with a serial number of almost 100 above your action that I am sure was never finished, but it was cut for the short blade extractor and came with the Spencer cut-off and short blade lower block with extractor,nothing else.These Spencer sporting rifle are a study in them selves ,would be interested on any imformation any one else has on these

Offline Blair

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2015, 03:03:45 pm »
I would be hard pressed to believe the original description.
First, Custer was not the CO of the 7th Cav. he was the XO, (second in command)
G. A. Custer was offered the command of the 10th. Cav. But did not believe there was any valor/glory leading Black Cav. soldiers into action.
"Blackjack Pershing" would probably not have agreed.

Still, this Carbine variation is very interesting!
My best,
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Offline Snakeeater

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2015, 10:41:41 pm »
Herbert,

The receiver is evidently cut for the "short" blade extractor. I had not previously assembled all the parts since the receiver was purchased alone with no other parts from S&S Firearms. I had simply presumed they had stripped it for parts? But upon installing the "long blade" extractor tonight, I discovered the action would not close as the long blade is too long. The "slot" appears to be cut such that the blade does not quite reach the top face of the receiver but stops within the chambered portion of the barrel. Whether it was actually completed as a rifle, judging from the crisp condition of the edges, I would think so. Lose receivers don't store well and tend to attract "handling marks" over the years that are not present on this specimen, least not the exposed edges that would have been protected by wood or metal. The case finish is largely gone, but the swirling flow of the cast steel is very pronounced almost as if to make it look like a wood grain. It had been my intent when it was purchased and had in fact discussed the planned rebuild with Larry Romano, of restoring it as a sporting rifle but in a custom "take-down" variant. But later decided to just copy #1325 instead. I have chiefly used it for 3D modeling, and have given some thought into perhaps replicating the receiver using a 3D printer.
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Offline Herbert

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2015, 11:05:26 pm »
The NM is the  strongest Spencer action.Larry would be the man to turn it back into a Sporting rifle or the special Spencer sporting carbine,I would go the Sporting rifle that is not a take down,I made a take down from a greatly modified AS rifle ,it turned out very well but the take down is not really needed to clean from the breach,a flexable rod cleans my rifles just fine.3D printing a action especially a NM is a great plan, look forward to seeing result if you go ahead

Offline Snakeeater

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2015, 11:05:51 pm »
I would be hard pressed to believe the original description.
First, Custer was not the CO of the 7th Cav. he was the XO, (second in command)
G. A. Custer was offered the command of the 10th. Cav. But did not believe there was any valor/glory leading Black Cav. soldiers into action.
"Blackjack Pershing" would probably not have agreed.

Still, this Carbine variation is very interesting!
My best,
 Blair

Curiously, the letter addresses Custer as "Dear General" and appears to have been sent from the "Armory of the Spencer Repeating Rifle Company, Boston" and does not contain the addressee's mailing address, so we don't really know where the letter was sent, to Fort Riley or his residence at Monroe, Michigan? Given the date of the letter was 10 Sept 1866, and the newly created 7th Cav was not organized at Fort Riley until 21 Sept 1866, this letter was probably sent to his home in Michigan. Besides, during that same month Custer accompanied President Andrew Jackson on a tour of the country, promoting the President's stance on Reconstruction. One of the biographies on Custer notes he was mustered out of service in February 1866 and was later granted a leave of absence, and was awaiting orders until 24 Sept 1866 when he was placed on frontier duty at Fort Riley, 16 Oct 1866. So as of the date of this letter (10 Sept) from Thomas Welles anent this Spencer sporting rifle made exclusively for him, Custer was not yet Lieutenant Colonel of the 7th Cavalry, so the letter was probably sent to his home in Monroe.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2015, 11:08:28 pm by Snakeeater »
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Offline rbertalotto

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2015, 07:52:41 am »
You guys make this forum fascinating! Thank You!
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Offline Herbert

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2015, 03:19:28 pm »
I have never seen a Spencer Sporting rifle that had the model type and serial number out of order(EG:1865,1867 and NM)as the one clamed  as Custers is,the serial number being 10 off one cut for the NM short blade extractor confirms this to me as well as the other identical carbines are all NMs,this would put in the late 1867 early 1868 production period or latter if completed by Fogerty or Winchester.It still may have been Custers but not in 1866
« Last Edit: April 30, 2015, 03:37:29 pm by Herbert »

Mor-Kik

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Re: Small world...
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2015, 07:44:55 pm »


Sometimes you find out what a small world it is...


Offline Snakeeater

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2015, 07:09:56 am »
Herbert,

I guess Mor-Kik has answered that nagging question of whether #1335 was ever built. I bought the stripped receiver from S&S Firearms, so they may have sold the barrel previously. Mor-Kik, what are the specs on the barrel #1335? Is it a standard 6-groove M1865 carbine barrel?
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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2015, 08:14:52 am »
Herbert,

I guess Mor-Kik has answered that nagging question of whether #1335 was ever built. I bought the stripped receiver from S&S Firearms, so they may have sold the barrel previously. Mor-Kik, what are the specs on the barrel #1335? Is it a standard 6-groove M1865 carbine barrel?

Noop - 28" sporting rifle barrel, 56-46 caliber.  I'll see if I can get some better photos of it and post them to a separate 'Sporting Rifle' thread.   I thought it was interesting that it's cut for both blade and Lane extractors.  It's missing the sights, but still has both forearm blocks firmly in place.

Offline Snakeeater

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2015, 04:09:27 pm »
Interesting, makes one wonder now who got the lower block and the other parts?
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Offline Snakeeater

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Re: Custer's Spencer??
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2019, 10:24:09 pm »
Actually it's a 26" barrel, measuring from the back of the breech to muzzle. Larry Romano has refreshed the rifling and chamber, and I'm in the process now of rebuilding the rest of the sporting rifle as a restoration.
First Cousin (Six times removed) to BGen Isaac (Stand Firm) Uwatie,  Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, 1862-1866

 

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