Author Topic: Another Copeland Spencer?  (Read 750 times)

Offline Farmer4

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Another Copeland Spencer?
« on: January 18, 2021, 06:38:31 PM »
First off, many thanks to Two Flints for the email discussion and research.  I have really enjoyed researching all the threads here.

I have recently inherited a Spencer Army Rifle (SN 1453).  The backstory on it is that it was given to my father when he was a teenager around 1957 in Gary, Indiana - pretty close to the Michigan state line.  He was helping an older neighbor cleaning out an attic and came across it.  When he asked the neighbor what it was, his response was something like "Bah, just an old gun.  You can have it."

I first noticed it sitting behind a door in our house when I was a teenager.  I did what research I could back then in 1985 by scribbling down the patent info on top of the receiver and the serial number and then scurrying to some book stores to see what I could find.  I knew pretty quickly then that it was an interesting rifle.  It had that low serial number, but the front stock just didn't look right.

I got married, moved on and figured I'd never see it again.  When my father died last year, I was sure I'd never see it again.  That's a whole nother story. I was visiting one of my brothers just a couple weeks ago and just out of the blue he asks me if I still wanted it... After a moment of confusion, I packed it away in the car.  He made out OK with a few other choice pieces, the 1903 Springfield, a Jaeger AP-15 (which was a favorite of mine as a kid) and a few others.  The Spencer was the only thing I really cared about.

So, I got home with my treasure and started researching.  I came across some Marcot info, Wiley Sword, another message board and finally the Spencer Shooting Society here.  While Marcot said he only verified 2 or 3 rifles from the 'first order' that was sent to LTC Joseph Copeland, I've got a list of 8 now.  I don't know if they rise to the level of how Marcot looked at them, but they seem pretty solid with the exception of one that was just discussed on a message board without photos.

I've read about the various issues regarding Spencer serial numbers (and of course I've read Two Flints' disclaimer several times in every post where it exists  ;D) - about how Spencer and Burnside reused numbers for different models, so the a 'rifle' SN was likely used at some point on a 1865 Spencer carbine and then again on a Burnside.  My serial number shows up in the SRS info as a carbine.  That didn't surprise since it seemed they reused SNs on different models. 

So, here's what I think I've got - It seems pretty clear to me that Spencer shipped the first 500 Spencer Army Rifles to LTC Copeland for his 5th Michigan Cav and as the record seems to show, they covered the span of serial numbers from 1000 to 2050.  That would seem to put my rifle in the first shipment that chased Copeland east.  Since that deal seemed to have been a 'private purchase', would the numbers even show up in the SRS data?  Mine has no inspection marks, cartouches, etc.  So, it wasn't inspected by an Ordnance Department inspector upon receipt. 

As the pictures show, mine didn't make it to me in perfect condition.  Someone, somewhere along the way chopped down the front stock.  it's about 5 1/2 inches long now.  Maybe it was battle damage.  Maybe it was damaged at someone's home. Maybe they just felt they didn't need the extra weight.  Beyond that, the rifle is otherwise unmodified or altered.  The SN matches on the barrel & receiver.  There is a tiny upper case "L" in front of what is left of the front stock, but there are no other markings.  So, it looks like it never passed through an arsenal for 'refurbishment'.  It looks like it went home with somebody.

It is 47 and some inches long, has the 6 groove rifling, the correct hammer, sight, no Stabler, is still set up for rimfire cartridges and appears fully functional.  I know it's a long shot, but I will be hunting for an old front stock and hope I don't have to go repro on that.  I'm a patient guy.

So, any insight you fine folks may have, advice, gentlemanly arguments for or against it being a Copeland Spencer, I'd be happy to hear it.  I've resized the pictures according to Two Flints tips on pixel dimensions but seem only able to attach 4.  If I can do a follow up post on this thread with additional pictures, I will.

Offline Farmer4

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2021, 06:40:00 PM »
Additional photos if allowed.

Offline Farmer4

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2021, 06:41:15 PM »
Last two pics if allowed.

Offline Niederlander

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2021, 09:08:45 PM »
Very cool!  I'll look forward to seeing whatever you find out.  That forearm could be pretty tough to find.  Good luck!
"There go those Nebraskans, and all hell couldn't stop them!"

Offline Cap'n Redneck

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2021, 02:49:32 PM »
@ Farmer4:  Looks like "S&S Firearms" have the original nosecap and the three original barrel bands in stock.
They are sold out on the original 3-band infantry forends, though...

https://www.ssfirearms.com/search.asp?nobox=&scat=&stext=Spencer&sprice=&pg=11

https://www.ssfirearms.com/search.asp?pg=1&stext=Spencer+forend&sprice=&stype=&scat=&sortby=2
"As long as there's lead in the air, there's still hope..."
Frontiersman & Frontiersman Gunfighter: The only two categories where you can play with your balls and shoot your wad while tweaking the nipples on a pair of 44s.

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #5 on: Today at 09:29:59 PM »

Offline Jim W

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2021, 01:44:01 PM »
Hmmmm....

https://regtqm.com/product/spencer-rifle-forend-with-nosecap-original/


I'd grab the other parts now. Who knows how long they will be available.


Offline Trailrider

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2021, 11:07:41 PM »
I would have said the barrel had been replaced. But, the fact that the number on the barrel matches the receive, and the lug on the bottom of the barrel is still there, indicates that the stock is the only thing that isn't original.  Don't have any idea where you can get an original M1860 Spencer rifle forestock, so you may have to go for a repro.  If S&S or anyone else has the hardware, GRAB IT!  Did you slug the bore?  I'd be curious to see if the groove diameter at the breech is larger than at the muzzle. Carbines tended to be tapered from rear to muzzle. This would be a .56-56 (.545" in front of the chamber and .535" at the muzzle IF they followed the same practice as on the carbines.  Have measured several carbines, but never got my hands on a rifle.
Best of luck. Stay well and safe!
Ride to the sound of the guns, but watch out for bushwhackers! Godspeed to all in harm's way in the defense of Freedom! God Bless America!

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Offline Roscoe Coles

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2021, 09:02:22 PM »
The bore is in good shape.  I wish my Spencer rifle had a bore that good.  Mine is in the 7,000 serial number range. 

Offline Farmer4

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2021, 08:15:45 AM »
While I have a decent selection of firearms around here, I do not have any tools I could use to determine the diameter of the bore.  I've got loads of cleaning gear and a lot of tools in the garage for building things or working on a car but no micrometers.  I get the impression this rifle never saw the inside of a depot or armory after it was issued to someone.  It has no markings beyond the matching serial numbers and the "L" on the barrel. 

Offline Farmer4

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2021, 03:13:32 PM »
I just ordered the original replacement stock that Two Flints pointed me towards.  That's my 50th birthday present :)

It seems to have had a minor repair but it looks really good overall.

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #10 on: Today at 09:29:59 PM »

Offline Jim W

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2021, 09:13:18 AM »
I just ordered the original replacement stock that Two Flints pointed me towards.  That's my 50th birthday present :)

It seems to have had a minor repair but it looks really good overall.

Are you getting all the bands too?
Pictures when it's together!  :D

Offline Farmer4

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2021, 06:34:51 PM »
I'll get all the bands and missing sling swivel parts as time allows. There's also one screw missing near the trigger but it doesn't seem to effect anything. Once the fore end arrives, I'll look at the various original parts available across the internet and see which seem to look appropriate for its conditions. 

I got the fore end from the Regimental Quartermaster in Gettysburg.  They had a second one there that was cheaper but it looked rougher than I thought fit with my rifle.  They were a little hard to get a hold of on the phone, but once they picked up the phone they were very nice and took additional pictures to email to me so I could look it over better virtually.

Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2021, 08:56:17 PM »
I'll get all the bands...

Getting the bands back together!  ;D

(I make myself laugh.)

Griff
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Offline Farmer4

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Re: Another Copeland Spencer?
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2021, 12:26:42 PM »
Well, the forend has arrived and it is quite beautiful.  It is also very close in appearance to the rest of the rifle.  A little lighter, but close.  I'll have to absorb that cost for a bit before I go hunting for the bands and end cap.

Here are a few more photos.  The before and current without bands.  I also did find one additional marking.  I think you should be able to tell that the stamp in the wood pics are of the back end of the 'original' stock that was on the rifle when I got it.  I hadn't thought to look at that before.  Has anyone seen that mark before and/or know what it means?

I can see how that mark might just be a tool mark while it was being shaped, but the 4 parts of the mark seem to be spaced somewhat asymmetrically.

 

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