Spencer Repeating Rifle Company Model 1860 .52 caliber Civil War Saddle Ring Carbine. One of the best descriptions of this famed arm appear in the classic book FLADERMAN’S GUIDE TO ANTIQUE AMERICAN FIREARMS AND THEIR VALUES, “One of the most colorful, widely used and popular Civil War firearms, the Spencer received the unique advantage and distinction, after a trial firing demonstration, of gaining the personal endorsement of President Lincoln. Toward the end of the Civil War, the Spencer established itself firmly as the main arm for cavalry use and was widely issued during the Indian Wars era also. It was a dazed, somewhat incredulous Confederate soldier, after capture by Custer’s 5th Michigan Cavalry at Gettysburg (only outfit armed with the Spencer that day) who is credited with the oft-repeated remark that "Spencer's load in the morning and fire all day!’” (Note: the last Flayderman’s Guide was published in 2007. At that time the 1860 Spencer Carbine was valued in antique Fine condition at $4,000). Of the different models of the Spencer, the first was the Model 1860 intended for Civil War usage. It is unique and easily identified by having a 22” barrel, 6-groove rifling in .52 caliber and having a single sling swivel in the bottom of the butt stock. On these early Civil War Spencer's, the receiver top is stamped, “SPENCER REPEATING/RIFLE CO. BOSTON, MASS./PAT’D MARCH 6, 1860.” Approximately 50,000 Model 1860 were manufactured and will be found in the serial number range of 11000 to 61000. The serial number on this example is 24389 indicating that is one of the earlier carbines manufactured and no doubt saw considerable action in the Civil War. As such, the survival rate of this model is small and those that did survive to the present show evidence of very hard service. Many also have replacement or broken parts, rusted and pitted metal, missing sights etc. This example is in better condition than those normally encountered and retains the swivel, saddle ring and bar, original sights etc. The mechanics are tight and fully functional. This seven-shooter loads from a magazine well in the butt stock with a long plunger-style tube with spring to feed the cartridges into the chamber. This tube is intact and retains a strong spring and follower. Adding to the desirability and originality of this particular carbine are the two sharp inspector stamped cartouches in the left side of the stock behind the saddle ring indicating that the stock is the original put on by Spencer and accepted by the government inspector before issue to Union troops. Replacement stocks do not have these cartouches. The overall metal retains an attractive smooth aged- dark patina. Surprisingly, the bore shows sharp rifling and is bright and excellent throughout. The fit of the butt stock and forearm is fine. The Spencer was the favored carbine of all types issued in the Civil War. They put the Union troops at a great advantage over a foe armed with single shot muzzle loading muskets. With rapid fire and quick reloading, had the Spencer been issued previous to it’s introduction in 1863, it is thought by many that the Civil War would have been ended much sooner. The Model 1860 is considerably more scarce and desirable than the various Post-Civil War later models of 1865 and 1867 etc. This is a particularly fine example of the historically significant Civil War issued Spencer Carbine.
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