84. Very Rare Smith Carbine Experimental-Prototype Rimfire Conversion

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un-serialized, .50 RF, 21 1/2" part octagon part round barrel with a bright very good plus three groove bore. This is a very interesting carbine, originally an experimental conversion to the Crispin cartridge which had a mid-way priming belt around its circumference at the waist of the cartridge, this example has been converted to straight rimfire from its original Crispin cartridge configuration.In 1864 with the government starting to rely more heavily on metallic cartridges, Smith decided to experiment with metallic cartridges himself and slightly redesigned his action at the same time. The original upward-moving release lever was replaced with a top-of-frame mounted pivoting lever which actuated the barrel spring. The arms were converted to rimfire, with the firing pin hitting the circumference circumferential rim of the Crispin cartridge case, the rear of-which fit neatly into the recess of the Smith frame. This example has had that rear recess filled and the breech end of bore countersunk slightly more to accommodate a true rimfire cartridge. Doubtless due to the extra pressure exerted by the rimfire cartridge, as compared to the Crispin and indeed the percussion muzzleloading cartridges, the bottom portion of the barrel frame, which pivots within the frame proper, has been bolstered and the hinge area made much more heavy, nearly 1" in diameter, and a heavier hinge screw introduced. This is clearly the last refinement of these very rare cartridge conversions as other pictured examples retain the original much lighter breech-frame pivoting mechanism, which clearly proved to weak for these cartridges. This example shows silver soldered joints precisely mated where the knuckle was modified to this heavier-duty configuration, visible on both frame and barrel frame proper. Interestingly the left side of the hammer also shows a neat recess and the barrel spring itself has a right-side curved protrusion which would contact what appears to be a spring-loaded lever in this hammer's recess; the piece unfortunately is no longer present. It would appear as though upon closing the action, it was intended to push the hammer back to its half-cock position therefore precluding any accidental discharge by the action being closed on a loaded cartridge with the firing pin protruding. The barrel is primarily a smooth, pleasing deep plum brown patina with the expected minor dings and handling marks that come from the years, the octagonal section showing a bit of oxidation. The frame and barrel frame are a mottled mix of gunmetal gray patina with an overall speckling of plum brown with some silvery case-hardening in the more protected areas. The sling ring bar slightly more oxidized with numerous dings and handling marks, the trigger guard and tang a pleasing soft plum brown. The buttstock rates very good with the expected dings and handling marks that come from an issued and used arm and the forend rates about very good showing a boning or cleaning many years ago, the remnants of some moderate or heavy dings or bruises still evident with a few slivers missing. The barrel is numbered 11543, no doubt the original number of the frame and barrel frame, those numbers however were lost to the modifications made in those areas when bolstering them. There is very light barrel-to-frame play but the gun seems to function well mechanically. Overall a very interesting and very rare conversion, perhaps unique unto itself, as no other extant examples have been found with these final modifications. (38624-28) {ANTIQUE} (4000/6000) SOLD FOR $4,025.00

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