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Hi, I'm new on the forum and need help on the history and approximate value of an Eli Whitney musket rifle. Pics are attached. It is approximately 56" overall length, and 40" barrel length. There are not many markings except the ones shown in the pics: E Whitney/N Haven, initials on the barrel JM (from research I believe that this is the inspector, Justin Murphy, what looks like a "U" on each of the 3 barrel bands, and the hand carved initials "JV" or "JY" on the stock. The stock has normal wear dings and appears original with no splits or repairs. The inside of the barrel has some rust. The mechanism works well.
Thanks in advance for any help or advise.
 

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I saw one of his Percussion muskets go for almost $3,000. Not sure what year it was made though. There are different models and years of production
 

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What caliber is it?
 

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Eli pioneered using interchangeable parts on his firearms - a key business process leading to mass production. It would be interesting to see if this musket was one of the early products using interchangeable parts.
 

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Given that it's a cap lock, it's an Eli Whitney, Junior era piece, as opposed to a Whitney, Senior. It seems to be missing quite a few makers marks if what I just read is correct. Among them is the location of Whitney's factory. Can you post any more pictures that might include that info?

Also...who cleaned it? By doing so, you've destroyed a great deal of the value. That rust, crust and patina are critical to an original. It also makes the pitting look highly suspect. I'm not calling anyone out for trying to pass a fake, just warning that cleaning the patina off anything of that age can destroy the value.
 
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Given that it's a cap lock, it's an Eli Whitney, Junior era piece, as opposed to a Whitney, Senior. It seems to be missing quite a few makers marks if what I just read is correct. Among them is the location of Whitney's factory. Can you post any more pictures that might include that info?

Also...who cleaned it? By doing so, you've destroyed a great deal of the value. That rust, crust and patina are critical to an original. It also makes the pitting look highly suspect. I'm not calling anyone out for trying to pass a fake, just warning that cleaning the patina off anything of that age can destroy the value.
Yes the metal has a shine instead of a usual brown patina like my mid or later 1850's muskets. The trigger guard is very shiny like it has been buffed up.
 

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Mea Culpa...I went back and looked at the pictures again. For some reason my brain didn't register the maker's and location stamp.
 

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Yes the metal has a shine instead of a usual brown patina like my mid or later 1850's muskets. The trigger guard is very shiny like it has been buffed up.
The trigger guard looks so well buffed that it looks like a modern era reproduction / replacement. If it is a modern repro / replacement, it will change the value. It also looks like the sling attachment point is on a swivel, and I'm not sure the originals did that.
 

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That's one of the ones I looked at. If you Google it, you can enlarge the images and see that the location is stamped in a different place.

https://www.collegehillarsenal.com/shop/images/D/FLA-2141-13.jpg


Here's the Whitney 1841
http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/42060-us-model-1841-rifle/

Ridgeway Civil War Research Center, A virtual examination of artifacts of the American Civil War Civil War Weapons, all pre 1898
Whitney variations...
http://www.relicman.com/weapons/Weapon1430.html
 

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You can also try and find a volume of Norm Flayderman's Antique Firearms... I have been to Hamden, CT aka Whitneyville... there is a Museum there they may be able to help, some of these arms were made in Springfield, Vermont by Robbins & Lawrence under contract...I have talked with staff at the American Precision Museum in Springfield, VT, perhaps they can be of assistance...let us know what you learn...
 
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You can also try and find a volume of Norm Flayderman's Antique Firearms... I have been to Hamden, CT aka Whitneyville... there is a Museum there they may be able to help, some of these arms were made in Springfield, Vermont by Robbins & Lawrence under contract...I have talked with staff at the American Precision Museum in Springfield, VT, perhaps they can be of assistance...let us know what you learn...
I grew up in the town immediately to the north of Hamden and visited the museum many times as a school student. The folks who work there were and still are incredibly helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks everyone for the input on this piece. It was given to a friend and I am thinking of buying it from her to display, but have no idea of a fair price. I know that the value has been impacted by someone polishing the metal. I can see the polish marks and do think the barrel is original and not a replica. The inside of the barrel definitely looks original. What I can not figure is why the inspector's initials are stamped on the side of the barrel (Justin Murphy), but there is no serial number where it should be behind the rear sight. I'm guessing that Whitney made some with no serial number for some reason. The inside of the trigger guard also has a "7" stamped on it, and the top of the metal butt plate has "11" hand engraved on it (not shown in the pics). I'm thinking that because of the issues, around $800 might be a fair price.
Happy New Year!
 

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You're most welcome! Glad to help.

If it's an original, it wouldn't have a serial number. Serial numbers came a long a whole lot later...sometime in the last century, I'm thinking in the 70's or 80's but can't remember. I'm sure one of the other fellas would be able to tell you the actual "when".

How did you come up with the inspector's name? I'm just super curious about it. ;)
 

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Somewhere in internet research I found that Justin Murphy was a US inspector that inspected guns for Whitney and stamped his initials on the barrels or stocks. If you google his name with Whitney you will find him. I have seen earlier Whitneys that had numbers stamped on the barrels. Maybe I should call it a manufacturers number and not a serial number.
 

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probably more of a part number than a serial number.
I think you have an original rifle here.
I also think someone cleaned it too aggressively killing the collector value.
you can see the scratch marks.
it's still worth something but that something is now half what it originally was.

800$ might be a little high on your end [in a realistic market] but depending on the situation it might be a little low.
I have made a 'donation' to a widow from time to time.
 
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