Antique M.T. WICKHAM U.S. Model 1816 Percussion BOLSTER Conversion MUSKET
Original Flintlock Musket with Period Conversion to Percussion
Here we present an antique Wickham Model 1816 Conversion Musket manufactured circa 1825 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Marine T. Wickham, and was typically used by the militia in the early 1800s. “Probably the most notable armorer to work at Harpers Ferry before 1816 was Wickham. Residing in Philadelphia, Wickham served as an inspector of contract arms and general troubleshooter at the national armory between 1811 and 1816. Wickham possessed great talent as a gunsmith. More important, he exhibited a rare ability to manage men effectively while at the same time retaining their admiration and respect.
Wickham decided to enter the world of private business after the War of 1812. Upon resigning his inspectorship in 1816, he took over an existing musket contract with the United States and later that year signed his first regular contract for 4,000 arms at $14 a stand. Then, on July 19, 1822, he signed a contract with the U.S. Ordinance Department for 5,000 Model 1816 muskets at $12 per stand, delivered at the rate of 2,000 per year starting on January 1, 1823. In December of 1823, he undertook an additional contract for 10,000 muskets beginning on July 1, 1824. Not surprisingly two of his largest accounts were the Harpers Ferry and Springfield Armories. Both ventures prospered and Wickham continued to garner wealth from them until his death in 1834. His rise from an obscure country workshop to a leading arms manufacturer and businessman was a truly impressive achievement.
The advent of the Model 1842 Musket made the M1816 obsolete, but not unserviceable. Eventually, most made their way to storehouses and armories. Beginning in 1848, when more than 700,000 of all types of flintlock muskets where reported in storage, the most serviceable where converted to percussion ignition. Three types of alteration were performed. All alterations involved grinding the flash pan down and replacing the hammer. The “French Style” conversion added a drum and nipple to the flash hole. The “Belgian Style”, or “Cone Conversion”, involved plugging the vent hole with a weld and tapping a nipple directly into the barrel. This is the type of conversion that was only done at Harper’s Ferry and Springfield, and is sometimes referred to as an “armory conversion.” The last type of conversion was used late in the renovation process, beginning about 1852, and involved adding a bolster to the breech of the barrel, so it is termed the “Bolster Style” of conversion.
The overall condition is good. Bright surfaces. The action is strong. The bore is smooth and dim. The stock shows use yet remains solid. There is some little graffiti on the butt stock in the form of an ampersand. The left stock flat shows some inspection markings. The lock is marked “1825” with a “US” and “M.T. WICKHAM”.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 42-3/8 inches.
Caliber: .69 Percussion
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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