Author Topic: Correct Date Relationships Stamped on Springfield Armory Flintlock Muskets  (Read 334 times)


  • Guest
Since posting photos of Springfield Armory Flintlock Muskets on this forum, I've received a few e-mails concerning the dates stamped into the locks, buttplate tangs, and breechplug tangs and their correlation to the other parts of the muskets. So, here's the Readers Digest explanation. If any more specific information on this subject, or any other subject related to Springfield flint muskets, is desired you can contact me through my email or post a question/comment on the forum. Note, you have to be a member of the American LongRifles Forums in order to contact me. Be advised that I do not provide monetary values or any guarantees of collectability,etc, etc for any Springfield Flintlock Musket. For those subjects you need to buy Norm Flayderman's book for info related to value or collectability.

Beginning in 1799, the date of musket assembly was marked on the buttplate tang. This practice was continued at Springield until very late 1816 or early 1817.

Sometime in 1804, the date of lock assembly began to appear at the tail of the lockplate. Again, this is the date the lock was assembled, not the musket.

The musket assemblers, officially known as "Stockers", were issued from Stores a set of finished components, enough to assemble fifteen complete muskets. There was a division of labor of labor at Springfield with each workman specializing in a specific operation, or operations, for individual musket components. In other words, the Musket Stockers assembled complete muskets using components made by other Armory personnel. The barrels, having been inspected and "proved" in a separate Armory facility had all the appropriate markings including the "P / Eagle Head / V".

The buttplate tang was stamped, by the Stocker, with the date of the year in which he was assembling the musket.

The locks, likes all the other components, were issued from stores, to the Stockers as completely finished assemblies. They already had been stamped by the lock assemblers, prior to lock component hardening, with all of the appropriate markings and beginning in 1804, the date of lock assembly stamped at the rear of the lockplate.

An important fact to remember is that the musket stocker did not stamp the already finished lock with any date what-so-ever.

Okay, what does all of the foregoing explanation actually mean?

The correct characteristics of any flintlock musket actually assembled as new, at Springfield Armory are as follows:
1) The date of musket assembly marked on the buttplate tang or breechplug tang must match the design characteristics of the other components of the musket.

2) The date stamped into the lockplate must either match the date of musket assembly or be dated for the preceding year.

 For a musket to be considered a Springfield Armory production musket, the date on the lock can never be one year later than the year date stamped into the buttplate tang or breechplug tang.

Equally important, the design features of the other musket components of an "as assembled at Springfield Armory" cannot postdate the assembly date of the musket.

For more in depth studies of these muskets, consult the volumes written by George Moller, Pete Schmidt, or dare I say, my book.

Thanks for you interest and taking the time to "wade" through all of this.  Kent
« Last Edit: May 17, 2020, 05:43:03 PM by WESTbury »

Offline Skirmisher

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 64
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2020, 07:56:09 PM »
It should be noted that at Harper's Ferry, the date on the lock could precede the gun's assembly by more than one year, sometimes several years.  This can result in some confusion regarding serial numbers on those guns made before 1813.  I have an 1812 dated Harper's Ferry musket with a serial number lower than my other Harper's Ferry dated 1809.  Apparently stockers used whatever completed lock that came at hand.

Offline Skirmisher

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 64
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2020, 02:38:33 AM »
That artisan culture at Harper's Ferry pops up frequently.  See my thread on the extreme variation in bore sizes among three 1803 Harper's Ferry rifles in my collection.  Things seem to have been pretty loose there for a number of years.