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BANNERMAN’S MODEL 1863 SPRINGFIELD “QUAKER” CADET OR BOY’S BRIGADE MUSKET WITH CADET LENGTH BAYONET:  While never produced, nor intended for use, during the Civil War, these “Quaker” Cadet or Boy’s Brigade Muskets occupy an interesting niche in the continuum of American Firearms History and the growth of the gun collecting community from the 19Th Century military surplus market.   

Norm Flayderman provides an excellent, concise history of these unique pieces and it is worth quoting his remarks included in the 8th Edition of his Guide to Antique American Firearms“Quaker Guns – This term, and guns to which it is applied, has taken on a life of its own in more recent years.  Although defined in the dictionary as ‘….a dummy gun as on a ship or fort; so-called in allusion to Quakers opposition to war,’ it is rarely seen mentioned in any arms book, and then only as it applies to artillery and the use of logs in a fortress, etc. to give an enemy the false impression there was greater firepower than was the actual case.   

As it applied to antique firearms, the terminology was coined n the late 19th Century by dealers in Civil War and other military surplus to describe various obsolete rifles and muskets, acquired in generous quantities at government auctions, which were found commercially profitable to alter, shorten and lighten for sale to the then common Boys Brigades and cadet and military academies.  Alterations were often well done and some are hawked to the unsuspecting collector as rare variations.  Among the more flagrant, and amusing, are those with wooden barrels, most often seen on models 1842 and 1861/63 muskets.  Slick pitchmen, with fast talk and fancy footwork, have been known to palm these off as Civil War rarities.  The famous Bannerman & Sons, New York stated in their 1907 catalog ‘…in 1889 we invented this gun for use in academies’ in their description of a M. 1863 shortened, two-band musket with a wooden barrel that was attached to the original iron breech with a nipple.  ‘QUAKER’ was more often substituted by ‘CADET’, a catch-all for most altered, lightened guns.”

This “Quaker” Musket began life as a Model 1863 Springfield Rifle Musket.  As the Bannerman catalog cited above described, the musket was shorted to an overall length of 46 ½”.  The original tang and 2” of the barrel’s breech section was retained and the balance of the barrel is a solid wood, held in place with two steel barrel bands, the upper band being fitted with a sling swivel.  The wooden section of the barrel is very well made, maintaining the proper taper, well finished and painted black.  To the end of the wooden barrel is attached an iron muzzle mated to the wooden barrel beneath the upper barrel band.  The iron muzzle is hollow to give the normal appearance of a genuine barrel and it is fitted with a bayonet stud.   

The lock, trigger guard, butt plate and side lock screws are all original Civil War musket furniture and are well fitted to the stock.  The lock plate is dated 1864, and the date, the Springfield Eagle and the “US SPRINGFIELD” stamps on the lock plate are all very legible and crisp.  All of the metal surfaces have a nice naturally aged plum brown color with no significant pitting.   

The original stock, shortened to fit the reduced barrel length, has a very nice finish and is overall smooth with a few minor handling marks.  The stock is stamped with the numeral “2” immediately behind the tang and with a set of small block letter initials immediately to the rear of the rear trigger guard tang.  The ramrod channel is filled with a wooden dowel, also painted black like the wooden section of the barrel.   

The musket is fitted with a cadet-length bayonet, with a blade measuring 14 ¾” long.    The ricasso of the blade is legibly stamped “US”, indicating that the bayonet, like the musket, is an original US Army piece.  The surfaces of the bayonet match the metal furniture of the musket in color and condition, making for a nice set.    

While not produced during the Civil War, these “Quaker” Muskets were fashioned from original Civil War era muskets and they are a bona fide product of the famous Bannerman & Sons - another of their well known efforts to profit from their vast stocks of Civil War surplus, and evidence of their skill in reading and responding to the market of their time.  All of the Bannerman products have become very collectable in recent years and considering how many of the various pieces existed at one time, they are now relatively scarce and somewhat difficult to find in decent condition.  This is a very interesting artifact and one that has survived in very nice condition.  This might be just the piece to begin your grandchild’s military arms collection and more importantly, stimulate their interest in your collection and your interests.  (0422) $400

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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