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Old South Military Antiques

Henry C. Lamb, Type I, North Carolina Rifle
Item #: OS-7641

North Carolina had a thriving gun industry prior to the War Between the States, and the Old North State’s Ordnance Department was quick in harnessing the talents of these men to outfit her soldiers. After first having all the old and obsolete arms in the arsenals converted to percussion and put into shape for battle, the state let out contracts to make arms on the Mississippi rifle pattern, without being sticklers for exact copies. The various North Carolina makers, Gilliam & Miller, Mendenhall, Gardner & Jones, Searcy & Moore, Henry C. Lamb, M.A. Baker, Clapp, Huffman & Co., Clapp, Gates & Co. and the Florence Armory each produced their own version of the rifle; all were generally similar, so similar that before they were done it was difficult to tell who made what. Ideally each made their own weapons lock stock and barrel, and each turned out some rifles of their own complete manufacture.

Henry Clarkson Lamb of Jamestown, North Carolina was scion to the Guilford County gunsmithing clan founded by William and Anderson Lamb. Prior to the War their rifles, both plain and custom special order, were sold over most of the South.

By 1860, Henry was the leader of the Lamb gun makers, operating under the name of H. C. Lamb & Company, which included his uncles, Jehu and Anderson.

This rifle is serial number 73, which is stamped on the barrel, it was one of the first 100 contract rifles for North Carolina, which were delivered on February 6th, 1862. A number of these early rifles were returned to Lamb because the main spring was found to be too weak. This rifle was accepted, as determined by the N.C. acceptance stamp opposite the lockplate. Since the mainspring is missing, this rifle suffered from the same problem. This probably accounts for the gun’s near new condition. North Carolina would eventually accept 449 Lamb Rifles.

The lock and tang screws, and the inside of the hammer are marked with a single punch dot. The inside lock, and the sear are marked with two dots. Besides the serial number 73 and "P” proof mark on the top of the octagonal breech, the only markings are punch dots and the N.C. acceptance mark.

The rifle is in extraordinarily good condition; it is nearly new, with the exception of a bent sling swivel, a very few dings or scratches on the stock, but with a noticeable exception below the lock, where it was rubbed against a hard surface. The ramrod appears to be an original Confederate make, and looks to be original, but it does not appear to be the same rod shown in Anthony's book, which was a US style rod. The lines on both the metal and wood are as sharp as they were when made and the bore retains very strong rifling.

The Type 1 Lamb rifle is so very rare that Madaus and Murphy’s Confederate Rifles and Musketoons does not contain an example, and the example shown in Edward Anthony’s Confederate Longarms and Pistols uses this exact rifle on pages 92 and 93. In Anthony's book, it is described as a III'rd Model, Madaus believes it a I'st Model. The serial number would indicate that the I'st Model is correct.

In my forty years of collecting and dealing this is the first example I have had an opportunity to purchase, so it may be said that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

This gun is so extremely rare, that there is very little information about it available. Please, if you have an example, or have pertinent information regarding them, please contact me.
Price $48,000.00 USD