m1817 Common Rifle altered to Percussion
Based upon the letters published in, "Simeon North, First Official Pistol Maker of the United States; a Memoir" (1913), the m1817 Common Rifle presented here is most likely from North's first production of 200 rifles, with the barrels he mentions that were ready for proving, and the rifle stocks obtained from the Philadelphia armory in his letters to Col. Bomford. This percussion altered rifle has a 5-1/2" lockplate that fits no known North pistols- all of which were 5-1/4" and shorter. The m1819 pistol was produced in 1823, but this year date was omitted from 1823 produced pistols (as mentioned by Tim Prince in his write-up on a m1819 pistol dated 1821), not to mention it had a shorter lockplate of 4-5/8". Further examination by a collector with examples of the various North pistols also suggest that not a single version of his pistol lockplates were ever large enough to fit the lock mortise of a m1817.
Next, then year date on m1819 pistols were horizontally stamped, not vertically as this rifle was. Also, the m1819 pistols by North had the unique and largely unpopular safety in the rear of the hammer. This fitting required a slim cut through the lockplate, which is non-existent in this rifle's lockplate. Another interesting feature is the style of the North markings on the lockplate. They are the same as the m1819 flintlock pistols, however, this design would be subsequently changed on future year models.
The rifle has many mated parts. The trigger guard, patch box cover, and lockplate washer are all mated with "60," and the barrel and brass pan are both mated with a "6." The action is strong, and the .54 rifle bore is very fine, and would surely shoot very well today! My brother and I present our conclusions of that this is among the first two-hundred m1817 rifles ever produced by Simeon North, and one of the very few and first produced in -or with parts from- 1823.
Any pre-Civil War arms collection should include a m1817 in it. With it being a cone in barrel conversion in the early 1850s, this arm was intended to be used in any future conflicts. This would be a fantastic shooter, Living History piece, or in the collection of any arms collector. $1700.00 shipped.