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    An 'Experimental' Iron Six Pounder Cannon, One of Eight Made This 1838 six pounder experimental cannon was only one of eight made by Cyrus Alger from iron rather than bronze. Identical to the model 1841 bronze 12-pounder, this gun represents an attempt in 1837 to produce a strong barrel with iron. Iron barrels had a tendency to burst in use, and although bronze tubes were available, they were more expensive as its main component - tin- had to be imported, whereas iron was abundant in the United States.

    Cyrus Alger invented a process to produce an extremely strong barrel with extended heat treatment while still in the mold, thus removing most of the carbon from the iron, producing a metal similar to crucible steel. In 1837, 8 barrels were cast at the South Boston Iron Company, weighing approximately 787 pounds each, and serial numbered one through eight. These were inspected by George Talcot, whose initials can be found on the gun, along with a serial number "8". Alger delivered eight malleable iron barrels to the government on January 27, 1838. Little is known as to their disposition after that time.

    Accompanied by brass display plaques that read as follows: "Gun serial no. 8 was found in Maryland in 1959 and purchased by an officer at Aberdeen Proving Ground for research, since no guns of that period had ever been found. After research, it was discovered that the iron in the gun was unlike that of any ever seen before, and it was as good as, or superior to, a bronze gun.
    "In 1980, the New Hampshire division of Parks and Recreation discovered that one of their guns was of the same type. It had been purchased in 1840 and is serial number 5. Recently, serial number 4 showed up in the town of Lancaster in New Hampshire.
    "In 1841, the iron age of guns came to an end and would not appear again in field artillery until just prior to the Civil War in the form of wrought iron or wrought iron reinforced cast iron, but never identical to gun number 8.
    "In 1960, gun number 8 was loaned to Reuben Darby of Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. It was displayed at the museum and used in living history demonstrations."At this time, General Mark Clark, commandant of the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, was asked to conduct the first reenactment of the Civil War Centennial, the firing on the "Star of the West" in Charleston Harbor. Gun number 8 was loaned to General Clark, and had the honor of firing the first shot of the Civil War Centennial of 1961-1965.
    "While at Harper's Ferry, it was used in live and blank firing and it is estimated that over 1000 rounds were put through it. In 1965, it was returned to Aberdeen, where it was displayed in the Ordnance Museum.
    "The unusual weapon sat in the museum until 1979 when it was sold into private hands and used by the 15th New Jersey Volunteers of the North/South Skirmish Association.
    "A second group of 'malleable' guns was delivered in December of 1838, but none have yet surfaced, and their pattern is unknown.
    "Experimental gun number 8 is the only one of its type in private hands, and the only surviving one which has seen true service for over 145 years. It is still fully serviceable and can be used with live or blank charges."

    The gun is on a carriage in good mechanical condition and is a wonderful and historical museum piece.

    Provenance: The Crow Art Partnership Collection (Dallas, Texas)*****

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    24th-25th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,120

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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