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Login Name Post: Early Bucks County Rifles - Rev. War era        (Topic#196685)
colmoultrie 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1488
08-26-06 07:41 PM - Post#298683    


I got hold of a copy of Shumway's Rifles of Colonial America, and immediately turned to my favorite style, the Bucks County rifles. In his introduction, he states that Bucks county styling is a product of the 1780's or 1790's, and he "corrects" Kindig, who attributed an Andrew Verner rifle to the 1760's.

However, Warren Moore's book, Weapons of the American Revolution and Accoutrements (1967, Promontory Press, New York) lists two rifles with Rev. War provenance that I believe are Bucks County pieces, the 2nd one with a provenance to Nicholas Allen of Morgan's Riflemen and inscribed N. A. 1770 on the sideplate. Here are scans of these rifles, as well as a Schneider rifle he illustrates next to the one by J. Daub.




Shumway is certainly one of the foremost experts in the field, but this seems to cast some doubt on his dating. Or perhaps Moore was wrong...

Anyone have any insights, scholarship, or just plain guesses?

 
Mike Brooks 
Cannon
Posts: 6686
08-27-06 07:30 AM - Post#298835    

    In response to colmoultrie

I'd go with Shumway on this one.

 
flehto 
Cannon
Posts: 7688
08-27-06 08:26 AM - Post#298859    

    In response to colmoultrie

I'm on my third "Bucks County" using Kindig's No. 54 and Shumway's No. 65 as a rough guide and these 2 LRs don't follow the architectural pattern of other Bucks County LRs shown in the references. Outside of the side opening Pboxes and "leafy" cheek star, the examples you posted don't either....they're closer in architecture to Nos. 54 and 65? I don't have a clue as to when the various Bucks County LRs were made....either the time period{s} or maker{s} were responsible for the differences in architecture? I also have a great interest in Bucks County LRs but have found little info.....Fred

Edited by flehto on 08-27-06 08:27 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Stophel 
75 Cal.
Posts: 5185
Stophel
08-27-06 11:30 AM - Post#298942    

    In response to flehto

The Bucks guns above look 1790's (1780's at the earliest). Revolutionary War provenance means practically nothing. It seems EVERY old flintlock gun was used in the Revolutionary War! Now, for the oddball Berks county gun with the bone cheekpiece edge, it's a different story.

The closest you will find to a 1770's Bucks county rifle is the OUTSTANDING piece illustrated by Shumway in the July 1996 issue of Muzzle Blasts. It has been posited that this could be a very early Werner rifle... (well, at least posited by me! )

 
colmoultrie 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1488
08-27-06 01:00 PM - Post#298977    

    In response to Stophel

On what basis do you date them that late? I'm curious, because from the info I have read it seems that every author mentions early features like the wrist being wider than high being carried on throughout the flintlock period in Bucks County rifles, but then Shumway seems to date every Bucks County rifle mentioned to the 1780's, 1790's or 1800 - without giving a reason (other than the Schuler rifle dated 1800 on the patchbox - which is obvious). In fact he admits to some confusion in dating himself - mentioning Jacobus Scout in Rifles of Colonial America, Vol. 1.

If you're just following Shumway's dating that's fine - he knows much more about rifles than I ever will - but I am trying to find out the basis in the face of published evidence to the contrary. Moore might be wrong, but he was no slouch of a historian or collector: he was a fellow of the Company of Military Historians; most of the pieces in the book are from his own collection; and the foreward to the book was written by Stephen Grancsay, curator emeritus of the Arms and Armor division of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Does anyone know anything about J. Daub, or have any other pieces attributed or connected directly to Jacobus Scout come to light? I haven't found any biographic info on Daub in Kindig or Shumway (nor in Dillon or Kaufmann). Kindig believed the Verner rifles he illustrated to be pre-revolution, and it's Shumway's note in his 2nd edition of Kindig that says the rifle appears to be later. It's frustrating because so far I can't see the reasoning behind the later dating.

Having had the Moore book since childhood, as well as Serven's book The Collecting of Guns- which I believe dates a Bucks County Rifle to the Revolutionary War era although I don't have it in front of me right now - I have grown up with the belief in an early date for my favorite rifle style. So yes, I'm not completely objective, but I'm open to learning more.



 
flehto 
Cannon
Posts: 7688
08-27-06 03:19 PM - Post#299024    

    In response to colmoultrie

Shumway bases his dating of Bucks County LRs on the ages of the known builders and this is pretty convincing evidence. He also states that early LRs from this area might not be discernable from Lehigh/Bethlehem LRs. I really appreciate the stock architecture of Bucks County LRs because they are pleasing to the eye and are very comfortable to shoot even in the larger calibers. Some of the Lehigh designs are "cheek sockers", although if care is taken in the butt design, this is not an issue. Have built Lancasters and their butt design has survived to the present day which vouches for the "shootability" of a straight comb, but the curved complementary comb and toe lines of the Bucks County have the same "shootability" aspect and in my opinion, possess much more esthetic appeal. I'm not debating the dating of Bucks County LRs because having not actually seen any, except in photos, my opinions aren't worth much. I am interested in the time frame and makers of Nos. 54 and 65....early or later?.....Fred

 
tg 
Cannon
Posts: 10776
08-27-06 06:04 PM - Post#299053    

    In response to colmoultrie

One thing to consider is that some builders used some earlier traits in later guns, this can cause confusion if dating by style alone, you have to look very close for the latest dated detail...just a thought.

 
BucksCo 
40 Cal.
Posts: 393
BucksCo
08-27-06 07:57 PM - Post#299098    

    In response to colmoultrie

The principal Bucks County gunmakers - Shuler, Weicker, and Verner were born in the late 1760s or mid 1770s (Shuler). None of these people could have produced a rifle used in the Revolutionary War. There are no rifles made by "Jacobus Scout" known. The one pictured in Kauffman was made by John Shuler. Kauffman used the "JS" signarure on the patchbox as "evidence" that it was made by Scout. There was a lot of this type of "reasoning" applied by these early authors.

Kindig dated the Verner rifle as an early piece because of the two-headed eagle inlaid in the forearm. A close look at the dated (1800) Shuler rifle shows the cavity for an almost identical two-headed eagle in the forearm. This rifle is in the Ft. Ticonderoga museum collection.

There was a J. Daub rifle detailed in the Dec. 2001 "Muzzle Blasts". It shares a lot of the distinctive features of the other Bucks gummakers but, of course, is undated. I recently acquired photos of a side-opening patchbox cover signed by "David Thomas gunsmith, Great Swamp, Bucks County " and dated 1801.

The Bucks County style happened over a very short period of time and then disappeared. I really doubt that any Revolutionary War period pieces can be found with proven date of manufacture.



 
Rich Pierce 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4109
08-28-06 09:25 AM - Post#299281    

    In response to BucksCo

All good information there especially about the makers. They were all kids during the Revolution. If you look to style or architecture or parts, there are additional clues.

Most rifles of Revolutionary War or earlier eras have fairly flat buttplates, little curvature for the shoulder. Width of the buttplate will be close to 2". Locks will often lack a frizzen bridle. Barrels will usually be swamped. Inlays will be rare except for maybe atop the wrist. You'll see a lot of sliding wooden patchboxes, which are no guarantee of being that early, and yes, there were brass boxes as early as 1760's, as far as most folks can figure. Regional styles were still developing in the early period and archetypical "school" features had not always fully developed. Long guns often had a more robust appearance in the early period. Exceptions are aplenty but if you look at the many characteristics of Bucks County guns they speak to 1790's to 1800. Metal inlays, adoption of highly characteristic identifiers like the particular style of brass patchbox, stylized architecture, some curvature to the buttplate, flintlocks of some what later styling, stylized furniture, etc.


 
dvlmstr 
45 Cal.
Posts: 678
08-28-06 09:39 AM - Post#299289    

    In response to colmoultrie

One thing I would consider is Moore's book dates from 1967 while Shumway's dates from 1980. The decades of the 60's and 70's saw a lot of new information come to light on the gunsmiths and the periods they were active. The results were we have come to rethink the dating on many rifles.
I would also be willing to bet that Shumway has handeled a lot more guns than Moore did, not that Moore didn't handle a lot of original guns, But for Shumway the Longrifle is a life time work that he was very focused on.
We know that Kindig's dating of rifles (1960) was much closer than Col. Dillon's (1924) but more information came to light after Kindig's book was published that allows adjustments in some of the dates he proposed. Shumway's work (1980)took advantage of some of the newer information discovered.
We continue to learn more and more so dating rifles will continue to get better.

Regards, Dave

 
undertaker 
54 Cal.
Posts: 1775
08-28-06 10:57 AM - Post#299318    

    In response to dvlmstr

George Shumway wrote in his book RCA Vol.1 Ch.8 Side 259:It is doubtful that a recognizable Bucks Co.rifle
existed before 1775.
George Weiker Jr is born 1769.Andrew Verner was at least 5 years older(1764) than Weiker and at least 11 years older than Shuler(1775).But the picture is complicated by the fact that in Warminster Twp. there lived a famous silversmith,gunsmith,brass founder, and wheelwright named Jacobus Scout.He was born 1736 an died 1829.But rifles or other arms by his hand are unknown.'

By the way, that's my Bucks County.






Edited by undertaker on 08-28-06 11:07 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Rich Pierce 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4109
08-28-06 12:10 PM - Post#299348    

    In response to undertaker

Very nice work.

 
BucksCo 
40 Cal.
Posts: 393
BucksCo
08-28-06 02:37 PM - Post#299402    

    In response to undertaker

Andreas, that is a really nice interpretation of the Bucks County style. You were able to include, not only the obvious features, but some subtle ones as well. How did you research the details?

 
colmoultrie 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1488
08-28-06 06:34 PM - Post#299510    

    In response to BucksCo

Undertaker, that is one beautiful rifle! I agree with the dating of Verner, Weiker, and Schuler (although it is possible that Verner could be older). Yes, dating has gotten better as new information comes to light. Shumway also seems to date anything that is earlier but has the Bucks County stock profile as a Lehigh or Christian Springs rifle - see his # 52, 53, 58, and 59, as well as 61.

Here's another wrinkle. As more information comes to light, we'd expect dating to get better. Here's a plate from Hartzler & Whisker , Early American Flintlocks (Bedford Village Press, 2000)p. 100. They show an "unsigned pre-Revolutionary Bucks County rifle," as well as one signed "Hench" on p. 106. Are they wrong as well?



 
Stophel 
75 Cal.
Posts: 5185
Stophel
08-28-06 06:37 PM - Post#299512    

    In response to BucksCo

The older books may be good for the pictures, but often not much else. SO much has been learned since the '60's and '70's (and even since the '80's and '90's!). It's funny to look through some of the older books and see all the rifles from the 1790's-1810's that were listed as "pre-Revolutionary". Some will even have phony dates engraved upon them going back to the 1720's (one old book I have shows, I think, a Jacob Metzger rifle "dated" 1728!!!).

The first real studious work was Kindig's "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age", and bless his heart, he did as best he could, given the information at hand, but so much of even this groundbreaking work has been proven to be not true.

There is an immense amount of romanticism to be found in these old books too, which can easily lead one astray...

As to "wider than high" being and "early" detail, there is absolutely no basis for this whatsoever. Frankly, I have always wondered where this originated. It has been parrotted by people down through the decades, though, and you will see it everywhere. Wrists being wider than high is a Regional detail (Lehigh and Bucks and NW Berks cos.) that MAY have begun sometime in the 1770's and lasted for a good while, until after the first couple of decades of the 19th century, when styles just began to degrade generally anyway.

Whisker also has a penchant for giving really early dates to guns too. The above gun, for example, would be about 1800-1810. (looks like a Shuler rifle).

EK has postulated that "gun #52" is an early gun by Johann Christoph Gumpf of Lancaster (the carving and cheekpiece are dead ringers for those on a signed Gumpf gun). Gun #58 is very Bucks-looking, and in fact, to me and others, looks very "Vernor-ish", and I personally think it is a Vernor gun. Gun 59 (and the associated broken buttstock) is a bit hard to pin down (for me, anyway). The hardware is mass produced imported German hardware (the same as on one Isaac Haines rifle and a German rifle from the 1770's-1780's in RCA). One is inclined to believe that this gun(s) would have been done just after the war, sometime in the 1780's or 90's when trade was reopened, and this type of hardware was available (there is also another gun by this maker, essentially identical, but with imported mass produced English hardware). Certainly, the overall style fits in with this late 18th century date. I suppose it is conceiveable that it could have been made right at the very cusp of the Revolutionary war, as this style of hardware might have been available immediately before the conflict, but not much earler. Personally, I'm goin' with the 1790 date for this gun...

There are some other guns rather similar to gun 61. The definite Lehigh sideplate. These guns have a lot of "Antes-isms", though I don't think Antes had anything to do with them...at least not directly. I have seen people guess that these guns were Lehigh, Eastern Berks, or Lancaster county guns, made by someone familiar with/trained by some of the Lehigh gunmakers. I wouldn't try to put any more precise a location on them than that.

There has been a lot of unnecessary confusion between Lehigh/Northampton guns and Bucks county guns. Definitely a lot of styling/carving similarities, but still fairly distinctive "schools".

Edited by Der Fett' Deutscher on 08-28-06 07:01 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
undertaker 
54 Cal.
Posts: 1775
08-29-06 04:29 AM - Post#299697    

    In response to BucksCo

As i said before, honour to whom honour is due and in this case the honour goes to Siggi Mau.He is a German Gun maker and the one who makes my Bucks. Link
I'm only a novice in building guns.


 
snake-eyes 
Cannon
Posts: 6441
snake-eyes
08-29-06 04:40 AM - Post#299699    

    In response to undertaker


undertaker,
Nice Link!!! Very nice looking
flintlocks....
snake-eyes

 
Mike Brooks 
Cannon
Posts: 6686
08-29-06 08:04 AM - Post#299734    

    In response to undertaker

  • undertaker Said:
As i said before, honour to whom honour is due and in this case the honour goes to Siggi Mau.He is a German Gun maker and the one who makes my Bucks. Link
I'm only a novice in building guns.


I've never heard of the guy, but he's the best German gun maker I've seen by far. He does some knock out work.


 
Rich Pierce 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4109
08-29-06 09:47 AM - Post#299769    

    In response to colmoultrie

  • colmoultrie Said:
They show an "unsigned pre-Revolutionary Bucks County rifle," as well as one signed "Hench" on p. 106. Are they wrong as well?



That looks fully evolved Bucks County to me. Curved buttplate also speaks to 1790's. I don;t see anything in this gun that "looks earlier" than Verner's masterpiece. Sideplate is the same, profile is the same, patchbox and guard are the same, and the lock tail says, "post-1780" to me. The lock is probably the nail in the "Revolutionary War Era" coffin on this one.

Edited by rich pierce on 08-29-06 09:48 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Slowpoke 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1138
Slowpoke
08-30-06 11:09 AM - Post#300240    

    In response to colmoultrie

This is my daughter's rifle, I built for her last year. It's got a lot of "pc mistakes" but I made it pleasing to my eye.






Sorry about the dirt and grime but all the screw line up and that's all that really matters.

 
flehto 
Cannon
Posts: 7688
08-30-06 12:23 PM - Post#300269    

    In response to Slowpoke

All the Bucks County LRs pictured in this post, both contemporary and original, have excellent architecture, are graceful and are very eye appealing. I personally prefer the ones w/ a curved comb and toeline, but all are beautiful Bucks County LRs......Fred

 
undertaker 
54 Cal.
Posts: 1775
08-30-06 12:33 PM - Post#300275    

    In response to Slowpoke

Your daughter must very proud of her father.
Great work.


 
snake-eyes 
Cannon
Posts: 6441
snake-eyes
08-30-06 12:43 PM - Post#300279    

    In response to Slowpoke


Slowpoke,
Lucky daughter! Very nice.....
snake-eyes

 
Slowpoke 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1138
Slowpoke
08-30-06 12:48 PM - Post#300281    

    In response to undertaker

  • undertaker Said:
Your daughter must very proud of her father.


She's more concerned with "Barney" the purple dinosaur and the Wiggles right now than with muzzleloading rifles. Plus if she's like her mother, she'll care more about Versace than Verner.




 
Rich Pierce 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4109
08-30-06 12:58 PM - Post#300285    

    In response to Slowpoke

That's a real beauty, one I could not hope to duplicate. Verner would be pleased.

 
Rebel 
Cannon
Posts: 7692
Rebel
08-30-06 01:33 PM - Post#300297    

    In response to Slowpoke

Cute kid. Enjoy her while she is young and doesn't know everything. Our Granddaughter turned 18 in Feb and moved out on her own a few weeks ago. Seems like it wasn't long ago that she was the size of yours. They grow up fast.

 
GeorgeC 
40 Cal.
Posts: 103
GeorgeC
08-30-06 03:23 PM - Post#300347    

    In response to Slowpoke

  • Slowpoke Said:
This is my daughter's rifle, I built for her last year. It's got a lot of "pc mistakes" but I made it pleasing to my eye.
Sorry about the dirt and grime but all the screw line up and that's all that really matters.


Nice work!

 
oneeye 
40 Cal.
Posts: 126
oneeye
09-04-06 10:44 AM - Post#302239    

    In response to undertaker

  • undertaker Said:
As i said before, honour to whom honour is due and in this case the honour goes to Siggi Mau.He is a German Gun maker and the one who makes my Bucks. Link
I'm only a novice in building guns.


Nice looking guns. Wish I could read German

Dan

 
colmoultrie 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1488
09-04-06 10:02 PM - Post#302470    

    In response to oneeye

Mau has some beautiful rifles there. Most of the site is decipherable. (although I do read German - I teach history and German and do an occasional bit of translation for a living )

It helps to know that Ahorn is maple and Nussbaum is walnut. Lauf is barrel. Schloss is lock, and Stecher is trigger.



 
oneeye 
40 Cal.
Posts: 126
oneeye
09-07-06 06:29 PM - Post#303721    

    In response to colmoultrie

While my family is german, that way too many generations ago to help me Great looking guns there though

Dan

 
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