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Pennsylvania Newt 
32 Cal.
Posts: 32
12-11-10 05:57 PM - Post#927058    


So I have been reading some of the threads on this site and am trying to understand some things about the Pennslvania Long Rifle.

Were all the guns made in Lehigh and Bucks County area all fancy engraved with ten pounds of brass on the stock?

Was it common to have a nice gun (in 1775 time frame) with a metal patch box / end cap and an otherwise plain gun. Basically, was everything either overly plain or overly fancy in this region or were there middle of the road guns.

If there is a thread already discussing this could someone point me towards it?

I want to have a gun built correct for this region but don't wanna over or under do it.

 
hanshi 
Cannon
Posts: 8399
12-11-10 06:16 PM - Post#927067    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

I imagine most were fairly plain and/or with a modest amount of engraving or carving. Really fancy ones were built, for sure, but a longhunter, farmer or explorer would not normally pay for a fancy rifle that would get rough use. There were exceptions so plain or fancy you would find them being built together.
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.


 
Pennsylvania Newt 
32 Cal.
Posts: 32
12-11-10 08:31 PM - Post#927119    

    In response to hanshi

So basically would I be correct in saying you could have one made pretty much however, as it's up to personal interpretation?

Of course as long as the stock lines kept with style of the region.


 
Stumpkiller 
Moderator
Posts: 17426
Stumpkiller
12-11-10 09:15 PM - Post#927152    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

The earlier ones were plainer (two piece patchbox) than the later "golde age" longrifles.

  • Quote:
Just south of Lehigh County, the Bucks Co. school appears to have evolved from that school. (Early pieces are very similar.)

The lower surface of the shank is evenly curved from the departure to the shank cap and mostly more strong than the comb.

Although patchboxes of the Bucks school can be developed up to four parts, most are simple; only with rifles of this school do the covers open downward. Although most patchboxes are plain, some are very beautifully engraved.

Well-known builders were Andrew Verner (Richland Twp.), George Weiker (Quakertown), and John Shuler (Milford Twp.).



"Don't take life too serious - it ain't nohow permanent."


 
Dan Phariss 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4622
Dan Phariss
12-12-10 07:15 AM - Post#927240    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

  • Pennsylvania Newt Said:
So I have been reading some of the threads on this site and am trying to understand some things about the Pennslvania Long Rifle.

Were all the guns made in Lehigh and Bucks County area all fancy engraved with ten pounds of brass on the stock?

Was it common to have a nice gun (in 1775 time frame) with a metal patch box / end cap and an otherwise plain gun. Basically, was everything either overly plain or overly fancy in this region or were there middle of the road guns.

If there is a thread already discussing this could someone point me towards it?

I want to have a gun built correct for this region but don't wanna over or under do it.



Generally speaking American rifles in 1775 had some carving on them. Its the way they were and it was expected. Even the circa 1780s English made indian trade rifles were relief carved "Kentuckies". Heck the Brown Bess had carving around the breech tang.
Engraved? Maybe, maybe not. Inlays were not so much until later though some wire work was known in 1775 and cheekpiece inlays were fairly common.

Dan

 
Tommy Bruce 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1128
12-12-10 10:57 AM - Post#927329    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

Most of the existing guns from these areas pictured in Rifles of Colonial American are attributed to a later time period 1780's or 1790's. They are also ornately carved and engraved. That's not to say that they didn't exist, there just doesn't appear to be any plain guns that made it to the 21st century. It all depends on how correct you want the rifle to be. Lots of folks today shoot plain rifles that are shaped in the style of the origional guns. But like Dan said, even the Brown bess had a molding around the tang & lock area.

 
hanshi 
Cannon
Posts: 8399
12-12-10 09:10 PM - Post#927632    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

  • Pennsylvania Newt Said:
So basically would I be correct in saying you could have one made pretty much however, as it's up to personal interpretation?

Of course as long as the stock lines kept with style of the region.




I think, yes, this is probably correct. The customer ordered what he wanted/liked and if it was always the builder's habit to put on a bit of carving, then the customer got that too. I've seen a couple of very plain longrifles in museums so some of them did last. I also know of a couple that were passed down through the family that were very plain. It was a custom rifle and they made them (frequently) one at a time, especially in small shops.
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.


 
Mike Brines 
75 Cal.
Posts: 5846
Mike Brines
12-12-10 09:15 PM - Post#927636    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

If you can find a copy of "Longrifles of Western Pennsylvania", there are pics of plain and fancy longrifles.

 
Zonie 
Moderator
Posts: 26292
Zonie
12-12-10 09:52 PM - Post#927654    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

A lot depends on the time that you are asking about.

I feel fairly safe in saying that the longrifles made in Pennsylvania in the 1773-1783 era were fairly plain however they had nose caps and patch boxes. Most had some carving although not a lot.

Later, in the 1784-1800 period the patch boxes got fancier, the carvings got more elaborate and inlays were rather common. This is the "Golden Age" period when many of the fancy rifles that were made are still in existence.
Just Jim...



 
Wolf Eyes 
40 Cal.
Posts: 148
Wolf Eyes
12-12-10 10:02 PM - Post#927662    

    In response to Mike Brines

Pa Newt, you might also want to take a look at The Pennsylvania/Kentucky Rifle by Henry Kauffman. Descriptions of each Pa school and lots of pictures. Between this and Mike's suggestion you should have much to go on.

 
rf50cal 
40 Cal.
Posts: 159
12-12-10 11:58 PM - Post#927699    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

The Lehigh and Bucks Co rifles are my favorites. I find their sleek lines very appealing, whether plain or decorated.

If you're going to have one built, you might enjoy the 18th Century Artisan Show in Lewisburg, Pa in early Feb. Many of today's best known builders are there. I only mention this because three of my contempory rifles have come from that show. Two Bucks Co and one Lehigh.



 
colmoultrie 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1488
12-13-10 02:23 PM - Post#927951    

    In response to Dan Phariss

You'll have real trouble convincing some on this site that Bucks County or Lehigh rifles existed before 1790, at least in any recognizable form. Verner and Shuler, as Shumway has shown, were after the Revolutionary War. I don't recall for Weiker, but I believe that's the case for him as well.

J. Daub may have been earlier, and the rifle I know of by him is definitely Bucks Co. style. Wm. Antes is another whose style I find similar, and he is early, although I don't know that some would include him in the Bucks County School (although Verner was technically Montgomery Co. as well). Hermann Rupp and the other famous makers of the Lehigh School were also Post-Revolution.

The Bucks County style often featured more incised carving than relief carving. One common characteristic was also the bottom hinged, side-opening patchbox.

Lehigh rifles often featured an "Indian head" either on the patchbox or behind the ramrod entry-pipe.

 
Stumpkiller 
Moderator
Posts: 17426
Stumpkiller
12-13-10 03:29 PM - Post#927975    

    In response to colmoultrie

The elder John Rupp and J.Moll operated a genetration before Hermann in Macungie township. Problem is, when you make a rifle and the British who still claim your region frown on facing them do you sign it? Many early (we assume) Northampton/Bethlehem/Allentown/Lehigh rifles are unsigned and undated.

The "Indian Head" you mention is wearing a Phrygian Liberty Cap on many rifles and has been interpreted as a liberty head - just the thing for a patriot. And when some "Lobsterback" gives it the hairy eyeball you could say: "Naw, it's just an Indian Head."







"Don't take life too serious - it ain't nohow permanent."


 
twisted_1in66 
54 Cal.
Posts: 1600
twisted_1in66
12-16-10 11:34 PM - Post#929516    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

  • Pennsylvania Newt Said:
So I have been reading some of the threads on this site and am trying to understand some things about the Pennslvania Long Rifle.

Were all the guns made in Lehigh and Bucks County area all fancy engraved with ten pounds of brass on the stock?

Was it common to have a nice gun (in 1775 time frame) with a metal patch box / end cap and an otherwise plain gun. Basically, was everything either overly plain or overly fancy in this region or were there middle of the road guns.

If there is a thread already discussing this could someone point me towards it?

I want to have a gun built correct for this region but don't wanna over or under do it.




There are certainly some generalities that I would point you towards for 1775. A rifle in 1775 would typically be in the .50 to.58 caliber range, have a buttplate that was 1¾" to 2" wide or more, with just a slight curve to help deal with the heavier recoil of these large caliber rifles. A rifle of that era would have either no patchbox, a sliding wood patchbox, or a solid brass patchbox as opposed to the pierced brass patchboxes that showed up in the golden age. Incise and relief carvings in the Rococo (sp?) style would be common and perhaps a thumb medallion would be inlet on the top of the wrist to commemorate some special event. They would usually have a deadly graceful look to them, but without much in the way of ornamentation.

The locks would usually be English as they were imported by the barrel from England before the war and the colonies were "forbidden" to manufacture locks. The War changed all that of course, but we're talking 1775 here, so the colonies weren't making their own locks in any kind of numbers at this point.

The hardware would primarily be brass as it was easy to come by, easy to work, durable, and again, the colonies were not supposed to be manufacturing steel. Nosecaps and ramrod pipes were normal. The forearm of the stock was a lot thinner and more graceful than many of the reproductions you'll see.

The Golden Age of the Longrifle came about AFTER the Revolutionary war. That was when the most decorative and artistic examples of the longrifle were built. The war was over, the demand for rifles diminished tremendously and if you wanted to sell rifles, you needed to really distinguish yours from what everyone else was selling. That's when all the brass embellishments started showing up such as the hunting stars along the forearm, weeping hearts around the wrist, pierced patchboxes, etc. That's also the time that the crescent shape of the buttplate became very pronounced, and, as the caliber of the rifles dropped down to .45 and .40 range, the butt of the stock also became much thinner. You just didn't need as wide a butt to deal with the lighter recoil on 40-45 caliber rifles than you did with 50-58 caliber rifles.

Hope this helps a bit,

Twisted_1in66



 
BCon 
32 Cal.
Posts: 31
12-16-10 11:45 PM - Post#929517    

    In response to twisted_1in66

I'm wondering about the prevalence of long rifles further north - specifically in Canada. Were they ever popular among citizens of Ontario? It seems likely, being as Southern Ontario is more or less surrounded by US territories.

 
fm tim 
36 Cal.
Posts: 52
12-17-10 10:19 AM - Post#929624    

    In response to BCon

While not free, these small books present a good understanding of the evolution of longrifle styles in Bucks, Berks, Lehigh, and Northampton counties (Lehigh valley) and in Lancaster County.

http://www.gabelguns.com/ForSale/BooksDescription.asp

Mr Gable is a past president of the Kentucky Rifle Assn. and a member of the American Society of Arms Collectors.

 
Dan Phariss 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4622
Dan Phariss
12-17-10 01:46 PM - Post#929727    

    In response to colmoultrie

  • colmoultrie Said:
You'll have real trouble convincing some on this site that Bucks County or Lehigh rifles existed before 1790, at least in any recognizable form. Verner and Shuler, as Shumway has shown, were after the Revolutionary War. I don't recall for Weiker, but I believe that's the case for him as well.

J. Daub may have been earlier, and the rifle I know of by him is definitely Bucks Co. style. Wm. Antes is another whose style I find similar, and he is early, although I don't know that some would include him in the Bucks County School (although Verner was technically Montgomery Co. as well). Hermann Rupp and the other famous makers of the Lehigh School were also Post-Revolution.

The Bucks County style often featured more incised carving than relief carving. One common characteristic was also the bottom hinged, side-opening patchbox.

Lehigh rifles often featured an "Indian head" either on the patchbox or behind the ramrod entry-pipe.



When were" rifles first made in Allentown and Bucks county areas?
I would point out that its entirely possible Antes was the first to use the indian head. If you want to call it that.
Someone asked about excess brass on rifles. I was trying to explain that the early rifles were carved as a matter of course in many cases.
They were. Don't matter what the school was.

Back to Antes. Look at the toe lines of RCA 53 and 54. Then look at the Allentown and Bucks county toe lines.
Antes was easily capable of being the first to due to toe line and the "indian.
So is the Antes swivel breech could be the trend setter for the two schools for all we know. It has the "indian head", it has the side opening box and the swoopy toe line. Was it made before Antes moved to Philadelphia in 1775? This would make it early or pre-Revwar. Would this make it early enough to make it an early Allentown?


Dan

 
sundog 
40 Cal.
Posts: 329
12-18-10 04:47 AM - Post#929968    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

I live in Bethlehem PA, Northampton County near Allentown which is in Lehigh County. My understanding is that many of the early settlers were "Plain Folk" who shunned fancy things because of religious beliefs and traditions.
"Plain Folk" would want plain guns with little or no embilishments or decorations. I think many plain guns were made but they simply did not survive as they were just tools and not the works of art that later guns were.

 
tac 
62 Cal.
Posts: 2849
12-18-10 06:43 AM - Post#929976    

    In response to Stumpkiller

  • Stumpkiller Said:



[



Still looks like Marge Simpson to me.

tac
Supporter of the Cape Meares Lighthouse Restoration Fund


 
Ogre 
40 Cal.
Posts: 495
Ogre
12-18-10 04:17 PM - Post#930188    

    In response to tac



 
Stumpkiller 
Moderator
Posts: 17426
Stumpkiller
12-18-10 05:18 PM - Post#930201    

    In response to Ogre

D'oh!

Albrecht (and his apprentace C. Oerter) was making rifles in Christian Spings by 1750 (Northampton County of the Lehigh Valley).

  • Quote:
I live in Bethlehem PA, Northampton County near Allentown which is in Lehigh County. My understanding is that many of the early settlers were "Plain Folk" who shunned fancy things because of religious beliefs and traditions.
"Plain Folk" would want plain guns with little or no embilishments or decorations. I think many plain guns were made but they simply did not survive as they were just tools and not the works of art that later guns were.



Are these the same "plain folk" that painted distelfinks for their barns?

  • Quote:
Decorating everyday items with colorful designs was a common practice for the German Lutheran and Reformed settlers of Eastern Pennsylvania. Furniture, to clocks, to birth certificates were decorated with symbols and motifs which the first settlers had been acquainted with in Europe. Many of the motifs used in these decorations included birds, hearts, tulips and very often, geometric designs which would immitate the stars, sun, and moon.



Do not confuse the stoic Anabaptists with the fun lovin Lutherans or even the Moravians (who were the gunsmiths)!

Problem with the "vanished plain rifles" logic is twofold.

1.) If you want a plain Steinway piano made out of nautral local oak and maple with only 50 keys you can't have it because Steinway doesn't make a piano like that. Gunsmiths likely took pride in their work and the labor was cheap. The barrel was worth more than the rest of the rifle - so why don't we see Pennsylvania carbines?

b.) You can just as well claim they preferred Aztec lazer rifles that used anti-gravity crystals and used them so often they just fell apart from the heavy use and that is why we don't find any now.
"Don't take life too serious - it ain't nohow permanent."


 
tg 
Cannon
Posts: 10776
12-18-10 06:09 PM - Post#930216    

    In response to Stumpkiller


"You can just as well claim they preferred Aztec lazer rifles that used anti-gravity crystals and used them so often they just fell apart from the heavy use and that is why we don't find any now.'

Sounds quite reasonable to me, if one strives to make a repro of such a gun it should be made using the old type anti gravity crystals and not the modern type ones to be truely traditional.


 
R.E.M. 
40 Cal.
Posts: 189
R.E.M.
12-18-10 10:16 PM - Post#930299    

    In response to tg

I can see it now,"Old Type A.G. Crystals" Ebay....
Shhhhh dont tell the Gman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LOL!!!!!
Ronnie,From The Hills of Tennessee!


 
colmoultrie 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1488
12-18-10 11:15 PM - Post#930313    

    In response to Dan Phariss

Hey, I'd love to be able to date the style to before the American Revolution. My Allen Martin Bucks County was based on the Fries Rifle in Kindig's Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle... and Moore's Weapons of the American Revolution. As I wanted a rifle similar to the Fries gun or Moore's picture of the J. Daub gun (pictured here):


I also relied on Hartzler and Whisker, Early American Flintlocks, only to be told by Stophel and others here, citing Shumway, that all three sources were "optimistic" in their dating, and Bucks County rifles in particular were 1790s and later (when I asked about Daub in particular, no one had an answer). I've had my suspicions that Antes fits into the Bucks Co. school as well, which is why I brought him up. Glad to see I'm not the only one who notices the similarities!

Stumpkiller, thanks for the info on the Phrygian cap. I had heard of the Liberty Cap in the American Revolution, and I'm familiar with the French Revolutionaries wearing them, as in the pictures you show, but I had not made the connection between the "Indian Head" and the Liberty Cap, particularly as the rifles I've seen from the Lehigh school that featured them are supposedly later. Here's the picture I posted in the other thread of a Rupp Rifle the KRA had at Dixon's in 2007. They believed it was Hermann, but couldn't say for sure:


The "Indian" on the patchbox is wonderful.

 
sundog 
40 Cal.
Posts: 329
12-19-10 08:13 AM - Post#930382    

    In response to Stumpkiller

The Plain Folk the Amish, the Mennonites and the Brethren did not and do not paint Hex signs on their barns.
The Fancy Folk the Lutherans and the Mennonites did and often still do paint Hex signs on their barns.
The confusion about Plain Folk and Hex signs may come from visitors to Penn Dutch country going into stores owned by Amish or Old Order Mennonites where Hex signs are sold or going into a store where Amish or Old Order Mennonites work and seeing Hex signs sold.
Religion was and is responsible for cultural differences. One group is humble before the Lord and lives plainly. The other group celebrates the joy of the Lord and lives fancy.
So
Plain Folk wanted plain guns and Fancy Folk wanted fancy guns.

 
Zonie 
Moderator
Posts: 26292
Zonie
12-19-10 02:46 PM - Post#930493    

    In response to sundog

Just my opinion but there are several things to be remembered when it comes to the old longrifles from Pennsylvania. This includes the guns that were made during the 1770's.

Gunsmiths were craftsmen who were very proud of their guns and their ability to make them.
Each gun represented the talents of the maker to all who saw it.

Things like a patchbox and a limited amount of carving were expected on a rifle from Pennsylvania. Learning to install inlays, patchboxes and to carve wood were all a part of the apprenticeship towards becoming a gunsmith.


With this in mind a longrifle with some carving (which was easy for these craftsmen to do) and a small amount of decoration with an inlay or two spoke highly of the builder.

A plain rifle without carving or a patchbox made a dubious statement about the builders knowledge and workmanship.

The people that lived then weren't much different than the people who live now and while there are a few modern people who would be content with a Yugo, most take some pride in the things that other people will see.

Yes, many of the guns made following the Revolutionary War were very fancy with elaborate patchboxes and very fancy carving but proceeding and during the War these features were rather plain and somewhat limited but, they were still there.

A review of books like "RIFLES OF COLONIAL AMERICA", KENTUCKY RIFLES & PISTOLS-1750-1850" and "The Kentucky Rifle...a True American Heritage in Picture" shows many rifles made in the 1770's and they all have some of these "fancy decorations".

I feel that if any Pennsylvania rifle made during this period that does not have a patchbox and at least a little carving was probably restocked by someone without the talent to install patchboxes or to do some carving.
Just Jim...



 
tg 
Cannon
Posts: 10776
12-19-10 02:46 PM - Post#930495    

    In response to sundog



"Plain Folk wanted plain guns and Fancy Folk wanted fancy guns."

I would be interested in any period references to examples of people following this line of thought when buying guns.Plain folks may have wanted the best gun they could obtain and many ordinary guns of the time were what we might call fancy today, due to what was the standard use of mouldings,carving and engraving of the time and place.

 
FRS 
40 Cal.
Posts: 284
12-19-10 03:35 PM - Post#930513    

    In response to twisted_1in66

[quote=twisted_1in66
The locks would usually be English as they were imported by the barrel from England before the war and the colonies were "forbidden" to manufacture locks.
Twisted_1in66



There is no documentation of a law or regulation forbidding the colonies from manufactoring locks. It was just a matter of them being cheaper and readily available from England and "Germany."

ALSO: The Iron Act of 1750 did not ban the production of steel in the colonies. It simply banned the construction of new rolling and slitting mills.

Gary

 
tg 
Cannon
Posts: 10776
12-19-10 06:49 PM - Post#930566    

    In response to Zonie



"Just my opinion but there are several things to be remembered when it comes to the old longrifles from Pennsylvania. This includes the guns that were made during the 1770's."

Indeed, just look to todays CVA Bobcat for the similarities twixt the originals and the modern offerings



 
Stumpkiller 
Moderator
Posts: 17426
Stumpkiller
12-19-10 08:06 PM - Post#930601    

    In response to tg

FRS - Ohhh. I have to check on that (and I'm not sure where). There were Trade Acts that "encouraged" British colonies (not just in the Americas) to produce raw materials and purchase finished goods. But that didn't stop it from happening


  • Quote:

The {Iron} Act contained several provisions, applying from 24 June 1750:

Duty on the import of pig iron from America should cease.
Duty on bar iron imported to London should cease.
Such bar iron might be carried coastwise or by land from there to Royal Navy dockyards, but otherwise not beyond 10 miles from London.
The iron must be marked with its place of origin (most, if not all, pig iron was already marked).
No mill or engine for slitting or rolling iron or any plating forge to work with a tilt hammer or any furnace for making steel should be erected in America.
Colonial governors were required to certify what mills of these types already existed.




You could make a lock, but where would you get the refined iron? Of course, blacksmiths defied this act routinely.

That and all the others are what led up to Revolution.

Stamp Act
Sugar Act
Navagation Act
Declaratory Act

"Don't take life too serious - it ain't nohow permanent."


 
FRS 
40 Cal.
Posts: 284
12-19-10 08:52 PM - Post#930616    

    In response to Stumpkiller

Stumpkiller: "but where would you get the refined iron?"

Iron was readily available in the colonies. They were making both wrought iron and cast iron for export starting before 1650.

That a look at this summary:

a brief summary of the colonial iron industry and the characteristics and uses of the products

Gary

 
Stumpkiller 
Moderator
Posts: 17426
Stumpkiller
12-19-10 09:08 PM - Post#930625    

    In response to FRS

Oh, I know. Bog iron, pig iron. As I said - it didn't stop the colonials. But few sears or frizzens were made out of wrought iron or cast iron.

Just as the Coinage Act didn't stop them making some coins I sure wish I had a few examples of (so I could sell and move to a sunny, warm climate).
"Don't take life too serious - it ain't nohow permanent."


 
paulvallandigham 
Passed On
Posts: 17538
paulvallandigham
12-19-10 09:10 PM - Post#930627    

    In response to FRS

Aren't you splitting hairs, here, Gary? How useful is iron ore if you can't roll it or flatten it, or " Slit" it??

The plain truth was that Great Britain passed certain laws to protect its own Island mills and iron producers- making the people in the Colonies second class citizens, who were not allowed to compete, nor produce cheaper products in greater quantities. This was just one of a series of Actions taken by Parliament that irritated the Americans, who right through the end of the French and Indian Wars considered themselves to be Loyal Brits. No attempt however was made to extend membership in either the House of Lords, or the House of Commons to these British Colonists, nor to even consult them before these Repressive Acts were passed.

Its still true today that you don't have to be victimized by a heavy handed government bureaucrat more than once, before you begin thinking that its time for a serious change.

Its good of you to clarify the actual language of these old statutes, but the common understanding of the Act is not really all that far wrong.

 
hanshi 
Cannon
Posts: 8399
12-19-10 10:50 PM - Post#930658    

    In response to FRS

While the rifles were built in Pa. and normally used imported locks (and maybe even barrels occasionally), was one as likely to see a rifle with either an English or German lock? Apparently most all locks were imported so there had to be access to either or both styles of locks. It stands to reason a builder would take advantage of availability as well as better prices, quality, etc. With the rifles being somewhat conservative compared to post war rifles, I don't see the typical builder being choosy about a lock's country of origin. After all their craft was shown in the stock, inlays, etc. So did prewar Pa rifles/smooth rifles sport both Ger. and Eng. locks? I've never come across a good answer to this question.
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.


 
Coot 
69 Cal.
Posts: 3089
12-19-10 11:30 PM - Post#930669    

    In response to paulvallandigham

It is a common misconception that iron making was rare in British North America and that production was concentrated in Great Britain. Before independence, iron was smelted using charcoal and trees were far more plentiful over here than in England. After 1720, more furnaces and forges operated in the 13 colonies than in England and Wales. It was between 1770 and 1800 that the British introduced coal based coke smelting and steam driven bellows, tripling their average furnaces production to 900 tons vs 300 for the average American furnace by 1800. During 1775, the 13 colonies had more than 250 ironworks, including 82 blast furnaces smelting iron and six others making steel. At that time, the colonies ranked as the world's third greatest ironmaking center behind Sweden and Russia and accounted for about 15% of the (world's) total.
Documented exports from the 13 colonies in 1771 included 2,141 tons of bar (wrought) iron and 5,066 tons of pig iron.

For those looking for bedtime?? reading, try:

Almanac of American Life 1763 to 1800 (edited by Purvis and Balkin)

British Regulation of the Colonial Iron Industry by Bining

Shipping, Maritime Trade and the Economic Development of Colonial America by Shepherd and Walton

Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1957 by Harper

 
1601phill 
62 Cal.
Posts: 2819
12-20-10 04:26 AM - Post#930695    

    In response to sundog

just a thought would any woodsman go into the bush into harms way with a gun that shone like the sun ? would a fine & fancy gun be more likly used in a more settled area ?

 
Rich Pierce 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4127
12-20-10 07:06 AM - Post#930713    

    In response to 1601phill

  • 1601phill Said:
just a thought would any woodsman go into the bush into harms way with a gun that shone like the sun ? would a fine & fancy gun be more likly used in a more settled area ?




It's a common misconception that guns with brass mountings are shiny and guns without brass mountings are dull. It also seems to be a modern idea that folks wanted to not be seenand so preferred dull colors (walnut dyed hunting shirts) to avoid detection. Native Americans seemed to be especially fond of all things shiny and colorful, and to adorn themselves with trade silver, etc. When we can see traces of original finishes, it seems that many period varnishes were shiny. Also, brass tarnishes pretty quickly. The questions about plain guns, plain people, what was common, didn't all the plain guns get used up and worn out, wasn't iron used for mounts because they couldn't get brass way back in the hills, etc., often seek reasoning-based answers based on what we want to believe about colonial times rather than historical evidence.

Back to the original question posed- it would be better to go to Dixon's ML shop in Kempton, PA, near you since you live in the Lehigh valley, and talk to Chuck for a while, handle a few originals that are hanging on the walls and from the ceiling.

 
Coot 
69 Cal.
Posts: 3089
12-20-10 08:18 AM - Post#930751    

    In response to Coot

Just a thought - Pennsylvania was the leading state for production of iron and steel in 1775 (seconded by New Jersey). Many of the ironworkers were German (between 1764 & 1768 alone, English investors transported 535 German ironworkers to work at the American Iron Company). Is it coincidence that the origins of the American long rifle are considered to belong to German gunsmiths in Pennsylvania?

 
paulvallandigham 
Passed On
Posts: 17538
paulvallandigham
12-20-10 12:31 PM - Post#930870    

    In response to Coot

Small Iron ore processing plants can be, and were, located just about everywhere, as your reports show. But, if you can't have a mill- water operated, meaning its got to be next to a stream with a good, year-round water supply, and those areas also tended to be heavily populated for many other reasons of commerce, so that the British Government could easily assign soldiers to police the area. They could easily prevent any Steel mill from being constructed or used.---Then, you are simply producing iron that has to be shipped to England to be processed, and then returned to sell at a profit as plate steel, or barrel stock. The 1750 Act effectively controlled everything about the iron, and later, steel business in the colonies, while allowing the colonists to explore for more Iron deposits, and develop more smelters. Not until settlements were developed West of the Appalachian Ridge did you get far enough away from the Eastern Seacoast that the commercial activities could go on largely un-regulated, or policed by Crown forces.

That didn't happen until after the Revolution ended.( Think Pittsburgh.)

One of the prime reasons that the British PAID members of the Iroquois nation to attack colonial settlers living West of the Appalachian crest was to drive these kinds of businesses underground, so that it would deprive the colonies of their source of raw iron ore. I am thinking of the Bloody 7's. ( 1777)

 
tg 
Cannon
Posts: 10776
12-20-10 12:44 PM - Post#930879    

    In response to 1601phill



"just a thought would any woodsman go into the bush into harms way with a gun that shone like the sun ? would a fine & fancy gun be more likly used in a more settled area "

Many guns were made with highly polished barrels as this was what some folks wanted and helped reduce rusting, the mindset about camo, and brite things including clothes being detrimental in the woods was much different than we think now.

 
sundog 
40 Cal.
Posts: 329
12-20-10 02:30 PM - Post#930930    

    In response to tg

On the wall behind the left hand cash register at Dixon's there are 5 Plain Rifles. No Brass No Carving. These are finely built Rifles with beautifull lines, they are well made and they are Plain.
They come from Lehigh,Northampton and Berks county.
I believe Chuck has a collection of plain rifles from the area besides the ones on display.
If anyone has any questions about Plain Rifles you can call Chuck or Greg Dixon at the shop and get your questions answered 610-756-6271

 
tg 
Cannon
Posts: 10776
12-20-10 05:00 PM - Post#930972    

    In response to sundog

"No Brass No Carving."

What type of furniture do they have? if none or iron they are likley post 1800 and later than the general type of guns that are being talked about, as time passed gun were often less decorated than the Golden age or even pre Rev War guns, where and when are always major factors with any aspects of original ML's

 
Matt PA 
40 Cal.
Posts: 148
Matt PA
12-20-10 05:13 PM - Post#930978    

    In response to sundog

  • sundog Said:
On the wall behind the left hand cash register at Dixon's there are 5 Plain Rifles. No Brass No Carving. These are finely built Rifles with beautifull lines, they are well made and they are Plain.
They come from Lehigh,Northampton and Berks county.
I believe Chuck has a collection of plain rifles from the area besides the ones on display.
If anyone has any questions about Plain Rifles you can call Chuck or Greg Dixon at the shop and get your questions answered 610-756-6271



I might be wrong as I never looked closely....but isn't that display of rifles behind the register a display demonstration of sorts of the various steps in the rifle building process from bottom to finished rifle at the top?

I need to look closer when I'm in there next time. I'm usually too busy filling up my paws with odds and ends

 
colmoultrie 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1488
12-20-10 05:42 PM - Post#930987    

    In response to paulvallandigham

No, FRS is not splitting hairs here. There is a fundamental difference between not erecting any new rolling or slitting mills and not being allowed to have any. As others have pointed out, by 1750 the colonies already had substantial numbers of ironworks, producing both pig iron and rolled/slitted iron (and some steel).

As for our OP, I would suggest he might be happy getting a rifle reminiscent of an early Antes gun.

 
sundog 
40 Cal.
Posts: 329
12-20-10 05:51 PM - Post#930994    

    In response to Matt PA

Matt I asked Chuck and Greg directed me to the Rifles on the wall and told me they are plain rifles from the area. Northampton, Lehigh and Berks.

 
Rich Pierce 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4127
12-20-10 05:55 PM - Post#930996    

    In response to tg

  • tg Said:
"No Brass No Carving."

What type of furniture do they have? if none or iron they are likley post 1800 and later than the general type of guns that are being talked about, as time passed gun were often less decorated than the Golden age or even pre Rev War guns, where and when are always major factors with any aspects of original ML's



What Sundog said above, plus more rambling from me. The guns referred to here are a subset of the many original guns available for viewing at Dixons. Chuck invented the name "schimmels" for these guns also known as "barn guns". They appear to have been made in a small region in a specific time period for a restricted clientele; local farmers. Some have no buttplate, guard or entry thimble; others have simple furniture of sheet metal. Some have a fowler-style cast brass guard and buttplate. Almost all are smoothbores and some folks surmise they served the local farmers needs of shooting racoons and other pests, hogs for slaughter, and perhaps allowed a bit of hunting.

There is no evidence this style was made before 1800 or was distributed beyond a small part of eastern Pennsylvania, Lehigh, Northampton, Berks etc. There are many plain rifle advocates and devotees who use these rifles as the basis for their own builds, but few of them portray Lehigh or Berks county farmers, 1800-1840, as far as I know.

 
tg 
Cannon
Posts: 10776
12-20-10 06:06 PM - Post#931000    

    In response to Rich Pierce

Thank you Rich, that is what I suspected, as allways the where and when are very important to prevent generalzation and missinforation from being put for as the norm.A small amount of knowledge can be dangerous.

Edited by tg on 12-20-10 06:06 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Zonie 
Moderator
Posts: 26292
Zonie
12-20-10 08:14 PM - Post#931053    

    In response to Rich Pierce

In other words, these examples are rare exceptions to the typical gun that could be expected from the 18th Century in Pennsylvania and rather 'late period' at that?
Just Jim...



 
Rich Pierce 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4127
12-20-10 08:45 PM - Post#931068    

    In response to Zonie

  • Zonie Said:
In other words, these examples are rare exceptions to the typical gun that could be expected from the 18th Century in Pennsylvania and rather 'late period' at that?



In a word, yes, but the more I think about it, there are so many regional variations in Pennsylvania longrifles at any one period that almost nothing could be considered typical excepting perhaps stereotypical Lancaster work coming out of large shops.

 
FRS 
40 Cal.
Posts: 284
12-20-10 09:18 PM - Post#931082    

    In response to paulvallandigham

  • paulvallandigham Said:
Aren't you splitting hairs, here, Gary? How useful is iron ore if you can't roll it or flatten it, or " Slit" it??
....



Paul,
Period politics aside,I agree completely that the Iron Act of 1750 was a major contributor to the colonists' feeling that Britian was going too far --- primarily because it was the first regulatory act that attempted to control trade and production within the colonies.

On the other point it should be noted that a "rolling and slitting mill" was a very specialized type of iron works designed almost exclusively for the production of "nail rod." Those 1/4 inch square bars had little, if anything, to do with rifle making.

A plating mill (also mention in the 1750 act) was for making very thin sheet iron. The sheet could be used for a variety of products from tin ware to candle sticks but the only use likely on a rifle would be a patch box, ramrod pipe or sideplate on a iron mounted rifle.

The production of bar iron in the sizes used for barrel skelps or to be forged down into lock parts was not directly affected by the British regulation.
Gary

 
FRS 
40 Cal.
Posts: 284
12-20-10 09:28 PM - Post#931086    

    In response to Stumpkiller

  • Stumpkiller Said:
Oh, I know. Bog iron, pig iron. As I said - it didn't stop the colonials. But few sears or frizzens were made out of wrought iron or cast iron.
...



Actually almost all the lock parts were made out of wrought iron that was then case hardened. Only the springs needed to be made of steel and steel was usually imported, You will find it listed in many colonial store inventories as either "blister steel" or "Swedish steel."

If imported steel was not available a country smith might use an old file. I believe the replaced main spring on the Lewis & Clark air rifle was made from a file.

Gary

 
Dan Phariss 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4622
Dan Phariss
12-20-10 09:33 PM - Post#931088    

    In response to Stumpkiller

  • Stumpkiller Said:
D'oh!

Albrecht (and his apprentace C. Oerter) was making rifles in Christian Spings by 1750 (Northampton County of the Lehigh Valley).

  • Quote:
I live in Bethlehem PA, Northampton County near Allentown which is in Lehigh County. My understanding is that many of the early settlers were "Plain Folk" who shunned fancy things because of religious beliefs and traditions.
"Plain Folk" would want plain guns with little or no embilishments or decorations. I think many plain guns were made but they simply did not survive as they were just tools and not the works of art that later guns were.



Are these the same "plain folk" that painted distelfinks for their barns?

  • Quote:
Decorating everyday items with colorful designs was a common practice for the German Lutheran and Reformed settlers of Eastern Pennsylvania. Furniture, to clocks, to birth certificates were decorated with symbols and motifs which the first settlers had been acquainted with in Europe. Many of the motifs used in these decorations included birds, hearts, tulips and very often, geometric designs which would immitate the stars, sun, and moon.



Do not confuse the stoic Anabaptists with the fun lovin Lutherans or even the Moravians (who were the gunsmiths)!

Problem with the "vanished plain rifles" logic is twofold.

1.) If you want a plain Steinway piano made out of nautral local oak and maple with only 50 keys you can't have it because Steinway doesn't make a piano like that. Gunsmiths likely took pride in their work and the labor was cheap. The barrel was worth more than the rest of the rifle - so why don't we see Pennsylvania carbines?

b.) You can just as well claim they preferred Aztec lazer rifles that used anti-gravity crystals and used them so often they just fell apart from the heavy use and that is why we don't find any now.




While he was in America in 1750 Albrecht was working as a musician and school teacher until 1759 along with some gunstocking. In 1756 he is listed among those "wholly taken up & employ'd amongst the children..."
He was a Moravian and they did not have an actual gunshop until 1759, this at Christian Springs combined locksmith/gunshop. Albrecht was master at the gunshop until 1766 when he married and moved back to Bethehem to manage an inn. In 1771 he resumed gun making at Lititz.
Oerter was born in 1747. He became the Master at Christian Springs when Albrecht moved on in 1766.

There a lot of information about Albrecht and the other Moravian makers in "Moravian Gun Making of the American Revolution" some seems slightly contradictory as he was doing several things at once it seems.

Dan


 
Dan Phariss 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4622
Dan Phariss
12-20-10 09:58 PM - Post#931098    

    In response to FRS

  • FRS Said:
  • paulvallandigham Said:
Aren't you splitting hairs, here, Gary? How useful is iron ore if you can't roll it or flatten it, or " Slit" it??
....



Paul,
Period politics aside,I agree completely that the Iron Act of 1750 was a major contributor to the colonists' feeling that Britian was going too far --- primarily because it was the first regulatory act that attempted to control trade and production within the colonies.

On the other point it should be noted that a "rolling and slitting mill" was a very specialized type of iron works designed almost exclusively for the production of "nail rod." Those 1/4 inch square bars had little, if anything, to do with rifle making.

A plating mill (also mention in the 1750 act) was for making very thin sheet iron. The sheet could be used for a variety of products from tin ware to candle sticks but the only use likely on a rifle would be a patch box, ramrod pipe or sideplate on a iron mounted rifle.

The production of bar iron in the sizes used for barrel skelps or to be forged down into lock parts was not directly affected by the British regulation.
Gary



By the onset of the Revolution the American Colonies were a major producer of iron.
I don't know if they ever really stopped making sheet iron law or not.

Dan

 
FRS 
40 Cal.
Posts: 284
12-21-10 09:01 PM - Post#931492    

    In response to Dan Phariss

[quote=Dan Phariss)By the onset of the Revolution the American Colonies were a major producer of iron.
I don't know if they ever really stopped making sheet iron law or not.

Dan



Dan,
The Iron Act of 1750 did not tell the colonies to stop making steel iron --- it just said the couldn't build any NEW facilities designed to do it.
Gary

 
Dan Phariss 
70 Cal.
Posts: 4622
Dan Phariss
12-21-10 10:30 PM - Post#931509    

    In response to FRS

  • FRS Said:
[quote=Dan Phariss)By the onset of the Revolution the American Colonies were a major producer of iron.
I don't know if they ever really stopped making sheet iron law or not.

Dan



Dan,
The Iron Act of 1750 did not tell the colonies to stop making steel iron --- it just said the couldn't build any NEW facilities designed to do it.
Gary




Yeah I dug around the WWW and could not find anything relating to this should have refrained from posting.
Still I would be surprised if compliance was very good unless they could not get the needed equipment.

Dan

 
suzkat 
40 Cal.
Posts: 428
12-26-10 04:49 PM - Post#933449    

    In response to Pennsylvania Newt

I can't speak for Lehigh and Bucks, but my ancestors were making rifles in Berks and Armstrong Counties. The rifles were each made to custom order. If you wanted more inlays, you just
paid extra, engraving add some more money. I've seen 40 examples of their work and it ranged from plain hunters with no cheek inlay and a simple
unengraved patchbox, to a gun with multiple cheek and forearm inlays with engraving over every piece of metal. The gun to a man of that era was a symbol of his status just like his horse.

 
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