1792 Contract Rifle in Original Flintlock

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plmeek

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...As far as I know (and again I could be mistaken) MOST of the Gunsmiths Schuylkill contracted with were all in or around Philadelphia. Is that correct by your documentation?

Something else I would appreciate your thoughts on, if I may ask? It seems to me that Contract Rifles needing MINOR repairs would have been done at the Schuylkill Arsenal or at least farmed out to the local/nearby gunsmiths who made them? Why would they have gone to the expense of boxing Contracting Rifles up that only needed minor repairs and putting them in wagons for the 143 mile or 7 to 8 day trip to Harpers Ferry and later doing it again to pick them up after repair? (I'm not sure if there was a way the boxed guns could have been brought back and forth to Harpers Ferry by water?) That just doesn't make sense...
According to Moller's tables, of the 1,476 Contract Rifles delivered in 1792, only 121 came from Philadelphia gunmakers. Lancaster gunmakers delivered 825 rilfes, York gunmakers delivered 404 rifles, and Berks county gunmakers delivered 126 rifles. Of the 2,000 Second Issue rifles delivered in 1794, the lion's share, 1,493 came from Lancaster while 507 came from York county.

Of the 1807 Contract Rifles, J. Joseph Henry of Philadelphia delivered 898 rifles, the largest amount of any one gunsmith and from one location. The next largest amount, 726 rifles, came from Lancaster gunmakers. Henry Pickel of York delivered the remaining 155 rifles.

Your questions in the next paragraph are harder to answer. Moller tries to track the disposition of the 1792 Contract rifles as best he can from documents in the Federal archives, but there are hundreds of rifles he was unable to account for. Pretty much all of the First Issue rifles that were made in 1792 went to Fort Pitt with another 100 rifles going to Staunton, Virginia. He was unable to account for 469 rifles from this Issue, but seems to think they were part of contracts let by Knox that did not pass through General Hand's control. They did not end up in Schuylkill, though.

Of the Second Issue delivered in 1794, he has 292 rifles going to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 100 going to the Chickasaw Indians via Richmond, Virginia, and 541 going to Fort Cumberland, MD. The remaining 1,067 were sent to the Schuylkill Arsenal in 1795. An inventory conducted in January 1797 showed 1,060 rifles at Schuylkill. Small quantities were issued after that date and an inventory April 1801 show 923 rifles remained. Again, small amounts were issued over the next year and an inventory in March 1802 showed 911 rifles at the arsenal. Later that month, 500 rifles were sent to Mississippi Territory via New Orleans "to be sold to the Militia of said Territory." Some of these rifles were likely still in New Orleans and issued to Andrew Jackson's Kentuckians for the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

By February 1805 only five serviceable rifles and ninety-four unserviceable rifles" remained at Schuylkill. A January 1806 inventory of all U.S. arms listed 322 rifles "Loaned to the Indian Department" which probably included the 100 rifles issued to the Chickasaw Indians.

This leaves 90 rifles unaccounted for from Schuylkill.

Moller doesn't list any 1792 Contract rifles going to Harper's Ferry after it became fully operational in 1801.

Not having access to Frank Tait's article, I don't know what his source is for 382 rifles being in Harper's Ferry when Lewis visited and how they are identified as some of the 1792 Contract Rifles. Moller was obviously aware of Tait's claim that Lewis & Clark had 1792 Contract Rifles with them as he included a paragraph touching of the subject, but opens the possibility that Lewis may have acquired them when he visited Schuylkill while he was in Philadelphia in May of 1803.

By omission, Moller seems to share you skepticism about the wisdom and practicality of 1792 Contract Rifles being shipped from Schuylkill to Harper's Ferry.

If some one has a digital copy of Tait's article, I would be interested in receiving a copy.
 
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I'm enjoying following this thread as I have an interest in the 1792 rifles. The discussion has been quite scholarly

Can someone give me a citation for the Tait article? I thought I had a citation for it somewhere but am unable to find it. I want to track it down. I belive it was in Man at Arms magazine.
 

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About the Ketland locks. In the 5 years that have passed since I first became intrigued with this particular rifle, I have forgotten my sources and course of that research that led to that idea. It is not unfounded though in that it shares exactly the same result with another group offering a build of a L & C short rifle clone from Prineville Oregon. The basic idea was that the 15 original short rifles, the additional rifles purchased in Philly according to Ambrose, and the two horse pistols all shared a common lock, the McCormick pistol lock ie. the Ketland contract lock. Hopefully I can reconstruct my research. Researching the McCormick pistol does indicate the these locks were present in bins in the National Armories.
 

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Gus,

I offer a different opinion about whether imported locks, particularly English locks, had their lock bolt holes drilled and tapped and the plates hardened.

I know that Gary Brumfield was highly respected as a talented and knowledgeable gun maker. And there is good reason to value his judgement and opinion.

However, I have discussed this matter with Jack Brooks and Bob Lienemann, and they are both of the opinion that the imported locks did have their lock plates hardened and the holes for the lock bolts drilled and tapped prior to case hardening. They base their opinions on close examination of a number of antique guns and an even larger number of antique locks. Jack Brooks as a substantial collection of antique locks.

You gave three reasons why mass produced locks normally weren't drilled and tapped for the side lock screws. Your reasons are reasonable and logical, but maybe not all encompassing.

1) "not knowing ahead of time how one would position the lock and what size barrel would be used" - this is true, but locks were imported in wide ranges of quality and sizes. It would be a simple matter for the American gunmaker to choose a lock of the size to fit the geometry of the stock and barrel size he planned to build.

2) "the lock would have to be placed fore and aft so the center of the pan was ahead of the breech plug...if the hole was drilled too close, one would have to cut a "C" shape or even drill a round hole in the body of the breech plug...Without the rear hole being drilled it allowed the gunsmith to better place the hole so the sidelock screw would miss the body of the breech plug or at least leave the minimum amount of "C" shape cut for it to clear" - again choosing a lock of suitable size would mitigate much of this, but we often do see antique guns where the lug of the breech plug does have holes through it or "C" shaped cutouts for the sidelock screw. Also, notches cut into the face of the breech plug are quite common on antique guns. This didn't seem to be as big a concern for gunsmiths in the late 18th and first half of 19th century as it is today.

This drawing detail is from the 1770 edition of the French L'encyclopédie, plate v, covering the Arquebusier (Gunsmith). Note the notch in the face of the breech plug, fig. 9.
View attachment 85684

3) "taps and dies were not standardized in this period and wouldn't be for at least a few more decades. Chances are the pre-tapped hole would be in a size the customer gunsmith didn't have" - this is true with regards to modern concept of "standardization". Gunsmiths of the day had die screw-plates of various sizes and pitch to make screws for various applications. The gunsmith could make his own screw-plates or buy commercial screw-plates that may have been more "standardized" than we would think, especially if they came from the same area, Birmingham for instance, that a lot of the locks were made. Most of these screw-plates were used to form the threads in soft iron rather than cut the threads as modern dies do. They often formed slightly tapered bolts and screws that could be easily mated up to tapped holes of similar form. The lock plate itself with pre-drilled and tapped holes that were hardened could have been used to form the final threads of the soft iron lock bolts the gunsmith was using.

In my previous post I mentioned that Moller transcribes a letter dated 28 Sept. 1795 from Tench Francis, purveyor of public supplies, to John Ketland of Philadelphia where Tench Francis is ordering 3000 rifle locks and 3000 musket locks from the Ketland "house in England". This letter also provides some insight into how the English import locks were finished. I will quote it with some sections highlighted in bold by me that I think are pertinent.



Note that Tench Francis was ordering screws with the locks. These, no doubt, were sidelock screws. (It would be assumed that the locks already came with screws for the internal parts, the screw for the cock, and the top jaw screw.) This would alleviate the need for the American gunsmiths to make sidelock screws to fit the pre-drilled and tapped holes in the lock plate. Also note that he stated "All their parts to be hardened". He wasn't stating all the parts except the lock plate be hardened, but All their parts!

I have also seen references in the Henry Papers from the Hagley Museum & Library where J. Joseph Henry and James Henry were ordering English locks that were stamped with their name and "hardened". Of course this is a little later in the 1810s through 1840s, but I doubt that the practice had changed much since the 18th century.

I wouldn't say that absolutely all the import locks had hardened plates with holes drilled and tapped for the sidelock screws (absolute statements are dangerous), but it was likely the common practice.
Hi Phil,

"Life" got in the way of me answering earlier and it is now too late to reply in depth, but I wanted to take this opportunity to offer my sincere gratitude for this and your other post. Thank you!

Gus
 

plmeek

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You gotta stop being so hard on Mr. Clark.
I apologize for seemingly being hard on Mr. Clark.

I wonder if my criticisms are really being directed at Mr. Clark. I kinda doubt the he is the author of that document about his collection. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it had been written by an underclassman.

I googled Lt. Gen. Albert P. Clark. Turns out he was a WWII vet and shot down over France, captured, and became a POW at a German prison camp. He was born in 1913 and died in 2010, at age 96. Evidently he was Superintendent of the USAF Academy (at the time he donated the collection) from 1970 to possibly 1974 when he ended his service in the Air Force. Since his time at the Academy predates PCs and Microsoft Word, I doubt he wrote that document.

I also note that the author, whoever he or she may be, didn't bother to put a by-line on it.

I give Mr. Clark the utmost respect for his service and accomplishments.
 

plmeek

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Can someone give me a citation for the Tait article? I thought I had a citation for it somewhere but am unable to find it. I want to track it down. I belive it was in Man at Arms magazine.
That's right.

Frank A. Tait, “The U.S. Contract Rifle Pattern of 1792,” Man at Arms 21, no. 3, (May/June 1999)

and

Frank A Tait, “Response to the letter of Michael H. Maggelet,” Man at Arms 21, no. 6, (November/December 1999)
 

4575wcf

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No offense taken. He was quite a guy, a real player in the great escape! Red hair, military, named Clark. The first thing I did was try to link him to William, but I came up empty. I don't think he is a decendent.
 
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Plmeek, Thanks for the cites. I found the issues on ebay. Looking forward to learning more about these 1792 rifles. The 1803 Harper's Ferry rifles were the first rifles built at government expense in a government facility. As arms for the Infantry were the 1792s the first rifles purchased at government expense? I haven't really looked back past 1792 to find the answer?
 

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Gus,

I offer a different opinion about whether imported locks, particularly English locks, had their lock bolt holes drilled and tapped and the plates hardened.

I know that Gary Brumfield was highly respected as a talented and knowledgeable gun maker. And there is good reason to value his judgement and opinion.

However, I have discussed this matter with Jack Brooks and Bob Lienemann, and they are both of the opinion that the imported locks did have their lock plates hardened and the holes for the lock bolts drilled and tapped prior to case hardening. They base their opinions on close examination of a number of antique guns and an even larger number of antique locks. Jack Brooks as a substantial collection of antique locks.

You gave three reasons why mass produced locks normally weren't drilled and tapped for the side lock screws. Your reasons are reasonable and logical, but maybe not all encompassing.

1) "not knowing ahead of time how one would position the lock and what size barrel would be used" - this is true, but locks were imported in wide ranges of quality and sizes. It would be a simple matter for the American gunmaker to choose a lock of the size to fit the geometry of the stock and barrel size he planned to build.

2) "the lock would have to be placed fore and aft so the center of the pan was ahead of the breech plug...if the hole was drilled too close, one would have to cut a "C" shape or even drill a round hole in the body of the breech plug...Without the rear hole being drilled it allowed the gunsmith to better place the hole so the sidelock screw would miss the body of the breech plug or at least leave the minimum amount of "C" shape cut for it to clear" - again choosing a lock of suitable size would mitigate much of this, but we often do see antique guns where the lug of the breech plug does have holes through it or "C" shaped cutouts for the sidelock screw. Also, notches cut into the face of the breech plug are quite common on antique guns. This didn't seem to be as big a concern for gunsmiths in the late 18th and first half of 19th century as it is today.

This drawing detail is from the 1770 edition of the French L'encyclopédie, plate v, covering the Arquebusier (Gunsmith). Note the notch in the face of the breech plug, fig. 9.
View attachment 85684

3) "taps and dies were not standardized in this period and wouldn't be for at least a few more decades. Chances are the pre-tapped hole would be in a size the customer gunsmith didn't have" - this is true with regards to modern concept of "standardization". Gunsmiths of the day had die screw-plates of various sizes and pitch to make screws for various applications. The gunsmith could make his own screw-plates or buy commercial screw-plates that may have been more "standardized" than we would think, especially if they came from the same area, Birmingham for instance, that a lot of the locks were made. Most of these screw-plates were used to form the threads in soft iron rather than cut the threads as modern dies do. They often formed slightly tapered bolts and screws that could be easily mated up to tapped holes of similar form. The lock plate itself with pre-drilled and tapped holes that were hardened could have been used to form the final threads of the soft iron lock bolts the gunsmith was using.

In my previous post I mentioned that Moller transcribes a letter dated 28 Sept. 1795 from Tench Francis, purveyor of public supplies, to John Ketland of Philadelphia where Tench Francis is ordering 3000 rifle locks and 3000 musket locks from the Ketland "house in England". This letter also provides some insight into how the English import locks were finished. I will quote it with some sections highlighted in bold by me that I think are pertinent.



Note that Tench Francis was ordering screws with the locks. These, no doubt, were sidelock screws. (It would be assumed that the locks already came with screws for the internal parts, the screw for the cock, and the top jaw screw.) This would alleviate the need for the American gunsmiths to make sidelock screws to fit the pre-drilled and tapped holes in the lock plate. Also note that he stated "All their parts to be hardened". He wasn't stating all the parts except the lock plate be hardened, but All their parts!

I have also seen references in the Henry Papers from the Hagley Museum & Library where J. Joseph Henry and James Henry were ordering English locks that were stamped with their name and "hardened". Of course this is a little later in the 1810s through 1840s, but I doubt that the practice had changed much since the 18th century.

I wouldn't say that absolutely all the import locks had hardened plates with holes drilled and tapped for the sidelock screws (absolute statements are dangerous), but it was likely the common practice.
Well, I screwed up and hit the post button too soon as I was typing the reply and checking back to your original post. My apology.

Hi Phil,

First about the Arquebusier print from Diderot. I’ve had the two volume set of Diderot’s Enclopedie since I found them available at Colonial Williamsburg in I think the mid 1980’s. I’ve looked at that particular print dozens of times and the breech plug filed that way in particular. I always got a kick out of the fact the illustrator happened to choose a breech plug that showed an “OOPS, we didn’t put the lock in the right place for the pan to be in a good position for the touch/vent hole– so this is how we fixed it.” Still, you are correct that’s one way they fixed such mistakes and it was not uncommon.

Yes, I’m aware not only Birmingham by itself, but also London and Dublin Castle all together shared some common screw thread and pitch sizes going back to the P1730 Long Land Pattern Muskets. However, I was referring to thread sizes that gunsmiths here in the Colonies/America had to deal with because as I’m sure you know they also worked with German and sometimes the locks of other countries as well. I do realize they could import taps and screw plates for different size screws and threads, though.

OK, going to cut this short so I can “fill in” this post before I lose the edit time.

Gus
 
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Hi Phil,

Yes, I was aware that Iron screws had to be "squeeze formed" at first, because if one put an Iron Screw body directly into a Screw Plate, it would tear/shear the soft metal instead of cutting cleanly. After an Iron Screw was basically formed, then it was put into a screw plate. Screw plates normally had at least two holes (sometimes three) in a row for each screw and tap size and the threads progressively cut a little more in each hole - again to keep the Iron from shearing.

I have two original British Screw Plates, one I believe to be early 19th century, but one I believe to be at least late 18th century. I was lucky to find the early one not too far away from Birmingham at the British National Agricultural and Exhibition Centre in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, the Midlands, UK; while we visited there during the International Muzzle Loading Championships in 1996. I was going through the two huge "Baker Buildings" that house the Antique Dealers. Believe it or not, I spotted the tail sticking up in a basket that had old kitchen tools. I gently removed it and recognized what it was, though it was marked "Drill Index." The price on the tag was 7 £ and even though I will dicker to heck and back, I just paid the listed price as I was in a mild state of shock. Grin.

Though I don't know Jack Brooks or Bob Lienemann personally, I hold them in high regard, so I read with interest what you wrote on what they say about period locks. This got the gears in my head grinding on original locks I've been in.

Most of the original guns I've been inside were from very early 19th century on, though I've been inside some circa 1780-1800 locks. That got me to thinking about the Side Screws I found in them. Then I remembered unlike modern locks where we use the same screws for both, original locks often had the heads of the screws the same size, but the bodies of the front screws were smaller in diameter - to make it easier to get them in between the bottom of the barrel and the top of the ramrod channel.

To check my memory, I just pulled out "The Brown Bess," by Stuart and Mowbray, because they have pics of Sidelock Screws in British Muskets throughout the 18th century. Sure enough, the bodies of the front Sidelock Screws are smaller in diameter.

Then I recalled a couple of unusual front side lock screws I've seen in original guns of the late 18th/early 19th century. One I remember the screw more than what gun it was in. The body of that screw was hand filed from both sides of the screw and tapered down towards the center - to clear the barrel and ramrod channel. The second came in an original flintlock pistol a friend of mine had. It was a plain pistol that really fit the hand well. It screamed "French" to me, but there were no Touch or View Marks or other marks on top the barrel. The Rear Sidelock screw came out easily when unscrewed, but the front Sidelock screw would not come out even with gentle pushing.

So I removed the barrel both to check for cartouches on the bottom, but also to see what was going on with that front Sidelock Screw. Once the barrel was off, the front Sidelock screw fell out freely. I was extremely surprised to see the middle of the screw had been hand filed to four sides, though not a true Square cross section. The cartouches on the bottom of the barrel seemed to be from Belgium, though I could not find an exact match in the books I had.

Now I can't remember ever having been inside a Ketland Lock of the time period we are talking about. So in my own long winded version, I wonder if they also had small diameter screw bodies on the front Sidelock screws?

Gus
 

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Note that Tench Francis was ordering screws with the locks. These, no doubt, were sidelock screws. (It would be assumed that the locks already came with screws for the internal parts, the screw for the cock, and the top jaw screw.) This would alleviate the need for the American gunsmiths to make sidelock screws to fit the pre-drilled and tapped holes in the lock plate. Also note that he stated "All their parts to be hardened". He wasn't stating all the parts except the lock plate be hardened, but All their parts!

I wouldn't say that absolutely all the import locks had hardened plates with holes drilled and tapped for the sidelock screws (absolute statements are dangerous), but it was likely the common practice.
Phil,

I've read some original letters from Tench Francis before, but I've never seen that one. WOW, that is pure GOLD or even Platinum period information!!!

I completely agree with your assessment of the Side Lock Screws having been hardened, from reading that letter alone.

I'm adding that bit of true treasure to information I have on period Armories and Arsenals, as I'm a long time student of them from the Rappahannock Forge onward in this country and the British Ordnance Department, as well as a little bit on French Armories.

You made my month with that bit of information. Thank You!!

Gus
 

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I have also seen references in the Henry Papers from the Hagley Museum & Library where J. Joseph Henry and James Henry were ordering English locks that were stamped with their name and "hardened".
Just an update on the reference in the Henry Papers. I found one that I had saved. This particular entry is not dated, but J. Joseph Henry is asking that the items be delivered by June 1819. Three pages later is an entry that is dated March 13, 1819, so the entry below would likely be earlier than that date by a few days to a few weeks.

Henry ordering English pistol mounts and locks.JPG


These can be difficult to read given the penmanship of the clerk that made the entry and that some of the names and abbreviations that were used 200 years ago are different from what we use today. I made a stab at transcribing it. Others may be better at reading and interpreting some of the writing than I am.

Copy of Order given to Wickham & Co. for the following articles to be imported & Delivered before June 1819 and on the following terms.


30 Sets of brass pistol mounting engraved & finished
25 Sets of Iron and Steel pistol mounting
engraved casehardened & Blued


6 DozHalf skeleton pan
locks
hardened
&
polished
4 DozSwivel & roller
''​
Ditto
Ditto
5 DozDouble roller
''​
Ditto
Ditto
5 DozSingle roller
''​
Ditto
Ditto
5 DozDouble 3/4 Bridle
''​
Ditto
Ditto


Locks engraved with the name

J.J. H
ENRY
Philada

In the left margin is a note:

Locks not to exceed 4½ inches in Length and not shorter than 4 inches.

There are several items of interest in this order. Even though the Henry's had the capability to make their own locks which they did at William II's shop in Nazareth and later at their expanded operation at Boulton, JJ Henry was also ordering English locks. Some of these imported locks were used on guns he made, but he also resold locks and other gun parts he had imported to other gun makers and general merchants. The Henry's usually made their own military locks for their military contracts with the US Govt and with States. In a letter to the Indian Dept, he claimed he also made the locks for his trade rifles. It is possible that the Henry's were set up to make a limited type and size of locks and needed to import locks of different types, features, and sizes from what they made.

Henry was also ordering pre-made mounts of brass and iron/steel for pistols. I suspect these were for civilian pistols since he wanted the mounts to be engraved and in a finished state--polished for brass and casehardened and blued for the iron/steel mounts.

He was ordering locks by the dozen with a selection of types and features. Others have interpreted the "Half skeleton pans" as waterproof pans similar to what we see on L&R Durrs Egg and Bailes repro flintlocks. Some entries list "Full skeleton pans" which I take to be waterproof pans like on the L&R's Manton/Hawken flintlock.

Note that Henry ordered the locks "hardened" and "polished". The "polished" would mean he wanted the locks, including the plates, polished bright. This also implies that the lock plates had been hardened before polishing them bright. He also ordered the locks engraved with his name and address which makes sense to have that done before the plates were hardened.

The notes in the margin indicate that he wanted all these locks to be between 4 and 4½ inches in length. Considering the small size of these locks and the pistol mounts in the same order, I think we can assume these were pistol locks. The "Becky's Lock" that used to be cast by Pete Allen was 4 inches long and the L&R Bailes lock is about 4½ inches in length.

I had looked up Wickham & Co., and IIRC, it was a large merchant in New York City that had an import and wholesale hardware business as well as local retail.

Another example of documentation from the early 19th century of imported locks that had hardened locks plates that would have also been drilled and tapped for the sidelock screws.
 

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You made my month with that bit of information. Thank You!!
Your welcome. Though we should both be thanking George Moller since he is the one that dug the letter out of the National Archives and published part of it in his second volume. Unfortunately George passed away, back in February I think, so we will have to thank him in a prayer.

Now I can't remember ever having been inside a Ketland Lock of the time period we are talking about. So in my own long winded version, I wonder if they also had small diameter screw bodies on the front Sidelock screws?
It's really interesting studying the old guns and seeing how they were made. Thanks for sharing your observations with us.

I haven't had the opportunity to closely examine too many antiques, much less be able to take them apart and "look under the hood" so to speak. I have some antique English pistols and a handful of antique American rifles, but all but one of the rifles are percussion. The one flintlock is a JJ Henry rifle that probably dates to the 1810s.

I had borrowed a "T. KETLAND & Co." marked lock form Jack Brooks to photograph. I'm not sure what it might date to. It could be from the 1790s, but also from the first decade of the 1800s.

IMG_3039_low res.jpg


This lock is a better quality lock with a roller on the frizzen spring and a stirrup on the main spring. I would call it an upper mid-range quality lock but still quite a ways from a high end lock.

It has pretty much the same features and similar lock plate shape to Chamber's Late Ketland lock.

IMG_3048_low res.jpg


I don't recall what was going on at the edge of the hole for the front lock bolt. I looks like from the photo that part of the plate has chipped out around a portion of the hole. The front hole is at least as big as the lock bolt hole in the back of the bolster, but appears larger because some of the metal is missing.

There is a possibility that this lock isn't a good example to compare because it might have had one of those hooks that fit under the head of a wood screw that was in the nose of the lock mortise. If I have a chance, I might ask to look at it in person again to see if there are any threads in the plate for a front lock screw.

This next lock on a inexpensive trade pistol is marked "KETLAND & Co.". I date it to the 1790s. The proof marks on the barrel are faint but show enough to indicate they are pre-1813 Birmingham proofs. The lock itself is of a style that dates as early as the 1760s, but the old style features such as no bridles on frizzen or tumbler continued on these low end trade locks for a long time.

IMG_2250_low res.jpg


Looking at the inside of the lock, one can really see how inexpensive the lock really is.

IMG_7332_1800.jpg

IMG_7333_1800.jpg


It actually has a detachable pan which is unusual on better English locks of this period. No bridle and a screw holding the mainspring in. Very much a military and trade lock feature. Even though this is a low cost lock, the tumbler and sear are nicely filed with sharp edges.

I get a kick out of the discussions that occur on these forums about the quality, or lack of, in contemporary locks. This lock has lasted for well over 200 years and still functions very well in spite of not having bridles on the tumbler and the frizzen. The pistol shows significant use and an enlarged vent hole, but no abuse. So much for the need for internal and external bridles.

I guess I should point out that the front lock bolt is the same size as the back lock bolt. They are bigger than a modern screw size 8 and almost a 10. The thread pitch is close 27 threads per inch from my thread gauge.

A closer look at the lock bolts is very interesting. They are about as low cost as you can get. One can still see the hammer marks from when they were forged. They only worried about making them round at the tips that were to be threaded and at the area just under the heads. The front lock bolt (on the left) looks like it had been cross threaded at one time in its past. The threads were somewhat reformed when forced into the hardened plate.

IMG_7337_1800.jpg



The last Ketland lock I have to show is marked "W. KETLAND & Co.". It has been converted to percussion so I don't have the original cock to help date it.

The firm W. KETLAND & Co. first advertised in the London business directories in 1800. It appears to have been formed by William Ketland after he left his father's (Thomas Ketland I) firm that year. William Ketland died in 1804 at the age of 44 years. His widow and partners continued to operate the firm until 1808 when there appears to have been a change of partners but no change in the firm's name. The firm finally dissolved in 1831.

Based on the lock markings, the pistol could have been made anytime in the 31 years after 1800. The lock was obviously originally a flintlock and the remaining rear fence indicates that it had a waterproof pan. The pistol itself is very plain but the lock has some better quality features. The proof marks on the barrel are pre-1813 private Tower of London proof marks. I would date it to 1810 plus or minus, but it could have been made earlier in the decade.

IMG_2513_low res.jpg

IMG_2517_1800.jpg


IMG_7340_1800.jpg


The lock is definitely better quality than the previous lock even though the pistol doesn't look that much more expensive externally. It obviously has a tumbler bridle and there is a fly on the tumbler. You can still see some of the tempering color on the bridle. I would expect it to have had a frizzen bridle, too, based on the indications of a waterproof pan. It doesn't have a stirrup on the main spring--what I think JJ Henry referred to as a "swivel" in the document from my previous post. When it was converted to percussion, the cut out for the drum eliminated the rest for the upper leg of the main spring. It looks like a stud was installed for the upper leg to rest against rather than the plate bolster.

IMG_7342_1800.jpg


Note the small "WK" stamped on the inside of the lock plate.

The front and rear lock bolts are the same size as a modern size 10, and again have close to 27 threads per inch as best as I could tell.

They appear to have been turned but may have been made by a cutting tool similar to a modern end mill but with a hole in the center the same diameter as the desired screw and depth of the hole equal to or longer than the length of the screw. The cutting tool could be turned against the end of the screw stock, removing all the metal except for the body of the screw.



This is just a small sampling of Ketland locks and doesn't have much statistical significance, but all three locks have front lock bolts the same size as the back lock bolts. On the two pistol locks in my collection, the bolt size is close to 10-27.

I am reminded that Bob Lienemann told me that when he was studying fur trade rifles by the likes of Henry, Leman, and others, he noticed that the lock bolts were normally close to size 10 like these. I wouldn't expect that to necessarily be the case for higher quality locks and rifles/pistols, though.
 

4575wcf

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Very nice, very informative work with the Ketland locks. Thanks so much this is very interesting. My research journey is coming back to me a little, it was through the study of the horse pistols that Lewis purchased and took along on the expedition, that my connection? to the Ketland lock began to form. He had only two options on the pistols. One was the French Charleyville copy .69 caliber pistol that would fit pretty well with someone carrying a 1795 musket. The other was the McCormick pistol with the Ketland contract lock. I know which one I would have selected, but I do not know the caliber on the McCormick, and whether it was a good match in size to his rifle or not. The better the ball size matches the less gear you've got to haul along for a few thousand wilderness miles.
 

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I have got my two work days in for the week, got up at regular time, and have had time to review the posts from five or so years ago, as well as he posts received this go round. I have two thoughts, both are probably going to be unpopular. Harper's Ferry never made a lock that would approach the quality we see in the pictured run of the mill Ketland. These folks had been making locks for a long time, and their superior knowledge and expertise of manufacture is obvious. I do not see any big stretch in getting the Ketland Contract locks to the HF Arsenal from PA, if indeed some of them were not already there. To install these proven and quality locks into proven decent rifles "1792 rifles not 1807--the quality slipped $2 worth per gun" handily solves the lock issues we are discussing. Unfortunately, that theory runs contrary to Lewis's statement about the lock and parts being of HF manufacture, but the contract locks likely were marked United States at the back. He was still very hung up on that silly collapsible boat at the time of rifle modification/manufacture.
 

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Your welcome. Though we should both be thanking George Moller since he is the one that dug the letter out of the National Archives and published part of it in his second volume. Unfortunately George passed away, back in February I think, so we will have to thank him in a prayer.



It's really interesting studying the old guns and seeing how they were made. Thanks for sharing your observations with us.

I haven't had the opportunity to closely examine too many antiques, much less be able to take them apart and "look under the hood" so to speak. I have some antique English pistols and a handful of antique American rifles, but all but one of the rifles are percussion. The one flintlock is a JJ Henry rifle that probably dates to the 1810s.

I had borrowed a "T. KETLAND & Co." marked lock form Jack Brooks to photograph. I'm not sure what it might date to. It could be from the 1790s, but also from the first decade of the 1800s.

View attachment 85850

This lock is a better quality lock with a roller on the frizzen spring and a stirrup on the main spring. I would call it an upper mid-range quality lock but still quite a ways from a high end lock.

It has pretty much the same features and similar lock plate shape to Chamber's Late Ketland lock.

View attachment 85852

I don't recall what was going on at the edge of the hole for the front lock bolt. I looks like from the photo that part of the plate has chipped out around a portion of the hole. The front hole is at least as big as the lock bolt hole in the back of the bolster, but appears larger because some of the metal is missing.

There is a possibility that this lock isn't a good example to compare because it might have had one of those hooks that fit under the head of a wood screw that was in the nose of the lock mortise. If I have a chance, I might ask to look at it in person again to see if there are any threads in the plate for a front lock screw.

This next lock on a inexpensive trade pistol is marked "KETLAND & Co.". I date it to the 1790s. The proof marks on the barrel are faint but show enough to indicate they are pre-1813 Birmingham proofs. The lock itself is of a style that dates as early as the 1760s, but the old style features such as no bridles on frizzen or tumbler continued on these low end trade locks for a long time.

View attachment 85853

Looking at the inside of the lock, one can really see how inexpensive the lock really is.

View attachment 85858
View attachment 85862

It actually has a detachable pan which is unusual on better English locks of this period. No bridle and a screw holding the mainspring in. Very much a military and trade lock feature. Even though this is a low cost lock, the tumbler and sear are nicely filed with sharp edges.

I get a kick out of the discussions that occur on these forums about the quality, or lack of, in contemporary locks. This lock has lasted for well over 200 years and still functions very well in spite of not having bridles on the tumbler and the frizzen. The pistol shows significant use and an enlarged vent hole, but no abuse. So much for the need for internal and external bridles.

I guess I should point out that the front lock bolt is the same size as the back lock bolt. They are bigger than a modern screw size 8 and almost a 10. The thread pitch is close 27 threads per inch from my thread gauge.

A closer look at the lock bolts is very interesting. They are about as low cost as you can get. One can still see the hammer marks from when they were forged. They only worried about making them round at the tips that were to be threaded and at the area just under the heads. The front lock bolt (on the left) looks like it had been cross threaded at one time in its past. The threads were somewhat reformed when forced into the hardened plate.

View attachment 85863


The last Ketland lock I have to show is marked "W. KETLAND & Co.". It has been converted to percussion so I don't have the original cock to help date it.

The firm W. KETLAND & Co. first advertised in the London business directories in 1800. It appears to have been formed by William Ketland after he left his father's (Thomas Ketland I) firm that year. William Ketland died in 1804 at the age of 44 years. His widow and partners continued to operate the firm until 1808 when there appears to have been a change of partners but no change in the firm's name. The firm finally dissolved in 1831.

Based on the lock markings, the pistol could have been made anytime in the 31 years after 1800. The lock was obviously originally a flintlock and the remaining rear fence indicates that it had a waterproof pan. The pistol itself is very plain but the lock has some better quality features. The proof marks on the barrel are pre-1813 private Tower of London proof marks. I would date it to 1810 plus or minus, but it could have been made earlier in the decade.

View attachment 85875
View attachment 85876

View attachment 85877

The lock is definitely better quality than the previous lock even though the pistol doesn't look that much more expensive externally. It obviously has a tumbler bridle and there is a fly on the tumbler. You can still see some of the tempering color on the bridle. I would expect it to have had a frizzen bridle, too, based on the indications of a waterproof pan. It doesn't have a stirrup on the main spring--what I think JJ Henry referred to as a "swivel" in the document from my previous post. When it was converted to percussion, the cut out for the drum eliminated the rest for the upper leg of the main spring. It looks like a stud was installed for the upper leg to rest against rather than the plate bolster.

View attachment 85878

Note the small "WK" stamped on the inside of the lock plate.

The front and rear lock bolts are the same size as a modern size 10, and again have close to 27 threads per inch as best as I could tell.

They appear to have been turned but may have been made by a cutting tool similar to a modern end mill but with a hole in the center the same diameter as the desired screw and depth of the hole equal to or longer than the length of the screw. The cutting tool could be turned against the end of the screw stock, removing all the metal except for the body of the screw.



This is just a small sampling of Ketland locks and doesn't have much statistical significance, but all three locks have front lock bolts the same size as the back lock bolts. On the two pistol locks in my collection, the bolt size is close to 10-27.

I am reminded that Bob Lienemann told me that when he was studying fur trade rifles by the likes of Henry, Leman, and others, he noticed that the lock bolts were normally close to size 10 like these. I wouldn't expect that to necessarily be the case for higher quality locks and rifles/pistols, though.
Phil,

Then a prayer of thanks has been sent to George Moller.

Thank you very much for providing the pictures and information. I found it/them downright fascinating! I LOVE to see pictures inside original locks almost as much as I enjoy looking at them in person.

I will be examining these more in detail.

Gus
 

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I have got my two work days in for the week, got up at regular time, and have had time to review the posts from five or so years ago, as well as he posts received this go round. I have two thoughts, both are probably going to be unpopular. Harper's Ferry never made a lock that would approach the quality we see in the pictured run of the mill Ketland. These folks had been making locks for a long time, and their superior knowledge and expertise of manufacture is obvious. I do not see any big stretch in getting the Ketland Contract locks to the HF Arsenal from PA, if indeed some of them were not already there. To install these proven and quality locks into proven decent rifles "1792 rifles not 1807--the quality slipped $2 worth per gun" handily solves the lock issues we are discussing. Unfortunately, that theory runs contrary to Lewis's statement about the lock and parts being of HF manufacture, but the contract locks likely were marked United States at the back. He was still very hung up on that silly collapsible boat at the time of rifle modification/manufacture.
With sincere respect, I suggest you are comparing apples to oranges on lock quality between Ketland and Harpers Ferry. I don't mean to take anything away from Ketland when I say this.

To my knowledge, no one has been able to identify what grade of locks the U.S. Government purchased from Ketland, but it's a safe bet they didn't pay for the higher or highest quality. There was no reason to do so and trust me the U.S. Government was as "penny pinching" about money back then, if not more so, than it is today. Now, even lower grades of locks without all the added features and decorations could and did make very serviceable locks.

There is nothing to suggest the workers at Harpers Ferry could not make high quality locks, even though they usually did not. This because the U.S. Government wasn't going to PAY for high quality locks for most standard military arms. Further, the HF Master Armorer Perkins had been a lock maker in England before he came over here.

Gus
 

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BTW and FWIW on a side note, the highest grade lock I was ever honored to work on was on a circa 1810 Saw Handled Flintlock Half Stock Target/Dueling Pistol by Nicolas-Noël Boutet, who was the personal gunmaker to King Louis XVI of France and during the revolution he worked for Napoleon as director of the state arms manufactory at Versailles. That pistol was not Royal quality, though the outside was exquisitely chiseled with figures on the Cock, Steel and plate.

I was only able to have worked on it because the Team Captain of the French National Team was shooting the pistol at the 1998 World Championships at Wedgnock, UK when it was not working properly. I was the Team Armourer to the U.S. International Muzzle Loading Team and the only Armourer at the World Championships. That was quite a story, but I have already gone off the topic of this thread enough, so I will stop here.

Gus
 

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I have an idea the US contract was a pretty important one. I am pretty sure Ketland would have provided a good value for the money in the interest of gaining more business.
 
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