Do You See Anything Suspicious About This Rifle?

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plmeek

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On GMFHUNTER's thread about "Early plains rifle build" (Topic#305849), I posted this comment:

Mtn. Meek said:
Scota4570 said:
The first Julia link is well worth saving the pictures for reference on future builds. Finding good pictures of originals is very difficult.
https://jamesdjulia.com/item/2269-391/
The rifle you linked to may not be the best choice for an example of an original Hawken. It has several suspicious characteristics.

If you are a collector, #1 rule is "buyer beware". If you are a student, "look critically". Lot's of fakes out there, especially Hawken.

Phil
Naturally, Scota4570 came back with this obvious question.

Scota4570 said:
What does not look right about it?
Not wanting to hijack GMFHUNTER's thread, I thought I would start a new one. I also thought this might be a good "learning moment" for many of us.

The rifle under discussion is a S. Hawken marked rifle that sold at a James D. Julia auction in 2016.
https://jamesdjulia.com/item/2269-391/

First off, I'm no expert--just a student of these rifles. My suspicions of this rifle are just opinion. I haven't seen this rifle in person and only have the pictures on the auction site to formulate an opinion. Plus, I don't think anyone, expert or not, can make a definitive assessment from pictures alone. My opinions could be completely wrong.

That said, there are five aspects of this rifle that make me suspicious. Two are general and could apply to any rifle and three are Hawken specific.

But before I go through them, I would like to invite others to inspect the photos on the link above and comment on anything they see odd or suspicious or not right in those pictures. I bet others can see things I didn't and give me an opportunity to learn more, too.
 
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nit wit

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James Julia has very high standards and a great reputation. I would trust them completely. They will stand behind their description of an item.
Nit Wit
 

Herb

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1. The curl of the rear trigger guard loop is not at right angles to the trigger plate.
2. The butt plate is Track of the Wolf's Bridger, which in the actual Bridger and Carson Hawkens is filed to a narrow edge. The thicker part at the corner is filed back so the return (tang) is 1.7" long. Also. the tang "shelf" appears parallel sided and not tapered as made by TOW.
3. I don't know if that is a normal Hawken hammer, but it is not to my taste.
4. The front trigger is too close to the bow, the rear trigger is too far away from the rear curve.
5. There is a gap at the front of the trigger plate, easy to put there, but don't remember seeing it on Hawkens.
6. The snail does not have the top cut back into a smooth oval, nor is the rear. The "bowl" is not large enough.
7. The rod pipes are small. On the Bridger and Carson rifles, they are a little over 1/2" inside diameter.
 

necchi

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Herb said:
1.
2.
3.
5.
7.
You and Meek,, should contact them. And all possible buyers!!
It's only right that they are completely aware that the auction is a fraud!!

maybe if they sanded off some of the stain in places it would be better
 

plmeek

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necchi said:
You...should contact them. And all possible buyers!! It's only right that they are completely aware that the auction is a fraud!!
The auction was held and the rifle sold almost two years ago. It's a done deal.
 

necchi

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Mtn. Meek said:
It's a done deal.
Contact Them!! It may not be too late for them to recover from the fraud!!
Fraudulent sales of historic arms should be reported by all of those people with particular knowledge!!
If your going to call a spade a spade,, at least do it to those poor people that received the fraudulent gun!!
 

plmeek

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Herb said:
1. The curl of the rear trigger guard loop is not at right angles to the trigger plate.
2. The butt plate is Track of the Wolf's Bridger, which in the actual Bridger and Carson Hawkens is filed to a narrow edge. The thicker part at the corner is filed back so the return (tang) is 1.7" long. Also. the tang "shelf" appears parallel sided and not tapered as made by TOW.
3. I don't know if that is a normal Hawken hammer, but it is not to my taste.
4. The front trigger is too close to the bow, the rear trigger is too far away from the rear curve.
5. There is a gap at the front of the trigger plate, easy to put there, but don't remember seeing it on Hawkens.
6. The snail does not have the top cut back into a smooth oval, nor is the rear. The "bowl" is not large enough.
7. The rod pipes are small. On the Bridger and Carson rifles, they are a little over 1/2" inside diameter.
Great points, Herb.

Your No. 6 about the snail was the clincher for me when I first saw these pictures almost two years ago.

This is how a modern day Hawken breech comes as cast.


This is how Sam Hawken shaped the top of the snail on his rifles. This is what Herb is talking about.


Compare the two images above to the photo of the top of the breech area on the auction site and tell me which one it looks like.



That sure looks like a modern cast breech to me.

Herb, your point No. 3 was another red flag to me, though more than aesthetics.

The hammer and whole lock look like Art Ressel's castings from The Hawken Shop.

This is a picture of the lock on my Hawken Shop Hawken that was purchased from Ressel's shop in 1981.


Art Ressel cast his parts from an original in his collection, but I don't think the one that sold on James D. Julia was from Ressel's collection. But was it made using Ressel's parts?


I hadn't noticed your point No. 4 about the triggers position relative to the guard bow, but I agree with you.

I also agree with your point No. 1. The rear scroll on the trigger guard isn't shaped the way Sam normally shaped his.

I can't tell much about the ramrod pipes with these photos, but you may be right. I would expect a tapered ramrod with largest pipe up front.

I'm on the fence about the butt plate.

I still have three other areas of concern. Wait and see if anyone hits on them.
 

Herb

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There is no original buttplate that looks like this one, nor a breech plug and tang. But I did not see any of this until you said to look closely.
 

Herb

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In Jim Gordon's book "Great Gunmakers for the Early West, Volume III, Western U.S." there are photos of 34 Hawken stamps, J&S.Hawken and S.Hawken. The S.Hawken stamp has no space after the period. It looks as if Sam just filed off the J&. None of these look like the Julia stamp. The stock is walnut, but some were, though most were maple.
 

54ball

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Well all the iron looks like a bleach job. I have a rifle from 1840 and it does not look like that. Too much red. Too those barrel flat edges look a little too sharp.
 

Artie Peltier

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Im far from an expert how about the lettering on the barrel. It appears to be stamped. I thought the originals were hand inscribed with script. If I’m wrong please let me know. Thanks Art
 

Herb

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All the Hawken names were stamped. In addition to the 34 above, I also have photos of S. Hawken stamped rifles in a museum in Cheyenne and another in Lincoln, NE, plus a J&S Hawken stamp on another rifle in Helena, MT along with the Bridger rifle there. The Julia stamp is not like any of these. D.T. Hawken Denver CT was also stamped (the C is backward).
 

Scota4570

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Thanks everyone. That was very enlightening.



As an aside, it surprises me that nobody marketed an accurate copy of an original. With today's CNC and casting technology it would be as easy to do it right as to do it wrong.
 

Herb

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Scota4570, I sure wish there were Hawken parts that work. The 1 1/8" tang is badly shaped- too much hump and tail too low. You can bend the tail up, but the hump takes bright red heat and beating with a big hammer to flatten it where it belongs. The snails of all plugs are not well shaped. The TOW classic late Hawken triggerguard has to be bent to screw into the trigger plate at right angles. The Ron Long double set trigger plate has to be bent down at front to match the stock contour. The Bridger butt plate is cosmetic, it works, but must be reshaped to be like Bridger or Carson buttplates. Some entry pipes are not like originals.

The TOW Kit Carson stock is nothing like the original. There is not a correct nose cap for a 1 1/8" tapered barrel, which is about 1 1/16" at forend length. The TOW Jim Bridger rear sight is the same low sight (though wider) as the Kit Carson sight, which is low like the original, resulting in a low front sight. The Davis Jim Bridger lock cut for snail puts the hammer too far back from the nipple, resulting in having to heat the hammer bright red and lift the nose to hit the nipple. You can build a generic Hawken with most of these parts, but the rifle will look like it, too. Some parts have to be modified to work at all.
 

Scota4570

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Yes, building mine was a struggle. I trashed about half of the parts originally supplied. IF Someday I hope to purchase an original to copy from.

Julia did not state the bore configuration. Were the originals 7 lands and grooves? Often the lands were wider than the grooves. Many old guns were. Anyone know how the original ones were done.

Modern ones are invariably 6 or 8 L/G. This would be a dead give-away that the barrel is modern?
 

Scota4570

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Also, look at the stamp on the barrel. Doesn't it look too rough around the edges, like the stamp was made by EDM?

Great thread, thank you.

Scot
 

Herb

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Of 29 muzzles in Gordon's book where rifling can be seen (some are "funneled" and you can't see the rifling), the oldest has 8 lands, 24 have 7 lands and the four Missouri rifles have six grooves. The Cheyenne and Lincoln rifles have 7 lands. The Colorado Hawken is correctly stamped W S.Hawken, Denver, C.T.
 

Rifleman1776

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The S.Hawken stamp has no space after the period.
I know an individual who claims to own one of the original 'S' Hawken stamps. He is/was a talented builder who has made near as possible exact replicas of the Hawken. The 'S' stamp he has is crooked and he claims all original Hawken rifles had the crooked 'S'. One of his rifles was "authenticated" by John Baird as being an original.
 
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