French & Indian War Era Flintlock Rifles

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pargent

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Do you think the forend has been cut down at a later date ? It is a very good score. :hatsoff:
 

pargent

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If I were to take a punt and build a rifle for F&I ,I would build a period English Dagroon carbine or fusil and have a round rifle barrel fitted.look at the photo of Mr.Brooks pre. F&I rifle and you you can see that very common English style.
 

Okwaho

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chazmo said:
I realize this goes against the common wisdom, but I believe the style of gun (curved toe line and curved or straight comb) made in the Northhampton, Bucks and Lehigh schools all reflect the local preferences of French Huguenot emigrants who settled extensively in Pennsylvania and New York in the late 1600's and early 1700's. These counties were some of the earliest settled in Pennsylvania, and I believe the French influenced style was also very early, not a later aberration. Realistically, even if you are a German or Swiss smith with a preference for straight toe/comb, you are going to make and sell what your customers want.

The fact that the curved comb/toe lines didn't migrate out of a limited geographic area further indicates to me that smiths were working to a local preference from a small population. There were more Swiss/German emigrants than French, so there are more existing pre-Revolutionary examples of that style than of the French influenced style.

Yes, I realize this is conjecture on my part. I know we can argue forever on the attribution of the Dubbs firearms (they don't look 1790's to me :wink: ). My point is to play devil's advocate. Maybe with the number of early rifles coming to light recently we can wistfully hope for an early french influenced rifle to be dug out of a closet, attic or barn.

NO,this is not conjecture and you are not alone. I have for some time recognized the similarity btween the architecture of some of the French guns and the early roman nose architecture of the Lehigh Valley and early 18th century New England fowlers.It is the influence upon the Bucks and Berks County guns that is most striking. The pied de vache butt configuration is also very noticeable on the fowlers including the early English fowlers which prior to the emergence of French guns were extremely clunky. One need only to compare 17th century British styling on a New England gun {Grinslade P.32 NE 1] with a later {Grinslade P.35 NE 4}New England gun with its French influenced convex comb and concave bottom butt line.While not as dramatically styled as a Fusil de chasse one can see the progressive architectural change.

The effect of French styling including both military and civilian with its pied de vache and roman nose butt architecture and overall graceful stying featuring convex combs and concave lower buttlines is very noticeable in the Lehigh Valley guns partcularly those from Bucks,Berks,and to a degree the Oerter rifles from Christian Springs.Although not as dramatic as the Bucks County architecture the early Reading roman nose guns are vivid examples of their French roman nose butt ancestry.It is really not all that unusual to find the use of a fleur de lis in the molding and other carving particularly at the junction of the comb and wrist.See RCA Vol I No. 42

I realize that these thoughts comprise a theory totally at odds with the idea that the Kentucky rifle in its entirety was based on the Germanic rifles of central Europe.Simply put it is my opinion that the early rifles from Southeastern Pennsylvania rifles from Lancaster,York and adjoining areas tend to have more Germanic styling whereas early rifles from Bucks,Berks and some adjoining areas reflect a French heritage.This theory,of course,does not take into consideration some rifles from Virginia,the Eastern Carolinas the Eastern shore,and Maryland many of which are more English influenced.

The sum total of this lengthy comment is that the origin and production of Kentucky is one great melting pot the contents of which become more confusing as we move back in time.
As always I welcome responsible opposing comment and to paraphrase Mr. Joe Kindig Jr.I don't care whether or not you agree with me;Just do the research to prove one of us right. :hmm: :bow:
Tom Patton
 

rich pierce

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Stophel said:
People act as if there is a "checklist" of what makes a pre-revolutionary rifle. Wide butt...check, Lock with no bridle...check, wood patchbox...check. Fill out the checks, and you're good to go.

Guilty as charged. In saying that sort of thing, I am attempting to set a bar- in this case, a very low bar (got to start somewhere). I think at a bare minimum a plausible contemporary built F&I War era rifle should have parts and features found on rifles of those times. Often, even this low standard is not met in a convincing way. But I agree with you 100%, that is just a start.

I do like and encourage "generic" and "creative" when it comes to the earliest rifles, which were built before the schools we recognize today were established. I personally don't like "backdating" 1770's rifles to evoke an earlier style; for example trying to create a 1750's Lancaster, Reading, or Easton rifle based on known 1770's rifles. For example, if we "earlified" an Oerter rifle or an Albrecht to attempt to evoke what might have been built in the area in the 1750's, we could not predict or create anything close to the "musician's rifle"- we'd employ a stepped wrist.
 

Mike Brooks

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1601phill said:
Do you think the forend has been cut down at a later date ? It is a very good score. :hatsoff:
No, it was built as a 1/2 stock originally. No reason for a full stock since it doesn't needa ram rod being a breech loader.
 

Mike Brooks

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Time for heresy...... I'll bet there is a good possibility that many of the rifles that are pre F&I war in colonial America are probably imports from europe. After all, the euros could build military muskets, trade guns and fowling guns cheaper than the colonials, why not rifles too? The Euros were more than aware of rifle technology.
 

rich pierce

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I'd go so far as to suggest that "most" rifles used in the colonies in and before the French and Indian War era were originally made in Europe. Seems some like the Marshall rifle were restocked here.
 

pargent

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Yes I agree ,it is only logical .Do you have a makers name for that very fine breechloader ?
 

Okwaho

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I'm not sure how far I would go with this appealing idea BUT if you were to add the original wood/horn guard and step wrist and then take off the name,date,engraving and maybe the carving the Schreit rifle would look like any other simple Germanic hunting rifle of the mid to late 18th century.Rich brought up the Marshall rifle and there's always RCA 17 which could be part of the group which we we are discussing here.Take a look at the plain hunting rifles of unknown origin shown in Vol.I of RCA and this theory becomes to some degree plausible.The problem is,however, that if we accept even part of the numerous rifle guns described in the various accounts we still come up woefully short of any vast numbers of imported guns. We know there were gunsmiths operating in Pennsylvania and elsewhere but again while we can identify them there are no signed guns. We know these gunsmiths were working but what did their guns look like.A good example is Daniel Kliest b.1716 in Frankfort am Mayn d.1792 Bethlehem,Pa.His father was a master locksmith and Daniel apparently apprenticed with him .He joined the Moravian Church in 1746 and came to Bethlehem in 1749.He did extensive gunsmithing while in Bethlehem stocking at least 5 rifles and working on others including repairing a rifle with 2 barrells and mending the locks.The records I have show this work being done 1756-1757. In 1762 he bought out the smithy and may have gone back to locksmithing full time.I have nothing after 1757 and again what did his guns look like? Were any of them signed?I don't question these rifles coming from the Germanic areas and perhaps others from the low countries but I'm not ready to accept large numbers of rifles being imported.I guess the bottom line is still WHEN were they imported? WHO made them and exported them? WHAT did they look like? And in the case of Indian guns WHY are they not found in large numbers as funerary objects in Native graves?

For info on Daniel Kliest see "Memorials Of The Moravian Church V 1 {1870}

This is a fascinating question raised by Mike and Rich but unfortunately one that I have problems with although I remain willing to accept substantial proof of their theory.
As always I welcome responsible opposing comment.
Tom Patton :bow: :hmm:
 

Mike Brooks

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Pre F&I I beleive the colonies were mainly a smooth bore culture, There just wasn;t reason enough for a rifle. We probably way over romantisize the rifle in this period.
Buials? I'm aware of many more smooth bored guns in burials than rifles. Probably a reflection of the numbers of rifles in use vs smooth bores, or the fact that rifles were far to valuable to bury and and old worn out smooth bore was buried in it's place.
Why don't we see euro rifles intact now?...... Probably for the same reason we see so few French fusil de tait and fin guns which were sold in the 10's of thousands, they were all just used up and recycled.
Okwaho, "Thrower of wet blankets on great ideas". :haha:
 

Mike Brooks

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1601phill said:
Yes I agree ,it is only logical .Do you have a makers name for that very fine breechloader ?
This gun was in Kieth Neals collection and featured in one of his books.
He mentions that the rifle came from Timsbury Manor near Bath England and was made in London around 1670. He attributes it to John Tarles (Senior) who was admitted to the Gunmakers Company in 1670 and was still active in the early 1700s .
 

Okwaho

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A most interesting gun,Mike and I was really impressed with the,shall we say,somewhat unusual stocking here.I don't remember any any similar stocking. :idunno:
 

Mike Brooks

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Okwaho said:
A most interesting gun,Mike and I was really impressed with the,shall we say,somewhat unusual stocking here.I don't remember any any similar stocking. :idunno:
I assume you're hinting at the fact that the gun is undoubtedly male? :wink:
 

Okwaho

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Mike Brooks said:
Pre F&I I beleive the colonies were mainly a smooth bore culture, There just wasn;t reason enough for a rifle. We probably way over romantisize the rifle in this period.
Buials? I'm aware of many more smooth bored guns in burials than rifles. Probably a reflection of the numbers of rifles in use vs smooth bores, or the fact that rifles were far to valuable to bury and and old worn out smooth bore was buried in it's place.
Why don't we see euro rifles intact now?...... Probably for the same reason we see so few French fusil de tait and fin guns which were sold in the 10's of thousands, they were all just used up and recycled.
Okwaho, "Thrower of wet blankets on great ideas". :haha:

Mike,I agree with you as to the colonies being largely smoothbore cultures and that we have romantisized the rifle although Gary has pointed out the presence of pockets in the Virginia highlands where the rifle was dominant. I'm not exactly sure why this happened, maybe Gary can give us guidance here. I'm not familiar enough with the settlement patterns in this area during the 18th century.

As to the burials the only ones with rifles of which I am aware are the guns found in Alabama or Mississippi.Wallace has written articles in "Muzzle Blasts {Jan.2005,Mar.2005,July 2005,and Nov.2005}mainly about RCA 42 and uncorporating these archealogical specimens. These guns were found years ago and there is no solid evidence as to where and when they were found.One is dated to the 1760's or 70's and the other dated Ca.the first quarter of the 19th century.As to the substitution of guns in burials whereby a worn out gun was "killed" in lieu of a better one This substitution was not unknown and was not limited to guns or various particular possessions of the deceased such as kettles,silver, pottery and other possessions.

I'm sure that rifles like trade guns and hunting guns such as Fusils de chasse were often simply used up and discarded or cannibalized for various purposes.I seem to recall a picture of a plains Indian with a necklace made from about 6 or 8 side plates I think from Northwest guns and a number of scrapers made from gun barrels.
To Mike Brooks;O Great Chief Runamok :bow: :v
Tom Patton
 

dgracia

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Okwaho said:
Pre F&I I beleive the colonies were mainly a smooth bore culture, There just wasn;t reason enough for a rifle. We probably way over romantisize the rifle in this period.

***SNIP***

One reason for the number of rifles in Virgina was the deerhide trade. Virginia was first of all settled in the tidewater areas along the coast. Then instead of gradually settling farther and farther west, settlers came along what was originally known as the Warriors Road. This was a trail that followed along the the base of the mountains, basically following along where interstate 81 runs through Virginia now. It later became known as the "Great Wagon Road" and was the main conduit of settlers from Pennsylvania into Virginia.

This road came out of Pennsylvania and followed along in a southwesterly direction to an area known as "Big Lick", now known as Roanoke, VA. Then the trail split with one part headed towards Tennessee and Kentucky, while the other fork became known as the Carolina Trail as it headed across the Blue Ridge Mountains and headed south into the Carolinas. The original path of the Carolina trail actually runs through the cornfield behind and next to my house.

Because of the Great Wagon Road, the interior of Virginia was settled after the Tidewater area and then settlements continued to move eastward towards the tidewater as well as west. Net effect was you had a lot of people settling in Western and Southwestern Virginia with a good population on the coast, and not much in between.

Virginia was a very game rich area in the 1600 and 1700's and lots of these frontier folk augmented their living from farming and ranching incomes by harvesting and selling half cured deer hides for a good 6 months out of each year. In fact, up until the Revolutionary War, rawhide deer hides were the #2 export of Virginia behind tobacco. These rawhide deer hides were sold primarily to England where they were then processed into leather and used primarily for gentleman's buckskin breeches.

I would posture that there were a lot of rifles in Southwestern Virginia specifically because of that export of deer hides. With the accuracy of the rifle, you could have not only a higher number of deer harvested, but a higher percentage of premium hides (no bullet holes in them) which commanded higher prices. Head and neck shots wouldn't mar the skin at all. Additionally, the rifles used smaller caliber balls and needed less powder, so they were more economical to use. And it didn't hurt that there was a lead mine in the Blacksburg area too. In any case, there were a lot of rifles in this area and when the Rev War came along, entire rifle companies were recruited from this area time and time again, and they all brought their own rifles with them.

Twisted_1in66 :thumbsup:
 

rich pierce

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Good explanation for regional differences. Sure wish more of the early rifles survived. It could be that some of them did survive in a way as their barrels etc may have been re-stocked in later styles. Wallace Gusler had a nice Muzzle Blasts article of a "restocked in use" rifle sporting a very early Germanic buttplate and other parts wedded to a somewhat later styled stock and patchbox. In this case I think he postulated the original gun came from the north end of the Great Wagon Road, and was probably restocked in Virginia.
 

Zonie

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I've often wondered if some of the FIW (French/Indian War) or pre FIW rifles that still exist don't fit into the "It's been resrocked" or the "That is much later. It's stock architecture is from the 1770's." category.

As there are few records and no accurate drawings of what the guns of that earlier era actually looked like there is no way of knowing what to look for beyond lock styles and known later developments which would rule out the gun.

It is very easy to look knowledgeable by saying "That is a much later rifle. Probably from the 1780 time period." but indeed this is just a guess.

If the gun has a lock without a frizzen bridle with a lockplate similar to locks that were known to exist in the 1730-1760 time period with little carving and few to no inlays it very well could have been made in the 1730-1760 time period.

Things like longer barrels and graceful architecture could be from much earlier periods than we acknowledge.

Yes, I know about the dislike of the word "could" because it is speculation but for people to say a gun from that era must look like a gun from that era when few guns from that era are recognized as being from that era dooms the candidate firearm to the label of being from a later era when indeed, it may not be.

In other words the adage "If it was a snake it would have bit ya." may well apply.
 

Dphar

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Mike Brooks said:
Pre F&I I beleive the colonies were mainly a smooth bore culture, There just wasn;t reason enough for a rifle. We probably way over romantisize the rifle in this period.
Buials? I'm aware of many more smooth bored guns in burials than rifles. Probably a reflection of the numbers of rifles in use vs smooth bores, or the fact that rifles were far to valuable to bury and and old worn out smooth bore was buried in it's place.
Why don't we see euro rifles intact now?...... Probably for the same reason we see so few French fusil de tait and fin guns which were sold in the 10's of thousands, they were all just used up and recycled.
Okwaho, "Thrower of wet blankets on great ideas". :haha:


The Militia laws mandated smoothbores so LOTS of people had them by law. Since they were mandated they will be more numerous. People who had no use for a firearm what ever still needed a musket for militia duty.
This alone is enough to skew the smooth bore to rifle ratio wildly. Especially if, as seems to be indicated, the rifle was more common on the frontier than in the more settled, highly populated areas.

Then... Some tribes were fairly heavily armed with rifles by the 1740s could be they were all European made or maybe not.
But by the 1770s the natives were using American rifles for the most part since the British had to import english made Kentucky knockoffs to fill the need by about 1780.
But the 1750s British officers and others were bewailing the fact that rifles used less powder and lead than the trade guns and were dangerous in native hands given their manner of making war.

There was a concerted effort by some, Sir William Johnson and others, to prevent natives from acquiring rifles.
So if the natives were using rifles by the mid-1740s where did they learn about them? Who was using them?
Rifles were recycled too and the barrels were used on new rifles. They were apparently not thrown away since even when they are documented they seldom show in the "archaeological record".
A rifle barrel, after all, was worth more than a complete trade gun or very near it.
Many rifle barrels were being imported by at least the 1760s so finding a rifle with a German barrel does not mean its a restocked German gun.
They were importing English rifle barrels as well according to the Moravians.
Had the Moravians arrived in the 1720s and started keeping detailed records things might be less murky.
This is just another way of looking at this. Not necessarily how it was. But we don't know how it was.
Dan
 
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