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Rifles of the 1830s

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Zonie

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Just my opinion but I don't think the real Hawken shop back in the mid 1800's would ever allow a rifle stamped this way to leave the shop.
It was stamped by an inexperienced worker
1602113422208.png
 

plmeek

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I agree, Zonie, that stamp looks suspicious.

Hawkens -- if you continually browse the auctions you may find things not in The Books.
I'm not sure why this rifle was mentioned in this thread.

There are all too often guns listed at auctions that are "not in The Books" for good reason. Primarily because they are not always what they are represented to be. The description is wrong to suggest that lock was ever a flintlock. I'm not sure what all those holes are for, but none of them line up with parts normally found on a flintlock. The large plugged hole in the nose of the lock is about where a front lock bolt might have been, but the off side of this rifle shows that it never had provision for two locks bolts.

The low sales price also tells the story that no serious Hawken collectors bothered to bid on that rifle. An authentic Hawken of this style would have sold for tens of thousands of dollars, like the one linked below that went for $26,400.00 .

Lot Detail - (A) EXTREMELY SCARCE & HIGH CONDITION SAMUEL HAWKEN PERCUSSION RIFLE.

Even if the rifle that JCKelly linked to is an authentic Hawken rifle, which I doubt, it isn't of the time period that the OP was asking about, namely the 1830's.
 

Notchy Bob

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Here is a picture to throw in the kettle with the rest of things being discussed:

Col. Henry Dodge 1834.jpg

This is a portrait of Col. Henry Dodge, purportedly just in from a buffalo hunt (...with a sword and two pistols, for Heaven's sake...), rendered by George Catlin in 1834. This was said to have been done at Fort Gibson, which I believe is in what is now Oklahoma.

If we take the image at face value, the colonel was shooting a rifle with the lock on the left side, although, I think I'm seeing a cheek-piece, too. It has a pretty long barrel, a half stock, double set triggers, and a scroll guard. It appears to be percussion rather than flintlock, with two barrel keys.

I think most of us see a scroll guard and think "Hawken!", but I this was a style that was used by other builders in the west, as well. The Phillip Creamer rifle owned by William Clark had a scroll guard, and the one, single photograph I have seen of "Old Blackfoot," the rifle carried by Josiah Webb, the Santa Fe trader, also showed a scroll guard.

Catlin referred to his paintings as "cartoons," which may have had a somewhat different meaning in the 1830's. Unlike Bodmer, who painted with photographic realism, I believe Catlin was usually more interested in showing the spirit of his subject, rather than trying to capture all the details. I still think the image is informative, though, and if you really want to learn about the people and their equipment of that period, it's always good to go to the art and literature of the time and place. There is a lot to see in this picture... baggy trousers, boots rather than moccasins, a high-crowned hat, a "spikey" haircut, and good Lord, what a hunting shirt...

Here is your rifle, if you want a documented example from the 1830's.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

Notchy Bob

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Double barrel?
You mean in the Henry Dodge portrait? I wish I had thought of that. You might just be on to something...

In 1858, Henry Boller said in a letter to his dad that he would like to have a double barreled gun, "... of small caliber, to carry accurately the trade [or half-ounce] ball..."

Thanks for your insight!

Notchy Bob
 

tenngun

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Just a guess. I don’t know how many left hand guns there were of old. But sometimes the drawings may have inaccuracies just to fit in an look’. I blew it up as much as I could but couldn’t note much detail to the muzzle
 

Zonie

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My father was a professional artist and his artwork was all based on accurate pictures of things.
That said, more than a few times he would not include things in his drawings and paintings that were actually there and he would sometimes add things if he thought it would add something to what the picture represented, even though it wasn't there.

I know for a fact that he wasn't alone in doing this with his work. Many artists aren't trying to create exact historical drawings. They are just trying to portray the basics of an image, coupled with a feeling for what is happening at the time.

While artwork is the only thing we have to show what things were like in the past before photography, we should not hold up these drawings as being the gospel truth for everything we see in them.
 

SamTex1949

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another consideration on the illustration above, As an artist might consider in the rendering, If the rifle had been portrayed accurately as a right had lock design, the left side would be somewhat bland. So Catlin says to himself
"oops" so draws lack on left ! just speculation but knowing artists it wouldnt be unthinkable !
 

Rnegelein

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Here is a picture to throw in the kettle with the rest of things being discussed:

View attachment 45663

This is a portrait of Col. Henry Dodge, purportedly just in from a buffalo hunt (...with a sword and two pistols, for Heaven's sake...), rendered by George Catlin in 1834. This was said to have been done at Fort Gibson, which I believe is in what is now Oklahoma.

If we take the image at face value, the colonel was shooting a rifle with the lock on the left side, although, I think I'm seeing a cheek-piece, too. It has a pretty long barrel, a half stock, double set triggers, and a scroll guard. It appears to be percussion rather than flintlock, with two barrel keys.

I think most of us see a scroll guard and think "Hawken!", but I this was a style that was used by other builders in the west, as well. The Phillip Creamer rifle owned by William Clark had a scroll guard, and the one, single photograph I have seen of "Old Blackfoot," the rifle carried by Josiah Webb, the Santa Fe trader, also showed a scroll guard.

Catlin referred to his paintings as "cartoons," which may have had a somewhat different meaning in the 1830's. Unlike Bodmer, who painted with photographic realism, I believe Catlin was usually more interested in showing the spirit of his subject, rather than trying to capture all the details. I still think the image is informative, though, and if you really want to learn about the people and their equipment of that period, it's always good to go to the art and literature of the time and place. There is a lot to see in this picture... baggy trousers, boots rather than moccasins, a high-crowned hat, a "spikey" haircut, and good Lord, what a hunting shirt...

Here is your rifle, if you want a documented example from the 1830's.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
Col. Dodge is in his Ranger "Uniform" {Which was no real uniform}; not yet changing to his Dragoon uniform, and the hunt occurred on the Leavenworth/Dodge Dragoon Expedition to the Plains tribes near the present site of Fort Sill. Thus his need for the pistols & sword.
 

plmeek

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Here are some more examples of "artistic license".

This is an Alfred Jacob Miller painting called "On the War Path".
On the War Path.png


Notice the NDN is carrying what appears to be a left handed Kentucky rifle with a brass patch box.
On the War Path_detail.png


Miller apparently liked this composition and theme as he painted several versions of it. This one is called "The Scalp Lock".
Scalp Lock.png


The NDN appears to still be carrying a Kentucky rifle with what may be a brass patch box on the left side, but the lock now appears to be on the right side.
Scalp Lock_detail.png


This third version is different still. It is called "After the Battle: Making off with the Scalp-Lock".
After the Battle Scalp Lock_sketch.png

This gun appears to be a regular right handed rifle. Notice that Miller didn't include any detail for the trigger guard. That and the black and white wash suggests this is a sketch and may be more true to what he actually witnessed.
Scalp Lock_sketch.png
 

kje54

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Here is a picture to throw in the kettle with the rest of things being discussed:

View attachment 45663

This is a portrait of Col. Henry Dodge, purportedly just in from a buffalo hunt (...with a sword and two pistols, for Heaven's sake...), rendered by George Catlin in 1834. This was said to have been done at Fort Gibson, which I believe is in what is now Oklahoma.

If we take the image at face value, the colonel was shooting a rifle with the lock on the left side, although, I think I'm seeing a cheek-piece, too. It has a pretty long barrel, a half stock, double set triggers, and a scroll guard. It appears to be percussion rather than flintlock, with two barrel keys.

I think most of us see a scroll guard and think "Hawken!", but I this was a style that was used by other builders in the west, as well. The Phillip Creamer rifle owned by William Clark had a scroll guard, and the one, single photograph I have seen of "Old Blackfoot," the rifle carried by Josiah Webb, the Santa Fe trader, also showed a scroll guard.

Catlin referred to his paintings as "cartoons," which may have had a somewhat different meaning in the 1830's. Unlike Bodmer, who painted with photographic realism, I believe Catlin was usually more interested in showing the spirit of his subject, rather than trying to capture all the details. I still think the image is informative, though, and if you really want to learn about the people and their equipment of that period, it's always good to go to the art and literature of the time and place. There is a lot to see in this picture... baggy trousers, boots rather than moccasins, a high-crowned hat, a "spikey" haircut, and good Lord, what a hunting shirt...

Here is your rifle, if you want a documented example from the 1830's.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
Cartoon Etyimology; (1670s) derives from the French: Carton and the Italian: Cartone meaning "strong, heavy paper or pasteboard". It was usually used to draw initial sketches on. By 1843 it was an extension to drawings in magazines and newspapers originally they were used to advocate or attack a political faction or idea. Later it was associated with what we know of today as cartoons.

cartoon | Origin and meaning of cartoon by Online Etymology Dictionary
 

Flinty Scot

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I find it interesting - and disconcerting- that in the last B&W sketch, the face looks more like that of a non-indian.

The hairline on the forehead, and what looks like a moustache, seem outr of place & at odds w/ all the other versions shown.

Scalp-Lock? At first glace it appeared to me that the subject has been head-hunting. & it was thrown over his shoulder.
 

Notchy Bob

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Great discussion! I hope we haven't hijacked the OP's thread...

Col. Dodge is in his Ranger "Uniform" {Which was no real uniform}; not yet changing to his Dragoon uniform, and the hunt occurred on the Leavenworth/Dodge Dragoon Expedition to the Plains tribes near the present site of Fort Sill. Thus his need for the pistols & sword.
Thank you. Dodge was one of those frontier characters about whom I had read (I've had Catlin's books for close to fifty years), but I never really paid much attention. I looked him up, and researched him some today. He was quite a character, and was apparently in his early fifties when Catlin painted his portrait. Here is another image, roughly the same as the first one, but with a little added color:

Col. Henry Dodge 1.2.jpg

This picture appears to show the lock on the right side of the rifle.

I also found another image which may be of interest. This is Colonel Dodge meeting an emissary of the Comanches on the plains:

Dodge & Comanches.png

...and a detail shot of the Colonel:

Dodge & Comanches - Detail.png

Catlin documented these events occurred during a very hot summer. Those boys must have smelled pretty ripe, in their wool uniforms, with Col. Dodge in full buckskins! It was interesting to me, to see how he carries his rifle... Out of the way, but ready to deploy if needed.

For hunting buffalo a double rifle, or shotgun loaded with ball, would be ideal if hunting from horseback. Dodge has two pistols, too. He wasn't taking any chances. :D
Catlin described a buffalo hunt, and said, "General Leavenworth and Colonel Dodge, with their pistols, gallantly and handsomely belabored a fat cow, and were in together at the death" (Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians, Vol. II, page 46).

I had heard of running buffalo with pistols, but this passage attests to their effectiveness in practiced hands.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

tenngun

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I find it interesting - and disconcerting- that in the last B&W sketch, the face looks more like that of a non-indian.

The hairline on the forehead, and what looks like a moustache, seem outr of place & at odds w/ all the other versions shown.

Scalp-Lock? At first glace it appeared to me that the subject has been head-hunting. & it was thrown over his shoulder.
By Miller’s time French had been sniffing around the Rockies for a century. There was just too much fur still in the East to make the trip west worthwhile. There could be plenty of ‘white’ genes in the gene pool by then
Although beard and mustache along with recessing hair lines are rare in Indian populations it’s not unheard of. Sitting Bear, the Kiowa chief famous from the 1870s sported a Foo Manchu style mustache
A half or one forth white Indian would have faced little to no prejudice in his camp.
And although ‘Dog Face’ was used for bearded white men it is not unknown for some out of the ordinary feature to be considered very sexually attractive.
In Japan, where slim and willowy is common the mammoth sumo wrestlers are thought the top of male attractiveness. Or Ireland full of red heads and light color skin sing of the nut brown girl and the black haired and dark eyed girls or young heroic men.
A man with enough facial hair to grow a mustache may have been thought very powerful.
But... it might just be shadowing and the hair may have been a cut for a warrior club.
 
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