Thoughts on Patch Boxes - or lack thereof - on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age (and Colonial Age)

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Yer over thinking this non-issue. Do yer own thang. Whichever way you choose, there will be some 'experts' who criticize saying what you did ain't 'authentic'. Ignore them.
I Think fancy guns had a better chance of survival then just a plain ‘old gun’. Especially through the metal drives in the world wars
I can’t prove it, but I think your right
 

HighUintas

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This is my favorite patchbox I've seen. The original is William Clarks rifle made by Philip Creamer. The copy is done by Louie Parker.

downloadfile.jpg
downloadfile-1.jpg
 

ronaldrothb49

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This is a pretty good source although some of the photos are a little blurry.
I'll bet the maker of the rifle had a few [email protected](7%[email protected]! moments when he noticed the engraving foulup.
I have seen a number of originals with mistakes but that is really BAD, and it's on the cover of the book. my first rifle I made from parts over 40 years ago I named the Ugly Duckling. After seeing that one I think I did a pretty good job back then.
 
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I reckon that unless you are holding yourself to a historical standard that few can truly uphold, skipping a patchbox is not a big deal. If you want one, get one. If you don't, weeeelllll... tant noone in this life or the next will be able to judge thee but thy Father who art in Heaven.

Of my five rifles, only my Lancre Plain Rifle, "Stower's Thumper", lacks a box, but it is a .40 target rifle by birth(at least I suspect as much based on it's natur') so who needs the extra adornment?
 
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I have seen a number of originals with mistakes but that is really BAD, and it's on the cover of the book. my first rifle I made from parts over 40 years ago I named the Ugly Duckling. After seeing that one I think I did a pretty good job back then.
The patch box with the mistake is not the same one as on the cover. The mistake is on the later pages.
Things like this are what make me try to do as good work as I can, specially when I stamp my name on the rifle. I've spent many hours fixing screwups that would be around a lot longer than I am.
 

ronaldrothb49

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The patch box with the mistake is not the same one as on the cover. The mistake is on the later pages.
Things like this are what make me try to do as good work as I can, specially when I stamp my name on the rifle. I've spent many hours fixing screwups that would be around a lot longer than I am.
If there is one worse than the one on the cover I DON"T WANT TO SEE IT.
 

dave_person

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Hi,
Something to consider. A 4-piece metal patch box without engraving usually looks like a lump of metal to me. Two-piece boxes can look fine without engraving but bigger 4-piece ones just look like big monochrome blobs without even the interest of wood grain. They look better if they have piercings that let wood show through. The first example shows a simple 2-piece box without engraving that looks nice.
EEEBO6U.jpg

The next show 4-piece boxes with engraving.
lW8E4sU.jpg

OeYddL5.jpg

The engraving really makes those 2 boxes.

dave
 

MTCossack

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This is my favorite patchbox I've seen. The original is William Clarks rifle made by Philip Creamer. The copy is done by Louie Parker.

View attachment 138560 View attachment 138561

That's a really lovely patch box. I love the flare at the butt.

Hi,
Something to consider. A 4-piece metal patch box without engraving usually looks like a lump of metal to me. Two-piece boxes can look fine without engraving but bigger 4-piece ones just look like big monochrome blobs without even the interest of wood grain. They look better if they have piercings that let wood show through. The first example shows a simple 2-piece box without engraving that looks nice.
EEEBO6U.jpg

The next show 4-piece boxes with engraving.
lW8E4sU.jpg

OeYddL5.jpg

The engraving really makes those 2 boxes.

dave

That's an excellent point - and some lovely examples. One reason I might well go with a patch box for my York rifle is that the gunmaker I'm working with (Steve Zihn) does very nice engraving.
 

MTCossack

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This is a pretty good source although some of the photos are a little blurry.
I'll bet the maker of the rifle had a few [email protected](7%[email protected]! moments when he noticed the engraving foulup.

I like this book a lot, although a number of the photos are pretty poor by current standards, as you mentioned.

Yeah, that Peter Berry patchbox on the front cover is one of the patch boxes that seemed most off to me. The Author even mentions it while also extolling the rifle as a "first rate" example of Berry's work. Admittedly, though, everything about the gun is amazing, other than the goofy patch box.

I'm still looking for the "oops" on the North Carolina gun - is it the off line in the weaving pattern on the upper side? Not that I'm very fond of that patch-box and its folky style. It's interesting, but not attractive to me.
 
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I'm still looking for the "oops" on the North Carolina gun - is it the off line in the weaving pattern on the upper side? Not that I'm very fond of that patch-box and its folky style. It's interesting, but not attractive to me.
That's the mistake that you point out. The one on the cover is a very bad case of misalignment.
 

dave_person

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Hi,
That is the way Peter Berry positioned his patch boxes. It grows on you after a while.

dave
 
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I'm thinking about this same issue.

Not surprised the majority of folks responding to the OP's thread here either did not, or cannot read his original post and posted something stupid and irrelevant, though.
 
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I like a patch box on a rifle the brass ones are eye catching especially when engraved, but my real liking is the wooden ones. Perhaps on the original weapons it would depend on the buyers social and monetary status as to embellishments such as this, Like some here I believe a lot of the less fancy or workingmans weapons were used up and just did not make it, Makes me think if I was a young man with a wife heading into the frontier to start a new life and hopefully raise a family sure I would want a decent made rifle but I could also save a few dollars in the commision of a well built plain rifle that would get the job done just as well as a fancy one. Now of days it is to the buyer as to how fancy one wants a rifle, your choice.
 
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Function wise, I find the patch box to be kinda useless. I don't store anything in it because I'm usually shooting at a range with my range box, and even if I were to go on a woods walk, I would just use a shooting bag to store what I need. Looks wise, I think they can be quite pretty on a gun. Personally speaking, I am not a huge fan of the patchboxes found on the Dickerts/Lancaster rifles, but I love the patchboxes found on Jaegers. I guess I'm more of a fan of the wooden sliding patchboxes as opposed to brass ones. Now for your build, I think you should think about the functionality and purpose of the patchbox. The way I look at it, builders at the time made these guns for folks for all sorts of reasons. Depending on which reason (hunting, protection, etc). These builders made them accordingly for the needs of their clients, so I think for whatever purpose you need it for you should base your decision off that. I guess what I'm trying to say here is to try to get into the mind of a builder at the time and whatever option you choose, you should make it yours (whether it be with fancy engravings or something plain, it's all up to you!)
 
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Rudyard

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Though I have made rifles with metal patch boxes or' tool boxes as I view' them' nice deep ones'you can keep a jag a ball drawer some flints a pick & maybe leather & some rag & you can even put patches if you want . I think it was Georges' English guns & rifles ' him mentioning they were seldom greasy .But whatever grabs you .I prefer the wooden ones .
Rudyard
 

Brokennock

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I'm having a York-Style rifle built and got to thinking about stylistic choices, and particularly the big question: to include or not include a patch box on my build? I'm interested in building/owning a rifle that is both historically plausible and aesthetically pleasing by my own standards. I love a good patch box, but I also love having a nice big patch of beautiful exposed wood on a gun. So I've been looking around at historical precedent and artistic inspiration.

Now I realize and fully agree that the patch box, especially as it evolved throughout the "Golden Age" is one of the features that sets the American Longrifle apart from other guns. I also think they are often very striking and beautiful, and when done well enhance the beauty of the wood and the lines of the rifle. In some cases I think they are gaudy and distracting, and occasionally downright ugly (mostly on cheaper modern reproductions).

Reading past threads on this site and others, I've come across the claim that (to paraphrase): "Historically, longrifles have patch boxes. If you want a proper, historically accurate long rifle, you need a patch box." Exceptions are granted, especially when you get into the Tennessee backwoods, but generally this camp asserts that a "Kentucky," or a Pennsylvania long rifle without a patch box is missing something.

Here is my thesis: While non-patch box rifles were less common than rifles with patch boxes, they were not rare. I think they are under-represented in much of the literature on the topic. The decorated patch box is rightly considered a trademark feature of the American longrifle, but because of that, literature on the topic tends to leave out the examples without them. They were around.

For example, Kindig's "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle" - one of the foundational works on the long rifle - features no York rifles without patch boxes. In fact, while I didn't do a complete search, I don't think he has any rifles in that book without them. However, this makes sense, because Kindig's stated purpose was to examine the Kentucky Rifle as a work of art, and so naturally he focused on the most artistically expressive examples. However, a look through James Whisker's more focused work, "Gunsmiths of York County" shows at least nine York rifles without patch boxes that stretch from the Revolutionary period up to the end of the flint era. Shumway, in RCA vol. II includes a York rifle (#90) that he thinks is pre-revolutionary without a patch box. I left out any guns that had primarily fowler features (such as lacking a cheek rest or a grip extension of the trigger guard). I focused on York rifles because that's my area of interest at the moment and also the area where I have the most specialized literature.

My purpose here is not to start an argument, but to have a fun and interesting discussion, and hopefully to learn a thing or two. I am also not looking for someone to tell me whether or not to have a patchbox on my own rifle or rifles - I can make that choice for myself. I'm also not trying to put up an elaborate defense of leaving off a patch box from a build. I just was thinking about this, and thought it would be an interesting discussion.

I think I'm gonna post this at the ALR forum too to get that group's thoughts on it, too.
I prefer the sliding wood patchbox myself. But regardless of sliding wood, or a well done brass patchbox, I feel the need for one. I think it may be why/how the few existing shot pouches of the time are so small. Cleaning tools and such were in the box, maybe, maybe, a couple patches for cleaning and just to keep the stuff in it from rattling. I haven't seen any evidence that I recall indicating that they were called patchboxes in the period. I think that is a modern collector term. But that is all speculation.

I deeply regret that my smoothrifle does not have one, and wish they were correct for New England fowling pieces and the Fusil des Chase.

Regarding your own rifle. It shall be yours, at least for a time. Go with what you like. If your only reason for not having one is you like the look of wood, make a wooden one. Maybe out of a piece of wood even nicer than the stock itself?
 

Brokennock

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I think there were a lot more plain rifles made than the survival rate would indicate. A guy trying to make a living on a frontier farm just didn't have the money to spend on a fancy rifle. If you look at the journals of Lenord Reedy he was making rifles that ranged from around $5.00 to $19.00. I think we can be certain that the cheaper rifles were probably very plain.
Speculation, and nonsense.
This discussion has been had over and over again.
Don't speculate, show us proof.
Things cost differently now than then, so, things are priced differently.
At the time simple engraving and carving was expected and was part of how the builder, the one who's name was on the shop or associated with it if not on the gun, set his work apart. Especially if they had apprentices, a bit of carving and engraving was not a huge extra cost, time was not the issue. The guns got built in the time it took to build them, simple as that, and with a few people working, probably not as long as the single builder building one gun of today. What did it cost the "master" to add those finishing touches?

Today, if you bring your truck in for service, often the bulk of your bill is "labor," in other words, the time it took an employee to do the work. That was not the issue back then. Parts were the expense.

Now, a bunch of elaborate carving and engraving? Different story.
 

Gordoncourtney

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I don’t like frills and things. If you are out in the wild mountains everything should be a working rifle plane and simple and well made. If you want a rifle to hang on the wall frills and engraving are fine and to impress your friends. My 450-400 double has beautiful top quality walnut but no engraving. It’s a top quality plain rifle for African hunting that’s what the hunter wanted , It’s killed Cape Buff , and you don’t mess with them. However I must say the couple of patch boxes above I would be quite envious of. It’s everyone to their own whatever makes you happy ? Yes very fine work I like big patch boxes for hunting goodies , but then Tommy up
In Maine , bless him, likes small round patch boxes , Ok for a few primers which usually fall over the floor when I open it on my Reilly Cape rifle , ha ha. Lovely to chat love the forum love you all especially Tommy up in Maine

Rain and miserable in uk
 
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