was there a "transitional Rifle"

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

dave_person

54 Cal.
Joined
Nov 26, 2005
Messages
3,597
Reaction score
3,379
Hi Jaegermeister,
Thank you. It is a very nice rifle to shoot. I based it off my notes from examining the original, Houston Harrison's excellent drawings, and superb detailed photos posed by Jud Brennan on his blog site. I added a little more drop to the heel to better fit the owner but the rest of the gun is faithful to the original. The lock was a challenge because no commercial lock is a good match to the original and the ones often used like Davis' jaeger lock and Chambers early Germanic lock have curved plates that don't look right. I posted a thread on making the lock and another about building the rifle on the ALR site:

dave
 
Joined
Jul 14, 2021
Messages
83
Reaction score
110
Location
NW OHIO
Very much like the way we treat decades. We tend to talk about the '50s, the '80s, the '90s, etc. as though they were all completely distinct and self contained; however, as we all know, each decade actually blends in with the one before and the one after. For example, based upon the decades in which I've lived, the late '70s were fairly indistinguishable from the early '80, and the late '80s weren't too different from the early '90s, and so on. Barring the occasional discovery or invention that changes things radically in a very short time, everything is in gradual but constant transition. Not to mention things that fall out of and back into favor or style across many decades.
I know right, I'm only rolling up on 30, but time just all flows together lol. I mean, you look back to when I was a a teen, and you can definitely see differences, but it's not as pronounced as historians like to make it seem. speaking of falling in and out of style... I've heard from my sister in law, who runs a coffee shop on a Univ. campus, that mullets and fanny packs are back in lol! 🤣
 

rich pierce

70 Cal.
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Messages
5,386
Reaction score
1,511
Location
St. Louis, Mo
Hi Rich,
Where is that rifle? I did not see Shumway's article on it. Did he describe its provenance?

dave
Dave, it’s in a private collection. I’ve handled it at CLA twice. The owner is a nice guy but not a conversationalist. I can scan the article and send it to you. It’s a very attractive and handy gun. There are small wood restorations on the forestock and the lock is bigger than the mortise, so secondary. Like one hypothesis about the Marshall rifle it could be a colonial restock of a European rifle. The hard use (worn through buttplate likely made of sheet brass and secondary lock added during working life) suggests American use.
 

sportster73hp

40 Cal
Joined
Jan 16, 2020
Messages
251
Reaction score
106
Dave.........Thanks for the wonderful close up photos of the Tulip Rifle. The butt plate repair is interesting. Couple of years ago I remember being temporarily stumped about how to repair an old butt plate with this very injury. Didn't realize my attempt was historically correct until viewing your pics........Thanks again.....oldwood
Personally, I thought the buttplate may have been a repurposed bess part. The repair at the top is about where a screw goes. The top a basic profile of the same. Of course it could have been a random casting and shaped to fit.
 

Brokennock

69 Cal.
Joined
May 15, 2011
Messages
3,672
Reaction score
2,572
Location
North Central Connecticut
Let’s start with the Tulip Rifle. Shumway wrote a Muzzle Blasts article about it February 1988 but this was after he finished Rifles of Colonial America.
Stock: maple
Barrel: .60 caliber, rifled, swamped, 35 and 5/8” long
Buttplate width: 2 and 7/32”
Lock: English, mid 1700s round faced
Shumway considered this to have been made in America in the mid 1700s - not the third quarter of the 18th century. So, seems he meant 1750 plus or minus. It has a rounded cheekpiece and an integrated carving resembling a tulip.
let’s discuss what you see as “early”, what you see as “American”, and anything about it that would make it as late as 1770. The lock is not the first lock the gun has had. I took the photos. .
View attachment 88231View attachment 88232View attachment 88233View attachment 88234View attachment 88235View attachment 88236View attachment 88237View attachment 88238View attachment 88239View attachment 88240
Thank you. Would love to see a pic of the rifle full length and read the article.
Still looking for someone to loan or rent me some of these very expensive books like RCA.
 

Brokennock

69 Cal.
Joined
May 15, 2011
Messages
3,672
Reaction score
2,572
Location
North Central Connecticut
So? In the opinions of those who've examined them, which of these is the oldest? Which is most "transitional?"
(Maybe the real transition wasn't jeager to longrifle, but, Fowler and trade gun to rifle.)
1. Edward Marshal rifle
2. Tulip Rifle
or
3. I don't have a name for this, it was posted and discusses quite some time ago,
early could be anywhere built by nongerman01 .jpegearly could be anywhere built by nongerman00.jpegearly could be anywhere built by nongerman04.jpegearly could be anywhere built by nongerman06.jpegearly could be anywhere built by nongerman07.jpegearly could be anywhere built by nongerman02.jpeg
Thoughts?
 

rich pierce

70 Cal.
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Messages
5,386
Reaction score
1,511
Location
St. Louis, Mo
So? In the opinions of those who've examined them, which of these is the oldest? Which is most "transitional?"
(Maybe the real transition wasn't jeager to longrifle, but, Fowler and trade gun to rifle.)
1. Edward Marshal rifle
2. Tulip Rifle
or
3. I don't have a name for this, it was posted and discusses quite some time ago,
View attachment 88319View attachment 88320View attachment 88321View attachment 88322View attachment 88323View attachment 88324
Thoughts?
I don’t use the term transitional. The styles of these early rifles reflect different influences. I guess an easier question is “which if these looks most (or least) like so-called Golden Age rifles?
Having handled the Marshall rifke and the Tulip rifle, the experience with both leaves one with the sense that this is an early gun. I’m sure I’d have the same feeling with the rifle you posted. Instead of a rating, perhaps highlight the features that place any gun we are discussing in the period before 1770.
Also, sometimes we get what we pay for. I know many prefer that someone else pay, then share their ice cream cone for free.
 

excess650

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
1,485
Reaction score
346
I don't recall having seen the "tulip rifle" in person, so the photos are appreciated. What jumps out as early is the massively wide butt dimension. I don't see a dimension, so how big is the breech on that barrel?

The buttplate strikes me as to be hammered from flat stock like that on the Marshall.

The carving is very subdued to the point where I question whether its the maker's lack of ability. The "shell" behind the barrel tang has no detail at all, and the moulding line around the entry pipe seems to just disappear. Lack of photos on this latter makes me wonder if that detail is worn away, or never existed.

The engraving on the TG is beautifully done. That on the BP is out of focus enough to not make comment. The sideplate engraving doesn't seem to have been done by the same hand as the TG. Perhaps the sideplate was replaced along with the lock?

I think I see the end of a toe plate that I would expect later.
 

Nameless Hunter

45 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Feb 22, 2019
Messages
709
Reaction score
1,066
Location
a trebuchet defended holler near Nameless, TN
The idea of a "transitional rifle" has been around for a long time. Early writers such as Henry Kauffman and Joe Kindig, Jr. both wrote about it in 1960. The concept was that there was an evolution or linear progression from the short barrel Jaeger (30" or less) to the American long rifle (barrels over 40" long).

Then George Shumway published pictures of the Edward Marshall rifle in Rifles of Colonial America in 1980 and John Bivins wrote about the Edward Marshall rifle in Muzzle Blasts in August of 1986 and a number of people thought it fit perfectly what one would expect the "transitional rifle" to be like. Other rifles have turned up that fit within that "transitional" barrel length range.

The trouble with the concept, as pointed out by Wildrangeringreen and Artificer, is that long barreled rifles and individual long barrels were being imported from Germany and used on American made rifles in the time period (1730s) that the evolution was supposedly taking place. So if there was a "transition" occurring, it was happening in Germany and not America. (See Moravian Gunmaking II by Robert Lienemann, page 66.)

The poster rifle for the idea of a "transitional rifle", namely the Edward Marshall rifle, is made with one of these imported barrels from Rothenberg, Germany and is so marked on the barrel, or is a restocking of a rifle that was originally made in Germany. In any event, it is not an example of an American "transitional rifle" because the barrel isn't American.

I think the early writers and collectors of Kentucky rifles made a mistake in assuming all German rifles in the early 1700s were short barreled. Research and better awareness of what was actually being made in Germany and what was being imported into America has brought a realization that a long barrel on a rifle was not an American invention or innovation after all.
So, I have a question (for those who know), when we reference "German" rifles, is that a bit like generalizing a "PA" rifle? As there wasn't a "Germany" at the time, were certain "German" states more involved in rifle design/production than other German States, i.e., Prussia, Bavaria, vs Hanover, etc.? And did each area's rifles have a different look than other area's?
 

Artificer

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
12,668
Reaction score
5,085
So, I have a question (for those who know), when we reference "German" rifles, is that a bit like generalizing a "PA" rifle? As there wasn't a "Germany" at the time, were certain "German" states more involved in rifle design/production than other German States, i.e., Prussia, Bavaria, vs Hanover, etc.? And did each area's rifles have a different look than other area's?
Can't help much, but the area in Germany from whence Caspar Wistar imported rifles, barrels and locks was called the Palatinate Region. Now, I realize that is about as clear as mud, so here's a map showing it.

1628099349338.png


Gus
 

DUANE BUTT

32 Cal
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
11
Reaction score
5
Can we start with these two survivors?



Look at the "sister rifle" to RCA 19 as well because its shorter in length.

Take a look in Rifles of Colonial America and you'll see numerous early rifles that don't qualify as the fully evolved longrifle, whether you choose to call it Kentucky or Pennsylvania. Look at the guns in the Moravian rifle books, or the early George Shroyer in Kindig's Thoughts of the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age ( others in that book as well).
Thanks for the good read very interesting.
 

excess650

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
1,485
Reaction score
346
So? In the opinions of those who've examined them, which of these is the oldest? Which is most "transitional?"
(Maybe the real transition wasn't jeager to longrifle, but, Fowler and trade gun to rifle.)
1. Edward Marshal rifle
2. Tulip Rifle
or
3. I don't have a name for this, it was posted and discusses quite some time ago,
View attachment 88319View attachment 88320View attachment 88321View attachment 88322View attachment 88323View attachment 88324
Thoughts?
The carving strikes me as something Fainot would have done.
 

rich pierce

70 Cal.
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Messages
5,386
Reaction score
1,511
Location
St. Louis, Mo
I don't recall having seen the "tulip rifle" in person, so the photos are appreciated. What jumps out as early is the massively wide butt dimension. I don't see a dimension, so how big is the breech on that barrel?

The buttplate strikes me as to be hammered from flat stock like that on the Marshall.

The carving is very subdued to the point where I question whether its the maker's lack of ability. The "shell" behind the barrel tang has no detail at all, and the moulding line around the entry pipe seems to just disappear. Lack of photos on this latter makes me wonder if that detail is worn away, or never existed.

The engraving on the TG is beautifully done. That on the BP is out of focus enough to not make comment. The sideplate engraving doesn't seem to have been done by the same hand as the TG. Perhaps the sideplate was replaced along with the lock?

I think I see the end of a toe plate that I would expect later.
Yes, the sideplate engraving is different from the guard and buttplate. On these early guns it’s never clear that the person who stocked it also engraved the furniture because many mid 1700s guns used recycled parts. So it may be that the buttplate and guard and barrel came off a wrecked gun that was made in Europe, and that the lock originally used on the Tulip rifle came from another parts bin or was new, and so a new sideplate was used. The tang carving is similar to many Berks County PA guns but obviously the rest of the gun is not related to known Berks County guns.
The barrel is said to be 1 and 3/32” at the breech. I did not measure it but Shumway did.
Unlike the Marshall rifle, this one has no known “descendants”. No later guns share features easily seen as related to this one.

Certainly Fainot could have done carving like this (non-conventional) design flowing from the rounded cheekpiece. However his tang carving usually featured many lobes and he did not get to rifle country (Lancaster) until 1771 IIRC. Before that he was in Canada and then in the Hudson Valley. Someday I’ll make a Fainot- inspired Hudson Valley fowling piece.
There are many early gunsmiths whose work has not survived or been identified.
 
Last edited:

excess650

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
1,485
Reaction score
346
My response regarding Fainot's carving was directed towards the images posted by Brockennock. I've seen a couple of Fainots up close, and really don't like them.

Actually, the carving flowing under the cheekpiece (Tulip rifle) reminds me of some of the early Reading guns. Those guns have odd shaped cheekpieces and the carving seems to flow out from under towards the butt and wrist.
IMG_2012.JPG

This early Reading gun has a well defined "shell" behind the tang in contrast to the "Tulip rifle's" that looks more like a beavertail. Likewise, the remnants of a shell is carved behind the entry pipe.
IMG_2014.JPG

IMG_2015.JPG



Some of the carving on the "tulip rifle" reminds me of a Wm Antes gun that has some minimal incising that seems to disappear, and didn't seem all that well done. Specifically, that gun has a stepped wrist with a piece of walnut added to the toe to make the step. It is another gun with hole worn through the buttplate.
 
Last edited:

rich pierce

70 Cal.
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Messages
5,386
Reaction score
1,511
Location
St. Louis, Mo
My response regarding Fainot's carvig was directed towards the images posted by Brockennock. I've seen a couple of Fainots up close, and really don't like them.

Actually, the carving flowing under the cheekpiece (Tulip rifle) reminds me of some of the early Reading guns. Those guns have odd shaped cheekpieces and the carving seems to flow out from under towards the butt and wrist.
View attachment 88376
This early Reading gun has a well defined "shell" behind the tang in contrast to the "Tulip rifle's" that looks more like a beavertail. Likewise, the remnants of a shell is carved behind the entry pipe.
View attachment 88382
View attachment 88384


Some of the carving on the "tulip rifle" reminds me of a Wm Antes gun that has some minimal incising that seems to disappear, and didn't seem all that well done. Specifically, that gun has a stepped wrist with a piece of walnut added to the toe to make the step. It is another gun with hole worn through the buttplate.
The gun you refer to as the Antes gun is a an uncertain attribution. Another nice early piece, but it’s architecture, like that of early Berks County guns, is very different from the Tulip rifle, even beyond the cheekpiece. The way the comb flows into the wrist is distinctive on the Tulip rifle
597F644B-0ECB-4F99-9B51-D0B6BD3A2FBB.jpeg
 

Nameless Hunter

45 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Feb 22, 2019
Messages
709
Reaction score
1,066
Location
a trebuchet defended holler near Nameless, TN
Can't help much, but the area in Germany from whence Caspar Wistar imported rifles, barrels and locks was called the Palatinate Region. Now, I realize that is about as clear as mud, so here's a map showing it.

View attachment 88351

Gus
From a map of the era. Palatinate is just left of center. As you can see "Germany" at this time was a mess of little states (until Frederick The Great).

"The Thirty Years War was a conflict fought largely within the Holy Roman Empire from 1618 to 1648, considered one of the most destructive wars in European history. Estimates of military and civilian deaths range from 4.5 to 8 million, while up to 60% of the population may have died in some areas."
And it all started with who was going to be the leader of Palatinate. Have to wonder if this kerfuffle had some influence on locals becoming gun manufacturers...
1628106920179.png
 

ekettenburg

36 Cl.
Joined
Mar 3, 2019
Messages
51
Reaction score
94
Marshall's rifle is very likely composed of import components restocked from an earlier Wistar import; it's known that Wistar was working with an agent in Rothenberg and preferred those pieces over others. I hate to call it a restock, however, because it's such a fantastic piece. I personally doubt it predates the 1760s but Marshall definitely owned property and periodically lived in NH county so he would surely have been at least aware of the gunstockers at Christian's Spring. The fact that his son obtained a spectacular rifle from Oerter (the "griffin" rifle) also points to a connection. There is no way Marshall carried this rifle during the Walking Purchase - in fact I'd doubt he carried anything at all - but it's been speculated that perhaps he had this rifle stocked up from some components of an earlier rifle he may have owned. Really no way to tell. The lock seems 1760s onward.

The carving on the tulip rifle strikes me as being carved by someone using a fine knife blade, not a parting tool nor chisel stamping. Despite the heavy wear you can still see the 'slips' or over-cuts. I have seen this buttplate with almost identical engraving on German or Belgian import guns and the guard also looks very much like an import piece. Not sure about the sideplate. And nobody seems to know where the heck it was made but it does seem to be an early rifle, certainly pre-dating the Revolution. How much further back it can be pushed is anyone's guess, given there are no siblings to use as a basis for comparison.

The funky 'baroque' piece from RCA is really a mystery. It generally is attributed to VA or points south but since there really isn't anything else like it, it's frankly a tough call. The carving is actually quite well executed as is much of the piece, it's just beat to crap.
 

tenngun

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
17,177
Reaction score
9,559
Location
Republic mo
I know right, I'm only rolling up on 30, but time just all flows together lol. I mean, you look back to when I was a a teen, and you can definitely see differences, but it's not as pronounced as historians like to make it seem. speaking of falling in and out of style... I've heard from my sister in law, who runs a coffee shop on a Univ. campus, that mullets and fanny packs are back in lol! 🤣
Exactly
There was no transitional rifles because no one made them. Early rifle makers made rifles as they learned. They adapted to the market. And styles changed.
In modren terms we drew lines and said this is an American jaegar, this is a colonial, this is a federal golden age. It’s just a arbitrary line.
 

Latest posts

Top