Author Topic: Andrew Kopp rifle story  (Read 17045 times)

Kopp

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Andrew Kopp rifle story
« on: January 12, 2011, 07:23:22 AM »
Hi Folks,
I live in Johnstown, PA, and grew up in Hollidaysburg, PA. Andrew and George Kopp were my direct ancestors, my grandfather's great great (great?) grandfathers. [Edited to add: Their last gunsmith shop was located in Geeseytown, just outside of Hollidaysburg.]

Years ago, I asked my local gun shop to call me if they ever got in a Kopp rifle, and the call finally came in this morning.

An elderly gentleman was going into a nursing home, and brought in several firearms to them to sell. Among them was the following piece with "An. Kopp" markings on the barrel and lock.

Apparently the percussion cap assembly and hole was long ago rusted away. He was a machinist and years ago had attempted to make this rifle "work" by machining a percussion cap mount and re-drilling and re-tapping the barrel. In the process he made a large crescentic cut in the lock plate to accomodate his "custom gunsmithing."

The cheek piece is missing on the left hand side of the stock, as well as most of the screws and the main spring from the lock. The stock itself is broken midway down the length of the barrel.

I am assuming this is an authentic Andrew Kopp rifle, though I do not recall seeing any signed "An Kopp" in the past.

My primary interest in the firearm is not as a collector but simply to have a Kopp rifle in the family to hang on the wall and pass on to my children. (My dad has an Andrew and a George Kopp rifle that we found in Bedford PA several years ago, each in nice condition.)

I at least need to repair the broken stock to stabilize it. I also need screws and bolts to hold what's left of the lock mechanism in place. Everything was held together with packing tape, which is obvious in some of the photos.

Any recommendations on what to do, and what NOT to do, with this rifle? Can anyone provide any more information on this rifle? (I am assuming it actually IS an Andrew Kopp rifle?)

I only paid $250 for it, so please don't worry about hurting my feelings if you think I screwed up in acquiring such an abused piece, or even if it isn't even authentic.

Thanks in advance for any input you can offer.
Brian Kopp
Johnstown, PA

More photos can be viewed at http://koppdpm.blogspot.com (click on each photo at the blog for larger higher resolution images.)












UPDATE (January 15, 2011):

I went back to the gun shop today and asked them if they could contact the gentleman who had brought in this Andrew Kopp rifle. They were kind enough to call him and I had a very nice conversation with him about the history of this rifle.

Earl is 89 and lives in Johnstown. The rifle has been in his family since he was 9 years old, and the prior owners lived at the Spangler farm in Shanksville PA, near the current Flight 93 Memorial. Earl recalls being told that this rifle was brought to Somerset by the previous owners from Indiana County PA, and that it might have been manufactured around 1860. (Andrew Kopp retired from the trade in 1863.)

Earl always liked to tinker with stuff.

When he was 12, Earl took apart the rifle and tried to remove the breech plug, which was seized.

He couldn't get it apart, so he put the breech end of the barrel in his family's wood stove to heat it up, to see if that would let him free up the seized breech plug.

He didn't know the gun was loaded, and the gun fired off when it heated up. :o

Fortunately, no one was injured!

Earl subsequently worked as a machinist for US Steel in Johnstown PA starting in his teen years.

He machined the sealed ignition device in these photos when he was nineteen,  70 years ago:



He also ground off the surface of the hammer at that time, so it would contact the pin on the sealed ignition device:


He was never able to get the gun working, but the gun has been in his possession ever since, providing an 80 year history of the provenance of this particular Andrew Kopp rifle.

However, he was clearly very fond of this old rifle, and was very pleased that someone had bought it that would treasure it and have it restored.


UPDATE (January 16, 2011):

I took my Andrew Kopp rifle to Mark Wheland in Williamsburg today to drop it off for restoration. We took along my father's Andrew Kopp rifle for Mark to look at. He is going to use the cheek plate on my father's rifle as a template to recreate the missing cheek plate on my rifle, so he took several macro close-up photos.

Mark examined my rifle closely and said the metal work on my rifle indicated it was actually an earlier rifle than my father's Andrew Kopp rifle, based on the trigger guard and butt plate. He also checked the bore; this rifle is a 38 caliber.

However, (as hurricane pointed out in the next post on this thread) the stock architecture has a higher comb than usual.

Mark thought the rifle might have been re-stocked by George Kopp after he returned to Geeseytown from his ten years of working in Illinois, as the current stock has some western features, like the higher comb and stock angle, not usually seen in Bedford/Blair/Huntingdon PA rifles.

My son and I talked with Mark in his shop for about an hour and a half, and we learned more in that time about these Kopp rifles than everything I've learned up to this point. He was a great guy to talk to, and his current work that he showed us in his shop was just spectacular.

He estimates our rifle will be completed sometime this summer.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 03:12:09 AM by Kopp »

Offline Hurricane ( of Virginia)

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2011, 07:38:51 AM »
The patchbox engraving and hand match other published , signed Kopps. See Chandler. Also, notably the lock is signed Kopp as well. It look like a Kopp, sounds ( says Its a Kopp ) then its a Kopp. Should be easlily and expertly restored. Many examples of the Kopp cheek pieces available for a reliable reproduction of what probably was there. There are several in the Museum and one for
sale at  www.aaawt.com.  The stock architecture has a higher comb than usual. Congratulations
Hurricane
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 07:48:45 AM by hurricane »

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2011, 07:40:59 AM »
Kopp guns are not all that common, and it appears to me that you made an excellent buy. The gun is actually in rather good condition compared with other guns that turn up, from time to time. Based on what I can see in the photographs, it can be restored to a reasonable condition without too much difficulty. The oval silver inlay is missing from the cheek rest, (it would have had an eagle engraved on it); the forearm crack can be mended so that it will not be seen; the lock can be fully restored to its original appearance, (an expert restorer will know what this should be), and any other problems can be taken care of. There are a number of fine restorers in your region and they should not be that hard to find. Cost is usually based on the number of hours it takes to put her right.
So, I would say that your 'sad' story is actually a happy one, for what you paid, and the fact that the gun is not all that bad. Congratulations on your find and when it is restored, come back to us with photo, please.
Best regards-Dick

Offline bgf

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2011, 07:43:42 AM »
Doesn't look bad at all, except for the "enhancements' on the drum.  I don't know Kopp from Adam, but I think you are way ahead if you only spent $250, especially given your family ties.

Kopp

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2011, 07:50:32 AM »
So, I would say that your 'sad' story is actually a happy one, for what you paid, and the fact that the gun is not all that bad. Congratulations on your find and when it is restored, come back to us with photo, please.
Best regards-Dick

Thanks, I will do that.

I will also pull out my dad's Andrew and George rifles and get some photos posted here of them too. (I've been meaning to do that since I found this forum last year, but hadn't gotten around to it. Today's purchase is a good impetus to get them all posted in the museum here.)

Kopp

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2011, 07:58:44 AM »
There are a number of fine restorers in your region and they should not be that hard to find.

Any recommendations? I would not have any idea who to contact or who to trust in this regard.

loco219

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2011, 04:29:53 PM »
There are many capable of the job, but if you took your gun to Brad at Cabin Creek ( York Pa area ) he would do anything you want including putting it back to new if thats what you want. He is magic with this kind of stuff, and would probably fix it with period tools.

Offline Fullstock longrifle

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2011, 05:29:13 PM »
Brian LaMaster from West Virginia (not far from you) is an excellent gunsmith who would do a great job on your rifle.  His shop number is 304-856-3335.  Congratulations on getting such a nice rifle for a very reasonable price.

Frank

Offline Don Getz

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2011, 05:34:15 PM »
Since you live in Hollidaysburg, I would show it to Mark Wheland, a short drive away in Williamsburg.   I have seen some
awesome restoration work he has done.....very talented...............Don

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2011, 06:37:28 PM »
I find it interesting that someone made or had made a sealed ignition for it.

I gave up years ago trying to figure out why people did things like this, but remember that the guns were not worth very much at times. We are blessed that it did not get scrapped during one of the World Wars.
I think you got a very good deal at that price.
Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline Majorjoel

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2011, 06:44:29 PM »
Hello Brian and welcome to the ALR forum. It is great to hear from another direct decendant of a very fine early American longrifle builder! I have been quite a big fan of Andrew Kopp ever since  owning one of his works that I bought at auction some time ago. From the looks of your rifle, you did very well indeed! Not at all a sad story. I look forward to seeing more pictures of your families rifles and would also enjoy any family history you'd be willing to share. Oh ya, I've always been curious about how the name Kopp was pronounced. I wonder if it is like the policeman "cop"  or with a new england slurr "caap"??   ;)
Joel Hall

Kopp

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2011, 07:44:26 PM »
I've always been curious about how the name Kopp was pronounced. I wonder if it is like the policeman "cop"  or with a new england slurr "caap"??   ;)
It is pronounced like the policeman "cop." Ironically, before my ancestors came over from the Palatine region of Germany in the late 1700's, their name was spelled "Kapp." I think they used the English phonetic equivalent, spelling it "Kopp," when they entered the United States.

Offline D. Taylor Sapergia

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2011, 08:11:24 PM »
You are indeed very fortunate to acquire such a fine rifle, especially with your family ties.  I have enjoyed viewing it even it it's current condition.

The "a" in Kapp would have been pronounced as the "a" in father, and hence the change in the spelling.
D. Taylor Sapergia
www.sapergia.blogspot.com

Art is not an object.  It is the excitement inspired by the object.

Kopp

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2011, 10:46:16 PM »
I find it interesting that someone made or had made a sealed ignition for it.

I gave up years ago trying to figure out why people did things like this

The components of the lock area of this gun were wrapped in shipping tape, along with the broken areas of the stock, when I picked it up. I really didn't see much under the tape except the percussion hammer and the "An Kopp" markings.

It wasn't till I got it home and carefully unwrapped everything last night that I realized a previous owner had cut out the lock plate to accommodate the sealed ignition device. I didn't think the lock plate could be restored after it was cut like that, and given that the lock plate was signed "An Kopp" it would not be appropriate to replace it.

I was pretty crestfallen when I posted this thread, having just discovered how much the previous owner had modified the lock plate and the barrel where it had been drilled and tapped to accommodate the sealed ignition device.

Thus the title of the thread.

However, I truly appreciate everyone's input. It is an immense relief to know it can still be restored.

Offline JTR

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2011, 11:04:32 PM »
Don't worry, the lock and lock plate can be put back to original again!
John
John Robbins

Kopp

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2011, 12:01:13 AM »
Since you live in Hollidaysburg, I would show it to Mark Wheland, a short drive away in Williamsburg.   I have seen some
awesome restoration work he has done.....very talented...............Don
Thanks Don. Actually, several people have recommended I contact him.

I sent him an email with photos and I just talked to him by phone.

I'm going to take the rifle down to him on Sunday so he can look it over. From the photos he seemed to think it would be a fairly simple straightforward restoration, and certainly worthwhile.

Kopp

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2011, 12:13:06 AM »
Don't worry, the lock and lock plate can be put back to original again!
John

Thanks John. (Mark Wheland also told me during our phone conversation that it will not be difficult to restore the lock plate.)

Offline RobertS

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2011, 03:51:23 AM »
I think it is a great find and a great buy, and that you are a very lucky man!  Congratulations!

gregg

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2011, 12:33:40 AM »
Sad story that will have a very happy ending.
I Like it allot.
Looks like IMHO easy fix for a great rifle.

Offline Blacksmoke

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2011, 12:58:07 AM »
Kopp:  You are fortunate indeed!  To have acquired an original made by one of your ancestors in this condition is congratulatory!   I am currently  involved  in doing restoration work on old Kentucky rifles and judging by the excellent pictures that you posted,  the restoration on your gun will be "no big deal"!  Good on you !!  ;D    Hugh Toenjes
H.T.

Kopp

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2011, 01:18:06 AM »
The stock architecture has a higher comb than usual.

My son and I were comparing the comb on this rifle to the combs in the photos of Kopp rifles in the ALR forum museum section.

The difference does seem unusual. Might this indicate this rifle is a later work by Andrew Kopp (i.e., influenced by later stock designs), or just the preference of the individual who commissioned it?

Offline A.Merrill

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2011, 02:40:37 AM »
    If your that sad you could give it to me ;D.  Restore it , It will make one fine gun. Thanks for the pic's. We do want more pic's after it's restored.    Good Luck AL
Alan K. Merrill

Kopp

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2011, 03:45:58 AM »
    If your that sad you could give it to me ;D

Actually, I'm a bit embarrassed now, having  revealed my complete ignorance of the subject by my first post on this forum   :D


Restore it , It will make one fine gun. Thanks for the pic's. We do want more pic's after it's restored.    Good Luck AL

Thanks, that seems to be the general consensus.

You folks have a great group of forum members here, and I truly appreciate everyone's generosity in sharing their thoughts and knowledge on this thread and via PMs!

We're going to take a ride up to Lewisburg next month for the 18th Century Artisan Show. Hopefully we'll get to meet some of you there.

gregg

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2011, 04:24:11 AM »
    If your that sad you could give it to me ;D

Actually, I'm a bit embarrassed now, having  revealed my complete ignorance of the subject by my first post on this forum   :D


Restore it , It will make one fine gun. Thanks for the pic's. We do want more pic's after it's restored.    Good Luck AL

Thanks, that seems to be the general consensus.

You folks have a great group of forum members here, and I truly appreciate everyone's generosity in sharing their thoughts and knowledge on this thread and via PMs!

We're going to take a ride up to Lewisburg next month for the 18th Century Artisan Show. Hopefully we'll get to meet some of you there.
I think we all saw more of the up side . It is not our rifle and that gives us a more detach view of what it could be?
Please more pictures when its done.







Offline Kermit

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Re: Very sad Andrew Kopp rifle story
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2011, 10:13:11 PM »
I can second Mark Wheland.
"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly." Mae West