Author Topic: I wonder how credible this is  (Read 16257 times)

Offline 490roundball

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2012, 05:04:45 AM »
Rick, that seems a little rough since he did ask for help in pursuing the question further.

might be,  - but he already says a number of experts have the same opinion,  but a few do not, and that you can't use the gun itself as proof?


" Our best judgment at this time is that this is the Murphy double-barreled rifle long known by Revolutionary War historians and enthusiasts, until proven otherwise."

never met the man,  and certainly did not mean to be rude,  but IMHO he doesn't want to have made a mistake, both professional pride and human nature.

i still wonder if the barrels can be connected to the maker, and that is where the name is, could they have been rebarreled restocked at a much later date.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 07:31:35 PM by Rick Losey »
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Offline JTR

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2012, 06:13:17 PM »
I doubt that anyone could say anything that would sway this guys opinion. After all, he's a Professional, and well, we're just guys on an internet forum.....

But, from what I see with my non-professional eye and from the small low quality picture they show, I see a commercial percussion lock style that wasn't invented until the percussion era, say 1830ish.

As for the swivel breech mechanism, it has an oval shape that does not follow the contour of the barrels like an early swivel works would have.

Also, the latch to unlock and turn the barrels is a lever ahead of the trigger guard, instead of incorporated into the forward part of the trigger guard as you'd expect to see on an early gun.

Also, there is no sign that there has ever been any forearm wood along the length of the barrels, nor any provision for, or a remaining forward part of the lock plate that would have held the flintlock frizzen and spring.

From the picture, it is obvious that the bow on the trigger guard is narrow, and the grip rail arched up into a nice curved shape.

Also from the picture, it looks like the toe of the butt is very narrow, and that would suggest that the butt itself is very narrow as well, say an inch to an inch and a half, certainly nowhere near two inches.

And from the picture, the wood strip showing between the door and the side plates of the patchbox would be very unusual on a Rev War period gun, but common on a late period gun.

Taking the above items that I see in this single picture, I see a late period rifle, made more or less between 1830s, to even 1850s or later.
None of what I see matches what you would expect to see on an early or Rev War rifle, but fits perfectly on a late period swivel breech rifle.

As Dick suggested, compare this gun to the Wm Antes Swivel rifle.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but stretching this rifle back to the Rev War period is more or less impossible.

No, on second thought, its totally impossible!

John


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Offline Dphariss

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2012, 06:42:19 PM »
People who quote 19th century provenance need to remember that the fake Rev-War Artifact  business started in 1876 if not before.
There is no way that lock dates to the time of Murphy's death, the flint cock looks like something from 1970s Spain. This rifle could be an 1870s restock or a 1930s restock as easy as not using bits and pieces. OR it was simply made late say 1850 maybe and someone stuck that cock on it as a replacement.
From the photo who can really say?
Using a borrowed rifle?
Read the account of the sharpshooter at Breed's Hill. People below the breastworks were loading guns for him, probably rifles, and he did the shooting. If Murphy or one of the other Riflemen was in a tree and had the shot they likely WERE passing guns to him since loading the the tree would have been difficult.
I seriously doubt that ANYONE knows what rifle was used to shoot Fraser. I don't think there is any known on the scene written account. IE someone who WITNESSED it and WROTE about it at the time.
So we have legend.
If the museum wants to delude themselves with this gun there is little that can be done to change their minds.

Just for reference the Billy Dixon shot at Adobe Walls was apparently fabricated, possibly by his wife, after his death. There is no mention of it known before his death. The killing of Fraser is documented but the actual shooter seems a little more nebulous. Probably Murphy, my vote, but not hard proof.
Dan
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Offline spgordon

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2012, 08:33:37 PM »
Seems like the curator is relying heavily on what the original article describes as "a page from a ledger of gunsmith Isaac Worly of Easton, Pennsylvania"--but which the curator admits in his reply to Tony is actually a transcription, not a page from an actual ledger. It would be the easiest thing in the world to invent a transcription that includes an entry that reads: "A Rifle Made for Timothy Murphy a two-barrel Rifle-with both barrels Rifled only one made."

Why would the owner of the gun (or later descendants) possess the page from the gunsmith's ledger? Where is the rest of the ledger? Has anybody ever seen other pages/transcriptions from it? If not, this particular piece of "evidence" seems every bit as suspect as the stylistic irregularities that everybody else has pointed out.

Scott
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline rich pierce

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2012, 09:57:52 PM »
There's little likelihood of anyone changing the way the rifle is described at the museum.  It's a good draw.  "You can't prove it's not" is the tactic being taken.

The best one could do is get a dated rifle with back action percussion Golcher locks very similar to this rifle, as well as earlier and later Golcher locks, and  show the guy that the style of the locks is 1830's to later.  Could be much later.  Similarly, one could catalogue 10 Pennsylvania rifles from each decade, 1770-1830, and provide buttplate pictures and dimensions, so the curator could decide which decade the buttplate on this gun fits best.  But I would not put a lot of effort into it expecting a good outcome.

Most folks who don't know much about kentucly rifles won't know the difference and won't see much detail anyway.  All they will know is "2 barrels- flintlock- nice brass stuff on the gun".  I mostly feel sorry for the knowledgable enthusiast who hopes to see a Revolutionary War era rifle and is disappointed when they get there.  Thankfully the museum has a lof of fine early fowling pieces and muskets to look at.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline spgordon

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2012, 10:40:48 PM »
By the way: isn't 20 an unlikely contemporary valuation for a rifle in 1776? The fancy Oerter rifle that Bob Lienemann and I wrote about in the most recent KRA Bulletin was valued by Oerter at 8--and other contemporary rifles seemed to run at about 5. Are there any other contemporary records that valued a single rifle (in early 1776) at such a high price?

Scott

« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 10:46:59 PM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline Dphariss

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #31 on: January 04, 2012, 11:03:04 PM »
This is why I would never donate a gun to a museum.
Even one dedicated to firearms.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline Dphariss

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2012, 11:11:26 PM »
By the way: isn't 20 an unlikely contemporary valuation for a rifle in 1776? The fancy Oerter rifle that Bob Lienemann and I wrote about in the most recent KRA Bulletin was valued by Oerter at 8--and other contemporary rifles seemed to run at about 5. Are there any other contemporary records that valued a single rifle (in early 1776) at such a high price?

Scott



Given the work required a nice swivel breech is worth about 3- 4 times the price of a nice Kentucky.
See page 16 of Kindigs book.
In the 1820s Reedy lists a double rifle at $40. The highest price for a rifle is $16.
Making a swivel from bar stock will confirm this. Making the swivel, fitting the barrels, shaping the parts and making the locks is harder than making  rifle.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline Tony Clark

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #33 on: January 04, 2012, 11:15:30 PM »
Seems like the curator is relying heavily on what the original article describes as "a page from a ledger of gunsmith Isaac Worly of Easton, Pennsylvania"--but which the curator admits in his reply to Tony is actually a transcription, not a page from an actual ledger. It would be the easiest thing in the world to invent a transcription that includes an entry that reads: "A Rifle Made for Timothy Murphy a two-barrel Rifle-with both barrels Rifled only one made."

Why would the owner of the gun (or later descendants) possess the page from the gunsmith's ledger? Where is the rest of the ledger? Has anybody ever seen other pages/transcriptions from it? If not, this particular piece of "evidence" seems every bit as suspect as the stylistic irregularities that everybody else has pointed out.

Scott


Those are my thoughts exactly... it seems like the primary evidence they have is that page of the ledger book which as it turns out is not even an actual page of any ledger, just a transcription as he calls it. Why they wouldn't question the authenticity of such a page or even existence of such a ledger is hard for me to understand.  To me it seems like something is amiss with the logic of the entire situation.

This morning I was reading an article from a local (to that area) newspapers archives which dated to the 1940's and was highlighting a local gun collector who had owned this very same rifle at that time. What I thought was amusing is he also claimed to own a rifle that belonged to Chief Joseph Brant the famous Mohawk military leader...  ::)

In a way it's all kind of entertaining though.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 11:25:50 PM by Tony Clark »

Offline JTR

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #34 on: January 05, 2012, 12:24:55 AM »
Maybe the museum paid a pretty penny for this very important rifle, and the curator isn't willing to admit he goofed.... or was snookered by a smooth talking seller.... :o

John
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Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #35 on: January 05, 2012, 03:18:26 AM »
In 1779, Traugott Bagge charged Col. John Luttrell 25 pounds 12 shillings for a new-stocked gun in NC, probably by Valentine Beck although this is not completely clear as the brethren technically were not building arms at this time.

Inflation, or one heck of a gun?
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Offline spgordon

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #36 on: January 05, 2012, 04:43:38 AM »
Probably inflation in 1779--which is why I was surprised by a 20 rifle in 1776. But I didn't realize that swivel-breeches regularly sold for 4 or 5 times the cost of a typical rifle... - Scott
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

WaltDavies

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #37 on: January 05, 2012, 09:32:33 AM »
Has anyone ever considered that this gun might have been flint lock that converted to a percussion using the Gloucher locks.  Sometime old thing have been updated many times and cause trouble in identifying them.

Walt Davies

Offline rich pierce

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #38 on: January 05, 2012, 04:35:39 PM »
Complicated but possible.  Originally flint, then percussed by using new locks, then re-converted (haha) to flintlock and made to look like a flint to percussion conversion.  Possible.  Anyway the buttstock style suggests post-1800 to most of us, doesn't it?
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Offline Tony Clark

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #39 on: January 05, 2012, 05:27:47 PM »
Complicated but possible.  Originally flint, then percussed by using new locks, then re-converted (haha) to flintlock and made to look like a flint to percussion conversion.  Possible.  Anyway the buttstock style suggests post-1800 to most of us, doesn't it?

Rich I don't believe it was ever flint. It just has a flint hammer on it. Everything else about it suggests what others have pointed out, 1830-1850 or later. The fanciful stories included with it seem to have been created by wishful thinkers from an earlier era of firearms collecting. Today, we have so much more information available to us it is easy to see through that and examine the firearm on its own merits. Which are lacking regarding the attribution to Timothy Murphy.

Offline nord

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #40 on: January 05, 2012, 06:25:15 PM »
For a moment let's put the supposed provenance aside and look at just the mechanical aspects of this firearm:

For this to have been a flint ignition gun there would have to have been a provision for a frizzen and associated components forward of the hammer. While not by any means an impossible task there looks to be no evidence of such.

In addition it must be remembered that a powder charge had to be held securely in place. This while one barrel was upside down. A split lock would be required to work on this rifle. At best awkward. At worst almost unworkable. In truth highly unlikely. (Edited- Highly unlikely on THIS rifle.)

Hammer and frizzen need to meet precisely for positive ignition. I'm skeptical that one could expect a priming charge to survive being upside down, then rotating into battery, locking in position, and having even a modest chance of making a reliable spark. (Again - On this rifle.)

Further, there may be some profit gained by looking closely at the back action lock assembly. No matter how we cut it, the general architecture screams 1830 and later. A single lock design such as this would only be practical with a percussion ignition.

Given the general layout of the stock, the design of the turret, the absence of any evidence of original flint characteristics, and my observations as noted, I'll call foul.

It's a good story and a nice dream. The physical evidence argues compellingly against the story though. I have a feeling that the stock came from a tree still young during the Revolution and the overall design of the firearm was still a futuristic dream at that time as was possibly its maker.

Oh... I like the white gloves. They give the story credence. ::)
« Last Edit: January 05, 2012, 10:39:06 PM by nord »
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Offline Dr. Tim-Boone

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #41 on: January 05, 2012, 07:15:08 PM »
You get my vote!!
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Offline Bill of the 45th

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #42 on: January 06, 2012, 12:49:54 AM »
Not a total dispute, but I used to have a swivel barrel for a time, which was in rough shape, but was a Bucks County gun.  It was missing the front frizzen and pan on one side, and looked much like that without the drum.  The whole fore arm wood is missing. That gun was definitely a flint in its first life.  It possibly being a 1770's gun is a different story.  That patch box should give some more info if the pic was better.  Also the fact that this fella is using an artists license rendition 100years after the fact as provenance is really a discredit of his credibility.  I agree with 1800-1820 period for this gun.

« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 12:52:20 AM by Bill of the 45th »
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Offline debnal

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #43 on: January 06, 2012, 06:29:48 PM »
Why don't you send this thread to the curator or have him read it. Maybe he could learn something.
Al

Offline Dphariss

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #44 on: January 06, 2012, 07:34:16 PM »
There is so much wrong with the rifle for a 1770s gun that in my opinion the entire back story is fabrication.
The rifle could have been made in 1860 or  5 years ago for all I know.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline Dphariss

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #45 on: January 06, 2012, 09:15:34 PM »
In assessing values we need to consider if the "pounds" were PA. VA etc currency or British pounds.
The variation in value was considerable and makes trying to determine what something actually cost very difficult unless British currency is specified.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #46 on: January 06, 2012, 11:14:49 PM »
Looking at it again it appears that it could be a Conrad Horn gun. Looks a lot like is work. He made a few flints, but most were caplock. If so, it would be an 1830s gun.
Dick

Offline 490roundball

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #47 on: January 08, 2012, 06:29:22 PM »
I did find a matching piece, in an antique shop yesterday. 

a back action percussion pistol, the bolster was a integral part of the barrel,  about 10 inches overall

it was tagged as a 1760's British military pistol         ;D


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Offline Howard

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #48 on: January 09, 2012, 01:42:38 AM »
Dennis, I got a friend who owns George Washington's axe, the haft has been replaced 8 times & the head three.  This is probably a parable to this rifle.

Offline jdm

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Re: I wonder how credible this is
« Reply #49 on: January 09, 2012, 02:39:12 AM »
Howard, I think I bought that axe from you!
JIM