Author Topic: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY  (Read 27954 times)

Offline eastwind

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MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« on: July 19, 2012, 08:24:11 PM »
MUSICIAN'S RIFLE--For those of you close enough - the famous"musician's rifle" is now in the custody of the State of Pennsylvania and is on display this Saturday and Sunday at the Landis Valley Museum. It literally, "just walked" in as a result of the Lancaster Long Rifle Exhibit. Not sure how long it will be on display.

This same weekend a number of long rifle events are being held at Landis Valley.

Patrick Hornberger
Guest Curator

 
Patrick Hornberger

Offline rich pierce

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2012, 08:30:50 PM »
Wish I could afford to fly in to see this one.  Well worth it.
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Offline Tom Currie

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2012, 04:44:46 PM »
Me too. With this being sort of an elusive thing to get info on for so long it would really be cool to see in person.     

Offline Karl Kunkel

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2012, 05:47:15 AM »
Wish I could have made it.  But with Dixon's next weekend, I had some branches from the storm that needed attended to.
Kunk

Offline Waldmaus

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2012, 06:38:53 AM »
Just got back to W PA from Landis Valley, just happened to be in the Lancaster area to see grandkids ;D ;D
Spent three hours in a holding pattern around the display cases of longrifles :o
Lovely!
Then toured the grounds for a while, and chatted with some very fine folks...great day ;D
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Offline Mark Tyler

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2012, 08:01:39 PM »
What is the provenance of the Musician's Rifle? How did it get into the custody of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? Any chance of a CD of the exhibit similar to what the KRF has been doing?

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2012, 10:00:01 PM »
Just got back to W PA from Landis Valley, just happened to be in the Lancaster area to see grandkids ;D ;D
Spent three hours in a holding pattern around the display cases of longrifles :o
Lovely!
Then toured the grounds for a while, and chatted with some very fine folks...great day ;D
                              Shreck
    I'd like a full report over a single malt.
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Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2012, 12:29:00 AM »
Maybe Patrick can offer more elaboration or accuracy.  *What I was told* (not by Patrick, but by other individuals a number of years ago when it was first "discovered") was that it was in the possession of a family in the Lititz area, and had been in that same family for quite a number of years.  An anecdotal story involved it actually being shot back in the first half of the 20th century (still within the same family).  I believe it was stored or hung in a spring house for a number of years.  I can not vouch for the accuracy of this provenance, but I was told this story by two different individuals.  I was also told that the owners became quite disgusted by attempts at purchasing it which they later felt were underhanded - again, second-hand information - and so became quite private about the piece subsequently.
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline RifleResearcher

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2012, 01:02:39 AM »
The owner told me substantially the same story as Eric recounted.  I would only add that "custody", to me at least, sounds like it has been taken or seized by the PHMC. :)  It is merely "on loan" to them through the run of the exhibit and absolutely still owned by the family.   
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Offline Mark Tyler

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2012, 01:12:50 AM »
Kuddos to the owner for allowing it to be displayed.

Offline spgordon

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2012, 01:30:11 AM »
Having now seen the Musician's Rifle, I'm surprised that the date and place etched on it are widely accepted. As Gary wrote a while back on here, the 1756 date is "an obviously secondary scratched on date." It doesn't "fit" there amidst all that precise etching of the musical scenes.

Eric K, who tends generally to be healthily skeptical, wrote that "There is no reason - that I can currently determine - for someone to have scratched 1756 NJ on the box, other than that very likely the owner was involved in the blockhouse construction and stationing of men in upper Jersey ca. 1755-1777.  There was intense activity there and across the river into Northampton County.  Presently, I would tend to take the date at face value."

But why? Given that is is obviously an advantage to any owner of a rifle to have it dated early, why take a date that seems to be "secondary," added-on at some later date, as an accurate indication of the rifle's age?

Pat Hornberger talked at Landis Valley about extensive forgeries of barrel signatures by Kimball-Teft in the 1920s, I think. Why has this particular scratched-on date--which is so crude that anybody could have done it, at any time--been generally accepted?

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 Eric Kettenburg

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2012, 01:46:25 AM »
Howdy Professor - I actually believe that I am in the minority in accepting the scratched-on date at face value.  I believe most who are familiar with the rifle believe it *might* be spurious.  My alternative take - given that it has been in a single family for a very, very long time, I first would ask, "Why?"  Why add a spurious date to it, when there were no attempts to sell the rifle?  Quite the contrary, they seem to have been quite protective of it.  Second, while there were many spurious names/dates added to a number of New England arms as well as PA rifles early in the 20th century, they generally tended to be very spectacular additions:  the 1746 Matthias Roesser rifle comes to mind (which it OBVIOUSLY is not).  This marking, on the other hand, *seems* to fit the same period as what most would assume to be the decade or near-decade of the rifle's manufacture (i.e. 1740s-1750s) and seems very similar to many other such secondary markings i.e. owner markings; most if not all of the early 20th century fakes were spectacular in nature (See above) and generally included names and or dates upon the barrel.  This marking is much more subtle and seemingly would serve no useful purpose - it doesn't ADD to the value of the rifle.  In fact, most do not realize the history of northern NJ during the F/I War nor even realize that there were settlers there and blockhouses being constructed, as well as later Moravian activity there (Hope, NJ).  There were strong connections between SE PA and northern NJ through the road running from Lancaster up through Berks and NH county, and to the ferry at Easton.  So, short of evidence to NOT accept the marking at face value, I would personally tend to cautiously view it as authentic.  Otherwise, I would ask:  why NJ?  Maybe it was a later owner's initials - I really don't know.  The fact that the rifle was at one point used with sling hangers would tend to at lease hint at possible martial service.  JMHO.
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2012, 01:48:15 AM »
I should add - this is not a rifle that needs any spurious assistance to be dated to an early period, as it certainly is an early rifle.  If the date were 1720 or some such thing, I would perhaps be much more skeptical, but the rifle very easily can be dated to that same period despite the addition of that particular date.
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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2012, 02:27:08 AM »
Seems to be a great old rifle.What has really erked my ernie for years is the little dribs and drabs of information and pictures that have been made available....it's a very significant piece in my opinion. Of course now, with the info Eric has supplied about underhanded scoundrels trying to low ball this gun out of the family it starts to make a bit more sense. >:(
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Offline rich pierce

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2012, 02:35:00 AM »
I don't have much to add but have been enamored of this rifle ever since I first saw a sneak peek picture of it, so can't control myself from talking about it.  As the scratched date offers no apparent advantage to owners who are very private about the rifle and have displayed no desire to sell it, it seems as reasonable to trust it as the 1771 date on the Brass Barreled Rifle, the date on the early Schroyer-attributed rifle with a wide brass box and others.  Degree of certainty will vary depending on your viewpoint. I'm running at about 90% certainty that the scratching is original to the rifle during its useful life and somewhat less certain that the date was added in that year. To really fake it well, why not get an engraver who could mimic the style of the rest of the engraving, and place the date elsewhere?

Would folks question it less if it had a wooden box?  Maybe.  For me it is as early as I'd think a brass box could be expected and given the complexity of the release button etc seems to be a prototype front hinge brass box. 

Moreover it doesn't strike me as being directly in the Albrecht-Oerter axis but maybe closer to whomever was involved in the training of Dickert.  Not saying Dickert ever did work of this quality especially engraving.  (I am fishing  ;D)
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 02:40:36 AM by rich pierce »
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Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2012, 03:02:37 AM »
It is especially interesting that the box release is extremely similar to that upon a very early *attributed* Schroyer rifle (and the attribution seems pretty dead-on, given what we know of Schroyer's many signed pieces).  If that attributed Shroyer piece is not really a Shroyer, then it sure must have been made fairly early on by someone closely associated with him.  Off the top of my head at the moment, I can't recollect if there are any other extant pieces with similar box releases.  I know Wallace had published an article a while back offering up his observations/take on this, but currently it's stored away so I'll have to go dig it out. 
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 04:36:22 AM by Eric Kettenburg »
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Offline spgordon

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2012, 04:38:31 AM »
Here's a question that I ought to know the answer to but have never even thought of it before:

Did eighteenth-century Americans use the abbreviation "NJ" for New Jersey?

A search through the digital edition of the Benjamin Franklin Papers (all 37 volumes of the published edition + 10 or so unpublished) doesn't turn up any instances in which he used the abbreviation. Nor does it seem like George Washington did, if the digital edition of the massive Papers of George Washington can be trusted. Of course, there was no need to abbreviate down to "NJ" in most instances, so this doesn't prove anything. But it may be suggestive.

I'd search the PA Gazette but the subscription I have access to doesn't seem to be working right now.

I guess the place to look would be on letters...either on the address or on the inside where the writer indicated where he/she was writing from.

Probably they did use "NJ." But I'd feeling better know that they did by seeing a contemporary instance.

« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 04:46:45 AM 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 rich pierce

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2012, 04:45:45 AM »
Shumway postulated Nicholas Hachen trained Schroyer in Hanover, then brother Wolfgang in Reading.  Makes sense to me.  There are no signed rifles by either man.  

(stream of senseless unconsciousness)

Was the Hachen family Moravian? How does this fit with the postulated Musician's rifle Bethlehem connection?

Matthias Roessor may have been Moravian?  Henry trained with him so they say.  But Matthias, European trained, was in Lancaster.  I feel his work or trainees influenced Schroyer at some point.
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Offline rich pierce

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2012, 04:48:01 AM »
in 1754 Ben Franklin published this cartoon.

« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 04:49:16 AM by rich pierce »
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Offline spgordon

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2012, 04:49:02 AM »
Well that answers that! Thank you.

Roesser did join the Moravian Church in Lancaster (by the 1750s) and Henry said himself that he apprenticed with him.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 04:50:11 AM 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 Eric Kettenburg

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2012, 04:51:48 AM »
I think I was going there in a very roundabout way, but in the past probably 5 or 6 years that I have discussed this rifle with folks, the only two names that ever seem to get tossed about are (1) Andreas Albrecht, and (2) Matthias Roesser.  Of course there is absolutely no basis to put either, or any, name on it currently, but of course that never stopped any of us yet!
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Offline rich pierce

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2012, 05:10:51 AM »
I postulate that the slashed style cheekpiece (seen on the Ghost rifle by Peter Roessor, the Free Born rifle, a lot of Schroyer-attributed rifles and the big Newcomer rifle) came from Roessor and associates and that he used the "Schroyer signature" tang carving.  Of course like Albrecht he may have worked in several styles.  But I stray from the topic of the Musician's rifle.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 05:35:54 AM by rich pierce »
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline RifleResearcher

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2012, 05:47:56 AM »
WARNING: OPINION ALERT
After handling the gun, I am inclined to believe the initials and date on the rifle are not of its period of use.  I did not look under extremely high magnification, but I believe you can see "bright" in the edges of the cuts, and still raised burrs.  In other words, after that was cut, the gun was not handled or used enough to abrade or polish that down and then repatinate it to match the surrounding brass.  Even casual handling for 250 years I assume would have slowly abraded it and recolored it, if it had been scratched in during the year 1756.  I assume that is why Wallace and Gary reached the same conclusion that it was not period.
An incorrect date can be applied for any number of reasons to an old gun, without the burden of it being done to deceive or increase value, as might be presumed as in the Kimbell/Teaff fake dates and inscriptions.  Some previous family member or other well meaning person may have believed they putting some significant date and initials, whether for New Jersey or Norman Johnson for that matter.  It may be the birth year of some relation that they believed had owned the gun for example and wanted to record that for posterity.  If that marking were worn and patinated like the rest of the engraving, dings and scratches, I would be willing to accept it at face value with only my normal level of skepticism, but to me it simply looks too "new" by comparison to the rest of the surfaces.  I am not sure if this shows well in the pictures that are out there, but it seemed fairly clear when I held it in hand and rolled it in the light.  Just my opinion.  Regardless, the date is secondary to the gun, whether from 1756 or 1926, and not applied by its maker.  Another point to keep in mind is that the gun can only be traced in the family of the current owner back to his father's uncle.  There is no family history that claims the gun was in this family any earlier than his father discovered it on the uncle's farm in the 20th century.  I believe the owner told me the uncle himself had claimed to have no idea where it had come from or how it came to be on the farm.     
That gun blows my mind for a million reasons that have nothing to do with when or even where it was made.  It is simply way too cool for words... ;D
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Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2012, 06:19:48 AM »
#@!! $#@*, you mean, this is Norman Johnson's rifle? 

NORMAN JOHNSON!  I knew him well. 

 ;D ;D ;D

I couldn't help myself.

Regardless of the integrity of the scratching, or not, I don't think anyone here would have any problem viewing it as a 1750s rifle.  If it is compared to contemporary - say 1745 through 1760 - German work, there can be found many examples which would tend to reinforce this dating.  OK, maybe not north German.  Immel can deal with all the German contemporaneous work and probably give us all a city-by-city accounting.

There has additionally been talk - some recently - that it is not American at all.  I'm not a forester so I don;t know if there is a way to distinguish between European varietals of figured maple and American varieties.  I suspect that there might be.  Anyone?

The only brass box on a German rifle of which I am aware is the Stockmar example pictured in the old Feuerwaffen book.  And we do have at least one similar box release on a decidedly American rifle, attributed to Schroyer, who was wholly trained here.

Hmmmm.
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Offline rich pierce

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Re: MUSICIAN"S RIFLE ON DISPLAY
« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2012, 02:15:50 PM »
Of course we all want this rifle to be American but its sophistication, particularly the engraving, throws some off.  The chances of a rather nice quality European rifle of this period being stocked in curly maple, having a brass box, and being unsigned on the barrel seem low to me, though not nil.
St. Louis, Missouri