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Author Topic: Haymaker rifle  (Read 2836 times)
Haymaker7
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« on: June 02, 2013, 07:09:52 AM »

I found a website www.Kentuckylongrifles.com. It states that the Adam Haymaker rifle with the oversized AH carved into the stock pictured on the site was the one  carried by Hancock Taylor at the time of his death in Kentucky in 1774. This is not so. The rifle Hancock carried is currently in the Kentucky Historical Society museum. It has an identical AH carved into the stock as the purported Adam Haymaker rifle. The difference is that this rifle was donated in the thirties by the direct descendants of Hancock Taylor, with written provenance. I have a hard time believing a gunsmith would put his own highly pretentious initials on a rifle as this that he made for someone else. Why were there two such same period weapons
made? Did Adam Haymaker make these two rifles for himself and sell them later?
I have many of Adam's papers, and some show that he had financial difficulties during the period he was producing these weapons. Perhaps he was forced to sell his personal rifle(s) at times. Several "experts" have viewed the "other" AH rifle recently and have beliefs that the "real" Hancock rifle is an earlier production than the Kentuckylonrifles site rifle. Who would buy a rifle with ridulously large makers initials such as these? Food for thought. Jesse Smith (Adams 6th g. grandson.   
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Shreckmeister
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2013, 08:33:17 AM »

Jesse. Thanks for sharing this information. It would be generous of you to share the written docs you have and could give insight into the business aspect of KY rifles. I tend to think you are right about which rifle Hancock carried leaving open the small possibility that the donating family was wrong. As to the large initials on the rifle stock, I have seen this done on more than one rifle by other makers including the Miers so keep an open mind about that (today we call that marketing). Hoping to see you share more of Adam's info. 
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Johan (Yock), John, William and Lincoln Shreckengost. Father, son, grandson and great grandson.  4 Generations of gunsmiths in Pennsylvania.
jdm
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2013, 09:00:46 AM »

There are rifles with J A. carved  the stock. They were made by Jacob Albright.
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JIM
Dphariss
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2013, 10:09:16 AM »

I found a website www.Kentuckylongrifles.com. It states that the Adam Haymaker rifle with the oversized AH carved into the stock pictured on the site was the one  carried by Hancock Taylor at the time of his death in Kentucky in 1774. This is not so. The rifle Hancock carried is currently in the Kentucky Historical Society museum. It has an identical AH carved into the stock as the purported Adam Haymaker rifle. The difference is that this rifle was donated in the thirties by the direct descendants of Hancock Taylor, with written provenance. I have a hard time believing a gunsmith would put his own highly pretentious initials on a rifle as this that he made for someone else. Why were there two such same period weapons
made? Did Adam Haymaker make these two rifles for himself and sell them later?
I have many of Adam's papers, and some show that he had financial difficulties during the period he was producing these weapons. Perhaps he was forced to sell his personal rifle(s) at times. Several "experts" have viewed the "other" AH rifle recently and have beliefs that the "real" Hancock rifle is an earlier production than the Kentuckylonrifles site rifle. Who would buy a rifle with ridulously large makers initials such as these? Food for thought. Jesse Smith (Adams 6th g. grandson.   

Why would he NOT put  initials in the carving? How is it different than signing the barrel? Or the patchbox?
The fact that two such rifles survive indicates that there may have been 20 or 50 so marked. Survival rate is low after all.
We must be very careful when we start attempting to get inside peoples heads from 200 years ago or more (or from something done yesterday for that matter unless its possible to ASK the person). We must be even more careful when we try to apply OUR personal 21st c. ideas and preferences to someone else who lived 200+ years ago.
Apparently Hancock Taylor did not care if the rifle had a large "AH" carved on it. Why should we?

Dan
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"American Girls and American Guys
Will always stand up and salute  Will always recognize
When we see Old Glory Flying   There's a lot of men dead   So we can sleep in peace at night   When we lay down our head"
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Dphariss
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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2013, 10:47:14 AM »

I found a website www.Kentuckylongrifles.com. It states that the Adam Haymaker rifle with the oversized AH carved into the stock pictured on the site was the one  carried by Hancock Taylor at the time of his death in Kentucky in 1774. This is not so. The rifle Hancock carried is currently in the Kentucky Historical Society museum. It has an identical AH carved into the stock as the purported Adam Haymaker rifle. The difference is that this rifle was donated in the thirties by the direct descendants of Hancock Taylor, with written provenance. I have a hard time believing a gunsmith would put his own highly pretentious initials on a rifle as this that he made for someone else. Why were there two such same period weapons
made? Did Adam Haymaker make these two rifles for himself and sell them later?
I have many of Adam's papers, and some show that he had financial difficulties during the period he was producing these weapons. Perhaps he was forced to sell his personal rifle(s) at times. Several "experts" have viewed the "other" AH rifle recently and have beliefs that the "real" Hancock rifle is an earlier production than the Kentuckylonrifles site rifle. Who would buy a rifle with ridulously large makers initials such as these? Food for thought. Jesse Smith (Adams 6th g. grandson.   

Why would he NOT put  initials in the carving? How is it different than signing the barrel? Or the patchbox?
The fact that two such rifles survive indicates that there may have been 20 or 50 so marked. Survival rate is low after all.
We must be very careful when we start attempting to get inside peoples heads from 200 years ago or more (or from something done yesterday for that matter unless its possible to ASK the person). We must be even more careful when we try to apply OUR personal 21st c. ideas and preferences to someone else who lived 200+ years ago.
Apparently Hancock Taylor did not care if the rifle had a large "AH" carved on it. Why should we?

Dan

BTW the rifle at http://www.kentuckylongrifles.com/html/hancock_taylor.html
is apparently the one in the Historical society.

Dan
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"American Girls and American Guys
Will always stand up and salute  Will always recognize
When we see Old Glory Flying   There's a lot of men dead   So we can sleep in peace at night   When we lay down our head"
Toby Keith "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue"
JTR
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« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2013, 11:56:38 AM »

I think the fancy carved letters were simply advertising, and certainly possible that the owner looked at them as bragging rights that he owned it!
Promoting ones self was done by a lot of gunsmiths!

John
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John Robbins
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2013, 12:33:51 PM »


[/quote]
BTW the rifle at http://www.kentuckylongrifles.com/html/hancock_taylor.html
is apparently the one in the Historical society.

Dan
[/quote]

After looking at both sets of pictures, they're no doubt two different AH rifles. And adds to the assumption that ol Haymaker used his initials as advertising, just like a number of other gunsmiths had during the time.

So Jesse, you have proof that one or the other rifle was owned and used by Taylor? That's very exciting as absolute proof of just about anything from that time is pretty scarce , and I'm sure others here as well as myself would enjoy seeing it!

John
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John Robbins
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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2013, 12:38:56 PM »

We must be even more careful when we try to apply OUR personal 21st c. ideas and preferences to someone else who lived 200+ years ago.

Agreed! Although it is counterintuitive for us to think so, eighteenth- or early-nineteenth-century makers may have began to sign their work not because they took pride in them or because they wanted to advertise their work but because others required them to take responsibility for them (in case problems arose). Some of the government contracts between 1800-1810 (I cannot remember where I read this recently) mandated that makers sign the components that they supplied so, when they were proven or inspected, faulty ones could be traced back to their producers.

The large carving on the Haymaker stocks may not be an example of this, but signatures on barrels may be ...
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WElliott
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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2013, 04:39:35 PM »

Just consider the outlandishly large branding that appears on many high-end consumer items today.  Just how big can the Polo icon get before people stop buying their product?  Marketers go to great expense to create icons for brands that folks gladly pay extra to wear and show off.  I don't think human nature has changed in the last 200 years.  Maybe Haymaker was a business school graduate.  Just a thought. . . . 
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Wayne Elliott
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2013, 07:07:23 PM »

Just consider the outlandishly large branding that appears on many high-end consumer items today.  Just how big can the Polo icon get before people stop buying their product?  Marketers go to great expense to create icons for brands that folks gladly pay extra to wear and show off.  I don't think human nature has changed in the last 200 years.  Maybe Haymaker was a business school graduate.  Just a thought. . . . 

Maybe. But then why aren't all/most eighteenth-century stocks, locks, and barrels signed?

The fact that so many, if not most, aren't signed suggests that there are major differences between the way we think about how we'd do things and how eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century gunsmiths thought about what they were doing.

It's unusual, not the norm, that Christian Oerter signed and dated his superb rifles. Other gunsmiths were making superb rifles as well. Why didn't they sign--and perhaps date--them?
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T*O*F
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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2013, 08:20:44 PM »

Quote
Other gunsmiths were making superb rifles as well. Why didn't they sign--and perhaps date--them?

Offhand, I would say that it might depend on their religious affiliation.  Some considered it a sign of vanity.
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spgordon
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2013, 09:23:49 PM »

It's a great point--and shows again the difference between eighteenth-century ways of thinking and ours. I can see this factoring in mostly in the case of Moravian gunsmiths, pre-1770, say, when they were making guns within a communal economy. Maybe there were others who thought signing or claiming their work would somehow be read as a sign of pride or vanity.

But Jacob Dickert was a very devout Moravian, working outside one of the settlement communities. He didn't seem to have any reluctance to sign his barrels at some point. There seem to be more Dickert-signed rifles than just about anybody else.

And Oerter, who was if not the first at least among the very earliest to sign and date his barrels, was also a devout Moravian living in an exclusive Moravian community at Christian's Spring.

So if religious devotion didn't stop these two... Huh
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Tanselman
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« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2013, 11:36:13 PM »

Does the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, KY, actually have a Hancock Taylor rifle with the "A H" initials in the butt stock? I've seen a good number of their guns and don't recall seeing such a gun there. Shelby Gallien
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Haymaker7
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« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2013, 07:23:26 AM »

Yes the museum has a rifle with the nearly identical AH in the same location on the rifle. This IS Taylor Hancock's rifle that he died with in Kentucky in 1774. Abraham Haptonstall used Hancock's rifle after Hancock died. Haptonstall left the rifle to Hancock's heirs upon his death, thus returning it to the family. Hancock's heir gave it to the museum. I find it very interesting that their are two rifles with the same AH
and I can see how the mistaken identity as to Hancock's rifle occured, as most did not know of the second one. I "stumbled" across the second one while researching last year. I find it interesting that some of the responders might try to compare the marketing of products today with those of yesteryear. Society was quite a bit more subdued in those days. My common sense leads me to believe that if the two rifles marked AH are indeed of Adam Haymakers manufacture, that they were at one time his personal weapons before passing into the hands of others, otherwise I think we should have other examples to compare. One theory I proposed to myself was the fact that obviously Abraham Haptonstall, the second "owner" of the specimen at the Kentucky Historical Society had his own initials carved into the gun. I dismissed that notion however, as I do not believe Haptonstall would have ever had his own pretentiously large initials carved into the stock of his dead best friends rifle. Just likemy first contention that Haymaker would not have carved his initials into another man's weapon, both scenarios do not pass the "smell" test. It's just not common sense for him to have done. But then I guess anything is possible.
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mbriggs
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« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2013, 11:19:13 AM »

We have had the discussion on here before in previous post about why some rifles are signed, and why many other great rifles are unsigned.

I think you have to remember from 1775 to 1815, the United States was either at war with England, or expecting to go to war with England or France. If a British Officer was killed with a rifle that was made in your shop and signed by you, what was going to happen to you if the British army ever came to your town? There were several periods of crisis between the end of the Rev. War in 1783, and the start of the war of 1812. The later war did not end until 1815.

The period between 1775 and 1815, happens to co-inside with what we consider to be the Golden Age of Longrifle making.

There are many fine craftsmen that made Longrifles in North Carolina like Christoph Vogler. There are a few plain and at least two fancy Eagle Patchbox Longrifles that exist that are signed by him.  There are many others both plain and fancy rifles that look to be of his hand and are attributed to him that are not signed. Could it be in peacetime that he signed his rifles and when he was worried about an upcoming war he did not sign them? His town (Salem, N.C.) was visited by Cornwallis's army in 1781 and parts of the South were invaded in the war of 1812.

Whatever the answer, this is one of the biggest mysteries to us today.         
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C. Michael Briggs
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« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2013, 12:20:55 PM »

Haymaker7,  So you contention is that all the examples of rifles with the maker's initials that we have
mentioned in this thread must have been the personal rifles of the maker's?  Because others do exist
of which I have seen at least 3 or 4 personally and I believe more than 1 by the same maker not including
Haymaker.
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Johan (Yock), John, William and Lincoln Shreckengost. Father, son, grandson and great grandson.  4 Generations of gunsmiths in Pennsylvania.
spgordon
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« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2013, 12:26:40 PM »

I think you have to remember from 1775 to 1815, the United States was either at war with England, or expecting to go to war with England or France. If a British Officer was killed with a rifle that was made in your shop and signed by you, what was going to happen to you if the British army ever came to your town? There were several periods of crisis between the end of the Rev. War in 1783, and the start of the war of 1812. The later war did not end until 1815.         

Except that, in the midst of the period you describe, Tench Coxe (United States Purveyor of Public Supplies, who is contracting for thousands of rifles) insists in a letter to Henry Dehuff in Lancaster that "every makers name is to be on his rifles" (Coxe to Dehuff, 24 December 1806). In an earlier letter to Henry Pickel of York, Coxe notes that "one rifle marked Pickel" was rejected because of its lock (Coxe to Pickel, 9 May 1805). So neither Coxe nor the riflemakers seem to have thought that putting names on rifles was unwise because of some danger during wartime.

I'd would be more persuaded by the explanation that names weren't put on rifles because it wasn't prudent to do so in wartime if rifles were being signed beforehand and then this practice was prudently suspended during wartime or during the build up to war.

But it seems, instead, as if most rifles aren't signed during the war years just as most weren't signed before; and many rifles were signed during the war years (evidenced by Coxe's correspondence) when the government was requiring it.
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Dennis Glazener
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« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2013, 12:42:03 PM »

Quote
If a British Officer was killed with a rifle that was made in your shop and signed by you, what was going to happen to you if the British army ever came to your town?

Possibly this:

http://www.umich.edu/~ece/student_projects/bonifield/treason2.html
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mkeen
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« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2013, 01:12:41 PM »

John Newcomer was a Mennonite and yet he signed some of rifles. The problem of great unsigned Colonial and Federal craftsmanship extends to other products and not just long rifles. Furniture is one area where very few pieces are signed by the maker. Would you be committing treason if you created an extremely ornate high chest of drawers or a pewter inlaid schrank? Clockmakers sometimes signed the dial and sometimes they did not. Some believe it was up to the purchaser if the clockmaker's name appeared on the dial. How many blacksmiths signed their work? Even Conestoga wagons, probably the most expensive item an individual could buy, were not signed by the maker. Maybe most craftsmen relied on word of mouth - the Twitter of the day!

Martin
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JTR
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« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2013, 02:18:20 PM »

I don't think we'll ever know why some makers signed their guns and others didn't. Or even why in some areas, say Lancaster, where a number of makers seemed to have signed, or in Reading where almost none did...

As for the AH guns, I don't believe anyone is contesting that Adam Haymaker was the maker, nor am I grasping the importance of whether one or both might have been Haymakers personal guns at some point, or the AH simply his signature as maker.
As to which gun some guy had in hand when he was killed in 1774 is probably impossible to prove beyond question at this late date, without a document describing the gun in very fine and exacting detail, especially given the similarity of these two rifles.
But Jesse, if you have the documents and your satisfied that they prove the point, it's your story and that's all that counts, so stick with it!

John
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John Robbins
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« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2013, 03:10:28 PM »

I think people are making the 21st century assumption that people could read and write. If a person wanted to do the work I'm sure you could research those makers who left written documents... but who didn't sign their rifles. I think there are far more makers who didn't sign their work because they couldn't write. Only about 30% of the population of 18th century America were literate.
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Bob
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« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2013, 06:30:28 PM »

Gunmakers were skilled craftsmen and were businessmen, well above common laborers.  I'd be surprised if a large percentage were illiterate.
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spgordon
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« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2013, 09:02:30 PM »

Not sure where the 30% literacy figure comes from. In an important book called Literacy in Colonial New England (1974), K. Lockridge showed that, among white New England men, 85% were literate between 1758 and 1762 and 90% between 1787 and 1798. Among Moravians--and plenty of these early gunsmiths were Moravians--literacy rates were basically 100%. One would need to investigate figures for other groups. Among German immigrant men, for instance, by the Revolution the literacy rate seems to have been something about 80% (judging by one's ability to sign one's name, which is the sort of evidence most literacy studies depend on).

Many if not most gunsmiths--like most tradesmen, who always had a higher literacy rate than farmers--would have had to keep ledgers and accounts, which speaks to a very high level of literacy.

Besides, the same men--who must have been literate--sometimes signed and sometimes didn't sign their rifles. So it can't be a matter of 'if they were able to sign their names they would have signed their guns.'

Scott

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Dphariss
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« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2013, 10:56:02 PM »


BTW the rifle at http://www.kentuckylongrifles.com/html/hancock_taylor.html
is apparently the one in the Historical society.

Dan
[/quote]

After looking at both sets of pictures, they're no doubt two different AH rifles. And adds to the assumption that ol Haymaker used his initials as advertising, just like a number of other gunsmiths had during the time.

So Jesse, you have proof that one or the other rifle was owned and used by Taylor? That's very exciting as absolute proof of just about anything from that time is pretty scarce , and I'm sure others here as well as myself would enjoy seeing it!

John
[/quote]

My question would be is the rifle featured in the Kentucky Rifle site in the Kentucky Historical society collection as they seem to state or not? I.E. does KHS  have both of them? Did the Taylor family have 2 AH rifles back in the day? Not outside the realm of possibility and might even be a probability if AH made a good rifle its likely his brother Richard had one too.
So far as the AH initials? We have two apparent examples. Thats it. This is the evidence. Trying to stretch this to mean they were his personal rifles is simply supposition which I do not subscribe to. There is nothing what-so-ever to support this. There ARE a number of rifles with somewhat flamboyant signatures by various makers so the AH carving is not surprising. It is what it is.

Dan
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"American Girls and American Guys
Will always stand up and salute  Will always recognize
When we see Old Glory Flying   There's a lot of men dead   So we can sleep in peace at night   When we lay down our head"
Toby Keith "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue"
Sequatchie Rifle
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« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2013, 09:50:53 AM »

I think people are making the 21st century assumption that people could read and write. If a person wanted to do the work I'm sure you could research those makers who left written documents... but who didn't sign their rifles. I think there are far more makers who didn't sign their work because they couldn't write. Only about 30% of the population of 18th century America were literate.

According to several references I have, there was a higher percentage of literate people in the Americas in the 1700s than there were from 1870-1940.
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