Author Topic: Germanic symbol cheek pieces  (Read 29108 times)

Offline Artificer

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #50 on: January 13, 2014, 07:35:18 AM »
Gus,  The symbol on the Barbara Oberholzer fraktur you linked to is too similar to the inlays on these
rifles to be coincidental.  Surely someone knows more than we do about these symbols.  I'm wondering
who the expert on fraktur is.  They might have the answer for us.

Shreck,

The almost nothing I know about Fraktur Art was stirred when I saw the images of these inlays on your ancestor's rifles.   So I plugged something like "Fraktur Art and Symbols" on Google and low and behold the third or fourth image I saw had the double symbols so close to the inlays on your rifle images.  My jaw DROPPED!!!  I can not even fathom the odds of that happening and especially after going back and looking over many more google pages and links to see if there was any kind of chart or charts with explanations of the symbols.  (None that I found when I gave up, finally.)

I think Mark Elliot is on to something that this may be the stylized combined symbols of the Alpha and Omega after Revelations 1:8 (KJV)
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."

What I might suggest is you call the Free Library and reference the Item Number and Title and ask if anyone has already done research to determine what that symbol is and of course if it might be as Mark suggested.  I added the information below, together, to make it easier for you to refer to it; should you desire to call them.  (I MOST certainly would if I were in your shoes.)  If not, I would think SOMEONE there at the Library could point you towards someone who would know.

Item No: frk00011
Title: Drawing for Barbra Oberholtzer

Free Library of Philadelphia |  Phone: 215-686-5322

Hope this helps,
Gus

Offline Waldmaus

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #51 on: January 13, 2014, 07:58:39 AM »
Mr. Meister,
  Contact the DuPont Winterthur Museum in Wilimington, DE about the Fractur symbols.
  Their collections are quite impresive, as are the staff and resource materials available.
  Just my 2d of course.  However, I grew up with all of those Shreckengosts' in Putneyville, and never knew what they were thinking or talking about ::) ::)
                 Peace Out....Shreck ( NOT Meister )
" Ever notice how a banana gets all soft, mushy, thin-skinned, covered with spots, and, becomes tasteless when it is over the hill? They are just like people! "
from Poor Pat's Ponderings...Ramblings of an Untrained Mind, August 2017

Offline Don Stith

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #52 on: January 13, 2014, 08:02:31 PM »
I love my longrifles as much as anyone, but I am not going to deify  man made objects.
 Many of those guys were illiterate and strictly made what they learned in their apprenticship.
 You guys sound like the fellow in the 1950's song where he tried to justify playing cards in church by applying religious symbolism to the deck of cards.
 I ain't buying it

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #53 on: January 13, 2014, 09:00:38 PM »
Dan,  I disagree with your premise that ALL these inlays were mass produced.  Proof that this is NOT the case is
right here in the library under "tools of a gunsmith".  Wm. Shreckengost's vast array of inlay templates are intact to this day
in a local collection and the cardboard they were cut from shows the partial name of a local hardware store here
in western PA.  In other words he repurposed the hardware store boxes to make his templates.
 I find it hard to grasp how I can spend my time
tracking down things to post on this forum for guys to learn from and
have guys look at them and refuse to acknowledge what they are seeing.
  You don't need a template if you are buying them already cut out.
As for already engraved, this is also not the case.  I won't bother with the electron microscope to prove that the
gravers and shaders were used on his guns and no others.  It's clearly his hand on all his rifles.
    Yes, there were mass produced inlays on later rifles, but the examples I provided were not.



Please note: "Many" does not mean "all".  I fail to understand how someone could not understand this.

My comments regarding PURCHASED gun parts was simply an attempt to shed some light on the discussion.  That using parts made by others has been a part of American firearms manufacture since DAY ONE is not even arguable. I am sorry if this interferes with some premise but its a fact.
If you REALLY want to understand the gun trade then you need to look for commercial sources. People just love, for example, to think that gunsmiths of the 18th c made their own barrels when in reality they bought most barrels and locks from EUROPE or for barrels at least from barrel forgers in PA by the 1770s. I know that by the 1860-70s there were hardware store catalogs with everything from ladies underwear to gun parts, including inlays, to baby carriages to freight wagons shown. The railroads changed EVERYTHING. There are inlays, like the key escutcheons on the Atchinson Hawken that appear in identical or slightly modified form from Coast to Coast on 19th c rifles, including one of the rifles  you pictured.



Did Shreckengost  make ALL the inlays and patchboxes? Its entirely possible he did, but its also possible he bought some or copied them or at least copied some details given the time frame.

I think if you will look you will find that similar scroll shapes are found on rifles from the late 18th c onwards almost everywhere. Done right and in the right place its an attractive feature.  Its used as decoration on both forends and buttstocks. Seems like a similar scroll was used on Bedfords as forend escutcheons. In fact a similar design is worked into the side plates on the silver patchbox of the Atchinson Hawken made in 1836. I am sure the inlays on this rifle were purchased in St Louis rather than shop made.


If we look at the late fancy rifles in "Kentucky Rifles and Pistols 1750-1850" there are several versions of this scroll design as inlays, sideplates and in patchbox sideplates. This being the case trying to give it some special meaning to someones use of it is simply not possible. It seems to be a common design element used on American rifles. If one LOOKS for it.

The 4 lines crossing as an engraving pattern, representing an 8 point star maybe, are found elsewhere as well. Its something to fill an empty space and "dress it up". Does the star represent the baby Jesus? Could be. The Fish might represent Christianity as well etc etc. But unless we can get into the MAKERS head its SUPPOSITION.  There are other instances of folk art appearing on rifles and then similar art on stone work in America. Especially when the stone work is associated with a rifle maker. Squire Boone for example.
By the end of the first quarter of the 19th c. inlays were replacing carving as stock decorations in America. If someone here can figure out the "symbolism" of the apparent "loaded in a shotgun and shot into the stock" inlay decoration often found on guns of the 19th c, including the cheek side of the Atchinson Hawken, please feel free to post it here. Or write a book.


For example is this a stylized "Allentown Indian"? Probably not. But if we want to suppose we can suppose anything.
.

Gunmakers would find or invent a striking design and USE it or ELEMENTS of it. They did not have the computer to help them find things so assuming that some gunmaker (or many) has included an inlay resembling some obscure design for some secret meaning is unlikely.
Religious symbols might apply in some cases. But while Beck used INRI he did not use more overt signs that I know of. 

Masonic symbols are not that uncommon. The square and compass for example.
PA Dutch/German folk art might be used or the folk art might be influenced by the firearms decoration. How anyone could be surprised to find PA folk art on a rifle from PA or rifles made anywhere a PA rifle might be carried to its a surprise in itself.

If people put forth ideas here they will provoke discussion. I had no idea that mentioning a common truth, purchased gun parts, regarding American firearms making would gore an ox.

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

Offline Artificer

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #54 on: January 13, 2014, 11:42:52 PM »
While I take Christ on faith, I do not take someone's theories on gunmaking symbols to be the "gospel" without evidence.  While it is possible that some sects may be more tied to symbolism more than others, there is no way to ascribe the PERSONAL meanings without the maker saying so. I suspect those cultures more into superstition and the like would take on material object representations more than others.  
The asterisk engraving shown above can be found on every third or fourth common trigger bow or barrel made across the pond from 1670 thru the flint period. It was a form style based on something but I have know idea if it meant anything to the gun engraver or the guy whose name was on the gun. While the asterisk above could have had a spiritual meaning to the carver/maker it could also have just been an easy decoration that was learned early and done over and over. Without some documentation it is all speculation. Why do I say this? That symbol is the first thing I go to when quickly scratching something on a button, etc.  ;D

You are correct the 8 point "asterisk type star" as shown on the gravestone and toe plate in the post above was found over a long range of time and is still in use today by German Lutherans and some other Protestant Sects (especially German Protestants).   Today it is often referred to as  "The Baptismal Cross."  
 

"Baptismal - This Greek cross is superimposed on a Greek chi, the first letter of the Greek word for Christ. It forms a cross with eight arms. Since the number eight is symbolic of rebirth or regeneration, this cross is often used as a baptismal cross. "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." - Titus 3:5 "

http://www.lutheransonline.com/servlet/lo_ProcServ/dbpage=page&mode=display&gid=20052995655655607101111555&pg=20053040942236960101111555

"Judeo-Christian:

The number eight frequently represents beginnings, resurrection, salvation and super-abundance. This has to do, in part, with the fact that the number seven is a number of completion. The eighth day, for example, is the first day of a new seven-day week, and a Jewish child enters into God's Covenant on the eighth day of life via circumcision."

http://altreligion.about.com/od/symbols/p/Octagrams-Eight-Pointed-Stars.htm

Because the 8 point Cross represents beginnings, resurrection and salvation - it was used on Birth Certificates and on Grave Stones as well as other things..  

Thus the evidence of a Pennsylvania Deutsh Gunsmith engraving it on his child's gravestone absolutely means it was of significant importance to him and had religious meanings.    

Now, of course others might not have known what it meant, even in the historic time period, and many do not know what it means today.  So to many people who don't understand, it is purely decoration.  
Gus  
« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 11:49:44 PM by Artificer »

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #55 on: January 14, 2014, 12:45:54 AM »
Dan,  I'm thinking no amount of discussion is going to make us interpret what we are seeing here
in a similar light.  You stated the inlays are "STYLIZED decoration, decoration".  My interpretation from that and the remainder of your writing is that you are saying they are devoid of meaning.  You
prefaced that with "Let me clarify".  That makes me think you were not throwing out ideas, but rather
telling me how it is and I've always been somewhat opposed to that.
    Not trying to gore you, only intended to make my point as adamantly as you were making yours.
The more I think about this, the more interested I am in what separates folks into these two different
perspectives about these inlays.  To me, that's more interesting than whether the inlays have meaning or not.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 12:52:53 AM by Shreckmeister »
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline Buck

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #56 on: January 14, 2014, 02:15:54 AM »
Don,
I think you only cemented what I had already stated, the majority of the populous was illiterate and symbolism was a form of communication. Although a lot of the symbolism on the long rifles are religious in nature as you stated they are not to be deified. Still this has been one of the most interesting threads here in a long while, thanks Rob for getting the ball rolling.

Buck   

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #57 on: January 14, 2014, 04:01:01 PM »
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 04:04:41 PM by Shreckmeister »
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline spgordon

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #58 on: January 14, 2014, 04:54:03 PM »
Most beliefs, then and now, are distributed differently through a population. For some eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century people, these symbols would have (still) carried meaning; for others, they would have become "mere" decoration. Different gunsmiths in different places would have believed differently, and the same is true for their customers. So it seems to me that, without some other information, it is impossible to know in any particular case whether these carried meaning or not. To try to be more certain, without additional information about the particular case, is to go beyond what the evidence allows.
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: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #59 on: January 14, 2014, 07:42:08 PM »
It makes perfect sense to me that when JP Beck put INRI on the bottom of his barrels, it had religious meaning for him.  Some of the other stuff, I am not convinced.  If some of the symbols we see on longrifles were so important to people, I am not sure why they are not inlayed or carved on hammer handles, scythe snaths, wagon wheels, harness hanes, embroidered on clothing, and made into brooches and pendants.

Take some folding money out of your wallet.  Look at all the crazy symbolic stuff on there.  Sure some of it has meaning to someone, sometime, but it means nothing to me except what I can buy with it.  I'm not feeling anything about the pyramid or great seal.  I know they stand for something and have deep symbolic meaning but ask the guy on the street what they mean to him.  Some people get all excited about hidden meanings, codes, secret societies, and probably cherish what's found on dollar bills.  But not most of us.  If they changed it tomorrow I would not care.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #60 on: January 14, 2014, 08:15:11 PM »
So Rich....now you speak for "most of us"?   As for "If some of the symbols we see on longrifles were so important to people, I am not sure why they are not inlayed or carved on hammer handles, scythe snaths, wagon wheels, harness hanes, embroidered on clothing, and made into brooches and pendants"
it seems to me that a man's rifle in 1800s was a pretty important part of his life, in fact it might have
depended on it.  It would have been a status symbol about who he was, particularly the very artful
pieces I am confident were elaborately done because he wanted to show everyone he was a man
of status.  Kinda like BMW drivers today....forgive me if you drive one strictly for the great engineering.
Expanding on that thought, I see a lot of bumper stickers with symbols today.  I think they have meaning
too, not just decoration for your car.
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline JTR

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #61 on: January 14, 2014, 08:18:51 PM »
It makes perfect sense to me that when JP Beck put INRI on the bottom of his barrels, it had religious meaning for him.  Some of the other stuff, I am not convinced.  If some of the symbols we see on longrifles were so important to people, I am not sure why they are not inlayed or carved on hammer handles, scythe snaths, wagon wheels, harness hanes, embroidered on clothing, and made into brooches and pendants.

Take some folding money out of your wallet.  Look at all the crazy symbolic stuff on there.  Sure some of it has meaning to someone, sometime, but it means nothing to me except what I can buy with it.  I'm not feeling anything about the pyramid or great seal.  I know they stand for something and have deep symbolic meaning but ask the guy on the street what they mean to him.  Some people get all excited about hidden meanings, codes, secret societies, and probably cherish what's found on dollar bills.  But not most of us.  If they changed it tomorrow I would not care.

Exactly! As with guns, people have forgot the meaning of the symbols on paper money, and don't care any longer.
But that doesn't mean that the symbols weren't important at one time, whether on money or guns, just that people have forgotten and its no longer important.
John
John Robbins

Offline Jim Kibler

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #62 on: January 14, 2014, 08:27:28 PM »
Another time ;)  Putting the intent of the original builder aside (refer to spgordon's post and others).  I think it needs to be driven home that not all decoration and ornament need have a symbolic meaning.  Why do some think by default it must?  The vast majority of decoration on a longrifle is simply that.  If you don't except that, are we to believe that examples like the back to back C-scroll carving used so extensively in Lancaster has symbolic meaning?  The list could go on and on.  Where would it end?  Is everything on the longrifle a symbol by default?  If not, surely you must require some reasoning to differentiate.  In terms of decoration, why can't it be simply ornament based on baroque / rococo / plant forms etc?  As someone who has spent a significant amount of time designing ornament for the longrifle this seems PERFECTLY logical and reasonable.  Again, there are obviously cases were symbolism was used (fish, stars, animals, masonic symbols etc.), buy purely ornamental scroll work or designs with no hidden meaning is entirely reasonable.  I would endorse taking the approach that there is no hidden symbolic meaning unless it is proven to be the case.  Why would you take any other approach?  

I've asked a number of questions here and if someone who doesn't agree would answer them it would be appreciated.  

Thanks,
Jim
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 08:51:50 PM by Jim Kibler »

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #63 on: January 14, 2014, 08:33:44 PM »
I am not sure I'm arrogant enough to say that I speak for most of us.  Could be, though.  Generally when I say something like that, I mean, what I am conveying is common to most of the folks I know, across generations and walks of life.

That the decorations found on longrifles have deep meanings is very important to some collectors and students.  I get a sense that some connect these symbols with their views of a pure and holy past and a decadent present time.  Yet the presence of clearly spiritual bumper stickers in the present suggests to me a more direct and clear declaration of faith than many of the motifs found on period rifles, horns, etc.  I respect and applaud those who are spiritually minded and who are encouraged or think of their beliefs when they see decorations that are symbolic to them.  The decorations I see don't do that for me in the way a cross, the name Jesus, or an icthus (spelling wrong?) does.  From my understanding, the Christian fish symbol was used in early days as a secret code because Christians were persecuted to the pain of death.  Not broadly the case in 18th century America.

I love the longrifle and consider it a wonderful American art form, otherwise I would not have studied it for over 40 years.  But that our ancestor revered their guns and used them to state their beliefs in a way that was unique to that tool, is not proven to me.   That a man depended on his rifle in many cases is clear, but A man might do as well with an axe or a knife than a rifle in an emergency.  Knives and axes don't run out of bullets or powder or refuse to work when wet, and a man might carry a sword or knife more often than a firearm.  Yet we see little of those same decorative motifs that are imbued with meaning on edged tools.  That is curious and enigmatic to me.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline okawbow

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #64 on: January 14, 2014, 08:48:28 PM »
Knowing very little about what early gunsmiths were thinking when they made their rifles; I have a theory about why they used certain inlay forms. I believe it is for the same reason I used particular inlay forms on my first builds. They copied the forms that were used by their teachers and fellow makers. It's the same reason I use an "F" hole shape when I make a violin. It's the traditional and expected form of decoration and function.

A few makers "invent" a decoration. Most others simply repeat what they see. In time, the form gets changed, or evolves a little, until it no longer has the same meaning. I don't think most makers knew what the original design was supposded to represent.
As in life; it’s the journey, not the destination. How you get there matters most.

Offline Jim Kibler

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #65 on: January 14, 2014, 09:24:59 PM »
Yes, and don't forget that the primary reason a gunsmith was making guns was to earn money.  Plain and simple.  A gun with well executed decoration has more appeal to many than something plane.  This makes the product more desirable.  A good thing for the gunsmith in a competitive environment.  You can be sure they stole decorative design elements wherever they could.  It's pretty clear they even stole (borrowed) from each other.  The view that the longrifle is some hallowed sacred object created by only the devout is a fantasy in my opinion.

As an aside, I've thought it interesting how our perspective of history can effect our interpretation.  A while back I saw a program on the man who was frozen in the ice in the Alps I believe.  I think he had been frozen for some 5000 years or so.  It showed how had been shot and took a somewhat sympathetic view.  They posed scenarios of how he had been followed and how he headed to the mountains for protection but met his end.  What about the scenario that he could have been a scoundrel that deserved to be shot and killed!  There's a reason we take the views we do.  There must be some payoff or we wouldn't.  It's worth considering if the truth is important.

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #66 on: January 14, 2014, 09:44:39 PM »
Knowing very little about what early gunsmiths were thinking when they made their rifles; I have a theory about why they used certain inlay forms. I believe it is for the same reason I used particular inlay forms on my first builds. They copied the forms that were used by their teachers and fellow makers. It's the same reason I use an "F" hole shape when I make a violin. It's the traditional and expected form of decoration and function.

A few makers "invent" a decoration. Most others simply repeat what they see. In time, the form gets changed, or evolves a little, until it no longer has the same meaning. I don't think most makers knew what the original design was supposded to represent.

    Consider further the period that we are talking about.  Today we are bombarded with symbols everywhere.  Back then, there were far fewer symbols, I think they knew exactly what it symbolized and why they were using it in
the day.
    Here I quote someone who has given thought to instrument F holes.
"The word for 'sound' in Latin is 'sonas'. In Italian it is 'suono'. In French it is 'son'. In Spanish it is 'sonido'. At the time that the violin family was evolving, Latin was the formal written language. This is seen by the use of Latin versions of the names of the maker and city on the label of the instrument. I will make a not too stretched conjecture and say that the early violin makers were putting 's' holes, or 'sonas' holes in their instruments. As the letters changed form, our name for the sound holes changed with them."
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 09:49:36 PM by Shreckmeister »
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #67 on: January 14, 2014, 09:54:57 PM »
  The view that the longrifle is some hallowed sacred object created by only the devout is a fantasy in my opinion.


   Though I can't speak for anyone but the Shreckengosts, I know they were devout enough to donate the
land upon which the first Lutheran Church in our county was built and church services were held at their
home before the church was built.  So it may or may not be a stretch to think they were showing it in their work.
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #68 on: January 14, 2014, 10:53:49 PM »
I hope nothing said here is interpreted as judging the faith of gunsmiths who decorated their products with motifs that are interesting to speculate about. 
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #69 on: January 15, 2014, 12:17:29 AM »
Not at all Rich.  I am just offering my observations on one gunsmithing family.  I can't make
assumptions that it applies to others.
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline Pennsylvania Dutchman

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #70 on: January 15, 2014, 01:15:58 AM »
Shreckmeister, Not to hijack your thread, but where is this Lutheran church?
   I do agree that while a lot of the carving and inlays we see on longrifles or furniture and also the patterns woven into cloth would have originally had a spiritual meaning for the maker, several generations later the same or very similar design would have been used simply for its artistic value alone with no intention of it meaning anything.
Mark Poley

   Though I can't speak for anyone but the Shreckengosts, I know they were devout enough to donate the
land upon which the first Lutheran Church in our county was built and church services were held at their
home before the church was built.  So it may or may not be a stretch to think they were showing it in their work.
[/quote]

Online Dennis Glazener

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #71 on: January 15, 2014, 01:48:06 AM »
Its interesting to hear the different thoughts about the "symbols" used on early longrifles. I am afraid I don't have an opinion since I can see good arguments for each view expressed. I am interested in your thoughts on the "prayer holes" found on some early PA rifles and how they fit into this discussion.
Dennis
 
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Offline Artificer

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #72 on: January 15, 2014, 02:14:54 AM »
I want to make it clear, and have written it a couple of times at least in this thread, that not all symbols had Christian or Religious meanings.  Reading some posts that seems to be the view some have taken.  However, the opposite side is just as unsupportable, I.E. that all or most symbols were mere decoration and especially when the Longrifle came from a culture where symbolism was important and even used more than in other areas of the country back then.  

Actually, the letters INRI and other religious symbols have been found on the wooden parts of historic tools that were placed there by the owners and especially if it was considered “proper” by their culture.  Normally it was the more expensive tools, though they are occasionally found on the tools the tradesmen used the most.  However, according to most Catholic sources, the words “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum” were abbreviated to INRI until the 13th century, as even many of the Nobles could not read until that time – let alone the Serfs or common people.  

Most of us today don’t know why symbols were/are used on paper money.  Some folks point to the fact the more intricate the engravings, the harder it was/is to counterfeit the money and since that is still true, that’s the most known reason.  However when paper money was new and people had been used to bartering and using coins that had REAL value from the metal they were made from; the reason that fancy engravings were added  was to convince people that paper money had value for other than a “pretty piece of paper.”  (Once again, communication.)   It was and remains true that people have to believe paper money is worth something or it has no value.  (This is also why the words “Silver Certificate” was used on U.S. paper money between 1878 and 1964 because by that time many more people could read and it assured the money holder the paper had value, ESPECIALLY after we went off the Gold Standard.)  Today the majority of us automatically look at paper money as having value, so symbolism is not as important.  

Many of what only looks like “patterns” to most people in Pennsylvania Deutsch quilts had religious meanings when first used, though now the meanings have been almost lost or lost.  What are commonly called “Hex Signs” today were no such thing at the time and the thought they could have been “Hex Signs” would have been considered blasphemous.  

Now “regular” and much of “their best” clothing of the lower classes were normally not stitched or embroidered with symbols, with the main exception of special Pennsylvania Deutsch (and some other culture’s clothing), BUT only by the “Fancy Dutch” and not the “Plain Dutch.”  Women just did not have the Labor Time to do it as standard practice.  There were some religious symbols stitched into some Wedding Dresses, though.  We have all but FORGOTTEN how many women regularly died in childbirth and how many chlldren died in infancy or as youngsters in the 18th and 19th centuries and such symbolism was a written prayer for her future children, her husband and herself.    

What about symbology in stitches?  Though “Samplers” have been used since Egyptian times to show and teach both men and women how to do certain stitches, Ladies Samplers REALLY caught on in the 17th century throughout Europe and came to Northern America.  For the women of the lower classes, the Samplers were often/usually displayed or presented to suitors to show the woman could at least sew well enough to keep her husband, herself and her children in clothes, of course.  For upper classes, the fine needlepoint demonstrated the woman was “of quality.”  Symbolism and often Religious Symbolism was stitched right into many of those Samplers.  This demonstrated piety to society and suitors and of course found more in the cultures that valued that more.  Later on in the late 18th century and 19th centuries when we see the Alphabet on many Ladies Samplers, demonstrating the woman showed extra “value” or “Quality” to a prospective husband that she could read; we see religious phrases or actual quotes from the Bible, though Religious Symbology was still used, albeit perhaps less frequently since more people could read.  
Now I understand that most people today do not rely on symbolism for communications as most people today can read and write, but that was not true in the 18th century and much of the 19th century.  That is perhaps why it is so hard for many people to understand today how important symbols were back then.  

Of course, the funny thing is we are seeing a sort of “reverse trend” in communications with codes or symbols coopting the written word as “Texting” has become so important and popular to so many people.  Further, there is a whole new world of symbols used with emails that perhaps 100 years from now, most people will have no idea of what it meant or its importance in communication.  It seems symbols are still very important to many people today.

Gus
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 02:17:39 AM by Artificer »

Offline Jim Kibler

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #73 on: January 15, 2014, 03:01:25 AM »
I want to make it clear, and have written it a couple of times at least in this thread, that not all symbols had Christian or Religious meanings.  Reading some posts that seems to be the view some have taken.  However, the opposite side is just as unsupportable, I.E. that all or most symbols were mere decoration and especially when the Longrifle came from a culture where symbolism was important and even used more than in other areas of the country back then.  


Gus,

The difference is that these designs are most often derivations of more academic baroque and rococo designs with plant forms mixed in.  This can easily be defended to the point that I don't think anyone would disagree.  The problem arises when these carving, engraving designs etc. are given further symbolic meaning without support.  If someone can clearly defend something having further meaning then I would gladly accept it.  Are you suggesting I take your word for it?  Are you suggesting that since the longrifle came form a culture where symbolism was important that I should extrapolate this view to the point that I should by default believe that it is contained in otherwise generic floral, scrollwork designs?  I challenge you to give me examples.  Not of the obvioius symbolism that I've mentioned many times (fish, lions etc.), but that which is imbedded in the types of designs I've outlined above.  Next, back up these claims with a solid rational argument that proves your case.  The reason I've been very specific as to narrowing the scope to scroll and floral motifs is that they are seen all over longrifles and this is very pertinent to the designs questioned in this thread.  Could there be symbolism in these sorts of designs?  Sure, lots of things are possible including this.  What i would like, is for something substantial to support these views.  Seems I've been saying this all along and I'm starting to tire.  Maybe a good exercise would be to open up RCA, go through each gun presented and make a case for the symbolism present in the decorative floral scrollwork elements. 

Jim
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 03:33:00 AM by Jim Kibler »

Offline Avlrc

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Re: Germanic symbol cheek pieces
« Reply #74 on: January 15, 2014, 03:55:14 AM »
  Jim,

"The view that the longrifle is some hallowed sacred object created by only the devout is a fantasy in my opinion".

To the above, I can't speak about other gunsmith in other areas, but from the ones I researched here where I live, many of them were a "Church Going God Fearing Bunch". Here is just a few examples.
Frederick Sheetz ,

 Elder #1: Frederick Sheetz, b 11 Nov 1774; Ordained 12 Jun 1819 at Mt. Bethel; Installed Fall of 1833; Removal 18 Jan 1861, Died

Zebulon Sheetz,
. On November 9, 1825, he was ordained an elder at the new church, and became the first Clerk of the Session. July 28, 1827, the Session met in his home in Bethel Valley. August 1835, his wife, mother, and son, Austin Cram were given letters "to any Presbyterian church in the West," and on August 30, the Session adopted this resolution, 'Whereas Zebulon Sheetz, an elder in this church, is about removing to the West, Session takes this method of expressing their warm attachment to him as a Christian brother, and their sense of his usefulness as a fellow officer in the Church of Christ, their regret at his loss, and their prayerful desire for his future peace and proseperity.'"

Simeon Ward,
Simeon was a gunsmith and is stated as such in the 1850 census. He also preached the gospel and belonged to the Timber Ridge Christian Church near High View . He even traveled with Rev. Christy Sine ( 1798-1858) spreading the message of salvation and the word of God.  In the 1860 census Simeon is living with his son Evan P Ward. Evan is listed as a Gunsmith and Simeon is noted as a " Minister of the Gospel".

Roland Savage Dayton,
"After the Civil War the Methodist Church at Headsville West Virginia, had no preacher, A preacher & Gunsmith from McCoole, Maryland walked from McCoole Maryland to hold services".( by the way that is about 7 mile straight line)

This is just a few that come to my head right now. Seems like the gunsmiths around here would just as soon carry on the word of their God, as to make rifles. I have a strong thought that they gave their God the credit for their gunsmithing skills. I am sure they were a few nonbelievers in the gun making trade.

Mark
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 04:04:01 AM by Avlrc »