Author Topic: William Henry longrifle  (Read 22210 times)

tonyw

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #25 on: June 03, 2014, 10:25:53 AM »
In trying to put myself into the "period", and to expand my perceptions of how all of this activity took place, is it also possible that this was an apprentice doing the stamping??    One more thought....seeing as how the W.H is impressed deeper and clearer than all the other letters tells me that they were impressed with a singular die and the other letters were individual.  That does explain the slightly different letter styles. 

We have to keep in mind they weren't doing anything other than identifying their work.  They certainly weren't concerned with how we would look at the wonky lettering almost 200 years later.  Thru my experience, I've also come to understand that when someone wants to fake something, they almost invariably try to imitate something that is accepted as normal.....not the opposite.

All in good fun !! 

tonyw

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2014, 11:37:00 AM »
I took the time to have a good look at the stamping with a magnifying loop.  The W.H is definitely stamped as one, just like a silversmiths mark.  By the looks of it, the die could have certainly been made by a silversmith as the letters are all very typical.  The rest are clearly singularly stamped.  In person, the lettering doesn't seem as out of skew as they do in the pics......more mis-struck than wonky.  The patination is correct and unbroken inside the lettering and on the barrel.

Question: at the risk of sounding very stupid here:    is it possible that W.H was a singular stamp of an elder in the family from a different location (a hand me down)  and the singular dies were used to denote the later location?

All offered with great ignorance in the particulars of the Henry production and family, but with lots of enthusiasm and logic prevailing.

Offline spgordon

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2014, 12:54:24 PM »
I think there were stamps for entire names that were used to mark barrels. I'm not sure when this began but a later one, used by later Henrys at Boulton, survives--though it is possible that it was used for locks and not barrels. But I think it is a barrel stamp.

But the more relevant point is that, even if barrel signatures were produced with individual dies, the craftsman nearly always (not always) aligned the letters. I am sure that the experienced collectors and researchers on this list can come up with some stamped barrel signatures in which the letters are misaligned as this one is, but I have never seen one as wobbly as this. So of course the craftsman wouldn't have been concerned with how collectors would look at the lettering 200 years later. But apparently nearly all of them were concerned enough to align the lettering--or at least to come close(r) to doing so--for whatever purposes these barrel signatures were used at the time. (Different members on this list will offer different theories as to the purposes of barrel signatures.)

It is possible that the "W.H" was handed down. I don't believe any rifles survive with this "W.H" stamp, which would be good evidence for such a theory.

I didn't suggest the barrel signature was a fake: you're right, somebody faking an original barrel signature would have done a much better job at reproducing period standards. But it's oddness requires some explanation.

About the lock: I really wish others would weigh in on this. Unlike barrel signatures with Boulton, which are rare, there are lots of locks with Boulton stamps on them. None are rounded on their left side as this lock is; they all taper to a point (some sharp points, some less sharp). Does anybody think this lock resembles locks from the 1820s or earlier?
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 jdm

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2014, 11:13:36 PM »
Scott P.M. sent    JIM
JIM

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #29 on: June 04, 2014, 04:00:53 AM »
I have a rifle with barrel signed on bottom flat J.J. Henry and a Z stamped near the muzzle on bottom. If someone was faking a barrel signature would they put it on the bottom?   It has a correct lock marked j j henry that is straight and correct. So maybe they weren't that particular about their barrel sigs. I have been looking for the same answers since I bought it a couple years ago. This topic lends some added credence to it being original. Maybe more will turn up.
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: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2014, 04:47:05 AM »
I have a rifle with barrel signed on bottom flat J.J. Henry and a Z stamped near the muzzle on bottom. If someone was faking a barrel signature would they put it on the bottom?   It has a correct lock marked j j henry that is straight and correct. So maybe they weren't that particular about their barrel sigs. I have been looking for the same answers since I bought it a couple years ago. This topic lends some added credence to it being original. Maybe more will turn up.

I can't follow this at all. Is there something peculiar about the "J.J. Henry" signature on the barrel's bottom flat? Are its letters also not aligned neatly? (You don't say so above, so I'm just confused.) It would be helpful if you posted a picture of the signature or at least described it.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 05:02:19 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 Shreckmeister

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2014, 01:12:27 PM »
Sorry Scott, I was more than tired when I wrote that.

« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 01:17:08 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: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2014, 02:11:57 PM »
Interesting. Misaligned, yes, but quite a bit differently than Tony's rifle (at least to my eye). Your "J. J. Henry" slopes down to the right--neatly. And each letter is the same font (with serifs).

Each letter in the "W.H enry Boulton Penn" seems to be doing the two-step with the letter next to it (the "U" oriented to 11 o'clock, the "T" oriented to 2 o'clock). It's like they're trying to keep their balance on bumpy ground. 

Again, I did not suggest the stamping indicated that the rifle was a "fake": Tony brought that up. Who would fake William Henry of Boulton?!?!

I simply pointed out the odd stamping and asked whether others have seen anything like it.

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 Shreckmeister

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2014, 02:58:38 PM »
Scott, No you didn't say it was a fake and I wasn't suggesting that you did.  Sorry if it appeared that way. 
 Of course, I would like to think that it is original, but would rather know whatever the truth is. 
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.

tonyw

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #34 on: June 04, 2014, 05:09:10 PM »
I think one notable observation we can take from this is the confirmation that they (the Henry's) did use individual dies for letters in barrel nomenclature.  With more than one man in a shop, one can understand how the lettering might go on in different ways and with different results at the hands of differently experienced workmen or apprentices.  The method though does have some consistency.

Offline spgordon

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #35 on: June 04, 2014, 06:18:03 PM »
Many folks have contacted me off-list, sending other images of Henry barrels and (even more) locks--all of which have perfectly aligned stamps/signatures. They are not comfortable having these posted online and do not want to weigh in. But it is clear that, whether these other stamps were produced by individual dies or by a stamp of the full name itself, they are nicely aligned.

So: this wobbly stamp is an ANOMALY. Perhaps not unique, but an ANOMALY. Not a "fake," but an ANOMALY. That's all I'm saying--and, as such, it deserves explanation. Maybe it's more interesting as an anomaly, maybe it makes some folks suspicious, whatever. But it is not satisfactory to imply that this is the way all stamps from individual dies would have turned out, since this is manifestly not the case. One can certainly "understand how the lettering might go on in different ways and with different results"--but what we know in practice (I think) is that for the Henrys as for other gunsmiths there are precious few stamps as wobbly as this.

I have no idea what would have produced such a wobbly barrel signature: anybody trying to fake it would have done a much better job. On the other hand, I would think any careful craftsman would be more careful than this (since it wasn't difficult to align the letters). Did J. J. Henry "hide" the stamp on the mis-stamped barrel that Rob owns because the stamping wasn't up to standards? Who knows?
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

tonyw

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #36 on: June 05, 2014, 02:50:09 PM »
I have, through further examination, been able to determine that the Henry that I purchased here in England is undoubtedly a percussion conversion.  The barrel is clearly 1 1/2" shorter than it should be to fit the stock and the fire hole has a plug of over 1/2" in diameter.  Although this settles the originality of the gun, it doesn't settle the wonky lettering on the barrel flat.  But then again, maybe a prankster had his way with those as well.  But no matter.....for myself I've figured it all out and better for it. 

Offline spgordon

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #37 on: June 05, 2014, 07:14:25 PM »
I have, through further examination, been able to determine that the Henry that I purchased here in England is undoubtedly a percussion conversion.  The barrel is clearly 1 1/2" shorter than it should be to fit the stock and the fire hole has a plug of over 1/2" in diameter. 

Interesting. Tony, maybe I should be able to tell from what you wrote--so pardon my confusion--but do you mean that the rifle was originally percussion and converted to flint or that it was originally flint, converted to percussion, and now converted back to flint?

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

tonyw

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #38 on: June 06, 2014, 04:20:40 PM »
In taking this a bit further for myself, I disassembled the gun completely.  Firstly I found that the barrel was being held in place by secondary pins, not the flat brads that usually run thru the keepers under the barrel.  The location of the keepers themselves and the entire barrel was shifted rearward so that the keepers now no longer lined up with the original brad slots. This indicates that someone had shortened the barrel.  Someone put pins thru the stock to catch the keepers in their new location.  The brads no longer did anything.  This said to me that the barrel had been shortened to make the conversion from original percussion to flint easier at the touch hole.

The stock fell short of the barrel end by 1", which was wrong and the frissen didn't close right on the powder pan.  This all brought me to the conclusion that the gun was originally percussion, probably by the Henry's, but it had been converted from percussion to flintlock for the purpose of deception.  The silver work then kicked in as being later than flintlock period, usually.  I think the barrel and stock originally went together and that the lock plate was original to the gun but the conversion to flintlock wasn't correct.......so I've returned it to the former owner with glee. 

Offline spgordon

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #39 on: June 06, 2014, 05:59:22 PM »
The book Henrys of Boulton states that the first mention in Boulton business records of percussion systems occurs in 1829. I can't vouch for the accuracy of that date, but if it is accurate then an original percussion rifle made at Boulton wouldn't have originally included a barrel stamped "W.Henry Boulton Penn" since William Henry III left the Boulton operations in 1822.

So definitely a lot fishy about that particular rifle.
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 JTR

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #40 on: June 06, 2014, 06:13:20 PM »
Good move on returning that rifle Tony..
John
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Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #41 on: June 06, 2014, 06:31:05 PM »
Well now that the rifle has been returned would anyone else care to comment about the
crispness of the incised carving.  Crispest I have seen on a rifle of that period.
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: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #42 on: June 06, 2014, 08:31:46 PM »
Good move on the return, the carving looks a bit peculiar.
Buck

Offline spgordon

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #43 on: June 06, 2014, 10:32:45 PM »
Why didn't anybody say this when the rifle hadn't yet been returned?!?!

Good move on the return, the carving looks a bit peculiar.
Buck

Well now that the rifle has been returned would anyone else care to comment about the
crispness of the incised carving.  Crispest I have seen on a rifle of that period.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 10:33:13 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 Shreckmeister

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #44 on: June 06, 2014, 11:34:48 PM »
Cause I don't like to insult a man's rifle.  Particularly looking down the barrel. ;D
What do you think about the carving?
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: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #45 on: June 07, 2014, 12:31:17 AM »
Hadn't paid much attention over the past few days. Glad it turned out ok.
Buck
« Last Edit: June 07, 2014, 12:47:27 AM by Buck »

Offline JTR

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #46 on: June 07, 2014, 01:30:08 AM »
I don't know anything about W Henry at Boulton to tell the truth.
I thought the carving and inlays were after the fact, and that it was a poor conversion/reconversion to flint on an original percussion plate. But not knowing what they actually produced at that factory, my opinion could just as easily been wrong.
Actually it wouldn't surprise me if the gun is nothing more than a 20th century collection of various parts with phony barrel markings.

John
John Robbins

tonyw

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #47 on: June 07, 2014, 10:14:33 AM »
as a final note on this saga, I concur with Scott and thank him for his honest thoughts.  If noone is willing to express an opinion on what they think is something spurious, then the blog is useless.  That was the reason for listing the gun here......to get unbiased and honest input into the gun, not to hear only from a cheerleading squad.  Because of Scott's questioning certain issues that he saw with the gun, it inspired me to look deeper and with clearer eyes which in turn brought me to a correct conclusion about the item.  Have the power of your convictions, people, and thanks to all who did input.  T

Offline blienemann

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #48 on: June 07, 2014, 08:50:18 PM »
Hi Tony, Scott and all.

Tony - the contrast between your first post and your last is considerable.  You first posted as a relatively new member, from across the pond, stating that you own a W Henry Boulton Penn rifle, unconverted flintlock, all in excellent condition, and wanted to learn more about existing examples.  I think this group welcomes new members, and is especially happy to see our interests around the world.  Scott and I (and others) have studied the Henrys and other makers in the area, and were waiting to see pics.  You can see from the # of views that this was a popular topic.

When pics were posted, this was something very different from what you described, from my experience.  There was a bit of debate on barrel signature, and it seemed that you were trying to justify it as possibly authentic.  It's hard to read intent or feeling in written words, but I had impression that you owned this rifle and were defending it, wanted it to be the real deal.

Your most recent post chides folks for holding back, and perhaps the blog is useless.  IF you had begun this topic by saying that you have, or are looking at a rifle, and would like our input on all aspects of the piece, I think you would have had very different, and helpful responses.  Some online, some off - if you would post your email.  "Hidden" didn't allow me, and perhaps others to respond directly.

Those of us who have been at this for a while are happy to offer input when asked, clearly asked, and if not interfering with a sale.  And probably off site, from one person to another.  Any group, including this one, struggles from time with what is appropriate.  I've been concerned recently when a rifle was offered for sale - not for review, and folks chimed in with comments and criticism that might interfere with that sale.  In this case, you concluded by feeling you received too little info.

You have an interesting rifle, and are becoming a careful student of the old guns.  Hope you continue to post.  Please be as clear as possible up front, on what you are offering, and what you are asking for, if anything.  Welcome aboard.

Bob Lienemann


Offline mr. no gold

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Re: William Henry longrifle
« Reply #49 on: June 07, 2014, 09:22:09 PM »
Bob, you put it very well indeed, probably nicer that was deserved. When I saw the photos, I bowed out of the conversation as it isn't polite in my view to run down someone else's finds. The fellow was smart at least to take the advice he received here, but he could use some manners, I think. An old saying went something like: "Buy them boooks and they eat the covers." Hope it doesn't apply here.
Dick