Author Topic: Early American Life magazine  (Read 18995 times)

Offline T.C.Albert

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Early American Life magazine
« on: February 23, 2009, 07:49:02 PM »
I dont know how many take this magazine, but new issue out this month has a good article with lots of great color photos about long rifles...it was written by the president of the KRA and leads off with some fine photos
of the "Griffin" embellished Ortner rifle....thought it may be of interest.
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Michael

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2009, 03:12:49 PM »
I read the article. I have some questions about his facts and opinions, would like to see his supporting documentation.

Michael

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2009, 03:42:20 PM »
Hmmm.  Fact?  Opinion?  Sounds juicy.  Anyone want to scan and email me a copy?  (rubs hands together...)   ;)
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Offline WElliott

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2009, 12:07:39 AM »
A collector friend emailed me about the article several days ago and so I went out and bought a copy of the current issue of Early American Life magazine.  Kafka's article, "The Romance of the Kentucky Rifle", is intended for a general readership interested in early American life but not well acquainted with American longrifles.  All in all, this is an entertaining and well written article by an eminent collector and scholar. 

However, while I greatly respect Lorentz Kafka, who often posits interesting and sometimes profound theories, his article is sometimes so focused on Pennsylvania as to be almost humorous.  For example, he writes: "Kentucky rifles can be classed by profile or architecture into two major designs loosely based on their geographic origin- Lancaster County versus Berks and Bucks Counties."  That would probably surprise the 18th and early 19th gunsmiths working in Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, etc.  And it will probably surprise some collectors today. How should we classify a Salisbury, North Carolina, a Southwest Virginia, or an East Tennessee longrifle?  Lancaster or Berks and Bucks County?

One of the wonderful rifles illustrated in the article was described as "the finest example of a Western long rifle inspired by the Kentucky was crafted by Wiley Higgins."  I respectfully suggest several problems with that statement:  Wiley Higgins (if he in fact made the rifle illustrated, which is a possibility but not a certainty) worked and lived in Georgia.  As a native Georgian, I have never thought of the Peach State as a western state, or the products of its finest craftsmen as western.   As a collector particularly interested in Wiley Higgins' work, I have never thought of him as a maker of western long rifles.  Furthermore, what does it mean to say that a fine rifle made outside of Pennsylvania was "inspired by the Kentucky."  Are longrifles made outside of Pennsylvania simply "inspired" by the real thing, i.e., those made in Pennsylvania?  Food for thought, I guess  . . . .


Wayne Elliott

Offline Tommy Bruce

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2009, 02:23:36 AM »
Thanks for the info.  I used to subscribe a while back.  Maybe the bookstore will have a copy.  Sounds like a good article.

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2009, 05:52:30 AM »
By and large, early American made guns seemingly are going to follow one of two patterns; they will look like the early French Tulle trade guns (Roman nose profile, Bucks, Northampton, etc.) which the French supplied to the Indians and to the settlers, or they will look like the English/Germanic guns which mostly have straight architecture and are somewhat musket like (Lancaster School) and perhaps preferred by the white settlers.
Why a particular school or region favored a specific pattern is a matter of great interest but is still mostly conjecture.
Some feel that the Indians played a major role in at least part of this process in that they like the long barrels and curvilinear stocks of the French fowlers. As it stands at present, we may never know.
The South was peopled by both English and Germans and the style of rifle was mostly straight stocked, but there are exceptions. No truly early guns have been found that could help us make some good hypotheses on when and what early Southern guns looked like, or why. My take is that the makers down there followed the English style for the most part. 
Some random thoughts.
Dick

Offline WElliott

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2009, 06:00:48 PM »
Good point.  I may well have misunderstood Lorentz's point about "two schools".  In that sense, Southern rifles follow both traditions.
Wayne Elliott

Offline Jim Chambers

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2009, 04:09:52 AM »
While some of the statements made in the article don't quite reflect our current understanding of things, I applaud  Mr. Kafka for publishing the article in that magazine.  For years I have been appalled at seeing pictured in the magazine great, historic eighteenth century homes  that have been carefully restored to be period correct, yet hanging over the fireplace is a nineteenth century nondescript shotgun.  I sincerely hope the article will open the eyes and minds of some of those home owners to the fact that great flintlock rifles were an important part of life in the period.  I wish I had known ahead of time that the article was going to be published.  I would have gladly inserted an ad  letting those people know how they could obtain a period correct rifle.

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2009, 05:31:06 PM »
Years ago I found a nice North Carolina rifle, full stock with a simple patchbox, not knowing long rifles other than seeing them in movies I loved the lines of it which were very Roman Nose , great curve to it. Years later after study of originals , I found the now known rifle, called the "Gamecock ". The rifle has a great curve to it, not straight. The first day I had it I connected it to the Heard rifle, from design elements. I have seen a lot of Southern rifles with great curved stocks. On the other hand I have seen many PA Rifles with straight line stocks. Most Articles in EAL are intended as stated general info, as it would take years to do a full scale article, probably a book. The other thought is, there are a lot of people who find- inherit long rifles that might not care for them and see these articles and might realize that they are History, research people like MR. Kafta to sell them. Lets hope this is the case. Change your socks everyday, The Great Pinyone!

Offline RifleResearcher

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2009, 10:58:11 AM »
I personally found the content of the article more than a little lacking in historical authenticity.  Mr. Kafka expresses his conjecture and speculation about symbolism and hidden meanings in the art work as if it were fact, without alerting the reader that they are purely of his own concoction.  In addition there are numerous other strange comments which seem to stem from sloppy research or wishful thinking. 

For example, the picture of the Beck rifle with the inscription "Christian Corgey" Kafka speculates may be a pun "Christian English Dog".  Near as I can tell, the word "Corgi" is Welsh, and means "dwarf dog", not "English dog".

Perhaps a German speaker here could clarify a few other things I suspect may not be quite correct.  He identifies the name "Kuntz" as meaning "art".  I checked some surname sites that identify K U N S T, not K U N T Z as having that meaning.  Kuntz is related to Conrad, and meaning something akin to "brave council".  He likewise identifies the man's head on the trigger guard finial of the Kuntz rifle as being a self portrait of Kuntz.  Exactly how, in the absence of to my knowledge, of any portrait of Kuntz, and no name or initials engraved with it, do we determine it is a portrait of the gunsmith?  Not to mention the "Christian fish" he sees emerging from the alleged Kuntz's mind?

Likewise he recounts the name "Schreyer" as meaning "scissors" "to cut the dross from God's Word" or to "reveal religious belief."  Again, those with that surname today appear to believe their name means something akin to "town crier".  All I could find is that "Schere", akin to the English "shears",  is German for scissors.  And the Schreyer patchbox being a "locust about to devour a stag"?  Someone want to explain that to me?  Do they have exceptionally big locusts in that part of Pennsylvania?  The stag represents St. Hubert, or the crucifixion, or the Apocalypse? How about the remote and clearly unrealistic possibility it represents what the owner intended to kill with it?

He seems to mix and match Catholic, Protestant, Moravian and Pagan beliefs together to make an explanation de jour for each and every decorative element present.  On several occasions I have read some of his interpretations of the decoration on Moravian made rifles to the former curator of the Moravian Historical Society.  To date his reaction has only been laughter and the words, "You must be kidding me."

Exactly what document did he consult to determine that the Oerter rifle taken back to England was left smooth bored because Oerter left the choice of smooth or rifled, “up to God”?  What prevents this from having been the customer's choice, and not the gunsmith's?   

Since no rifles survive by Wolfgang Hage that are signed or dated, exactly what period documents could he have possibly consulted to determine that Wolfgang abandoned engraving them after his 1751 gunpowder accident?

Overall, it makes one wonder when the poor apprentice gunsmiths had time to learn the art of gunsmithing when 110 percent of their time appears to have been spent learning the symbols of the mystery religions of the ancient world as well as those of classical mythology and the tenets and history of every one of the various Christian and pagan sects and their symbols.  A tall order just to produce a rifle.  Or is it more reasonable to think that most of this hidden symbolism stuff is bunk, and gunsmiths actually apprenticed to learn gunsmithing, and basic bookkeeping  and writing skills, so they could function in their communities as, believe it or not, gunsmiths, and not as the keepers and transmitters of esoteric knowledge for all the ages.

While I echo the applause of seeing some good rifles appear in a publication like EAL, I hope the readership won't assume we all sit around with books on numerology and other pseudosciences, exploring the hidden symbols on our rifles.  There is still so much hard documentation to be searched for on the history of the Kentucky rifle, it just seems a shame to me to waste time on what I personally believe is mostly undocumentable speculation, conjecture and opinion.  And opinions, as they say, "are just like your hind end.  Everyone has one, and most of them stink".  Possibly even at times, my own. ;D

 
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Offline James Rogers

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2009, 03:51:45 PM »
expresses his conjecture and speculation ..... as if it were fact, without alerting the reader that they are purely of his own concoction.  In addition there are numerous other strange comments which seem to stem from sloppy research or wishful thinking.   

I have not seen the article but the partial quote from the post above rings a bell on some other things I have read.
There seems to be a large facet of historians who defend this type of presentation of "facts" as acceptable in the realm of printed historical research. I am not one of them.  ;D

Mike R

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2009, 04:23:42 PM »
Well, I just got around to reading the article and must agree that the author seemed to be stretching his interpretation of symbolism on the rifles--he shows partial views of some fine rifles, I wish he had shown more complete views. However the article was entertaining and perhaps will inspire some readers not now "into" longrifles to look deeper at them--perhaps add a few more afficienados.  Maybe Eric K can supply some nicely aged examples for their mantles.  The Higgins rifle by the way was called a 'western rifle' apparently because it was made for the first governor of Arkansas--a western state on the frontier at the time. He does show its full view anyway. I don't think it is on display anymore--at least the last time I visited the nice museum at the Arkansas Territorial restoration all of their Arkansas longrifles were in storage to make room for a quilt exhibit!  I expressed my disappointment.  They do have a very nice Bowie knife exhibit there, however, including a newly discovered knife by the semi-legendary James Black that I put them onto [they already had the two most famous Black knives].  Many of the Arkansas made rifles can be found in a book on early Arkansas handworks--I have forgotten the exact title [memo to self: look it up on alibris]....

Offline Tom Currie

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2009, 08:01:28 PM »
A simliar explanation of symbolism by the same author regarding the Oerter attributed Lion and Lamb rifle is written in Shumways Longrifle  Articles book Vol 1. In the article the rifle is attributed to Albrecht as was the common belief then. I always thought the explanation in the article was a bit of a stretch but who was I to argue ? Could  Oerter have been that versed in christian symbolism is his mid 20s ? That much symbolisn seems like something to learn as an adult. I don't know much about Moravian life but would religous education continue as he was an apprentice and even later as he was running the shop ? Just thinking out loud here.   ???

Offline flintriflesmith

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2009, 08:07:50 PM »
.... There is still so much hard documentation to be searched for on the history of the Kentucky rifle, it just seems a shame to me to waste time on what I personally believe is mostly undocumentable speculation, conjecture and opinion. ...
 

Welcome to the forum! And amen ;D
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Online Stophel

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2009, 09:22:05 PM »
I personally found the content of the article more than a little lacking in historical authenticity.  Mr. Kafka expresses his conjecture and speculation about symbolism and hidden meanings in the art work as if it were fact, without alerting the reader that they are purely of his own concoction.  In addition there are numerous other strange comments which seem to stem from sloppy research or wishful thinking. 

For example, the picture of the Beck rifle with the inscription "Christian Corgey" Kafka speculates may be a pun "Christian English Dog".  Near as I can tell, the word "Corgi" is Welsh, and means "dwarf dog", not "English dog".

Perhaps a German speaker here could clarify a few other things I suspect may not be quite correct.  He identifies the name "Kuntz" as meaning "art".  I checked some surname sites that identify K U N S T, not K U N T Z as having that meaning.  Kuntz is related to Conrad, and meaning something akin to "brave council".  He likewise identifies the man's head on the trigger guard finial of the Kuntz rifle as being a self portrait of Kuntz.  Exactly how, in the absence of to my knowledge, of any portrait of Kuntz, and no name or initials engraved with it, do we determine it is a portrait of the gunsmith?  Not to mention the "Christian fish" he sees emerging from the alleged Kuntz's mind?

Likewise he recounts the name "Schreyer" as meaning "scissors" "to cut the dross from God's Word" or to "reveal religious belief."  Again, those with that surname today appear to believe their name means something akin to "town crier".  All I could find is that "Schere", akin to the English "shears",  is German for scissors.  And the Schreyer patchbox being a "locust about to devour a stag"?  Someone want to explain that to me?  Do they have exceptionally big locusts in that part of Pennsylvania?  The stag represents St. Hubert, or the crucifixion, or the Apocalypse? How about the remote and clearly unrealistic possibility it represents what the owner intended to kill with it?

He seems to mix and match Catholic, Protestant, Moravian and Pagan beliefs together to make an explanation de jour for each and every decorative element present.  On several occasions I have read some of his interpretations of the decoration on Moravian made rifles to the former curator of the Moravian Historical Society.  To date his reaction has only been laughter and the words, "You must be kidding me."

Exactly what document did he consult to determine that the Oerter rifle taken back to England was left smooth bored because Oerter left the choice of smooth or rifled, “up to God”?  What prevents this from having been the customer's choice, and not the gunsmith's?   

Since no rifles survive by Wolfgang Hage that are signed or dated, exactly what period documents could he have possibly consulted to determine that Wolfgang abandoned engraving them after his 1751 gunpowder accident?

Overall, it makes one wonder when the poor apprentice gunsmiths had time to learn the art of gunsmithing when 110 percent of their time appears to have been spent learning the symbols of the mystery religions of the ancient world as well as those of classical mythology and the tenets and history of every one of the various Christian and pagan sects and their symbols.  A tall order just to produce a rifle.  Or is it more reasonable to think that most of this hidden symbolism stuff is bunk, and gunsmiths actually apprenticed to learn gunsmithing, and basic bookkeeping  and writing skills, so they could function in their communities as, believe it or not, gunsmiths, and not as the keepers and transmitters of esoteric knowledge for all the ages.

While I echo the applause of seeing some good rifles appear in a publication like EAL, I hope the readership won't assume we all sit around with books on numerology and other pseudosciences, exploring the hidden symbols on our rifles.  There is still so much hard documentation to be searched for on the history of the Kentucky rifle, it just seems a shame to me to waste time on what I personally believe is mostly undocumentable speculation, conjecture and opinion.  And opinions, as they say, "are just like your hind end.  Everyone has one, and most of them stink".  Possibly even at times, my own. ;D

 

RifleResearcher, I don't know who you are, but I could not possibly agree more!  Bless your heart!
When a reenactor says "They didn't write everything down"   what that really means is: "I'm too lazy to look for documentation."

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2009, 11:01:52 PM »
Then as now, people used common symbols with deep or little intention depending on the person.  Some symbols, like the lion and the lamb, speak directly to Christian symbols for Christ.  The Moravians were ardent missionaries and very dedicated to their faith, but I suspect that any symbols they used would still remain in the Moravian tradition and not be obscure.  The lion and eagle were Czech/Bohemiam/Moravian symbols.



And the lamb is the symbol of the Moravian church.

St. Louis, Missouri

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2009, 11:16:53 PM »
Just to fill in some gaps here. Lorenz Kafka is researcher who looks for any connection between KY Rifle ornaments and religious/philosophical precepts that might exist. although some of his conclusions may seem far fetched to many of us, he nonetheless continues to study and propound new theses.
He is merely providing some ideas on the origins and meanings of symbols that we see frequently on rifles. Attack him if you will, but it was his article that was published (and not yours). At least he sees beyond the object itself and asks the 'why' of certain elements.
Dick/KRA

Offline RifleResearcher

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2009, 11:24:19 PM »
Stophel: "RifleResearcher, I don't know who you are, but I could not possibly agree more!  Bless your heart!"

You are just lucky I sent the short version of my rant, I actually get pissy and sarcastic in the long version. ;D

"There's a lotta things about me you don't know anything about...  Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand."
Pee-wee Herman, in Pee-wee's Big Adventure

The same goes for me... ???
RR

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Offline RifleResearcher

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2009, 11:59:19 PM »
Just to fill in some gaps here. Lorenz Kafka is researcher who looks for any connection between KY Rifle ornaments and religious/philosophical precepts that might exist. although some of his conclusions may seem far fetched to many of us, he nonetheless continues to study and propound new theses.
He is merely providing some ideas on the origins and meanings of symbols that we see frequently on rifles. Attack him if you will, but it was his article that was published (and not yours). At least he sees beyond the object itself and asks the 'why' of certain elements.
Dick/KRA

Dick,
I would respectfully disagree with your basic premise.  He is not merely providing some ideas on the origins of symbols we see frequently on rifles.  If he were providing ideas, or theories, he would be using phrases like, "This symbol might represent..."  or "The Griffin may symbolize...."  Almost exclusively he states his speculation in the form of a fact, ie: "States inlayed a crowned "Big Chief" or "King of Heaven" shown below, depicting..."
Perhaps you see no difference in the two, but I see a world of difference.  Kind of the difference between your doctor saying, "That spot might be cancerous, but we will have to test it."  or "You have cancer".  One is an idea that leaves room for further exploration, one is a definative statement of fact.

In addition, I am absolutely attacking what I believe are clear factual errors.  That is the way science works.  You float a theory, others test it.  I believe it was Einstein who said something like, "No one can prove me correct, but a single discovery can prove me wrong."  If I had written, "This man is a crack head.", yup, that would be me attacking him.  When I point out errors in his methodology and facts, that is just how big boys play the game.

As for him getting the article published, that is exactly to my point.  An article riddled with errors and speculation misrepresented as fact, should never have gotten published in the first place.  Seeing beyond the object itself and asking "why" is a noble cause, and one that I and many others aspire to.  But I would hope that when I do, it is with the time tested scientific method, and when I theorize, that I don't try to fool myself and others by embracing that just because I believe something to be true, it must be a fact. 

Dick, I have no quarrel with you.  If you are a friend of his, then I apologize if I have offended you personally with my words.  I have known him for over 20 years, and disagree the same with him today as the first time he ever ran his theories by me.  The difference is, then he discussed them as theories.  Today he clearly believes them to be facts.  If he has documentation to prove me wrong on anything I have said here, I will gladly eat crow.  It won't be the first time, and with enough barbecue sauce, you can choke it down.  But wild speculation, heck, even tame speculation, presented as fact, does not further the knowledge base.  A smarter man than me on this board ends his posts with this line:
"If you accept your thoughts as facts, then you will no longer be looking for new information, because you assume that you have all the answers."

I don't know if he is quoting someone else or himself, but I could not agree more with the concept.
RR 
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- Fyodor Dostoevsky

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2009, 12:34:49 AM »
RR-No quarrel on my part either. Think we better leave hard science out of this however. This is the softest of the soft sciences, originating in ethnology, history and anthro. Some stats are the best we can do and numbers don't define human behavior very well.
You appear to have done a considerable amount of research which I applaud you for. More is always best with most knowledge.
And as it happens, I do not know Lorenz, but we are both members of the KRA. His views on the iconography of the KY Rifle can be said to be somewhat controversial in the group. Personally, I don't subscribe to them either. Most of his ideas (and I know that is what they  are) cannot be supported in most cases. We are all just 'guessers' on most of this anyway. He should have a forum to expound his views, as we all should,
Since we are removed in time by some 200 years from the facts and what is the written word from that time can be erroneous, or apply to a specific incident and not be applied to the universe of facts. we can really only suppose what was going on.
The major research done today that I am aware of seems to be carried on by Wallace Gusler, Eric Kettenburg and Alan Gutchess with others doing what they can. The archives of the Moravians are being studied as never before and some interesting things are emerging, all supported by footnoting and bibliography.
I enjoy your commentaries on the history of the rifle and wish you well in your research.
Dick


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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2009, 12:52:57 AM »
It seems many are assuming that all of the lion-carved guns and others are Moravian!  I don't think this assumption can be flatly made.
When a reenactor says "They didn't write everything down"   what that really means is: "I'm too lazy to look for documentation."

Offline JTR

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2009, 01:09:34 AM »
RifleResearcher,
Welcome to the forum, but personally, I think you’ve chosen the wrong venue to deride Kafkas’ article.
It hasn’t been published on this forum and I doubt that many here have read it in the magazine, so a letter to the editor of the magazine would seem to be more appropriate.
If, as you state, you’ve been a friend of his for 20 years, it seems strange that you’d write here in your first post with such obvious ill intent toward the man and his opinion.
I don’t know Kafka personally, and have never talked to him. My only knowledge of him is through his KRA affiliation, however I have heard of some of his theories and/or speculations. While I think some of his ideas might be reaching or farfetched, I don’t rule them out completely as unworthy of discussion. Religion played a much more prominent role and influence in life 200 years ago than it generally does today, and I would guess that a lot of significance to objects and designs might well have been lost in the passage of time.
As apprentices, I’ve read that training gunsmiths were to be trained in the Art and Mystery of gunmaking. Might not the Mystery have been learning the religious significance of objects and designs.
To just throw theories or speculation aside as totally worthless, without proof of their worthlessness, seems as foolish as believing it completely, without proof of their truth.
Kafka wrote is opinions in the article, and signed his name.
So far, all you’ve done is criticize his writings, without benefit of divulging authorship.
John     
John Robbins

Offline RifleResearcher

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2009, 03:11:24 AM »
RifleResearcher,
Welcome to the forum, but personally, I think you’ve chosen the wrong venue to deride Kafkas’ article.
It hasn’t been published on this forum and I doubt that many here have read it in the magazine, so a letter to the editor of the magazine would seem to be more appropriate.
If, as you state, you’ve been a friend of his for 20 years, it seems strange that you’d write here in your first post with such obvious ill intent toward the man and his opinion.
I don’t know Kafka personally, and have never talked to him. My only knowledge of him is through his KRA affiliation, however I have heard of some of his theories and/or speculations. While I think some of his ideas might be reaching or farfetched, I don’t rule them out completely as unworthy of discussion. Religion played a much more prominent role and influence in life 200 years ago than it generally does today, and I would guess that a lot of significance to objects and designs might well have been lost in the passage of time.
As apprentices, I’ve read that training gunsmiths were to be trained in the Art and Mystery of gunmaking. Might not the Mystery have been learning the religious significance of objects and designs.
To just throw theories or speculation aside as totally worthless, without proof of their worthlessness, seems as foolish as believing it completely, without proof of their truth.
Kafka wrote is opinions in the article, and signed his name.
So far, all you’ve done is criticize his writings, without benefit of divulging authorship.
John      


John,
  I guess it is time to clarify myself, and my thoughts.  As I stated, I have known Lorentz for over twenty years, I have never considered him friend or enemy and have made no claim here to contrary.  I restored the States rifle he illustrates in his article, which was my first contact with him.  As for this not being an appropriate venue to discuss his article, have I not seen in this forum discussion of various articles and books, none of which were originally published here?  I don't remember anyone ever asking if everyone had read the article or book before discussion was considered appropriate.  If I have missed a FAQ page, please refer it to me.  

As for my "ill intent", as I have stated, I hope clearly, I am opposed to the man's writings on a historical/factual/scientific basis.  I don't care "who" he is personally.  If someone wants to keep their beiiefs private, no matter how strange or how true, I believe it is their absolute right to do so, unopposed.  But when they publish those ideas in a public magazine, then the gloves are off.  A letter to the editor is indeed on the way, as I understand, so are others from a variety of KRA members equally disturbed by his article, but this is a discussion list, or at least I was under the impression it was? Am I to understand we cannot discuss things that are controversial?  

As for religion playing a larger part in life then, Amen brother.  But colonial American religion is not what Kafka is talking about.  The "interpretation" of hidden symbols thrown together in a hodge podge is not a serious study or research.  Starting with the answer and then twisting facts to fit, is not research.  What he is doing versus pure research is the difference between Astronomy and Astrology, Chemistry and Alchemy, Physics and Tarot Card reading, Medicine and a Pixie Stix.  One is science, the other is not.  Being an expert in Physics might get you the Nobel prize, being an expert in tarot cards, a good job writing for the National Enquirer.  I personally do not see them as equal.   If you are going to interpret the symbols on a Moravian rifle, you better start with knowing if the rifle was even made by a Moravian.  Then to the Moravian archives.  You continue with study of the writings of the founders of the church.  You consult with leading scholars of Moravian thought and material culture.  Then, and only then, might you be qualified to expound on meaning of the symbol as it applies to the Moravian faith.   I will bet you dollars to donuts that Kafka did none of these things, or if he did, he went to teach them, not to learn from them.  Moravian beliefs and material culture are unique, not exactly like Catholic, not exactly like Protestant.  Not the modern church mind you, but the historic church.  I do know what folks who are knowledgeable on Moravian history and material culture think of his conclusions, I have asked them.  If you doubt me, I encourage you to do the same.

Marcello Truzzi is thought to have originated the phrase, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."  In other words, if I declare as a fact that the moon is made of green cheese, the burden falls on me to prove that assertion, not on you to disprove it.  Until I do, I think it only reasonable for everyone to assume I am wrong, based on the obvious illogical and non-scientific problems such a claim presents.  The fact there is a moon, and there is green cheese, in no ways makes my claim more likely to be true.  

Make no mistake, there a number of us who have indeed confronted Mr. Kafka on these claims personally, and I think you can see in the article what asking for documentation for his claims has done to temper his enthusiasm for his own beliefs.  Lorentz is a big boy. I can't imagine that he did not expect folks to discuss and debate what he published.  There is a time honored tradition both in the free press and in academia to do just what we are doing here.  I don't fully understand why that disturbs some.

I am, for the record, in no way declaring that symbols are not found on rifles.  I am not declaring that rifle makers and users did not have spirtitual beliefs, even spiritual beliefs outside the mainstream.  I am not declaring that some of these spiritual beliefs could not have manifested on the rifles themselves.  What I am declaring is that the study of these symbols, if and where they exist, and the study of these beliefs, if and where they exist, can in no way be given a pass when it comes to still needing to be done with the same careful research that we would expect in any other area of the arts or sciences.  And that for the sake of clarity and honesty, we hold those who speculate and conjecture on the topic to be clear and honest about calling their theories, "theories", and not misleading the public or serious students into believing their writings are anything more than their own opinion.  
If I state Wolfgang Haga had an accident, blowing himself and his shop up, this is not my opinion, I can cite you the newspaper article describing the event.  When I declare that he never again engraved a rifle because of that accident, I have crossed a line from interpreting the facts to personal fantasy.  The newspaper makes no mention of this "fact".  No diary of Haga survives detailing this "fact".  As I pointed out earlier, since there are no surviving signed or dated Haga rifles currently known, there can only be one source for this information, Mr. Kafka's vivid imagination.  Yet nowhere in that article does he acknowledge that he has made this bit of information up from whole cloth.  He states it as if it were fact!  This is not the sole incident of this kind of deceptive behavior in the article.   If someone would like to prove me wrong, please, please, please, do so!  If Mr. Kafka had any point in EAL given a disclaimer or acknowledged in any way that his beliefs and interpretation were his own alone, and not widely accepted or recognized, and were at best controversial, I would not have darkend your doorstep and bothered to post anything here at all.  But he did not, and as a student of the longrifle, a "Rifle Researcher" ;D, I felt compelled to post an opposing opinion.  

Again, if anything I have stated about Mr. Kafka's interpretations are untrue, please feel free to point them out.  If it is merely my snotty tone that offends, I am sorry, it is the only one I have.  The keyboard and screen rob you of all of my cute winks and grins.  In person I am big squishy pile of love and happiness, really.


Alan Gutchess
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 09:47:09 PM by RifleResearcher »
"Sarcasm: The last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2009, 04:27:57 AM »
Well, hello Alan-It is very nice to find you here on the ALR Forum. Glad that you are on board as you have much to teach us all. For the bretheren, Alan Gutchess is the son of a fine rifle builder Gerry Gutchess who sadly is no longer with us, (Alan, I considered your Dad to be a good friend and I miss him, also). In my opinion, Alan is one of the finest builder/restorer/ scholars of the long rifle in the country today. Overall he is pretty reticent about his abilities,
but make no mistake as to his being a serious contender. 
Alan, we met a time or two at the home of Jack Brooks; aka Brooks Boarding House. I was coming as you were leaving. Have enjoyed your contributions to the Early American History
Programs on the History Channel and hope that there are more to come.
Again, welcome and do not be a stranger here. You are among kindred spirits.
Dick Gadler

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Early American Life magazine
« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2009, 06:08:50 AM »
I'm not sure why some who have spent much time researching longrifles present educated guesses and speculations as though they are facts.  I won't speculate on their motives, but in fact they diminish their own positions by doing so.  Moreover, many new students are led astray because they assume that things stated as facts, are well supported.  This leads to all kinds of mythology, such as the common belief that "frontier guns had iron furniture, cause brass is too shiny and can get you kilt."  Or " the longrifle developed from the Germanic short barreled jaeger and the English fowler (as if there were no long barreled Germanic fowlers, among many other reasons why that view is unsupportable).

The idea that hypotheses should be stated as hypotheses is not new, linited to science, or foreign to the study of longrifles.  Any reading of Kindig or Shumway will reveal a lot of careful language.
St. Louis, Missouri