Author Topic: Who was the maker ?  (Read 16080 times)

Offline Molly

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Who was the maker ?
« on: November 09, 2015, 05:32:57 AM »
I always appreciate owners who are in possession of unique, dare I say RARE works but who are willing and actually enjoy others not only seeing them but taking photos of them for the world to see.  Yesterday, I had such an encounter and would like to share some very poor photos of a very extraordinary longrifle.  Some folks on the forum should know the maker and may have actually seen this rifle.  But I'm guessing that most have not seen it.  If you absolutely KNOW, log a response but no mention of the makers name yet please.  If you would like to take a guess log your guess as well.  I'll let the subject run a few days and post "the rest of the story" this week.  What a rifle!  Sorry the pictures are so bad but they were taken with a phone cam and through the glare of a class case.  There is a mirror behind and below the actual rifle in an attempt to show some detail of the opposite side.  Two people who would call themselves experts made the following claims.
1.  That the rifle is probably unfired.
2.  That it is one of a matched pair.
3.  That it may very well be the most expensive antique longrifle on the planet.

Photos in process.

The specific rifle is the lower one just above the horns.  Don't confuse yourself in the one photo which shows the patch box with the eagle.  The rifle in question is BELOW that one and the effort is to see the opposite side in the mirror.  Yeah, I know it will be hard for some with optical rectitus but it was the only way I could get it.











« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 05:49:43 AM by Molly »

Offline tallbear

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2015, 06:31:20 AM »
I visited with it last Christmas  at Williamsburg ;) !!

Mitch Yates

Offline flinchrocket

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2015, 08:03:53 AM »
That's what I was wanting to guess,however this gun doesn't have the trigger adjustment on the front
trigger and that made me wonder.

Offline Molly

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2015, 05:44:53 PM »
Interesting...130 views and two comments.  I thought it would have generated more.  Maybe the rifle is so well know the question is insignificant.  Maybe the photos are so poor it's difficult to see.  Maybe the experts seek greater challenges. Or maybe????

Offline tallbear

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2015, 06:31:30 PM »
Molly

Not sure what you're looking for.I can post a picture of the signature plate if you wish, but you stated you wished the maker be unnamed for a bit.

I do not believe that the rifle is unfired.There is sufficient wear and handling marks to tell me the the rifle was used.Even the barrel keys have been removed enough to wallow out the holes which tells me the rifle was used.

Whether it's the most valuable I do not know ,while certainly one of the finest American made rifles in existence whether it's the most valuable is above my pay grade ;) !!

Mitch Yates

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2015, 06:44:35 PM »
Even though it is an extremely fine example, it has to have a great provenance to make IT the most
valuable.  Anxious to hear the story.  I don't ever recall seeing this rifle before.
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 Molly

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2015, 07:10:07 PM »
tallbear:  My intent here is just for a little fun.  I presume you and I both know the maker so let's keep that under wraps for a while and see what others think so no, please no photo of the signature at this time.  As to unfired and provenance, all I know is what "they" said.  But I'll readily agree "they" may be incorrect or just don't really know. Also don't know how long it has been in the hands of the current owners but if it has been many years then there would be a potential connection to the acquisition AND one of the leading "experts" in the field of the long rifle.

Shreckmeister:  I look forward to giving the rest of the story.  Please stand by...

Offline mbriggs

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2015, 07:12:15 PM »
Are these rifles in a museum?  Where?  I do recognize the Salem Vogler style rifle in the photos.

Michael
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Offline WadePatton

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2015, 07:27:28 PM »
Well since a view requires a comment, here are mine.

First of all, "who would call themselves experts" doesn't make them such.  It's when others in the field regard them as experts that validates expertise.  No offense meant to whomever these two folks are.  They may be the foremost authorities, my comment is simply on the phrase as indicated.

I'm here to learn and I learn from all sources.  Also, experts in any field tend to disagree on some finer points of many things-nearly always.

I don't know much about this school of rifle or any of the revered makers of such.  My studies haven't expanded that far beyond general overviews and simple appreciation of technique and workmanship.  As such un-learned person, I have no comments on this rifle and the guessing games are no fun.  
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 01:41:41 AM by WadePatton »
Hold to the Wind

Offline tallbear

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2015, 07:34:15 PM »
The rifle is on display at Williamsburg.It was also the subject of a super in depth article with detailed photographs in Journal of Historical Armsmaking Technology Vol. 5 by Wallace Gusler.

Mitch Yates

Offline bama

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2015, 11:00:04 PM »
This rifle is in the museum at Col. Williamsburg ande was made by John Sheetz of Staunton Va. Per Vol. 5 JHAT. It is a very fine example of the quality of the Sheetz family of gunsmiths.

I have visited the museum and marveled at this rifle and based a rifle that I built on it. It is my favorite build of all that I have done. I am going to do another build based somewhat on this rifle and a Lauck after the first of the year.

Darrin McDonal and I had the pleasure of building a bench copy of the John Jacob Sheetz "Battle of New Orleans rifle" for the 2013 CLA auction. I don't know if this was the same builder of the museum rifle but there are many similarities between the two rifles. There is another rifle that is very similar to the "Battle of New Orleans rifle" that is signed Matin Sheetz. All of these rifles are quality rifles and they demonstate that the Sheetz family were very talented. ;D
Jim Parker

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Offline Don Stith

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2015, 11:28:36 PM »
Is this the one that was found in England a few years ago and bought for the museum?
 If so, I saw it about 20 years ago. I was amazed that the inlays were flush with the wood, showing no shrinkage from age. My second guess is that Wallace is the maker.
 That should stir up a reaction of some kind

Offline Molly

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2015, 11:36:59 PM »
Well, so much for that!

I don't know of any rifle I have seem (original) that is so impressive.  I think tallbear noted in a PM that there was an extensive article on it that maybe hit the forum some time ago and that maybe Wallace Gusler was responsible for the content.  I personally question the claims of "unfired" as well but given that it is owned by and acquired by the Col Williamsburg Foundation I would expect they went over it pretty well and maybe Mr. Gusler was a participant to the acquisition process.  If not unfired, it has certainly been "lightly" used and exceptionally well cared for.  According to one at the museum Saturday, the rifle was made for an Englishman nobleman along with another exactly like it other than a small "crest" as a thumb piece.  The claims also were that original documentations exist of the order or purchase between Sheets and the original buyer.

bama:  I would love to see a photo of your build noted in your reply if you have one and would post it I would appreciate it.  I must confess to having a flash of a thought of trying to get a copy of this one done by someone....but I guess the task might be too difficult for a mere mortal :D

If anyone is in the area it should be on your must see list.  They have a good many others but the focus seems to be generally on military style firearms of the revolutionary period.  I saw a couple of carbines which were called "Parks Rifles" if I recall correctly.  Breech loaders, single shot and the short barrels unscrewed from the breech.  One loaded the charge, then screwed that barrel back on.  So can someone tell me if they loaded the thing in the breech OR in the barrel?  At first I concluded they loaded it in the barrel and then screwed it back together but after thought is they loaded the breech and then screwed the barrel back on.

Offline tallbear

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2015, 12:00:21 AM »
Just to add to the discussion here are some pics of the rifle in question.First the signature plate and finally a couple of close ups of the inlays which are certainly not flush !!!

Mitch








Offline flinchrocket

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2015, 12:44:07 AM »
Is this the same John Sheets ( Sheetz) that made his set triggers with a horizontal screw in front of the
front trigger?

Offline Molly

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2015, 02:39:49 AM »
From the display.




First time I have seen the spelling with one "e". 

Offline homerifle

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2015, 04:20:05 AM »
J. Sheetz Has always been one of my favorite builders.

Offline Buck

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2015, 05:43:01 AM »
Molly,
It's a great gun, but not THE BEST. Theres too many around to call a single rifle the best.
Just my opinion.
Buck   

Offline Avlrc

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2015, 05:52:22 AM »
Isn't most of John Sheets rifles signed J Sheets?  I know I owned one made by his son Henry signed H Sheets. Don't see the horizontal trigger adjustment like found on most of John's rifles. All of the Sheetz from here in Hampshire County signed their rifles with "Sheetz" . When did Williamsburg get this rifle? I was there not  to long ago and they did not have it then.  The Sheets of Staunton Virginia ( Augusta County)  are not related to the Sheetz of Jefferson & Hampshire County WV. Here is a link to Frederick Sheetz. Some similarities, but think it is a John Sheets rifle.( I think both of these dudes worked in the Lauck shop) Maybe made back before John Sheets  figured out how  he was gonna spell his name. ( took some of em a lil while )

http://hampshirecountylongrifles.blogspot.com/search?q=frederick+sheetz

Here is some of John Sheets court cases.

http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=015-1819-075 " real interesting"

« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 06:11:18 AM by Avlrc »

Offline Avlrc

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2015, 02:44:35 PM »
Here is another good one, where Gunsmith John Sheets borrowed  money and used guns for some of the payments.

http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=015-1819-077

Looks like he was getting about 32.00 for his rifles in trade/payment ( 1815). & he was using Sheetz spelling then.  A lil hard to read. Once it appears that the lender  thought the rifle was worth only 30.00. Maybe someone on here can read better than I can figure it out.  ;D
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 03:00:31 PM by Avlrc »

Offline Molly

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2015, 04:00:11 PM »
Avric:  If you note the photos posted by tallbear you will see the signature of "J Shetz".

Also, the text posted by Colonial Williamsburg indicates that the rifle was acquired in 1980 and they numbered it "210".  That is shown on the 4th line down at the end.

As to being the best (most valuable) those are not my claims but those of two gunmakers as well as another in the foundation.  "Best" is going to come down to individual judgment based on many things.  Provenance is certainly one and to have original documentation of the order by the original owner and the invoice by the builder to him is pretty good stuff. (But that is NOT displayed with the rifle.) Yet there are no claims about the experience of the rifle. And while it was owned by a "nobleman" apparently he was just your run of the mill English aristocrat.

I understand that one may have missed this display during a visit.  It was NOT with the larger display of firearms on the ground floor.  I came upon it totally by accident when walking through the furniture section.  It was at the top of the stairs up one floor from the firearms display.  I think that reflects the Foundations view that it is more representative of "folk art" than a firearm.  I think if you read the text displayed you can see that view.

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2015, 04:52:16 PM »
Great looking rifle.  Golden Age rifles are not my thing; I prefer earlier pre-Revolutionary War rifles.  As far as unfiired, it certainly has been extensively handled and cleaned and possibly rubbed down with finish. It shows as much wear as my first flintlock I built in 1978. 

It might be the most valuable rifle (MVR) on the planet to those who specialize in early Southern Golden Age rifles, but others with a passion for Virginia rifles might favor an early Haymaker Or the Woodsrunner by some simply because of the period.  I am not sure that Sheetz rifles are as valued in general as a JP Beck, an Armstrong, a Sell, simply because the work of those makers has been well known and published and sought after for over 70 years.  Similarly a rifle like the Griffon Christians Spring rifle has been heralded as the MVR on the planet before and has its adherents, as do the Musicians Rifle (Fessler), RCA #42, favored both by collectors of early Pennsylvania rifles and early Southern rifles, and your top shelf Golden Age Armstrong rifles.

Beauty and collectibility are in the eye of the beholder, and this one sure is pleasing to the eye!  I'd love to have that article and some great color photos.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #22 on: November 10, 2015, 05:27:08 PM »
   I'd hate to believe that the most valuable American longrifle would be one made for an Englishman....
I'd like to see this purchase order.  Unless it had a very detailed description or rifle number, how could
you tell the order was for this rifle?
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 bama

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #23 on: November 10, 2015, 07:17:59 PM »
Molly here are a few pictures of the rifle I built based on the Sheetz rifle. I did not try to copy this rifle I just used some of the carving designs and some of the wire inlay designs. The patch box design I used is from the remants of an original box that I have. At the time I built this rifle I thought my box was a virginia box but I now believe that it was made by Peter White when he worked in Maryland. I hope you enjoy the pictures.









Jim Parker

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Offline Avlrc

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Re: Who was the maker ?
« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2015, 07:55:37 PM »
Avric:  If you note the photos posted by tallbear you will see the signature of "J Shetz".

Also, the text posted by Colonial Williamsburg indicates that the rifle was acquired in 1980 and they numbered it "210".  That is shown on the 4th line down at the end.

As to being the best (most valuable) those are not my claims but those of two gunmakers as well as another in the foundation.  "Best" is going to come down to individual judgment based on many things.  Provenance is certainly one and to have original documentation of the order by the original owner and the invoice by the builder to him is pretty good stuff. (But that is NOT displayed with the rifle.) Yet there are no claims about the experience of the rifle. And while it was owned by a "nobleman" apparently he was just your run of the mill English aristocrat.

I understand that one may have missed this display during a visit.  It was NOT with the larger display of firearms on the ground floor.  I came upon it totally by accident when walking through the furniture section.  It was at the top of the stairs up one floor from the firearms display.  I think that reflects the Foundations view that it is more representative of "folk art" than a firearm.  I think if you read the text displayed you can see that view.

Yeah, like I said, must of been before he started to spell it Sheets. In those court documents, he was using Sheetz. In a ad he placed in 1796 Virginia Gazette, he used Shitz. Maybe the print setter was trying to be funny. In the 1800s they were   @ least 30 gunsmiths with the last name of Sheetz/s or other various spellings. And about half a dozen first name started with a J.