Author Topic: RCA 19  (Read 26626 times)

Offline Bill Ebner

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RCA 19
« on: September 23, 2016, 04:48:46 PM »
 I just read on another Forum, that current research shows that RCA 19 was made by Andreas Albrecht in 1750 for a Delaware. Is there any published research, or information available that would explain this? I think this is really fascinating.

 Thanks,

Bill Ebner

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2016, 11:37:59 PM »
Where did you read this?  I'd like to see it.  

Anyway:  recently (within the past few years, I believe, but don't quote me on it) another rifle which is fairly similar to #19, although shorter with some differences, popped up.  However the stock work is very similar, and the barrel has the very faint remnants of a signature - or marks which look like they *might* have been part of a signature - which the owner claims are "Albrecht A Bethlm"or something like that, basically the same marking or similar to what is present upon the signed Albrecht lock plate.  It is VERY interpretational.  Some agree, some do not.  The pair were displayed a few years back at the Baltimore show however they were in a glass case and I do not believe (again, AFAIK), anyone else has been permitted to handle or examine them other than the owners and a couple of other individuals involved in the display and publication.  They were selling a small publication putting forward this theory that the short rifle (the more recently found piece) was Albrecht's personal rifle, and that #19 was the rifle referred to in the Moravian records (see Lienemann's work) that Albrecht built in @1750ish for the chief of the Shawanos (sp?).  The symbolism present upon the #19 engravings was allegedly very personally important to the chief.

The entire 'package,' i.e. the two rifles, the purported signature and the publication laying out the entire theory has been hotly debated in some circles.  So currently, depending upon to whom you speak, #19 is either the "chief's rifle" built by Albrecht, or it's not.  I'm not sure how much of my own opinion I should interject and it's probably best if those who wish to compare should try to figure out how to arrange a viewing, if they are still being displayed at any upcoming shows, or otherwise perhaps some copies of the publication are still available.

I'm very surprised that good, detailed large resolution photos of the newer (in terms of being found) rifle and the purported signature have not been published or made available, even if a fee was charged.  The photos in the little booklet are unfortunately not that detailed.  Some seriously detailed photos would go a long, loooooong way toward settling the debate.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 03:36:10 PM by Eric Kettenburg »
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Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2016, 11:38:36 PM »
Any mod out there, this should be moved to Antique Collecting, will probably attract more discussion there.
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Online Ky-Flinter

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2016, 12:03:12 AM »
Eric,

Thanks for the information.  I was searching previous posts while you were typing.  I turned up these 2 that contain some related info.

July 2013
http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=27187.0

May 2012
http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=21993.0


And, yes, I will move the thread momentarily.  Dennis beat me to it.

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« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 12:05:28 AM by Ky-Flinter »
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Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2016, 02:14:43 AM »
Albrecht had a personal rifle? I wonder what the evidence for that might be.

Whatever gunmaker may have produced RCA 19 (even if it was Albrecht), there is no convincing evidence that this was the rifle that Albrecht stocked in summer 1752 for the Shawnee chief.

We know the names of quite a few people for whom Albrecht stocked rifles in the 1750s. Would be quite a feat to link any surviving rifle to one of these people rather than another.

[I've read the "small publication" that Eric refers to, if it's the one called "The Beginning of the Pennsylvania Long Rifle: The Transitional Rifles of J. Andreas Albrecht."]

« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 03:28:03 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 Bill Ebner

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2016, 02:25:49 AM »


http://frontierfolk.net/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=51421

 Here is the link to Frontier Folk, where I first saw this. Thanks for your replies; this discussion is very interesting to me. And to the links to the previous posts on this subject.

 Bill

Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2016, 02:38:26 AM »
The pamphlet that I have (I think the one Eric refers to), says, for instance:

Albrecht's apprentices, mostly drawn from the boys school, would learn the trade in Bethlehem and once learned would move to serve as journeymen in one of the 5 mission gunshops: Nazareth, Gnadenhutten, Gnadenthal, Friedensthal, Christiansbrunn.

Not sure where to start.

A. Nazareth, Gnadenthal, Friedensthal, and Christiansbrunn were not "missions." They were an integrated economy a few miles north of Bethlehem, populated, like Bethlehem, with mostly ethnic Germans and other whites. Gnadenhutten was a mission station (destroyed in 1755). There is no evidence that it ever had a gunsmith, let alone one trained by Albrecht (who did not have any apprentice before 1755). Friedensthal was just a mill; Gnadenthal was a small farming community next to Christiansbrunn.

B. There was never a "gunshop" at Gnadenthal, Gnadenhutten, or Friedensthal. Nazareth had one only after William Henry opened one in 1780.

C. Christiansbrunn of course had a gunshop--but Albrecht's apprentices did not move there as journeymen. They were trained there! When Albrecht was in Bethlehem (1750-1759), he did not have an apprentice. Presumably, any help he needed in the shop came from the locksmiths/blacksmith, since he worked in their building. There was no free-standing gunshop in Bethlehem. He got an apprentice when he moved to Christiansbrunn in 1759 because he could no longer count on such help.

D. None of Albrecht's apprentices when he worked at Christiansbrunn (he had only one: Oerter) or later in Lititz (Weiss, Henry, sort of Levering) ever worked at a mission station. Kliest, the locksmith with whom Albrecht worked in Bethlehem, did work for a time at the Indian town of Shamokin. [Note: Albrecht did have an apprentice before Oerter, Peter Rice, but he didn't last long and went on to another trade.]

E. Most important: the underlying notion/picture that Albrecht was training a fleet of young gunsmiths who then fanned out to populate Moravian missions is entirely inaccurate and incredibly misleading. He wasn't training many gunsmiths/gunstockers; the few he trained didn't work at any missions, ever.

That's just one sentence.




« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 03:12:14 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 Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2016, 03:24:46 AM »
Yes, that is the booklet/publication I referenced.  Frankly, the booklet is really kind of inconsequential to the debate surrounding the two rifles and it definitely is possessive of errors.  What I believe (jmho) is the best way to examine the situation is simply to carefully examine the pieces and then one can reach their own conclusions.

Some of the photos that have been circulating out here in internet land were not to supposed to be circulated, and I'm not really clear on the "why" of that.  If one is confident in an attribution or opinion, careful examination by others is not a threat.  Good clear photos of the remnants of the signature, without enhancement, should put the matter to rest, correct? 
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 03:32:02 AM by Eric Kettenburg »
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Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2016, 03:28:33 AM »
Comparing the two rifles could tie both to Albrecht--which I don't dispute at all as I'm no good at deciphering rifles as you and Bob can. But comparing the rifles couldn't tie one to the Shawnee chief (though I guess this would depend on it being Albrecht's: ok, I get it). But, even if the other rifle was by Albrecht, any argument that links it to the Shawnee chief depends, it seems to me, on his understanding of what Albrecht was doing as a gunstocker and on that engraving of the panther on the trigger guard.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 03:35:39 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 Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2016, 03:36:58 AM »
Yeah, while a valid signature on the one might provide the proof of an Albrecht rifle, and comparison to #19 may then warrant a determination that both were stocked by the same hand, the issue as to whether or not #19 is THE chief's rifle makes for a very interesting theory, but unfortunately an unprovable one without any period description of said piece, or any determinative marking upon #19.
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Online alex e.

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2016, 05:21:05 AM »
I have pictures of. Both rifles side by side, unfortunately I am not permitted to post  or share them. Sorry. I HAVE let's few members of this forum see them in a other format though. Maybe they wish to come in?  Ernie Cowan(?) In  Chambersburg had them for a year in his shop.  I believe be has a bench copy of. Both guns  are obviously made by the same hand they share about 21 similar features, one being the lock plate fits perfectly in the 19 gun. Andrew Newman did a bit of research in the Moravian archives. He had an article  written, but was basically poopooed by a well kwown collectors association.. It seems documentation gets in the way of collectors values and beliefs. I saw this happen when Gladysz was doing his research on the french trade gun book. Andrew Newman is on Facebook. He is a good guy and I'm sure would be happy to answer questions. I've met Ernie a time or two and has pacified my curiosity also. And for what its worth, all the castlings from both guns
.were reproduced and are available from Larry Zorne.    As for the sharing of pictures, I'm sent things from different people asking not to share for a variety of reasons.  Some being I pending articles or books,owner privacy, or just for personal consumption.
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Online alex e.

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2016, 05:28:27 AM »
One detail that might not be known about #19. The rear sight has been moved forward two times while the lugs have not. The Delaware chief was about  80 when he had the gun built. If we're going off the published info. I know a few more also.....
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Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2016, 05:32:02 AM »
The article that Eric and I mentioned was signed by A. Newman and E. Cowan--so perhaps it's the one that was poo-poohed by some publication?

That article did involve some work in the Moravian Archives--translating some entries from diaries (which, to be honest, were already in print). The author's identification of the Shawnee chief who visited Bethlehem in 1752 as Paxinosa is accurate. And the article involves some other interesting work. But other parts of it are riddled with errors and misleading information, one instance of which I mentioned above.

I can't assess at all the comparison of the two rifles, so I don't want anything I say here to be taken as quarreling with the claim that both are made by the same hand.

But the authors really mess up in their account of Albrecht's career and in their understanding of Moravian gunmaking. Their explanation about why they think one of the rifles was Albrecht's "personal" rifle doesn't really make sense. (It may have been made by him, sure.) And the stuff about the other rifle being Paxinosa's ... pretty shaky.
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

Online alex e.

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2016, 05:44:26 AM »
The way I understand it, the Moravians were a communal society, if it was for sale it went to the common collective, personal property was different. Maybe that's why we see few signed guns by Albrecht.? Andrew wrote another article to be published, complete with good pictures. But it never happened.


I say this again, if you're serious, contact Andrew. He might share to people genuinely interested.
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Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2016, 06:03:30 AM »
Right, the Moravians were communal from 1741-62 in Bethlehem and many people believe that, because of this economic arrangement, craftsmen did not sign their work. Possibly true.

But the publication we're talking about makes exactly the opposite argument. It suggests that Albrecht's signature from 1750/51--during the communal period--means that this must be Albrecht's personal rifle.

This makes no sense. Why would Albrecht need to sign his own rifle? We have many, many signed longrifles by many, many makers. In no instance whatsoever does the signature mean that it is a personal rifle: these are rifles that were sold to others. The signature probably functioned, in some sense, as a claim of responsibility for the workmanship. Later, Lancaster gunsmiths were forced to put a mark on their work so barrels that failed, for instance, could be traced back to the owner.

So why, in this instance uniquely, does a signature on the barrel mean that the rifle was the maker's personal property? It is the opposite of everything anybody ever said or thought.

Moreover ... the communal ethos would have made it less likely that Albrecht would have signed a "personal" rifle than one that left the community. And ... we have no indication whatsoever that Albrecht had a personal rifle! Why would he have had one? He did not need one as part of his life in Bethlehem in 1750-51. We have an exact count of all the guns in Bethlehem in 1763, I think--so, yes, later than 1750/51. But there are very few. Almost none are owned "personally." The entire group of single brothers (100+ men, I think, but don't quote me on that) had 8 guns. Presumably, these particular single brothers needed them for their assigned tasks--although it's certainly possible, too, that some had brought them over from Europe, etc.

But there's no reason to even think that Albrecht had a personal rifle or would have ever needed one. 

Weird thing is that there's no reason for the author to even suppose this. It's not necessary to their argument that the two rifles are by the same hand or that the other one was Paxinosa's. The twin rifle could have just been one that Albrecht made. There's no need to explain his signature on the barrel ... it's unusual, for sure, but we really have no information about whether Moravian craftsmen signed their work or didn't. The authors of the article state as a fact that artisans were "prohibited" from signing the goods they produced. This is pure fabrication: no such prohibition existed and no evidence of one has ever been found or cited!!
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

Online alex e.

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2016, 06:23:20 AM »
I have asked for permission to post pictures. That's all I can do and say for now.
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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2016, 02:42:06 PM »
I just don't understand all the need for such "secrecy" on a new gun like this popping up. It helps no one. Fat chance some bum from Iowa is ever going to get to see this gun...... :P
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Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2016, 03:10:03 PM »
I can see this is going to get argumentative.  I would really like to see 'Tatonka' pop back in as he claimed it was his rifle.

I can't add much more of value here.  Far be it from me to question either Scott or Bob when it comes to Moravian research.

I get the theory that #19 is the chief's gun, but what I have not seen is the "proof."  I've read the theory, it makes a good story, but again, with no period description of the gun, no signature on it, no marking on it that directly points to Paxinosa, it can't be proved.

Furthermore, the biggest question that has been raised in any discussion I have had re: the more recently found short rifle (@31" barrel) is the validity of the signature, or I should say the very faint markings which are interpreted as the signature and the evidence of heavy rusting or corrosion around/over the barrel and signature that has been removed.  I suspect this is why there is so much resistance to accepting the validity of the whole package.  Lately I should add, this exact issues has arisen on quite a few other pieces as well, so it's not like this particular rifle is specifically being singled out.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 03:11:33 PM by Eric Kettenburg »
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Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2016, 03:15:47 PM »

Isn't the "secrecy" due to the concern (by the owner) that disagreements (skepticism, suspicion) about the attribution of the rifle will lower its value? I can understand that. Though that is only the owner's concern: everybody else's concern ought to be to give their best, honest assessments of the object and the evidence surrounding its production, distribution, etc.


And, Eric: you've done a lot of superb research yourself! And the research usually just makes theories seem more or less likely. (In some cases, though, research is conclusive: we know when Albrecht had apprentices, who they were, and where they worked.) I would welcome challenges to anything I propose: it forces me to think about things and try to offer good/better claims....
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 03:16:19 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 Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2016, 03:17:23 PM »
That's pretty much always been the concern, probably!  Also, I do somewhat understand the concern about photos being dispersed far and wide when there is an intention to publish, as if everyone has the photos, then nobody will buy the book or magazine.  We're heading toward all internet publication anyway though if you ask me (which nobody did) so I think that ship has sailed.

Thank you VERY much for the compliment Scott, a compliment like that coming from you means the world to me!
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 03:18:30 PM by Eric Kettenburg »
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Offline Buck

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #20 on: September 24, 2016, 03:30:34 PM »
Scott / Eric,

A very interesting read, great stuff. Thank you.

Buck

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2016, 04:05:51 PM »
Don't thank me, I'm just blabbing a bit.  There are others 'out there' who have actually handled directly these two pieces, or own them, who would be more suited to commenting on specifics.

The publication which was put out may still be available?
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Offline sqrldog

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2016, 08:59:58 PM »
RCA 19 was publicly displayed at the TN KY rifle show in Knoxville Tn this past April. I met the owner a most gracious custodian of this treasure. I not only was able to see all of the rifle but held the rifle and examined it closely. I was encouraged and did remove the patchbox to look into the cavity. Permission was given to photograph the rifle which I did. It was a great experience to hold RCA 19. My first thought was how trim the rifle was compared to my expectations based only on photographs. The barrel was to my recollection thinner and lighter than I expected. I was told there was another rifle possibly by the same hand, but with an octagon barrel instead of the octagon to round barrel on RCA 19. This was never stated as an absolute just a possibility. I am certainly not qualified to comment on the rifles but I can say the owner of RCA 19 was very friendly and courteous and allowed my friends and I to hold a treasure.

Offline rich pierce

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2016, 06:46:46 PM »
I agree the connection of RCA 19 to Paxinosa is speculative. It is a most interesting gun to me, and one I would think is a good to strong candidate for being made in the 1750's-1760s timeframe.  The furniture is fascinating.  Building off the dimensions in Rifles of Colonial America yields a great handling gun.  So far my favorite ever to build.  After my first build of this gun I purchased the castings sets and they are very good.  It was really interesting to see if I had come close with my hand-made buttplate and guard for my build.  Pretty darn close.

Let's face it, a lot of the attributions of early rifles are tenuous and based on one person's eye, seeing something that clicks in their mind with something else.  Could it be an Albrecht rifle?  Sure, why not?  He was trained across Europe and could work in many styles.  Look at his signed Lititz rifle for example, and compare that to Christians Spring work.  Shows an ability to work in different styles.  The only value to me if the smooth rifle was strongly attributed to Albrecht would be nailing down a place and timeframe.

I like the current trend that attributions based on bits of data are scrutinized and debated openly.  I consider the Paxinosa connection an interesting theory about the guard engraving.

The idea that there is a personal rifle of Albrecht is perhaps a bit weaker.

I love that castings are available.  Heard a lock was in the works and need to check if it is out there yet.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2016, 09:10:32 PM by rich pierce »
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Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19
« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2016, 09:50:49 PM »
One of the things that concerns me about the use of the panther engraving to link this rifle to Paxinosa is this: we know of many, many other animal engravings or carvings on early longrifles. Do we assume that the engraving/carving of a dog or a deer (or a lamb--or a griffin!) means that the rifle was the property of an Indian whose "totem" was that animal?

Panthers, by the way, appear in a lot of early American fiction--including Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly (1798) and James Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers (1823)--both set in the 1790s Pennsylvania and upstate New York. So they aren't particularly unusual animals...

Scott
« Last Edit: September 25, 2016, 09:52:07 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