Author Topic: Wolfgang Haga?  (Read 18789 times)

Offline 120RIR

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Wolfgang Haga?
« on: October 20, 2016, 11:22:20 PM »
Hi Folks - new kid of the block here and only recently stepping into the Longrifle world although I've had an interest for many years.  I recently took to liquidating a 30-year collection (WWI stuff) and acquiring a couple of really nice original and contemporary pieces.  One of the originals is in the "attributed" to Wolfgang Haga group.  It's a real beauty, original flint and finish, fantastic condition, etc.  However, what do we really know about Haga and exactly how is it that unsigned pieces get attributed to him?  I understand there are no known signed Haga rifles, so where does one even begin in assigning an attribution to a group of stylistically comparable pieces?

Offline spgordon

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2016, 12:55:39 AM »
I tried to ask the same question in 2015:

"If I understand correctly, there is no signed Wolfgang Haga rifle. So how is it possible to attribute rifles to him? If there is no signed instance of a rifle that would identify a maker's style, how can one attribute any rifles to that maker? What elements can be used to suggest an attribution?"

The main reply was: "I believe in Wolfgang Hachen's case, other than John Screit he is the earliest documented builder in Berks County. There are quite a few extand rifles with very similar characteristics so there is an assumed perception that they must be his rifles. Without a single signature I'm not sure how attributions are made either."

The full thread is here: http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=35628.0

I would love to hear others' thoughts about this. It still seems impossible, to me, to attribute guns to somebody if no signed gun exists against which one could compare the unsigned guns.
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: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2016, 01:30:20 AM »
No there are no signed guns (yet) to my knowledge.

The general train of thought is that he lived and worked in Reading for quite some time.  There is a signed example of John Schreit's work, which doesn't look anything like the "Haga" pieces, so all of these other pieces must be Hachen, his shop or subsequent people trained by him. 

And why must they be of the Reading area?  I was told by more than one "old timey" collector (people who have been in this game since time began….  :D ) that apparently Joe Kindig found a fairly large number of them all in the Reading area.

So there it is.
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline 120RIR

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2016, 02:11:48 AM »
Thanks for the link to the previous thread on this very subject.  As usual with most things in life there just isn't a simple answer is there?

Offline Buck

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2016, 02:29:36 AM »
120RIR,

I've heard the same explanation that Eric gave and possibly from the same Gentleman. I would think "Haga" rifles (if they exist) are more in line with the Schreit rifle architecturally, another explanation I read / heard was Peter Gonter (Hagas Son in Law) had a typical / repetitive patch box finial that was similar in form to the "A" typical attributed Haga rifles / patch box finials. Hence the attribution, (I think Kindig explained it that way in his book if memory serves) I also have heard that Haga was a one handed individual and it would have been impossible for him to build a rifle.  The theory of shop owner - entrepreneur has also been suggested (with multiple gun makers employed by Haga), large land owner so on and so forth.

 I know that a certain individual claims to have found his grave site (along with his wife) and stated to me that all of the head stones in the cemetery were of typical Limestone fabrication, but the Haga couples were made of Granite. That in itself equates to wealth, soft Limestone is easy to shape but Granite is an entirely different animal, even these days the cost difference is significant.

120RIR welcome to the forum.

Regards,

Buck

 
« Last Edit: October 21, 2016, 02:33:06 AM by Buck »

Offline T*O*F

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2016, 03:25:12 AM »
If not Haga, then who?  Some unknown maker?
Dave Kanger

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Offline oldtravler61

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2016, 04:39:57 AM »
My thoughts are could some other builder. Copy a certain style as we do so today. Then not sign the gun. Also if the builder signed some why not the rest of his work? So how can any gun be attributed if there is nothing to go by? Could Haga be just a supplier of gun parts? Just my thoughts.

Offline smart dog

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2016, 02:01:59 PM »
Hi,
According to both Shumway and Whisker, based on tax lists, arms payments during the Rev War, period newspapers, and other records, Swiss trained gunsmith, Wolfgang Hachen (Haga) arrived in Reading and was in business as a gunsmith sometime before 1752.  His brother, Nicholas, also arrived then and set up shop as a gunsmith in Hanover by 1751.  He may have trained George Schoyer.   Nicholas's son, Christian Hawken (Hachen) may have trained with Wolfgang after his father died.  Christian was the father of Sam and Jake.  So according to Shumway, Whisker, and Kindig as well, Wolfgang Hachen (Haga) was documented to be a gunsmith and worked in the Reading area from 1752 (at the latest) to 1796.  That is a long career. He was paid by the PA Committee of Safety to make and repair guns.   Moreover, he apparently worked as a gunsmith all during that time rather than leaving the trade to farm or start some other business as so many other makers did.  Considering the number of existing guns by J. Dickert, a gunsmith with a similar duration of employment in the trade, it would be strange if no rifles made by Haga survived to this day.  Regardless, given the documentation and the tradition of gun making all through the family, right down to Sam and Jake Hawken, I think it only logical to conclude that  Wolfgang was a successful and prominent gunsmith in the Reading area. 

dave
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Offline spgordon

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2016, 04:08:02 PM »
Haga definitely had an accident--but the report itself says that it was "expected" that he would recover. Many of the gunsmiths I've researched, including Andreas Albrecht and Georg Weiss, were physically injured at some point during work in the shop but all continued to work as gunsmiths--so I don't think that report indicates anything about how long he worked as a gunsmith or about how many people had to be working in his shop or with him (presumably because he couldn't work himself). Unless there is evidence, later, of him still being injured or unable to work that I'm unaware of?

I had hoped to write a biography of Haga for the German Immigrant Entrepreneur Institute similar to the ones I wrote about Jacob Dickert and Andreas Albrecht:

    http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=180 [Dickert]
    http://immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=263 [Albrecht]

But the Institute completed its project before I could get around to it. There is precious little known about Haga.

BTW: I think the PA Committee of Safety only paid Haga for "repairing" guns (in 1779). Or does another record mention him "making" guns?

Scott
« Last Edit: October 21, 2016, 04:48:40 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 smart dog

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2016, 06:30:35 PM »
HI Scott,
I checked the reference and you are correct.  The source indicates repair.

dave
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Offline DaveM

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2016, 06:37:34 PM »
Scott - I had done quite a bit of research on Hachen (and in general the early gunmakers in early Reading town) several years ago.  I really should share it sometime or it will be lost.  I have been too busy at work to get anywhere writing it up, but if you are interested maybe we can chat offline about a shared effort.    

I am convinced that Hachen made guns complete, including rifles, but based on circumstantial evidence.  based on some clues he may have focused on lockmaking for at least portions of his career.

As to the "Reading" style, I have an unsigned flint era rifle that I believe was made by Abraham Angstadt in this Reading style, who I believe learned the trade just east of Reading before he moved to Schuylkill County.  Not sure but thought I read he was one of Adam's sons also?  And I have seen signed pannebacker rifles also of this style who worked in mohnton just west of Reading.  So identical rifle styles immediately east and west of town have me convinced that the style likely originate from the town of Reading.

Offline spgordon

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2016, 11:38:29 PM »
Just got my KRA Bulletin and, coincidentally, there's an article on the restoration of a rifle attributed to Haga. Very nice pictures.
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: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2016, 11:40:58 PM »
#@!! $#@* Dave, don't bring the Angstadts into it or this thread will go on forever, pretty much like their entirely confusing genealogy!!!!!!!   :D :D
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline smart dog

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2016, 11:48:36 PM »
Hi Scott,
Was that the restoration done by Hugh Toenjes?

dave
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Offline rich pierce

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2016, 12:07:27 AM »
The standards for attribution are probably different now compared to when Kindig wrote his Golden Age book.  As a scientist who has always had to have solid and reproducible evidence and data to establish anything, the Haga attribution always bothered me.  I understand and agree it's likely W. Haga made some or most of the Reading unsigned rifles but that falls short of deserving "made by" him.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2016, 12:21:26 AM »
I don't think most who actually study these think - any longer - that one guy made all of them, or even most of them.  It's not quite my area of extreme interest but I believe I remember talking with someone a number of years ago who had studied these fairly closely and believed that there were at least 3 or 4 different identifiable "hands" involved in the pieces all of this very similar type.  I would think Hachen would be responsible for the earliest of them - maybe the first few in the RCA book (discounting 19 which never really fit in with the string regardless of who made it) - and many of the subsequent later pieces might be apprentices, or others working to the same style, or ???

There are a couple of added rifles that fit in with the earliest which have not been published yet to my knowledge, all looking nearly the same as those in the RCA book.  Regardless of who was stocking them, there definitely was a somewhat prolific guy building rifles of this type and given that the others of which I'm aware *also* have very long associations with families in the Reading area, I think it's fairly safe to view the Reading association as accurate and very probably Hachen as it's not like there were a pile of different, documentable guys there building chunky early styled rifles of this form.  But then lacking a signature on ANY of them…...
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline eastwind

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2016, 12:35:50 AM »

 I have spent considerable hours looking into Haga’s story and I started with the question of when/who started the premise that these rifles of similar characteristics were made by a Wolfgang Haga.

The best I could figure is that Joe Kindig, Jr. (Ole Joe) is guilty and was the first to come to that conclusion. The few sources available to Kindig at that time – Gardner and Van Rensselaer both published in the 1940s show Haga as a gunsmith in Reading, without showing any pictures. Earlier in 1924 Dillon does not mention a Wolfgang Haga although he shows several Reading style rifles. As far as I can tell Kindig had no previous source of research to assist in his attribution and his researchers for the “Thoughts” book were left with county records.

During my research on Kindig’s collection for the Masterpieces book I was able to study most, if not all, of the research by Henry Kauffman and Samuel Dyke for Kindig’s “Thoughts” book. This included Kindig’s own personal notes and letters. I did not find any evidence from any source that would confirm a rifle was positively made by a Wolfgang Haga. At the time of Kindig’s book he had some 12-16 rifles in his collection he attributed to Haga.

But Wolfgang Haga was indeed a gunsmith working in Reading. Aside from the Philadelphia paper headed: “Reading June 29, 1752” indicating the Haga shop fire, the Berks County records continually show Haga as a man of community participation and wealth. All the official tax/land records of Reading/Berks County of the period 1750 until 1790 show a Wolfgang Haga as being a gunsmith. Rev.War records indicate the Northumberland County militia paid Wolfgang Hoghen to repair arms. Further, church records show Wolfgang Hagen was a deacon of the Schwartzwald Church and a Trustee and Elder of the Dutch Reform Calvinists in Reading. Various land records show Haga “gunsmith” owned land around Mohnton, south of Reading (near land owned by Shreit) and hundreds of acres around Reading, along with buildings once on South 4th Street. It appears he was financially successful and all indications are he was more likely to have a larger gunmaking operation than any other gunsmith in Reading at the time.

Interestingly, he crossed paths with Shreit and William Graff (Graef) often, which are also shown on similar county records. Both Haga and Graff are shown as Deacons in the Schwartzwald Church. I visited that church and found that all the original gravesites were moved after construction of the standing church. Haga and his wife, Dorothea’s impressive granite headstones were moved to Lancaster at that point, apparently to be near their daughter Susan married to Peter Gonter, the Lancaster Gunsmith. I mentioned this to Buck which is what I believe he is referring to here.

All of this is probably known by most of you and contributes virtually nothing to the attribution of so-called Haga made rifles. However, it is my opinion based partly on the above points that Ole Joe Kindig simply decided that the number of rifles of similar details in his collection were made by Wolfgang Haga on the basis that County records indicate Haga’s  gunmaking operations appear to be larger than any other gunsmith in Reading at the time. He could have just as easily said - William Graff or John Shreit  -  but no evidence exists that they were as likely to have an operation as large as Haga’s.

To add to the fun is the fact that many of Kindig’s Haga-like rifles have barrels made by William Pannabecker Senior, whose signature is clearly signed on the underside of the barrel. I’ve owned 4 Haga like rifles and half had Pannabecker barrels. In that regard one can safely say the guns were likely made in the Berks County area as the Pannabeckers are well recorded. Or is it we are looking at Pannabeckers and not Hagas?

No doubt this mystery will continue but I have concluded that old Joe Kindig started the flimsy Haga attribution based simply on finding a better paper trail of Haga’s activity than any other Reading gunsmith during the period. Since he had a number of rifles with very similar features he figured that would be a safe conclusion. That is my take as to how this attribution got it started – no magical rationale - just power of the printed word – one that we continue to perpetuate.


Patrick Hornberger
Patrick Hornberger

Offline Buck

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2016, 01:53:58 AM »
Patrick,

That conversation is what I was referencing. Most people would not realize the significance of that minor detail regarding the Granite / Limestone and the significance it has. At that time only the wealthy could afford granite headstones, the process of quarrying, shaping and carving the stone was easily 4 times the cost of what it took to work with Limestone.   

Buck

Offline oldtravler61

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2016, 01:54:27 AM »
Just my ending thoughts on this. Just like in our time now. We have people who are skilled gunsmiths. But Do not build complete rifles. Without serious evidence of signed guns. This I believe is the case for Haga. Imho

Offline DaveM

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2016, 03:05:46 AM »
Maybe these are all by old George Angstadt!  (haha Eric). 

In downtown Reading, based on records and documents, below is kind of a brief overview of gun makers in downtown Reading early on based on my research so far:

Wolfgang Hachen - recorded to be working and living in Reading by 1752, but likely there a couple of years prior.  Records indicate he was also paid for arms work during F&I war, and later Rev war, but I'll have to find the documents.

William Graeff - we do have proof that he made rifles - was working and living in Reading by 1752 (born 1732).

John Schreit - working and living in Reading by 1756.  He is documented as having a musket contract in 1776, with the musket locks made in Reading also (see further down).  I believe that I found that Schreit was either born in Pennsylvania, or immigrated as a small child and not trained in Europe which is interesting given his training and the style of his rifle.

George Schroyer - working and living in Reading by 1764, left sometime after 1769.

William Shaner - living and working in Reading by 1769

John Reiffsnyder - again proof he made rifles, was in Reading by 1775.  He was apprenticed to William Graeff.  He died in 1793.

Anthony Bobb, by 1774 to 1781, disappears after that.

Andrew Fichthorn Sr., by 1779

Conrad Fesig, by 1779, later also made tall case clocks.

John Kerlin, during the war documented making muskets in Reading in fall of 1776.

Henry Hahn Sr., listed as an "armorer" in 1753 document.  Living and working in town by 1752

Henry Hahn Jr. - born 1754 - made musket locks for Schreit for Schreit's contract in 1776.  later made tall case clocks.

John Gonter, son of Peter Gonter Sr is documented as living in Reading in 1776. 

Peter Gontrer Jr. of course also was assumed by others there to learn the trade but I found no hard evidence of that yet.

Charles Witz, gunsmith / locksmith was living and working in Reading by 1779.  He was from the Falckner Swamp area and identified there as a gunsmith as early as 1755.  He was in Douglass Township, eastern berks in the 1760's.

Peter Baltzly, who later moved to Carlisle and was a gunsmith - was an orphan who had my ancestor Nicholas Madary, and Wolfgang Hachen, as his guardians.  I believe that my ancestor, taxed as a stone mason, assisted Hachen making locks or other work in the down months as a mason - his father in switerland was a blacksmith.

John Eister (Oyster).  He was from Rockland Township and entered the "service" in 1776, in Reading, to serve as blacksmith and gunsmith there for a period of 6 months before his regiment left.  He noted that he made "a number of weapons, including tomahawks" while in Reading in 1776, for the war effort.

There are a bunch of other blacksmiths and locksmiths in these early days, and others listed as "artificers" during the rev war, that I have not even gotten to look into yet.  My thinking is that many of the guns from Reading are unsigned because this group worked together more as a team / consortium / or factory.

One note about the Reading church records - something that was extremely confusing but I eventually figured out is that the "Schwartzwald" church records, by RE. Boos, were compiled with other churches in the area, and the data for Hachen is actually for his congregation work at the First Reformed Church in downtown Reading.  There is no documentation that Hachen ever physically was at the Schwartzwald church in Exeter Twp.  Interestingly, both Hachen and Schreit were tied also to the Muddy Run Church in eastern Lancaster County.

Eric - you may appreciate this.  It is off topic a bit, but adds mystery to the Reading / Berks area gunmakers:  I found estate records for Johann Michael Fries, "blacksmith", in Albany Township in northern Berks County.  He was born in 1690 in Rossbach, Germany, and died in Albany Township in 1762.  He had 200 acres just outside the town of Albany near modern day Kempton.  His estate included two rifles, smith's tools, a sword, a pistol, an old gun barrel, two old gun locks, 2400 feet of boards, and lots of wood tools.  His two sons also died around that time - Henry Fries, born 1730, died 1759- the son's estate had a rifle, a gun, smith tools, 2 gun barrels, 40 lb of iron.  And another son was a blacksmith.  Not proof that they were gunsmiths but maybe, and interesting! 


Offline spgordon

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2016, 07:28:46 PM »
Wow, these are great posts--full of great information. I'm grateful you've all shared here where we can all mull it over.

I wonder what old Joe K. would make of the new information. I would think that the fact that there were (as DaveM has documented) several gunsmiths in colonial Reading and (as others have argued) that the large number of "Haga" guns seem to actually indicate multiple "hands" means that any attribution of any guns to Haga on this basis is impossible. If there are a lot of Reading-area guns with only one known craftsmen there ... well, okay, I can see the attribution of these guns to Haga. But you cannot have multiple makers and multiple batches of unsigned guns and attribute any of these guns to any of these makers without some signature to limit the variable.

But: I'd think the link to Gonter would provide some valid starting point, if there are similarities between guns made by Gonter and older guns. Still speculation, but at least a place to start.

I am not sure about the notion "that County records indicate Haga’s gunmaking operations appear to be larger than any other gunsmith in Reading at the time. He could have just as easily said - William Graff or John Shreit  -  but no evidence exists that they were as likely to have an operation as large as Haga’s." The only county records I can think of that provide any hint of the size of his operations would be the account of how much Haga was paid to repair guns in 1779 (£649 in Berks County--a lot of money--only £7 in Northumberland Co.). But that's thirty years after we know him to have been a Reading gunsmith (1752). I don't know of any other information that would indicate the size of his gunmaking operations in the intervening years.

Or is it his wealth that led to this conclusion? Again, that needs some careful thought. His wealth (if he was wealthy) could as easily be taken as an indication that Haga did not need to work in the shop anymore--why continue to labor at the forge if he no longer needed to? However, land isn't a good indication of wealth at this time (depending on what that land was & how it was used). Tax lists allow us to see how he was assessed against others (where he was in a relative ranking), so would be a better indication of wealth. No documents that survive will give any hint at Haga's income: tax lists are not concerned with that (since individuals were not taxed on income). So, again, I think we need to know more to feel that Haga was wealthy; and, even if he were wealthy, this doesn't easily equal a large gunmaking operation. He could have used his wealth to diversify his activities beyond gunsmithing altogether.

Finally (and I know I am a broken record on this): I would re-check the Reading tax records. Kindig says that Haga is listed as a gunsmith in 1767, 1768, 1779, 1780, and 1781. I have found Kindig's, Dyke's, and Whisker's citations of tax records to be incorrect more often than correct. Sorry to say that, but it is my experience. More important: I'd want to know whether Haga appeared in the Reading tax records in the intervening years (if such records exist) and how his occupation was identified (if it was). If Joe Kindig's information is correct, it is entirely possible that Haga (like other gunsmiths) managed to "escape" the profession and its labor by the late 1760s and then returned to it, because of a need and the opportunity for profit, during the Revolutionary War.

Scott
« Last Edit: October 23, 2016, 09:18:17 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: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2016, 09:37:15 PM »
Some seriously good information here!

One thing I would suggest is that *possibly* a number of the guys Dave is referencing as gunsmiths in Reading *might* have been working during the War as opportunity permitted.  Now this has not been my particular region of interest so I'm just thinking out loud here, but a comparable thing was going on in Northampton Co. during the late 1770s, before the War theater moved in a more southerly direction.  There are many bits and pieces of information which pop up which seem to indicate guys as working on arms in some capacity during the 1770s but later on noted as cabinetmakers, carpenters or other assorted woodworking or smith trades.  Some is anecdotal evidence, some is verifiable via period property records or other documents.

Also all of this great info Dave has uncovered would further reinforce what some have speculated, i.e. that all of these so-called "Haga" or Hachen pieces are actually the products of multiple men rather than a single man or shop.  I would tend to see this as more realistic myself.  What this then would potentially indicate, given the similarities seen in many of them, is that somehow in some way a popular "style" evolved which is distinctly inherent to Reading area guns but yet is not indicative of the work of a single man.

You can see this in the guns in the RCA book, in that if you really look at them whether in photos or in person, or both, you can somewhat group them into blocks wherein you can see a recognizable hand in this group, and another recognizable hand in that group, etc.  I should add that there are quite a lot of such guns 'out there,' so given the rather extensive list noted above, it *might* be conceivable that a number or even a majority of these guys were stocking up the same general style of rifle.
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2016, 10:11:46 PM »
 This is a Great thread! Thanks to All.

   Tim C.

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2016, 11:47:06 PM »
Many of the "Haga"- attributed rifles appear to me to be of the later 1770s to 1790s period and seem to me to be pretty far removed stylistically from RCA 20, 21, etc.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Wolfgang Haga?
« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2016, 01:08:38 AM »
Absolutely!
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!