Author Topic: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle  (Read 479 times)

Offline USMCG_Spyder

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Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« on: October 11, 2017, 08:31:57 PM »
Gentlemen,

My father-in-law Daryl gave this rifle to my wife for safe-keeping, and while wiping it down the other day I became curious about it. I've just spoken to him on the phone and asked him what he remembered about it:

His wife Darlene's family came from Germany and settled in Missouri. Her father's name was Clarence Steinman. Clarence bought a farm in Andrew County, Missouri in the early 1930's and found this rifle in the attic wrapped in a blanket. To my knowledge he was not connected in any way to the seller of the farm. He cleaned it up and used it for years, mostly for shooting squirrels - Daryl said "I asked him [Clarence] if there was ever much left of the squirrel and he said 'Sure, so long as I hit him in the head!'" At some point Clarence decided he had no further use for the rifle and gave it to Daryl who has had it ever since and never fired it.

I've done some nominal research on it using the markings and overall style to better familiarize myself with this sort of firearm as my personal tastes tend more toward the modern. I certainly don't expect it to be unusually rare but I am curious as to its provenance and I am hoping y'all can help. It appears to have been cleaned abrasively at some point based on the marks on the metal, almost seems like someone took a wire wheel to it but I could be mistaken. Daryl and I would appreciate any information y'all could provide on this rifle and I can certainly provide more detailed pictures upon request.






























Offline okieboy

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 01:22:40 AM »
 Thank you for posting these photos, as I am very interested in Leman full stocks. This is a pretty typical "better" Leman, better by virtue of the patchbox and wrist checkering. It is sad that the barrel surface has been abused, but it is still an interesting piece. The engraving in front and behind the rear sight is something that I haven't seen before, but there are a lot of Lemans that I haven't seen.
 Is the nose-cap steel? Maybe one of the more knowledgeable collectors on ALR could comment on how uncommon that might be.
 Thanks again for sharing.
Okieboy

Offline USMCG_Spyder

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 05:19:16 AM »
The nosecap is indeed steel and doesn't appear to be a later add-on; it seems based on the condition of the rest of the brightwork to be in the same condition so I would assume it has always been there vs. being put on after the rifle was made. I'm basing that just on eyeballing, however, as I am certainly no expert.

It may be that I have not looked hard enough but I haven't the knowledge to search using the right words - could you tell me the difference between "half stock" and "full stock"? I saw those terms often while poking around the Internet but never came across a side-by-side comparison that explained it.

There is also a lead ball kinda shoved in the muzzle, I meant to put a caliper on it today but got distracted by other projects. Without getting up to look I'd guess it to be roughly .30 cal and while it doesn't fit easily into the muzzle I reckon it might with a really good push. Given what little I know about muzzle-loaders I'd expect a ball for this weapon to be a little smaller but the fact remains it is there.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 05:29:14 PM by USMCG_Spyder »

Offline okieboy

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 07:19:57 AM »
 On a full stock the stock wood extends nearly to the muzzle, on a half stock the wood stops about 10-12" in front of the breech.
 A ball "stuck" in the muzzle can usually be pulled out by screwing a wood screw into it, then grabbing that with a vise grip. Once the ball is removed, you want to check that there isn't still a load in the barrel. You do this by pacing the ramrod down the barrel, marking where it stops at the muzzle with a pencil or piece of tape, then laying the ramrod on the outside of the barrel mark even with the muzzle. The other end of the ramrod should come to within about a half inch of the breech. If  the ramrod comes more like an inch and a half from the breech, then there is probably a ball and charge still in the barrel. This can be pulled by a ramrod with a ball-puller (similar to a wood screw) attached, or by removing the breech-plug, emptying the powder and then driving the ball out with a ramrod and mallet.
Okieboy

Offline Mtn Meek

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 10:29:16 AM »
I certainly don't expect it to be unusually rare but I am curious as to its provenance and I am hoping y'all can help. It appears to have been cleaned abrasively at some point based on the marks on the metal, almost seems like someone took a wire wheel to it but I could be mistaken. Daryl and I would appreciate any information y'all could provide on this rifle and I can certainly provide more detailed pictures upon request.

I don't think anyone can provide you with "its provenance" beyond the family history you already know.

The rifle is the product of Henry E. Leman of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Leman opened his gun shop in 1834, and his company produced guns until his death in 1887.  He was likely the most prolific producer of muzzleloading guns.  The 1860 census reported 62 workmen and an annual production of 5,000 guns.  Charles E. Hanson, Jr. estimated his total production numbered "over 100,000 guns, perhaps as many as a quarter of a million."

A large quantity of his rifles were of the style that you pictured.  A full stocked rifle with a straight octagon barrel that varied in length from as short as 32" to as long as 42" plus.  Large caliber rifles were made for the Western trade and small caliber squirrel rifles for the Eastern trade.   His rifles often sported a patch box similar to the one on the rifle you pictured or one of two versions of a cap box.

One of the common cap boxes is often referred to as the "4-screw" cap box and is shown below.

GRRW like Original Leman fullstock" border="0

The other is referred to as the 2-screw round "fleur-de-lis" cap box.

Original Leman Cap Box" border="0

Some gun historians have attempted to assign a chronological evolution to these patch and cap boxes with the patch box on the rifle you pictured as the earliest, followed by the 4-screw cap box, then the 2-screw "fleur-de-lis" cap box used on the later rifles.

This doesn't seem to be the case.  There are a number of Leman rifles with the "fleur-de-lis" cap box that are dated 1840.  There are also a number of percussion rifles like the one you pictured that certainly date after 1840, and possibly much later, with the supposedly early style patch box.  It seems more likely that the Leman workman installed whatever patch box or cap box he pulled from the parts bin for the rifle he was working on.  All three were likely used through most of the years that the company operated and randomly incorporated on the rifles.

I see the patch box on the rifle you pictured is engraved and the thumb piece on the top of the wrist has some worn "wiggle" engraving.  The muzzle cap and entry pipe should also have some "wiggle" engraving as in these pictures unless it was removed by the aggressive cleaning you describe.

Original Leman Nose Cap" border="0
Original Leman Entry Pipe" border="0

You might notice that the Leman rifle I have pictured above has artificial striping on the stock.  This was a technique that Leman used often.  I can see remnants of the artificial striping on the butt stock of the rifle you pictured.

The "basket weave" pattern checkering on the wrist is common on many Leman rifles as well as other makers of trade rifles in Lancaster and Philadelphia.

The rifle you pictured fits the pattern of a Leman trade rifle.  Many of these rifles were sold to the US Gov't for trade and treaty rifles as well as private fur trade companies for the Indian trade.  The same pattern was also sold in the civilian market through hardware stores from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains.  Your rifle is one of the latter and could have been purchased in Missouri or brought there by a settler.  It could date before the Civil War, but could also be later.
Phil Meek

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 02:30:21 PM »
Thanks Phil. Nice summary.
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 USMCG_Spyder

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2017, 05:55:00 PM »
Is the nose-cap steel? Maybe one of the more knowledgeable collectors on ALR could comment on how uncommon that might be.

Okieboy, I erroneously said the endcap was brass but that is not correct, it is as you said, steel. I have corrected my post to reflect that information, I'm sorry for the confusion - I should have gotten up and looked but I just glanced at it from across the room in dim light.

There isn't a charge in the weapon, fortunately; I checked for that before I even put it in the RV. The ball in the muzzle isn't "stuck" in the literal sense, perhaps a better word would be "shoved," I can easily remove it, it's  protruding out of the muzzle a little bit. Sorry about that confusion as well.










Offline USMCG_Spyder

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2017, 06:23:12 PM »
The muzzle cap and entry pipe should also have some "wiggle" engraving as in these pictures unless it was removed by the aggressive cleaning you describe.

I am unable to see any engraving on the muzzle cap (which I erroneously stated was brass but have since corrected, it's steel) but there is a little bit on the entry pipe:









You might notice that the Leman rifle I have pictured above has artificial striping on the stock.  This was a technique that Leman used often.  I can see remnants of the artificial striping on the butt stock of the rifle you pictured.

I'm glad to hear that, I feared the person who tried to clean the metal also tried to clean the stock and made those stripes  :o

Thank you for the information you've provided, that is very helpful indeed.




Offline Don Stith

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2017, 07:28:59 PM »
I would have guessed the end cap was a pewter replacement of the brass original.  Not an uncommon thing.  A small magnet will test that quickly  Otherwise, typical Leman rifle.  Thanks for sharing

Offline USMCG_Spyder

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2017, 08:15:57 PM »
I would have guessed the end cap was a pewter replacement of the brass original.  Not an uncommon thing.  A small magnet will test that quickly  Otherwise, typical Leman rifle.  Thanks for sharing

You are correct, and once again I was mistaken - I've run a magnet over it and the only attraction is to the barrel when I get close to it, the band itself is not magnetic.

Offline Hlbly

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2017, 08:54:51 PM »
I have your rifle's twin brother.

Offline USMCG_Spyder

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Re: Information request - Leman Kentucky rifle
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2017, 06:13:51 AM »
I have your rifle's twin brother.

I'd like to see some pictures if you wouldn't mind taking them?