Author Topic: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle  (Read 18668 times)

Offline 120RIR

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RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« on: November 25, 2017, 01:39:07 AM »
RCA 19 and a reported “sister” rifle seen by few but commented on by many have been a subject of not inconsiderable controversy and angst on this forum and elsewhere.  I would like to take this opportunity, from a standpoint of some authority on the subject, to revive the discussion.  Note I say “some” authority – I claim only nominal expertise in that I’ve had the opportunity several times now to handle the original sister rifle and am now the owner of one of five bench copies of which I am providing photos below.

The contention of the current owner is that this peculiar short rifle was made by Albrecht (yes…THE Albrecht) in Bethlehem ca. 1750/51 and that RCA 19 was also made by Albrecht in 1752 for a Shawnee chief by the name of Paxinosa (or Paxinos, etc.).  The tell-tale engravings on the trigger guard and butt plate tang are the primary features linking RCA 19 to Paxinosa or at the very least a presumably higher-ranking individual of his clan of which the panther-and-spear were the clan’s totem (and which is symbolism still figuring prominently on the present-day Eastern Shawnee tribe’s logo - as can be seen on the tribe’s web site).  The current owner’s detailed documentation, all of which was gleaned from original primary sources curated at the Moravian archives in Bethlehem, the accurate translations of those references, and certain features of the gun itself constitute a significant body of circumstantial evidence suggesting that RCA was indeed made by Albrecht for Paxinosa. 

The stylistic linkage between RCA 19 and this short rifle are undeniable and it would be extraordinarily difficult to deny some kind of relationship between the two.  They were clearly made by the same hand or at the very least perhaps in the same shop around the same time.  Assuming the documentary evidence for the attribution of RCA 19 to Paxinosa by way of Albrecht is indeed correct, then it seems more than reasonable that this short rifle can be attributed to Albrecht as well. 

Now, one big bone of contention is the reported Albrecht A. Bethlehem signature on the original short rifle.  This possibility was discussed at length in a notable RCA 19 thread on this site couple of years back so I won’t delve any further into that.  Again, having handled the original of this short rifle several times now I can say with 100% certainty that there is something that looks like a very faint signature on the barrel flat forward of the breech.  However, without decent lighting and proper conditions for detailed examination I cannot and will not speculate on the nature of the possible signature.   

Unfortunately, while the current original short rifle owner’s documentary research was highly detailed and superb, I’m afraid it was the presentation of that information that has led to lot of skepticism.  Being a professional archaeologist/historian of over 35 years I can say that presentation is at least 50% of one prevailing in any academic debate.  Yes, your evidence needs to be solid (which I feel very strongly that the original short rifle owner’s is) but the way in which you present it needs to make available to reviewers and interested parties all the details central to their interpretation.  Until that can be done, skeptics of the Albrecht attribution to both RCA 19 and this short rifle will not be sated – and that’s understandable to a certain extent.  Regardless, enjoy the photos, compare them to 19 in your copy of RCA, and I would very much appreciate and encourage your thoughts.  Open debate is a good thing!

Stock – American black walnut
All steel heat-blued per original
.62 cal.
Overall length: 46 1/8 in.
Swamped barrel length: 31 ¼ in.
Trigger pull: 12 ¾ in.
Barrel dia. at breech – across flats: 1 ¼ in.
Buttplate width: 2 in.
Buttplate height: 4 ¾ in.
Max with of butt-stock: 2 17/32 in.
Width of wrist: 1 9/16 in.
Height of wrist: 1 5/8 in
Width of stock at lock tail: 1 7/8 in.















Offline wattlebuster

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2017, 02:45:07 AM »
Cool rifle. I like the dark color. That would make a dandy rifle in all these thick thickets here in my neck of the woods.
Nothing beats the feel of a handmade southern iron mounted flintlock on a cold frosty morning

Online rich pierce

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2017, 03:07:18 AM »
Good looking rifle.  I made a RCA 19 “copy” previously, modifying existing castings. Then bought the castings which were pretty close to what I’d made.  I got lucky.

I think the two guns could be 1750’s to 1760’s rifles.

I think they were made by the same hand or same shop, close in time.

I think the attribution to Albrecht is an interesting hypothesis, and primarily based on the panther/spear engraving and the Albrecht journal entry.  Of course it is theoretically possible because Albrecht was here. 

Against that, it is reasonable to compare all known Moravian rifles to this one and note architectural differences, furniture differences, and differences in embellishment such as carving.  We are to suppose Albrecht preferred straight wristed, walnut stocked rifles with very simple carving, then 10-15 years later decided that he preferred step-wristed, maple-stocked rifles with typical CS carving.

So it all comes down to that journal entry about Paxinosa.

The idea that the sister rifle was Albrecht’s personal rifle has no visible support. 1, we do not know Albrecht made it and 2, there’s no reason to suppose he owned it.  I don’t think we need to enumerate the weaknesses in the attribution of it being his personal rifle. 
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 03:13:50 AM by rich pierce »
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Offline 120RIR

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2017, 03:11:15 AM »
As to the dark color - having handled the original I'm a bit skeptical it was originally so dark but then again I can't claim any significant expertise in that area.  As for this being Albrecht's personal rifle, yeah, I remain skeptical about that as well.  Some additional testing or imagery techniques on the original would I think have great potential to confirm the existence of an engraved signature on the barrel and whose it is.  The existing photographic evidence in the possession of the owner his highly suggestive but not conclusive.

Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2017, 03:45:26 AM »
I cannot weigh in at all on the comparison between the two rifles. Others on this list are far more knowledgeable, and have much better eyes for such things, than I do.

I can weigh in on the "research" that was circulated (in a pamphlet of sorts) about the attribution of the rifle with the panther engraving to Paxinosa himself. There was an extensive discussion on this a year ago on this list (http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=41538.msg405638#msg405638) and somewhere in that thread was a link to the pamphlet itself. None of the many, many concerns about the quality of the research there have been answered. I agree entirely that "open debate" is a good thing--but debate requires some sort of response to others' objections or concerns.

It is inaccurate to say that "the current owner’s detailed documentation, all of which was gleaned from original primary sources curated at the Moravian archives in Bethlehem [and] the accurate translations of those references." There is a single passage--yes, translated accurately--from a Moravian diary, which had been published before, that demonstrates that Albrecht stocked the rifle of the leader of the Shawnees. Nothing in that diary entry connects the rifle under discussion to that rifle. I don't believe there is another "original primary source" used by the article from the Moravian Archives--although there are photos of a the cover of volume identified by the author as a "gunshop day book" (although, if one looks inside the volume, it is not a daybook of the gunshop in Bethlehem from 1753-54, as the author states). The rest of the argument rests on misunderstandings and misrepresentations--and, very often, such things stated as facts. I described a number of these issues in the previous thread.

I will mention only one here: the pamphlet states as fact that signatures were "prohibited" due to the communal economy. False. Inaccurate. Made up. And (of course) the author offers no "original primary source" (or even a secondary one) to substantiate this tall tale. This is one of many instances in which the pamphlet states as fact something that is a speculation. Only a small bit of reading could have removed much of the the confusion.

The reasoning behind the rifle being Albrecht's own is so confused it would take too long to explain (again)--see previous thread.

So it all hinges on the panther engraving, as Rich Pierce said. The claim that the engraving of the panther ties this to Paxinosa is entirely speculative, of course, but it cannot be so easily disproven as many of the straight-out mis-statements in the article. Could be true. Or maybe another Shawnee, if the panther was indeed associated with that tribe, owned this rifle? I will point out that the logic demands that we assign the Griffin rifle to an Indian with a Griffin as his tribal animal--but then that would be just absurd. I should also note that panthers were plentiful in Pennsylvania and appear in many diaries and even novels. Somebody who killed a panther might have wanted to engrave such an animal on his rifle, I suppose.

So, lots of reasons a panther would be engraved on a rifle.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 04:18:05 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 120RIR

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2017, 06:57:53 AM »
Good...this is precisely the type of debate I was hoping to trigger.

Unfortunately, I do not have copies of the various ledgers, diaries, letters, and other references that support the author's contention of a direct link between RCA 19 and Paxinosa.  What I can say and what I allude to earlier is the fact that the widely distributed pamphlet leaves out any number of details that when the author walks one through in a clear, logical, and detailed way provide a very strong case for the Paxinosa association.  However, let's not bother going into that since I don't have access to that body of research.  Suffice to say, the pamphlet was wholly inadequate.

Let's take a look at the panther/spear engraving.  First, remember that it does not exist in a vacuum apart from the other engravings on the rifle, the identical panther/spear motif used by the tribe today, and other archaeological and ethnographic evidence.  SPgordon is indeed correct in stating that panthers (mountain lions, cougars, whatever you want to call them) were once common throughout the eastern states (they're actually making a come-back even in Pennsylvania and N.J. but the state fish and game agencies won't admit that!). Yes, it is possible that the engraver of RCA 19 just liked the picture of the big cat.  However, what's depicted on RCA 19 is not just any rendition of a panther - it is the identical panther/spear used historically and today by the Eastern Shawnee tribe.  Secondly, the peculiar wrinkled face engraved elsewhere on the triggerguard bears a striking resemblance to other depictions of "The Great Spirit" deity (it can take on many names depending on the tribe) that figures prominently in the mythology of virtually all eastern U.S. Native American groups.  Comparable images can be found prehistorically, during the early historic period, and in present-day iconography.  Combine that with the panther/spear depiction and the Native American/Shawnee association with RCA 19 is strengthened.  Now, the engraving on the buttplate tang is somewhat more ambiguous.  The possibility that it does depict a figure arising out of flames per the Shawnee creation myth cannot be discounted but yes, it could mean plenty else since we can't ask the engraver. The figure itself is certainly intriguing - some kind of top-knot or hat, a long buttoned coat, rifle, etc. - that's all pretty clear.

As for the short rifle's attribution as Albrecht's personal rifle - yeah - I'm with you and others on that.  That's too much of a leap for comfort and the argument about signed/unsigned pieces doesn't hold water either.  Regardless, let's step back - documentary (albeit not altogether accessible I'm afraid) provides circumstantial evidence that RCA 19 may have been made for a specific Shawnee (Paxinosa) and we have a very early rifle with Paxinosa's clan-specific imagery.  I'll just leave it at that.

All of this, however, skirts the issue of the clear inter-related nature of these two early rifles.  Setting aside a possible Paxinosa connection, what are we to make of the obvious physical connection between these two guns? 




Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2017, 08:10:33 AM »
, what's depicted on RCA 19 is not just any rendition of a panther - it is the identical panther/spear used historically and today by the Eastern Shawnee tribe.

Exactly. Do you actually have any information about how the panther was represented (“used historically”) in 1752 or thereabouts? That would be interesting evidence.

The fact that the Shawnee tribe today uses the identical shape creates suspicion, not conviction. It is entirely irrelevant to what Albrecht may or may not have done in 1752.

I have no idea, honestly. But you (or the author?) have asserted that the panther was represented this way in the eighteenth century by the Shawnees ("used historically"). Do you have any evidence of that? If we are going to have a debate, people need to be responsible for supporting the claims they make. Otherwise ... well.

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Overall: it is misleading to say the pamphlet is “inadequate,” as if a better case exists elsewhere (verbally). It is mistaken and uninformed in nearly all of its assertions. I’ll dig it out and give you an example tomorrow.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 02:09:30 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 spgordon

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2017, 02:34:27 PM »
I've chosen a single paragraph, but one could discuss almost any paragraph with the same results. Original text in bold; my comments follow. I go sentence by sentence without omitting any sentences in this particular paragraph.

After arriving in Bethlehem in 1750, Albrecht established the Boys School and sometime after established a gunshop.

Error (Minor): Albrecht didn't "establish" any boys' school, which was flourishing in Bethlehem for many years before he arrived. He was assigned to the boys' school--probably not until several years after he arrived (we don't know exactly when).

An exact date is not known but according to missionary diaries and other archival records, a gunshop was established between 1750-1751.
Error (Major). No "gunshop" was established in Bethlehem, in 1750-1751 or after. Albrecht arrived and began to work as a gunstocker. He worked alongside the locksmith and all charges (and debits) to him appear on the Locksmith's account. The first "gunshop"--as a separate shop--for Moravians in Pennsylvania was established at Christiansbrunn in August 1763. Bethlehem had in Albrecht a gunstocker--from 1750-59--but it never had a gunshop then or after.

The main gun-making school was to take place in Bethlehem, while the external mission-towns were to have gunshops.

Error (Minor). If the word "school" was omitted, and "gunshops" at the end read "gunsmiths," this would be an accurate sentence. There was no "school" in Bethlehem, just a lone gunstocker without enough work to do and no apprentices. (See below.) Actually, there is a more subtle and important error here. Nobody ever planned to establish "gunshops" at mission stations, though often one of the missionaries had the skills to repair rifles. Big difference between a missionary who could, in a pinch, repair a weapon and a string of "gunshops" at a series of mission towns.

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 (aka. Christian Spring).
Error (Major). This is a major misunderstanding. First, Albrecht had (as far as we know) no apprentices at all in Bethlehem. His first apprentice was Christian Oerter in Christiansbrunn after 1759. There was no "school" in Bethlehem (and just a single apprentice in Christiansbrunn during Albrecht's years: not much of a "school"). In Bethlehem Albrecht repaired weapons in the locksmith's shop, and others in this shop must have aided him when he needed more hands than his own. He was not training any young men. He received an apprentice when he moved to Christiansbrunn and could not count on these other hands to help him. Now, even worse: the places the author names here are not "missions." Well, one was: Gnadenhutten, where I think there was a blacksmith who could repair guns. Having such an individual at a mission was crucial; it was the main things the Native Americans requested when they permitted Moravian missionaries to live at Shamokin. None of the other places the author names were missions; they were the small satellite communities that surrounded Bethlehem, populated by white Moravians: Nazareth (a small settlement 8 miles north), Gnadenthal (an even smaller farming community with a few families), Friedensthal (a mill), and Christiansbrunn (at this time, a very small group of single men: only in 1757 would it become a vo-tech of sorts at which masters trained boys in trades). Once Christiansbrunn became a vo-tech, Albrecht moves there and opens the first Moravian gunshop. So, to sum up: Albrecht had no apprentices, no mission towns had "gunshops" (though missions often had a man who could repair metal and iron stuff, including guns), and the places that the author names here (with the exception of Gnadenhutten) were not mission towns at all!!

Albrecht served as Master gunsmith in Bethlehem until 1759, when he moved with the Boys School to Nazareth. It was then that he served as gun-maker at Christiansbunn (Christian Springs) along with his apprentice Christian Oerter until 1766, when he married and took over the Sun Inn (Bethlehem).
Accurate Enough. Albrecht was not a "Master gunsmith," in the sense that he was Master and had apprentices, as I noted above. But the rest of these two last sentences get things right.

The author then includes a photo of a day book ("Tage Buch der Huf-Schmeide in Bethlehem 1753-1754"). He captions this "Bethlehem Gunshop Day Book, 1753-1754, Moravian Church Archives, Bethlehem, PA."
Error (Major). The German title of the daybook says "blacksmith" (literally, hoof-smith) not "gunsmith" or "gunshop." Remember, there is no gunshop in Bethlehem in these years. Now, there is another daybook in the Moravian Archives that has the title "Huff and Waffen-Schmidt" (1753-55), which one would hope would include gunsmith information. This would at least have been a better/more accurate photo to include! But this document, unfortunately, includes no information about a gunsmith's work, let alone work for the "5 mission gunshops" that never existed at places that weren't missions!!

The most generous thing a reader can do is chalk all this up to confusion, rather than a deliberate attempt to mislead. It is hard to be generous with this final item, the photograph and caption, however.

The general import of all these mistakes, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations is to portray Albrecht as the head of a school of gunsmiths who then scattered to populate a series of their own gunshops at mission towns. This is entirely fantasy. It does not correspond to reality. As far as we know--that is, the only information that has been discovered indicates that--Albrecht had a single apprentice, Oerter, during his six years or so at Christiansbrunn. Oerter took over that shop when Albrecht left and Oerter himself never left Christiansbrunn, dying a decade later in 1777.

None of this, of course, bears on what you rightly state is the key question: "what are we to make of the obvious physical connection between these two guns?" But please stop asserting (believing?) that "various ledgers, diaries, letters, and other references ... support the author's contentions." It just isn't so.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 03:12:33 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 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2017, 03:17:41 PM »
All of this, however, skirts the issue of the clear inter-related nature of these two early rifles.  Setting aside a possible Paxinosa connection, what are we to make of the obvious physical connection between these two guns?

All of the hypotheses of origin and/or ownership aside, which I think Scott is more than adequately addressing, one thing that I believe can be safely said is that there appears to be a very obvious, direct connection between the two guns in regard to style and manufacture.  This is seen not simply in overall architecture but also in smaller, less obvious details such as the upper foreshock moldings and huge 'hogged out' butt trap cavities which is not a commonly-used box mortise style relative to the construction of American rifles but was quite common in Germany at an early date.

Something I also find interesting is that both rifles utilize guards with sling hangers that were initially mounted on the bow (the wear is evident, never mind the drilled holes) and subsequently moved to the toe of the butt.  I don't think it means anything but I find it interesting, especially given the disparity in length between the two guns.

I would very much like to see a professional lab examination of a wood sample of the short rifle; portions of the stock look curiously like a European walnut as opposed to American walnut, but this is an observation based solely on photos rather than in-hand examination.

I am quite certain that there are non-destructive technologies that could be employed to better determine the presence of a signature and what that signature may indicate.

I do not personally know the owner of the rifle nor the responsible party/parties for the pamphlet outlining the speculation as to origin/ownership.  I would think that one would realize that a relatively "dramatic" pronouncement of this type would initiate a HUGE degree of (healthy) skepticism within the community.  As the old expression goes:  Don't get mad, get even!  Restricting access is never going to convince anyone of anything, but permitting a thorough examination of both the rifle as well as the researched information, and engaging in thoughtful discussion, may eventually win over the many skeptics.

The true key to this entire chain of argument is the potential signature or markings on the barrel, and unfortunately the absolute worst lighting to attempt transcription is the lonely darkness inside a gun safe.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 03:20:13 PM by Eric Kettenburg »
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Online rich pierce

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2017, 04:23:04 PM »
I think the author of the pamphlet actually decreased interest in them among contemporary builders. Instead of a pair of very early, interesting rifles order-made for potentially being 1740’s rifles (and what other candidates are there?), we have unnecessary controversy.

I’d like more discussion of the relationship between these guns and other Moravian guns built at the same time or somewhat later. Neither immediately suggests “Bethlehem” to me.
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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2017, 05:23:38 PM »
I'd like to know who built the above pictured gun, very well done.

As to who built the two originals in question, there is no way to know at this time. Maybe if another similar gun pops up with an actual readable signature then we'll have something. Until then all this wild speculation doesn't accomplish anything. Each of these guns by them selves are wonderful pieces of American history, together they help to reinforce their importance.
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Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2017, 05:41:56 PM »
I’d like more discussion of the relationship between these guns and other Moravian guns built at the same time or somewhat later. Neither immediately suggests “Bethlehem” to me.

As it currently stands, the only definitively Moravian work that can be absolutely attributed to Northampton Co. are Oerter's signed/dated rifles of the 1770s.  Marshall's rifle is assumed to be a product of either Bethlehem or CS, but this can not be definitively said to be true.  Same can be said of #42 and #43 (although a pretty strong case can be made for #43 as a slightly earlier unsigned Oerter).  About the only earlier-looking piece that can probably be attributed to a Moravian stocker would be the 'lion and lamb' rife, and this only because of the extremely similar decorative style when compared to Oerter's 'griffin' rifle.  The other 'lion' or 'two tailed dog' rifle, I have much stronger doubts.

I think what I'm trying to say is that if we really want to view these two rifles to the 1750s, then in reality we likely have nothing else to which we might compare them that can be said with certainty to be a product of the Moravians in Northampton Co.

Albrecht was of course trained in Europe at a much earlier date than Oerter being trained here.  Despite Oerter 'learning' from Albrecht, perhaps different times and a different personality led to utterly different work?  No way to know.

The short rifle, to my eye, looks very much like some form of 1740s-1750s German martial piece complete with economy of decoration and a very utilitarian aspect.  Coincidence that Albrecht spent a good deal of his working period prior to emigration with martial regiments?
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Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2017, 06:15:20 PM »
Just to build a bit on what Eric wrote: remember that Albrecht arrives in Bethlehem in 1750, having been practicing his trade among the single brothers in the Moravian community of Herrnhaag (this is after his military service). He immigrates to America only because that Moravian community is forcibly disbanded, and he comes over with a large group (80 men? I forget). He is not chosen or selected on the basis of his particular skills of gunstocking.

He does not settle in a city where whatever skills or habits or tendencies, formed in many years of gunmaking in Europe, might have rubbed up against others practicing the same trade--and so might have adapted or adjusted (or caused theirs to adapt or adjust). He is, for the most part, isolated in Bethlehem. It is a small place. Only about 300 people lived in Bethlehem: 55 married couples, 12 widows and widowers, 118 single men, 50 single women, and 65 children of various ages. In all the nearby communities of Nazareth, Gnadenthal, Christiansbrunn, Friedensthal, and Gnadenhütten – which were knit together with Bethlehem in a unified and coordinated economy – only another 320 people lived, 138 of whom populated a Native American congregation at Gnadenhütten.

So I would think whatever stocking he did in Bethlehem in these early years would resemble the work he did in Europe. Why would it look any different? Or would the materials available to him here alter the shape of his stocks?

« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 06:18:38 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

Online rich pierce

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2017, 07:14:37 PM »
I am working on the premise that Albrecht was a major influence in developing the Christians Spring style, which is quite different than what we see in these 2 guns.  He had been a journeyman in Europe and was likely conversant with many styles.

Note the Lititz Albrecht rifle is essentially a Lancaster rifle in architecture. In thinking about that single data point, a couple possibilities arise in my mind.  Of course actual human events are beyond reason, but we try to make sense of things.

1) The Lititz Albrecht rifle represents Albrecht’s style, somehow congruent with the already established Lancaster style.
     a. Then perhaps Albrecht had little influence on what we view as the CS style and perhaps did not make any of the Moravian rifles we study.

Or

2) Like any good journeyman, Albrecht could adapt his work to the local style.
     a. If there was no local style, as on the frontier at Bethlehem, with no previous style developed, he could set the style.  If that was the case, his personal preferences might be reflected in the CS style.
           1. Given that these 2 guns do not look like CS guns, this argues against Albrecht being the maker.
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Offline DaveM

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2017, 07:28:36 PM »
Thanks for bringing this article, and previous post chain, to our attention - somehow I missed this the first time.

I think we would all love to see proof that this rifle was the indian chief’s rifle as stated in the article.  I for one am VERY skeptical that this was ever an indian-owned rifle, based on condition alone, especially of this early date.  An indian rifle, even one owned by a chief, would have been beat to death within a few years, let alone if the gun was not actually buried with the chief.  Here in Lancaster County PA archaeologists have found guns and gun parts that were buried with individual Indians (“Susquehanna’s Indians” by Barry C. Kent).  Or the gun would have been passed to his descendants and used further, would have numerous repairs etc. 

I believe that anyone writing an article like this without definitive proof has a responsibility to use terms like “may be” and “could be” or even “probably”.  This is where investor / collector interest can conflict with historical interest.  That said, it is great that the owner is willing to get photos and info out to us, and we should appreciate that.

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2017, 12:17:11 AM »
Aside from perhaps one or at most two posts in the previous four page thread that might be construed as somewhat disrespectful (perhaps snarky may be a better term), I think the previous discussion of the two rifles and the pamphlet/article was fairly well-mannered.  I'm not certain where the concept of "disrespectful negativity" is coming from, unless one expects to throw attributions or hypotheses 'out there' and expect such hypotheses to simply be blindly accepted.  I would think any researcher seeking truth would welcome a challenge and the chance to prove one's theory.

I will reiterate that in a reasoned and thoughtful approach to this entire speculative argument, step number 1 should be a very detailed examination of the purported signature on the short rifle, using any and all non-destructive methods available.  Extremely high resolution photography that can be manipulated with different filters would be a useful start.  Everything revolving around the entire hypotheses in regard to both guns flows from the potential signature on the short rifle, and hiding it away from public examination will never win anyone over, nor will anger at a theory being poked, prodded and questioned.  Of course, I don't have any skin in the game, so the manner in which the owner chooses to approach examination of the rifle is his prerogative.

I can think of many, MANY discussions we had here a number of years ago when Earl, Gary, Wallace and others used to regularly post which sure became one heck of a lot more heated than the somewhat mild (as I see it) discussion we had a little back concerning these two pieces!
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 12:20:15 AM by Eric Kettenburg »
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Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2017, 12:21:45 AM »
Where did the thread go to which I just responded?  Now I look like I'm talking to myself!

Wait, I just did it again!
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2017, 12:32:27 AM »
I saw it! Then I blinked and ....

I was trying not to respond. What is “disrespectful negativity” to one is “honesty” or “curiosity” or just “inquiry” to another...

If the internet has taught us anything, it is that the days of deference are over. Anybody can say anything to anybody. This didn't use to be the case. And I'm not saying that it's always a good thing. But the time when individuals (usually men of a certain age: I'm thinking of my father, who would be in his 90s) can go through life without having (and never expecting to have) their pronouncements challenged--by their wives, their children, their employees--seems to be over. We live in a different age. And a much better one, in my own opinion.

I am not encouraging anybody to be disrespectful. Far from it. But I have seen time and time again that some individuals feel that any challenge, even a perfectly reasonable one, is disrespectful. They prefer, in Eric's words, blind acceptance--and, I'd say, submission. I'm just saying I think those days are over.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 01:27:43 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

Online rich pierce

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2017, 12:35:48 AM »
You’re too young to be talking to yourself, Eric. Must be a flashback.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 12:36:35 AM by rich pierce »
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Offline sqrldog

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2017, 12:53:35 AM »
Hate I missed it. I have really been enjoying thus thread. I am not qualified to question anyones hypothesis on these rifles. I haven't seen the short rifle but had the pleasure if holding RCA 19 at the KyTn show at Knoxville in 2016. Would really enjoy seeing the short rifle. Which by the way the short contemporary copy is a fine rifle. RCA 19 certainly does have some interesting features. I made a pictue of the patchbox cavity on RCA 19. A comparison of the chisel marks in the two box cavities would further connect the two rifles if they match
These are the discussions that I really enjoy. Tim

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2017, 02:24:27 AM »
I just don't understand why when ever a new gun  pops up everything about it has to be kept a big secret. This short gun and the new "1780's VA. gun" Wallace Gusler has recently "discovered" being good examples. I suppose it's all about the money, or lack there of. I honestly don't think getting these guns out in public so people can view them and discuss them wouldn't hurt the value one way or the other. Most likely, the more exposure, the more factual information the present owners are likely to receive. Or, maybe that's not a good thing? Personally if I owned important guns like this I'd want to share them so I'd be able to gather as much information as possible.
 Also, is the builder of the above gun a secret too? Can't seem to get any info on it either.... ???
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Offline smart dog

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2017, 02:33:07 AM »
Hi Eric and Scott,
I semi-retired from a 30-year career as a research scientist and our bread and butter is independent replication of results when at all possible (there are times when that is not possible) and review of results by our knowledgeable peers.  That process, which acknowledges human error and biases among scientists, can at times be brutal and sometimes deservedly and other times undeservedly humiliating, requiring a thick skin and a strong stomach.  Other disciplines like history have somewhat similar processes though usually less robust and more subjective.  The problem with scholarly debate on forums such as this is that many folks are unfamiliar with what passes as documented evidence, and the experience to link a chain of evidence into a cohesive hypothesis of events.  You are not born with that skill set.  You acquire it through education and experience.  Add the fact that short posts on the forum often do not accurately convey the author's intent (just like e-mail and TWITTER), and you have a formula for acrimony.  So what is the solution?  Well, I believe the solution is partly what you have already done, presented documented evidence and information.  As long as your comments are not personal attacks this forum has no problem with disagreement and if folks have a hard time with that they need to ask themselves, can I respond with evidence and logic or am I just mad?  If the latter, and you cannot respond with evidence and logic, don't respond because you have little to add.  Those folks who have a lot of information and expertise, you need to understand that not everything you write is clear to those who do not have your understanding and experience and so I believe you need to be mentors more than authorities or advocates.  Do any of you remember the play and movie "Harvey"?  In one scene, Elwood P. Dowd, the center of the story, says his grandmother always told him that to survive in this world you had to oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.  He said he tried smart but he recommends pleasant.

Mike, I agree with you and it begs the question of whether private collections motivated by monetary value enhance or hinder historical progress.

dave 
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Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2017, 02:39:05 AM »
I think there's a number of reasons for the secrecy.  Sometimes, a piece turns up "needing" restoration to varying degrees, and the owner prefers to avoid photography until the work is completed, for whatever reason.  Sometimes, a piece is going to be used in a forthcoming publication, and the owner and/or author would like to be able to sell books; no need to buy the cow when the milk's free, you know?  Sometimes, the owner prefers to keep the entire thing shrouded in secrecy for fear of theft - can't steal something if nobody knows about it!

I'm sure there are other reasons that make sense, and I'm sure there are also non-sensical reasons as well.  I certainly have run into situations where there is a strong emotional component involved, or ego, or both, but I guess when one spends big $$$ on something they are certainly free to do whatever they want with it.
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2017, 02:39:36 AM »
Dave, very thoughtful post.   :)
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Offline spgordon

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Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #24 on: November 26, 2017, 02:47:42 AM »
This is where investor / collector interest can conflict with historical interest.

My opinion--and it is just an opinion and one less flexible and generous than Eric's--is that Dave M identified the concern precisely: collectors/investors worry that the real history/truth/facts will reduce the value of an investment. Or a rumor/"fake news" will reduce the value of an investment. Both are possible and, if I had invested substantial funds in an object, I would worry about both as well.

As long as the objects that we study remain primarily in private hands--where their owners must concern themselves with their value, since they have paid so much for them in the first place--the field of rifle research will always be compromised. It is just the way it is. I know of people who have to tell collectors what they want to hear (and be careful of what they say in print or online) because to do otherwise would reduce or eliminate altogether the access that they need for study, photography, etc. I understand the compromise but it does not lead to reliable information or research.

Most fields, as Dave has posted in this thread and others had noted in others, solve such problems through peer review, usually anonymous or "double blind." I don't know whose essay I am reading (usually) and the person who wrote the essay doesn't know who is assessing it. This system can be abused, too. But, in nearly all the cases I have known as a professional researcher for 25 years or more, peer review improves the final product. People need to hear and be able to respond to constructive criticism--or skepticism. As Dave says, one then needs to respond with "evidence and logic": if you're not able to, probably there was something wrong with the initial argument.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 02:52:45 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