Author Topic: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle  (Read 18689 times)

Offline Mike Brooks

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9629
    • Mike Brooks Gunmaker
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #25 on: November 26, 2017, 03:01:38 AM »
 I don't think I'd lay out "substantial funds" for items that have no firm standing as to what they actually are. It seems this may be the base of the actual problem.
 I'd just like to see the blasted things. I don't necessarily have to give a public opinion on who built them or where they were built, I'm not sure at this point that who/where really makes a difference as there isn't a signature and the whole conversation appears to be speculation at this point.
NEW WEBSITE! www.mikebrooksflintlocks.com
Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?

Offline Eric Kettenburg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2517
    • Site
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #26 on: November 26, 2017, 03:10:33 AM »
...as there isn't a signature and the whole conversation appears to be speculation at this point.

See, in this particular case, this seems to be the root of the problem. The owner of the rifle has stated that Albrecht's signature is present.  Unfortunately - as far as I know - nobody else has been able / permitted to get a really, really close look in excellent lighting to attempt to verify this.  Caveat, I've stated 'as far as I know.'   If someone else who has actually handled the rifle ALSO truly believes that they can see the signature as it is purported, I'm sure we'd all love to hear from him.

Again, some high res photos of the signature would go a looooooooong way.  Could easily pop them into Dropbox or something and then we could all play with them using imaging software.

Yes, there is a risk here:  the risk is that nobody else would be able to interpret it.  OR, many may interpret it as Albrecht's signature as well, in which case the owner's hypothesis gains some real traction.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 03:13:47 AM by Eric Kettenburg »
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline 120RIR

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #27 on: November 26, 2017, 03:22:35 AM »
Being the trouble-maker who brought this whole RCA 19 issue up again, I'll respond to a couple of the "easy" questions and points posted above and I'm attaching two additional photos of the bench copy since Eric K. raised the interesting patchbox feature of the short rifle and RCA 19.  A gentleman by the name of Ernie Cowan (one of the two authors of the referenced pamphlet) made the copy of the short rifle (and a few copies of RCA 19 which was loaned to him several years ago).  For a number of years he was taking on various projects including the Lewis and Clark M.1800/1803 rifle, the Girandoni air rifle carried by Meriwether Lewis, the Ferguson rifle, etc.  Researching and making a handful of bench copies of each gun...and then moving on to the next project. 

Concerning David M's assertion that an Indian-owned rifle would have been beat to death, repaired many times, etc., that may be the case but to some degree that assumes that the respective owner was still living in a traditional manner and hadn't adopted a more sedentary lifestyle set apart from the rigors of his recent ancestors and kin.  There are many Native American articles ranging from peace medals to clothing that have been passed down from generation to generation within families that to this day remain in remarkable condition.  A piece that may very well have been a status symbol (such as an engraved rifle) certainly could have been similarly valued and treated by a family for generations.

Concerning the "inadequate", "misleading", and/or "inaccurate" article (whichever term one might prefer but all probably applicable at least in part), clearly the evidence demonstrates there was no formal gun shop in Bethlehem mastered by Albrecht and that is indeed a significant problem with the author's presentation.  However (and I ask this with malice towards none...only wanting to be educated), is that really relevant to whether or not RCA 19 or the peculiar short rifle were made/stocked by Albrecht?  It is stated by spgordon that Bethlehem had in Albrecht a gunstocker--from 1750-59--but it never had a gun shop then or after.  That being the case then the statement below contained within said article by Ernie Cowan is interesting:

On April 18, 1754, Moravian missionary David Kleist scribed in his diary that “the Great Shawanos visited Bethlehem…and asked about Brother Albrecht who had made a rifle for him two years ago in a very satisfactory fashion.” The only Shawanos (Shawnee) chief (documented to have been) in Bethlehem at that time was Paxinosa, substantiated by his name having been mentioned as leaving for Wyoming on April 19th.

The "documented to have been" is my addition - I suppose one could always argue there was some other prominent Shawnee/Shawanos in Bethlehem at the time and their presence just doesn't appear in any documentation.  Also - in the article, the author doesn't mention the source for his contention that Paxinosa was "the" Shawanee chief in Bethlehem that asked about Albrecht - I saw the documentation but don't recall what specifically what it was - a detail remedied by a simple phone call on my part).

Regardless, between Albrecht's gunstocking activities for nine years in Bethlehem, the period reference to a rifle "made" by Albrecht possibly for Paxinosa, and an early rifle bearing probable Native American and possible Shawnee-specific imagery, doesn't this begin to shape a circumstantial argument for RCA 19 being "the" rifle referenced in Kleist's 1754 diary?  Yes...there is no "smoking gun" (no pun intended) here but isn't it suggestive at the very least? 

Personally - I have my marching orders - further research the origins of the present-day panther/spear symbol.  I have to dig back into my library and re-establish contacts from my eastern U.S. career when most of my work was in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  Great - a walk down memory lane now that I've been on the Left Coast for 18 years!






Offline spgordon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #28 on: November 26, 2017, 03:43:59 AM »
120RIR (sounds silly, like Sci-Fi, but I don't think you've used your name!)--there is no question that Albrecht stocked a rifle for a leading Shawnee, perhaps Paxinosa. This information was in print before the folks wrote the pamphlet. I certainly haven't suggested anything otherwise.

Indeed, to specify even more: the words of the Shawnee leader are recorded in the Shamokin Diary for April 18, 1754--and we know that a group of Shawnees visited Bethlehem on July 10, 1752. So it seems likely that Albrecht stocked that rifle in July 1752. I discuss that here (footnote 23): https://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=263

The only question I've pushed back on is whether the rifle with the panther engraving, etc., is that rifle. I would agree that the markings on the rifle and the fact that Albrecht stocked a rifle for a prominent Shawnee (perhaps Paxinosa) is "suggestive," as you say. I've asked some questions about the markings on the rifle and whether it makes sense to link them to Paxinosa. Worth discussing. But this is not the attitude that the authors of the pamphlet took: they insisted on this as proven fact. And, given their unreliable "facts" throughout the rest of the pamphlet, that merits some pushing back, too.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 03:48:06 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

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #29 on: November 26, 2017, 04:40:49 AM »
Ha!   :)  Nope...not sci-fi at all.  My ID references the 120th Reserve Infantry Regiment (or properly, the Reserve Infantry Regiment 120) from the Stuttgart area.  It was my uncle Hans' unit in WWI.  He joined up in the summer of 1914, fought for the Kaiser in just about every major engagement you can think of, got captured on Messines Ridge in June of 1917, held prisoner, and only made it back home in December of 1920.  He then went to America and in his words "Became an American".

My real name is Brian Ludwig - originally from NJ, finished up my Ph.D. in archaeology and only then decided I didn't like teaching.  I decided to stay in the contract field and for career reasons moved to California (Placerville area - not too far from Tahoe) in 2000.  I collected WWI German field/technical gear for 30 years and only in the last 18 months sold off a large collection to support my "new" (been interested for many years) passion of early Penn rifles.  So here I am - an "old" collector, but the new kid on the block in the long rifle world.

Your push back is welcome.  As you and others have stated - that's how research moves forward, conclusions are formulated, questions answered, and hopefully debates settled.  Like I said - now I have a focused project - further researching the panther/spear motif.  I know I've "seen" it in a historical context but it's been years.  I only hope in the not-too-distant future to convince the original short rifle's owner to allow it to be examined in detail to settle the signature question.  Wish me luck!

Offline spgordon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #30 on: November 26, 2017, 03:25:35 PM »
Brian -- I didn't mean that the "120RIR" sounded silly--only that addressing you as that (not knowing your first name) sounded silly--as if I were talking to BB8 or R2D2.

I am not a collector myself--don't own a rifle, new or old--but research, write, and publish about Moravians and so have got very interested in their economy & trades and their gun making trade in particular. If you have a moment, you might be interested in the Christiansbrunn (Christian's Spring) website that my students (and I) put together a few summers ago:

https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4103
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #31 on: November 26, 2017, 04:08:24 PM »
Hi Scott, Brian, and Eric,
Because Moravians seem to have kept better records of their activities of which much has survived to the present compared with other groups and communities, and there are several Rev War or earlier era guns linked to Christian's Spring, do we over emphasize the importance of Christian's Spring and other Moravian settlements as influences on early American gun making?  I suspect that if you asked many members of this forum to describe an early (pre AWI) American rifle they would first envision an Oerter or perhaps Marshall rifle.  Indeed, with Jim Chamber's and TOW kits for "Marshall" or "Christian's Springs" rifles, I think the notion of those guns as the iconic "early long rifles" is well embedded in many minds.  During his time, perhaps Albrecht and his work was little known and appreciated such that when he moved to Littitz, he built guns in the style prevailing around Lancaster rather than in his own style.

dave     
"Flick Lives!"

Offline Mike Brooks

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9629
    • Mike Brooks Gunmaker
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #32 on: November 26, 2017, 04:11:53 PM »
Thanks for ID-ing yourself 120RIR, I always like to know who is actually saying what.

Ernie Cowan....is he the Cowan's auction guy?
NEW WEBSITE! www.mikebrooksflintlocks.com
Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?

Offline spgordon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #33 on: November 26, 2017, 04:37:44 PM »
Because Moravians seem to have kept better records of their activities of which much has survived to the present compared with other groups and communities, and there are several Rev War or earlier era guns linked to Christian's Spring, do we over emphasize the importance of Christian's Spring and other Moravian settlements as influences on early American gun making?   

I think this is definitely the case. For many years (still?), people wrote and talked about a "school" at Christian's Spring--and they didn't just mean a "style." The folks who wrote the pamphlet under discussion do that, as I suggested above, identifying Albrecht as having a series of apprentices who then went to work elsewhere. Both Sam Dyke and James Whisker offered an inflated list of gunsmiths who worked at Christian's Spring: "John Christian Oerter, Daniel Kliest, William Henry, Jr., Frederick Steinman, Joseph Levering, and, possibly, William Antes, Abraham Henry, Peter Neihardt, John Moll, Andrew Hermann Rupp, John Rupp and Henry Deringer” (in Whisker's account).

This is all wrong--perhaps most obviously in that it includes a slew of non-Moravian gunsmiths who never would have practiced (or been allowed to practice or apprentice) in a Moravian gunshop. It should not have been hard for Whisker to know that this list included men/boys who could not have worked at Christian's Spring: Abraham Henry, for instance, comes to Nazareth after his brother has left Christian's Spring and serves as an apprentice in Nazareth for much of the 1780s. In reality, only a half-dozen men actually worked at Christian's Spring: Andreas  Albrecht, Christian Oerter, William Henry Jr., Joseph Levering, Jacob Loesch Jr., and Georg Weiss, though one or two more may have been diverted there to help complete a wartime contract. And--crucially--these men were not all there at once. Typically, there was a single master and an apprentice (Albrecht and Oerter, for instance), though, again, this changed a bit during the war years when Oerter had secured an arms contract that required additional hands.

So I think there has been an effort, probably not deliberate, to inflate the importance and nature of the Christian's Spring shop.

Others will have to weigh in on the style of Christian's Spring--which can only mean Oerter, right? we have no signed rifles by Levering or Loesch or Weiss or Henry or Albrecht during his CS years--had a disproportionate impact given the small size of the operation.
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 rich pierce

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12361
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #34 on: November 26, 2017, 05:35:34 PM »
Scott, I noted the absence of Valentine Beck from that list of gunsmiths who were at Christians Spring.  Not to derail the discussion, but he did not work there?

I am harping on the style issue; the apples and oranges differences beeen Oerter’s work, RCA 42, RCA 41, Marshall rifle, basically all the rifles included in the Moravian gunmakers book, and RCA 19 and the sister rifle.  Attributing these two guns to Albrecht is akin to discovering  two step-wristed rifles with Berks County-styled carving and attributing them to Mattias Roesser of Lancaster, or finding two step-wristed early guns with double C- scroll carving behind the cheekpiece and attributing them to Wolfgang Haga of Reading.  In other words, though possible given his experience, that Albrecht made rifles such as the sister rifles, there is little in their style that would lead anyone to pick Albrecht as the maker, versus anyone else. For example, he apparently gave up using that style of patchbox cavity or never passed it down to Oerter. 

Much has been made of construction details by the detectives of early rifles, offering clues as to who made a given unsigned rifle or rifles.  None of that here.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Eric Kettenburg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2517
    • Site
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #35 on: November 26, 2017, 05:55:59 PM »
Scott or Bob L will certainly know more but I believe Beck was sent up to CS to teach school when Albrecht moved over to the gun shop (once complete), and I don't think he was happy about it.  I don't think he ever 'officially' worked in the gun shop.

Rich I see what you're saying, which is why I have to harp on the same thing I keep saying:  first and foremost, there has to be a really in-depth exam and consensus reached in regard to the alleged signature.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 06:07:48 PM by Eric Kettenburg »
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline 120RIR

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #36 on: November 26, 2017, 06:14:17 PM »
Scott - ah...yes, Star Wars-sounding "names" get a little weird after a while, eh?

Mike (and others), Ernie Cowan has no relation to the Cowan of auction house fame to the best of my knowledge.  He was a business associate of Great War Militaria in Chambersburg and worked on a lot of their major restoration projects (like a 1916 German 77mm field gun) but he and Rick Keller (GWM owner) both had long-standing interests in early arms and branched out into that field later on.  Ernie is essentially retired now.

Offline Eric Kettenburg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2517
    • Site
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2017, 06:19:16 PM »
One thing to consider:  *IF* Albrecht did stock these two guns, and *IF* 19 was made for Paxinosa, then the shorty (and probably both) were made in the early 1750s when Albrecht was still in Bethlehem.  This would mean they were made in the locksmith shop alongside Daniel Kleist and maybe one or two others working in there at the time?  And, it would seem that the gunsmith work customers in Bethlehem in the early 1750s were often friendly Indians, not solely local settlers.  How did this affect expectations of any products?   Again, Scott or Bob certainly could be much more accurate with the timeline and details.

By the time he begins in the CS shop with Oerter, close to 10 years would have passed.  How would regional expectations have changed?  Northampton Co. was on fire with Indian attacks, Johannes Moll - already a gunsmith - was moving into Allentown, the provincial gov't was sending supplies and money up to Northampton Co. for support of the militia.  Now, the primary customer base may be heavily weighted toward the local farmers, hunters and settlers.  And, we still can't really say what the heck they may have been making all through the 1760s because there is nothing signed or dated to which we can specifically point as an example.  Even pointing to Marshall's rifle is a leap of faith.  Maybe Marshall had Johannes Moll stock it?  So between the shorty/19 and Oerter's earliest dated work of I believe 1773, about 20 years have passed.  That's a long time.  And Albrecht's Lititz rifle (we assume Lititz) also looks nothing like Oerter's work, so there we have another outlier if comparing to Oerter; if it was not signed, would ANYONE point to that gun and believe it was made by Albrecht?
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline smart dog

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4103
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #38 on: November 26, 2017, 07:16:05 PM »
Hi Mike,
Ernie Cowan and his associate, Richard Keller have done novel investigations into the "short rifle" claimed to be carried by the Lewis and Clark expedition, the air gun carried by Lewis, the Ferguson rifle, etc.  They usually build and test an "exact" copy of the firearm in question and then draw conclusions from that work and additional written documentation they have found and researched.  I greatly admire their approach and their gun making skills as well.  However, in their written works they often overstate their case and evidence.  For example, in Bailey's book on British military flintlock rifles, they confidently assert that Ferguson rifles built for ordnance and the East India Company all had bronze screw plugs like the gun in the Morristown Museum, which they copied, and that was the secret to making the rifle work effectively.  Well, they wrote that before the Ferguson rifle in the Millwaukee Public Museum was identified as one of the missing ordnance rifles and it has a steel plug.  Moreover, Bryan Brown and Rick Roberts are successfully demonstrating their steel plugged Ferguson replicas in front of large crowds.  Anyway, I admire their work and usually give it the weight I feel it deserves among other competing hypotheses.

dave   
"Flick Lives!"

Offline spgordon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #39 on: November 26, 2017, 07:19:50 PM »
Valentine Beck.

I don't think he ever worked at Christiansbrunn--there is no evidence that he did--though I suspect Bob L would disagree about my conclusion. Beck does indicate in his lebenslauf (spiritual memoir), I think, that he worked, probably briefly, at his trade in Bethlehem itself.

One of the things I am convinced of after studying the Moravian trades generally (and gunsmithing in that context) is that there was little work for a gunstocker to do in these communities--some work for Native Americans (early) and some work for neighbors. Gunsmiths were working only on demand, not making product/inventory to be sold later. And so, often the problem for authorities is what to do with the gunstockers that they had: they were looking for other things for them to do to fill their time. Gunstockers were needed, to service Native American needs and to train the next generation (to service Native American need), but they were not needed in the way that shoemakers or butchers or preachers or carpenters were needed (i.e., constant work for them).

Valentine Beck... In Bob L and my article on the gunstocking trade at Bethlehem and Christiansbrunn, I argued that (sorry for the long quotation):

The  irregular  demand  for  the  work  of  a  gunstocker  left  Moravian authorities puzzled about what to do with another European-trained gunstocker,  Johann  Valentin  Beck  (1731–91),  when  he  arrived  in  Bethlehem in October 1761. Beck worked for a while at his profession in Bethlehem, perhaps releasing Albrecht from traveling to Bethlehem for gunstocking activities for a time—and then, Beck recalled in his Lebenslauf, he moved to Nazareth to serve the children in Nazareth Hall. It is possible that those guns  stocked  “in  the  best  Manner”  or  “genteely”  were  Beck’s  work  or were influenced by him, applying the latest designs and techniques from Europe, though the charges for these fine arms occurred after he moved to Nazareth. It is possible, too, that while Albrecht was busy with his teaching responsibilities,  Beck  fulfilled  orders  in  the  gunstocking  shop.  But  both gunstockers, living at Christiansbrunn, worked primarily among children.
     While  Beck  would  have  had  the opportunity to  work  alongside  Albrecht and his apprentice Oerter—this would have been an impressive gathering of talent—authorities treated this concentration of gunstockers not as an opportunity but as a problem: too many men in a trade for which there was little work. On March 22, 1762, authorities proposed moving Beck from Christiansbrunn to  Bethlehem  to  work  with  the  children—and,  at  the  same  time,  pondered “carrying on the gunstocking shop here [Bethlehem] in the future,” probably as a privatized trade once the communal economy ended in June. Beck, however, remained at Nazareth Hall with the children he taught and gunmaking remained in  Christiansbrunn. It was not possible (unless circumstances changed) within the Moravian economic system for Beck, or Albrecht, to work full-time in the profession in which he had trained. Beck found work with the children burdensome  at  first,  but  he  accepted  his  assignments.  Authorities continued to search for a place where Beck could “establish” the trade of gunstocker and “sustain [himself ] with it.” They assigned him in February 1764 to Lititz (to which he never moved, because a replacement was not found for him at Nazareth Hall) and later to Bethabara, North Carolina, where he arrived in October 1764 and set up as a gunstocker.


So, it's an argument. No Moravian records, in pondering what to do with Beck, mention Albrecht or the Christiansbrunn gunshop (begun only in August 1763); that is, it does not seem as if they thought of these matters as connected. So no evidence that Beck did ever work at Christiansbrunn, but no certain evidence that he didn't.

Scott
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 07:28:03 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 spgordon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #40 on: November 26, 2017, 07:35:35 PM »
I believe Beck was sent up to CS to teach school when Albrecht moved over to the gun shop (once complete),

This is interesting. I don't think we have ever pinned down this sort of coordination--or know, really, how Albrecht's time was divided between gunmaking and the school, either before the gunshop was built (late 1763) or after. We just don't know, even after he has a gunshop at Christiansbrunn, that he is "full-time" there, though it would make sense that he was (especially since he needed to train Oerter). But: he seems to still be working at the school when Beck is sent there in, say, 1762. At least that is what I recollect.

Unfortunately, as far as I know, there are no lists of teachers at the boys' school (Naz Hall) that we could look at to see when Albrecht joins the list or gets removed from it.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 07:37:27 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

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2517
    • Site
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #41 on: November 26, 2017, 08:04:22 PM »
I believe Beck was sent up to CS to teach school when Albrecht moved over to the gun shop (once complete),

Oops, faulty memory, I did mean to say Nazareth as I knew he taught somewhere, and didn't he mention in his lebenslauf that he was initially somewhat unhappy about it?

This is interesting. I don't think we have ever pinned down this sort of coordination--or know, really, how Albrecht's time was divided between gunmaking and the school, either before the gunshop was built (late 1763) or after. We just don't know, even after he has a gunshop at Christiansbrunn, that he is "full-time" there, though it would make sense that he was (especially since he needed to train Oerter). But: he seems to still be working at the school when Beck is sent there in, say, 1762. At least that is what I recollect.

Unfortunately, as far as I know, there are no lists of teachers at the boys' school (Naz Hall) that we could look at to see when Albrecht joins the list or gets removed from it.

I'm going by recollection also, based upon many conversations with Bob, but I figure either you or he have the documentation as to how it was all 'going down' with Albrecht, Oerter and Beck and what to do with all three of them!

While I definitely do not agree with some of the theories that Bob Smalser was advocating when he was researching Neihardt and potential associates, he did hit on an interesting point that I believe has strong merit.  Namely, that while there do not seem to be many guns at all in Northampton Co. amongst the fairly poor citizenry during the 1750s, nor much call for gunsmith work among them either, the violent events of the early 1760s seem to be a catalyst that initiated a somewhat sudden ramp-up of demand and fulfillment.  CS is established, not merely Albrecht but he even gets an apprentice.  Johannes Moll moves over to Allentown from Berks Co, and there is some circumstantial evidence that Neihardt may have jumped into gun work in the 1760s as well.  Interesting period.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 08:05:41 PM by Eric Kettenburg »
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline spgordon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #42 on: November 26, 2017, 08:17:19 PM »

I'm going by recollection also, based upon many conversations with Bob, but I figure either you or he have the documentation as to how it was all 'going down' with Albrecht, Oerter and Beck and what to do with all three of them!

While I definitely do not agree with some of the theories that Bob Smalser was advocating when he was researching Neihardt and potential associates, he did hit on an interesting point that I believe has strong merit.  Namely, that while there do not seem to be many guns at all in Northampton Co. amongst the fairly poor citizenry during the 1750s, nor much call for gunsmith work among them either, the violent events of the early 1760s seem to be a catalyst that initiated a somewhat sudden ramp-up of demand and fulfillment.  CS is established, not merely Albrecht but he even gets an apprentice.  Johannes Moll moves over to Allentown from Berks Co, and there is some circumstantial evidence that Neihardt may have jumped into gun work in the 1760s as well.  Interesting period.

I don't think BS ever had any information about how many guns there were in Northampton County--he had that one quotation about how few there were in Allentown/Northampton (but he had no idea that there were only a tiny number of residents, maybe 13 households?, and some of those already off in the militia with their guns). Remember that in the 1750s there are very few inhabitants in Northampton County, with no Allentown/Northampton yet and Easton founded in 1752. We have no idea whatsoever how many guns were in Easton, as a sheer number or by percentage of population.

But, all this aside, it seems very likely that the Indian Wars of the late 1750s and early 1760s catalyze the gunsmithing profession. I believe strong evidence suggests that it is only these wars that lead Moravian authorities to build the gunshop in Christiansbrunn (others believe differently).

Documentation takes us only so far ... and then it often depends on one's starting assumptions. Some folks look at the fact that Albrecht & Oerter & Beck were all present and imagine them all working together. Maybe. But viewed from a different perspective, of what the Moravian economies in which they lived and worked needed, different questions (and answers) arise. Given the lack of work for a single gunstocker, what would the three of these men have been doing in the gunshop every day? And so what else could the community find for them to do? There are many (fully documented) instances of individuals being trained in the gun trade in Moravian communities and then being assigned (sometimes for their entire lives) to other trades because they were more urgently needed.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 08:28:09 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 rich pierce

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12361
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #43 on: November 26, 2017, 08:26:49 PM »
Thanks for the reminder on Beck. I should have remembered he was associated with Bethlehem not Christians Spring which was established later.

So back to subject at hand. If its’s Albrecht’s signature on the sister rifle then we have not only the 2 earliest American made rifles attributable to a specific maker and short timeframe, but also a mystery regarding the origins of Oerter’s style. And even more uncertainty about who may have made the unsigned guns attributed to the Moravian gunsmiths.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline spgordon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #44 on: November 26, 2017, 08:44:29 PM »
Rich and Eric, apologies if this is an ignorant (or already answered elsewhere) question (I'm good with historical research--not skilled in "reading" these early rifles): does it make any sense to see Beck as an important influence in Oerter's style?
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 08:44:46 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

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2517
    • Site
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #45 on: November 26, 2017, 09:07:35 PM »
No way to know.  He wasn't there very long and there are no signed Valentine Beck rifles so we have no idea how his work may have appeared other than to speculate (i.e. #42 in RCA).  Furthermore, we can't even say whether or not he might have worked in CS with any certainty.  Meanwhile, Albrecht and Oerter worked closely together for a good portion of the 1760s, so a logical conclusion would be to assume that Albrecht was the primary influence on Oerter.  Or maybe not?  Maybe it is safer to say Albrecht was the primary influence on Oerter's skill set, but in regard to stylistic development - who knows?  Was it "expected" that Oerter would build a rifle stylistically similar or identical to Albrecht?  Probably while Oerter was still an apprentice and working 'under' Albrecht as master, but perhaps he cut his own path once he took over the shop himself?

Later work by Moll and Neihardt of the 1780s-1790s appears to represent a fairly lineal progression directly from Oerter's 1770s work.  However, what was Moll doing in the 1770s?  The 1760s?  Who was the trendsetter in the area?  An unanswered question.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 09:08:34 PM by Eric Kettenburg »
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline spgordon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #46 on: November 26, 2017, 09:23:58 PM »
I see. I was thinking (again, with no knowledge of styles) that Beck arrives in 1761/62, when Oerter is beginning his apprenticeship, and IF there was a stylistic similarity (closer, in any case, than Albrecht's style), THEN that might be good evidence that Beck DID do some work or had some influence at Christiansbrunn, even if we don't know from any other "source" that Beck was there.
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

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4103
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #47 on: November 26, 2017, 10:22:20 PM »
Hi,
Are any of you familiar with rifle RCA #52?  Shumway speculated it may have some connection with the Lehigh Valley and he thought it was made during the 3rd quarter of the 18th century.  It has some features similar to Oerter's rifles.  With regards to the indian panic, I bet that started shortly after Braddocks defeat in 1755.  The barracks in Trenton were built then as a response and that was also the time when NJ and NY made large purchases of British commercial muskets.  If southern NY and western NJ felt threatened, I suspect folks in eastern PA were panicking. 

dave
"Flick Lives!"

Offline rich pierce

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12361
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #48 on: November 26, 2017, 10:28:28 PM »
Dave, 52 is a great example of what we hope to see in an early rifle/smooth rifle. Robust architecture, hand made buttplate, guard with early finials, nice early lock. Of course it’s not as nice as your rifle based on it.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline spgordon

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
Re: RCA 19 "Sister" Rifle
« Reply #49 on: November 26, 2017, 10:39:45 PM »
With regards to the indian panic, I bet that started shortly after Braddocks defeat in 1755.  The barracks in Trenton were built then as a response and that was also the time when NJ and NY made large purchases of British commercial muskets.  If southern NY and western NJ felt threatened, I suspect folks in eastern PA were panicking. 

Yes, major panic in eastern PA, basically in two waves. The frontier collapses on Lancaster and Reading shortly after Braddock's defeat and women and children flee east. The Moravians fortify Bethlehem, purchasing lots of guns from NY and erecting stockades and pallisades to defend Bethlehem and its satellite communities. As the frontier collapses around Bethlehem, with Indians attacking small farms, the Moravians take in hundreds of refugees. Bishop Spangenberg decides to stay in Bethlehem to protect the settlements further south: "We will stay where we are," he wrote, "for if we should give way, the whole county lies open before them, and there is not one place between here and Germantown where they will be stopped. The whole country knows this very well, and therefore they think it needful by all means to stand in defence of Bethlehem."

Peace seems to arrive by 1758--but then in fall 1763 the Indian war flames up again with the Paxton crisis in Lancaster County. The Moravians fortify their settlements again. In early August they inventory all their guns (88 in all) and disperse them to people/places. Later that month they begin work on the gunshop in Christiansbrunn.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2017, 10:52:15 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