Author Topic: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification  (Read 1288 times)

Offline RobertS

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I just picked up this rifle from an estate auction this past weekend.  Any idea of maker or information is greatly appreciated!  Iíll let the photos do the talking. 
Thanks,  Rob






















Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2018, 04:53:45 AM »
Unusual and interesting. It appears that nothing is inlet. How long is the barrel?
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Offline RobertS

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2018, 05:17:37 AM »
Barrel length is 39.5 inches and it's about 36 caliber it seems.  The eagle cheek piece is a little loose in the inlet and that's why it appears to be on the surface though it does seem the side plate is not inlet red but on the surface. The lock is held by a single screw and but it is slightly offset from the initial screw hole so the lock might not be origional or it might be the screw and side plate that are not origional. My son bought it and I am unable to find any identifying information. Was hoping someone might recognize a familiar school or region. Thanks!
« Last Edit: October 10, 2018, 05:27:51 AM by RobertS »

Offline Lucky R A

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2018, 11:42:31 PM »
          I am going to go out on a limb here and speculate from what I see if this rifle is not antique at all.  The quality of the build and architecture would lead one to believe that the builder had very limited experience.  The eagle inlay, and the inlays used over the ram rod pins as well as the cap box are all parts that were available in the late 50s and 60s.  The placement of inlays over ram rod thimble pins rather than barrel pins is quite odd.  The nose cap is poorly fitted and the whole front end is stubby and of poor architecture.  The double set triggers are not well inlet nor is the trigger guard.   Just everything screams amateur build.  I am guessing that this gun was a first gun built probably made about 1960 or so.   It was likely built by one of todays top end builders who hid it in an attic hoping it would never be found---I have one hidden out, that is not much better...

Ron
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Offline Tanselman

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2018, 11:43:56 PM »
This late full-stocked rifle, when the fine tack work is ignored, looks very much like the work of Indiana gunsmith James Keller of Evansville, IN. The guard's rear spur is "square backed," running straight up to the rear extension...this detail is found most frequently on guards/rifles along the Ohio River...and Evansville is sitting on the river. I've had a couple of his rifles over the years, and he used the elongated guard, the heavy cheekpiece, and the robust stock architecture. However, as to the beautiful tack work...never seen anything like it in Indiana or elsewhere...but I really like it, and it's been on the gun a long time.  Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: October 11, 2018, 11:40:51 PM by Tanselman »

Offline Dave R

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2018, 06:01:10 AM »
Shelby,
Thanks for your description! In reference to James Keller Evansville, IN, What approx time frame did James build muzzleloaders? Is it possible James is a descendent from C Keller
that built circa 1850-1870 located approximently  90 South Main Street Evansville, IN, Or possibly Earl Keller is a descendent that built the 45-70 Century arms revolver  circa 1980?? Please comment.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2018, 06:02:06 AM by Dave R »

Offline jjaeger

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2018, 01:40:25 PM »
There are several features of this rifle that point to Charles Keller being the maker. Two of those features are the over-sized side panels and the cheekpiece. I have had the opportunity to study and photograph several of Keller's specimen's over the past couple of decades.
A friend told me about this post and suggested that the above comments may help. Keller came to Evansville about 1850 +/-  five years.
There are other details about the rifle that suggest that this rifle came from Keller's shop.

Is there any chisel-walk engraving on any brass? Is there a name on the lock?

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2018, 11:39:49 PM »
In assessing this rifle, I think the tack decoration, despite its quality and attractiveness, is a later addition and must be ignored. That would explain the odd inlays at the ramrod pipe pins, which is obviously not what a gunsmith would have done, as well as the row of tacks under the cheekpiece, and probably the cheek's eagle inlay as well with its late, domed head tacks that seem to match the other ones. And "yes," I goofed up the first name, should have been Charles, in my first posting. Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: October 11, 2018, 11:42:57 PM by Tanselman »

Offline Lucky R A

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2018, 02:08:14 PM »
       I guess if you strip all the probable added on inlays tacks etc.  I can see an original gun under there.   Working everyday with the more refined architecture of Golden Age guns tends one to see guns like this as lacking in these details.    It is a shame how later period guns devolved into pure utilitarian tools.   The market and marketing drives the style.  Thanks for your insights Shelby.
Ron
"The highest reward that God gives us for good work is the ability to do better work."  - Elbert Hubbard

Offline bgf

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2018, 06:27:04 AM »
My first thought was same as Lucky's, but Tanselman knows what he's talking about also.  One more feature I think is odd for a later rifle is the pins in the trigger guard instead of two screws or sometimes one on the rear return.  Is that common at the date this one appears to be or seen on Keller rifles?  Likewise, wedges seem to dominate later as well, rather than pins.  Of course, just putting the escutcheons over the pipe pins signals that whoever built this was a bit of a Maverick at least :).

Offline jjaeger

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2018, 04:08:30 PM »
Some more to ponder...

If this rifle was built in the 1850's in Evansville, it may help to remember that Evansville was a rapidly growing riverport and that the railroad came to town that decade also. We also know(from researching archives) that Charles Keller employed significant numbers to help fill demand. It's my opinion that his shop was among the most prolific shops in Indiana that decade. I have often and perhaps mistakenly attributed rifles to a specific maker when indeed  they may have been built by one of the master's apprentices or employees. Perhaps this rifle was made by an employee who borrowed Keller's ideas or was simply following instructions.

I reviewed photos of four Keller rifles and found that these specimens utilized two pins to hold the triggerguard in place. One later(perhaps 1860s or 70s) halfstock had barrel wedges. The photos of presumably earlier Keller's(1850s) showed barrel pins.

Also, a target pistol attributed to Keller(name was engraved on the lock plate but not on the barrel) has an "inlay" of a deer that is only partially inlet into the wood. It was left protruding above the wood surface not totally unlike the eagle in this rifle.

Thanks for showing this rifle and adding to the pool of knowledge.


Offline Dave R

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2018, 08:16:26 PM »
I have inspected many C Keller rifles thru the years and an unusual feature of most of the C Keller rifles i have viewed have one center punch mark in the inside curve of the butt plate, One local Posey County Indiana farmer has a C Keller that has been passed down thru the generations that has two center punch marks! All Kellers I have seen have  brass mounts except for the most unusual one that has been passed down thru several generations of a Vanderburgh county Armstrong Township Indiana farm which has iron forged Tennessee furniture!! My guess is some local person living near Evansville had a Tenn gun and broke the stock and asked Keller to build him a gun with the old iron furniture?? It even has the usual present Keller stamp imprint on top of the barrel flat with the misspelled "EVENSVILLE" imprint!!  I urge everyone to keep this thread continuing!! THANKS!  ;)
 

Offline RobertS

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2018, 04:20:06 AM »
Thanks for all the input and information from everyone that has taken the time to read and post on my thread! 

Thanks, Rob

Offline RobertS

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Re: Attic Find Long Rifle needing help with Maker and identification
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2018, 07:10:22 AM »
It does have chisel work on the brass butt plate and the lock does not have a name but has a very small amount of engraving.  I will try to add photos of that tomorrow.