Author Topic: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle  (Read 1203 times)

Offline Chris_B

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Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« on: December 09, 2018, 11:57:28 AM »
I recently won this one at an auction in the UK.
The auctionhouse said Bedford School, but somehow I can not really see it...?
overall length: 63 1/2"
barrel length: 47 1/2"
cal .36
faint makerīs name on the lock appears to be Smith
No visible signature on the barrel.
one of the butt plates engraved A.....ntow 












side effects of inhaling ammonia





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« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 07:23:30 AM by Chris_B »
Kind regards from Germany, Chris

Offline Fullstock longrifle

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2018, 04:40:52 PM »
That captured lid patchbox looks Kentucky made to my eye. Maybe Shelby can comment.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 04:52:43 PM by Fullstock longrifle »

Online Cades Cove Fiddler

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2018, 07:15:40 PM »
 :o :o :o... the faint engraving on the silver inlay seems to spell "Allentown",... that might help some,... Some middle Tennessee makers used similar captured lid patchboxes as well,....

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2018, 07:24:02 PM »
The sideplate is English, the box looks KY, I don't believe the lid is original. The architecture looks like North Carolina, somewhere around the Voglers. Beats me where it was made, a real mix of parts.
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Offline Bill Wilde

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2018, 04:36:54 AM »

The box on your rifle is almost exactly like the box on this rifle. In the circle of the patchbox finale is what's left of an old paper label. I'd bet the lid on your rifle is a replacement. Open the box and look for the recessed area near the butt where the original lid closed into. Interesting gun you have there!
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 03:44:54 AM by Bill Wilde »

Offline Chris_B

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2018, 07:27:32 AM »


The box on your rifle is almost exactly like the box on this rifle. I'd bet the lid on your rifle is a replacement. Open the box and look for the recessed area near the butt where the original lid closed into. Interesting gun you have there!

I will take a closer look on the recessed area this evening.
How did the lid on your gun open, I cannot see any recess button here?
Kind regards from Germany, Chris

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2018, 08:17:10 AM »
I have seen a couple of these rifles, with this patchbox. The guns have a number of details associated with the Lexington School of gunmaking in Kentucky, including the long, slender stock architecture, tight side facings around the lock, double molding lines, and at times the small arc that terminates the molding lines...such as on the lower butt molding just above the rear trigger. The patchbox finial is very much like the pre-War of 1812 Lexington finials with the large "S" in the finial's tip. This particular rifle has the slender silver oval on the wrist with a name engraved on it. The inlay with engraved name is very similar in shape and size to the slender silver ovals soldered or riveted onto the lids of better Lexington rifles during the flint era with the owners' names engraved on them. However, I do not believe these rifles are made in Kentucky. I believe they are most likely from the western part of North Carolina, where much of the influence seen in Lexington School guns in Kentucky originated from. Those influences were carried to Kentucky by the Bryan family of Rowan County and other NC gunmakers from nearby counties who migrated to Kentucky in the late 1700s and early 1800s. But some of those gunmakers also remained in North Carolina.

It would be helpful if Bill Wilde would post a picture of the back side of his fine dark-finished rifle, where perhaps more of the Carolina influences can be seen. These two interesting rifles have guards that differ significantly from Lexington guards, and the patchboxes are made from sheet brass, not cast brass, with the side leaves totally foreign to KY gunmaking. Further, the carving on the darker rifle of Bill's is totally foreign to KY gunmaking. I have never seen a sheet brass patchbox on a Lexington style rifle from KY...with one exception...an 1840s percussion rifle of moderate quality with a Lexington shaped box of moderate to poor construction...yet it still had the typical Lexington shaped side leaves with the two emerging "crowns" on each side. One of the reasons for the exceptional consistency of Lexington School boxes and guards, even as they evolved slightly over the years, was the fact that Lexington had significant brass foundries for most of its early life. I believe most of the local gunmakers had their brass hardware cast at the local brass works...which advertised brass gun mountings in the "Kentucky Gazette" paper from time to time. I also believe there was basically one style of rough cast guard and patchbox made, the "Lexington style," and the slight variations we see were most often the individual final shaping by local gunsmiths...particularly after the War of 1812 when the slightly smaller Lexington box was in vogue and, with just slight variations, all looked very much the same. 

These two fine rifles demonstrate a number of Kentucky-like details, but also differ in several critical ways that suggest they were not made in Kentucky, but most likely back in western North Carolina. The uniformity of Lexington School rifles, even with the slight variations seen, is a striking characteristic of central KY gunmaking. In my opinion, these two rifles vary too widely, and in ways not in keeping with the Lexington School consistency, which strongly implies they were made outside the state, but by gunsmiths who were influenced by some of the same earlier gunsmiths who influenced the Lexington rifle. Of course, it is also possible some of the same western North Carolina gunsmiths migrated to places other than central Kentucky...such as northern Tennessee where we see a somewhat related patchbox in Sumner County...and perhaps a few early NC gunsmiths went more southward and ended up in South Carolina. Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 08:39:50 AM by Tanselman »

Offline Chris_B

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2018, 03:32:11 PM »
Thank you a lot for so much new information!
I am very glad to be able to learn from you ALR-guys.
Kind regards from Germany, Chris

Offline Bill Wilde

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2018, 03:34:04 PM »

As requested a view of the cheekside of my rifle. As you can see unfortunately, the inlays, including the touchhole pic holder have all been removed in the course of the rifle's life. Even the wire inlay around the wrist area was pulled out. The brass toe plate is still intact. The box lid would have had a rod just under the toe plate which released the patchbox lid. The catch spring and kickout spring are still in place along with plenty of dried, caked grease too in the box. thank you Shelby for your knowledge and input.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 03:42:55 AM by Bill Wilde »

Offline Chris_B

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2018, 07:43:53 PM »
Here is the inside of my rifleīs box.
The lid fits smoothly. 

Kind regards from Germany, Chris

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2018, 09:48:00 PM »
Chris B. & Bill Wilde.  Those are beauties.  Thanks for posting for us all to see.
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Offline Bill Wilde

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Re: Bedford School (?) FL Rifle
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2018, 03:59:10 AM »
The box on my rifle is definitely cast and not sheet brass.