Author Topic: German Trade Gun ?  (Read 1286 times)

Offline Notchy Bob

  • Starting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8
German Trade Gun ?
« on: January 22, 2019, 09:21:40 PM »
I'm not sure this is the correct forum, but here goes...

I was browsing through the Knob Mountain Muzzleloading website, looking at some of the preshaped stocks.  If you go to this page and look at the stock which is third from the bottom in the left-hand column, you should see a preshaped stock for a "German Trade Gun."  You can click on the image to get an expanded view.  In looking through the rest of the website, I don't see any associated hardware or fittings for this gun... Just this stock.


I'm not an authority by any means, but I find trade guns interesting, and I've never seen any reference to firearms of this type coming out of Germany.  I know some of the later Northwest guns traded by the various American fur companies were purchased from makers on the continent, but I understand these typically came out of Belgium, and the stocks had a more typical Northwest gun form.  Knob Mountain's preshaped buttstock for the "German Trade Gun," on the other hand, appears to have a different shape and possibly a rudimentary cheekpiece.


I did a search on this forum, and cast a wider net on the web.  I also have a few printed references to trade guns available, but came up dry.  My curiosity has been piqued.  Can any of you shed any light on this "German Trade Gun?" 

Thanks,

Notchy Bob
"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us.  Should have rode horses.  Kept dogs."

from The Antelope Wife

Offline conquerordie

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 475
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2019, 04:29:53 AM »
I haven't seen a lot on them. Just that like in other countries they were assembled firelocks meant to be sold abroad. I think they are mentioned in the book Flintlock Fowlers as being imported into New England. Just another variety of firearm available to the colonists.

Offline Chris_B

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 95
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2019, 07:29:28 AM »
I am no expert in this field, but as far as I know there were no German makers who made
"real" trade guns for the American market.
Otherwise there where many, especially in Thuringia, who sold parts or complete guns to
Belgium, and sometimes other countries as England or Holland.
My guess is that these were sent to the US and maybe sometimes referred to as Dutch or
German trade guns.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2019, 04:44:11 PM by Chris_B »
Kind regards from Germany, Chris

Offline Monty59

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 66
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2019, 12:28:03 PM »
I have never heard of german trade guns and I'm a german collector but I know that Belgium and maybe Nederlands produce some also a lot from france.
But I like to be corrected, I always like to learn.

Monty

Offline Lucky R A

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1376
  • In Costume
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2019, 02:47:26 PM »
         In a number of original accounts,  I have seen reference made to "German short rifles,"  I have always assumed that these references related to Jaeger style rifles.   I have seen a number of unadorned European rifles w/ German/Jaeger architecture, perhaps these are what they are considering "Trade Guns."   Ron
"The highest reward that God gives us for good work is the ability to do better work."  - Elbert Hubbard

Offline burnt

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 896
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2019, 03:18:40 PM »
Keep in mind that Knob Mountains pattern were Fred Millers patterns and were named by him. Fred copied a number of his patterns from guns supplied by Kit Ravenshire, Dick Getz and Don Getz.
A named pattern could be after a stock produced in the 1970s-80s, not as a scam but as a composite that could blur the line between a documented copy and a theoretical example.
Fred Miller would be the person to answer your question.

Kevin
PEACE is that glorious moment in history when everyone stands around reloading.  Thomas Jefferson

Offline Knob Mountain

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 144
    • Knob Mountain Muzzleloading
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2019, 03:30:41 PM »
Somewhere in the archives there is pictures of this gun. Probably in the antique section.  I posted it a few years ago.  The pattern I have is a direct copy of the original in the photo.  The gun was placed directly in the machine and then the copy was  cleaned up to remove defects.


Dave
Dave Keck  Knob Mountain Muzzleloading Berwick, PA

Offline Knob Mountain

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 144
    • Knob Mountain Muzzleloading
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2019, 05:46:03 PM »
 I think this  link will work.

http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=9553.0

I loved this gun and the owner wouldn't sell it.   When I made a copy for him he allowed me to make another pattern  to use.  I have no clue to where the original gun is now.

I had 3 barrel made , 2 inches longer.  ( barrel had been cut off at muzzle) 1 barrel as original dimensions.  Another proportionally enlarged for a 20 gauge and again for 16 gauge.

I didn't have time to build it so I gave a friend the copy of original barrel, lock and precarved stock along with pics, tracings, and dimensions to build.  He had ideas for other hardware.  Unfortunately before  he started the project he suddenly passed away.

I was never able to get my parts returned.  So.........  I asked another friend to build it with the 20 gauge barrel.  He said he would.  before I gave him the parts he passed away unexpectedly.

I guess this gun is cursed!

Build at your own risk!.  LOL

Dave



Dave Keck  Knob Mountain Muzzleloading Berwick, PA

Offline Mike Brooks

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9008
    • Mike Brooks Gunmaker
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2019, 06:07:02 PM »
I have never heard of german trade guns and I'm a german collector but I know that Belgium and maybe Nederlands produce some also a lot from france.
But I like to be corrected, I always like to learn.

Monty
Here's a Liege gun, You'' see one of these illustrated in Grinslade's book. They were fairly common in Norther New England. I sometimes speculate the French were buying these and using them as trade items in that area. This is I believe a fairly early gun, 1730-40ish. oddly, they don't show up in digs, no parts show up in Hamilton's book.

[





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: 2413
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2019, 09:32:44 PM »
The piece that Knob Mountain posted is a perfect example of what have - for years - been commonly referred to as "German trade guns."  I don't know who originally termed them this way, but there are MANY of them around and obviously the furnishings were being used on a fair number of surviving American-made arms:  whether the furniture was scavenged, or was being sold as furnishings, is not currently clear (I suspect both).

I don't know of anyone who has done a real study of these but they are all very similar and appear to be German, or possibly Low Countries?  I don't know but they do seem to have been made somewhat similarly, maybe not to a "pattern" but very similar nevertheless.

Interestingly, Edward Marshall had two guns listed in his estate; one was of course his famous "rifle,' but according to the family, the other was a smoothbored piece which also appears identical to one of these "German trade guns."  It was auctioned via Greg Martin auctions in Nov. 2007 and can be traced back somewhat through the Marshall family descendants, although not to the degree that either his rifle or his son's rifle (the "Griffin" Oerter rifle) can.

Offline Stophel

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4210
  • Chris Immel
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2019, 06:57:57 AM »
My opinion is the same as it was then.  German gun, 1770's-80's-90's.  No earlier.  With mass-produced hardware.  Not uncommon to see guns of this nature in German auction catalogs.  I do not see these as "trade" guns, other than some MAY have been imported to America just like other guns were.  I believe the hardware sets were produced in quantity by a specialized shop somewhere, and sold probably all over Germany, and very possibly (almost certainly, to my mind) imported to America, and put on otherwise-American-made guns.

I do not see this hardware type as being scavenged from earlier guns, since it's simply not any earlier than the well-known American guns it is stocked in (Isaac Haines, "J.D", etc).  It's just not 1730's or 1750's or whatever style hardware at all.   I think it was purchased brand spanking new as a set of hardware by the gunsmith who stocked it up, just after the Revolution. ;)

When a reenactor says "They didn't write everything down"   what that really means is: "I'm too lazy to look for documentation."

Offline Notchy Bob

  • Starting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2019, 05:47:43 AM »
Thanks to all who responded.  The information (and the link to the original gun on which the Knob Mountain stock was based) was much appreciated.

Notchy Bob
"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us.  Should have rode horses.  Kept dogs."

from The Antelope Wife

Offline Eric Kettenburg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2413
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2019, 02:46:57 PM »
Chris I do think it's possible that some of them may be as early as the 1760s although obviously it's a debatable point.  I haven't seen anything that would preclude them being of that decade and some of the decorative elements engraved on the furnishings appear to match up somewhat in style with what is seen on engraved locks such as the Marshall rifle, Brass barrel gun etc.  On the other hand usually the carving does have the appearance of being later.  If we view these as German, given your studies of German arms, where do you think these may have been made?  Have you seen any in any of the auction catalogs that were signed?  I don't recall ever seeing one with a signature of any kind.

I would generally tend to agree with you in terms of the concept of scavenged furnishings, save that I've worked on at least two of the wacky assumed Bucks guns that I can recall which had clear evidence of this same furniture having been restocked - i.e. redundant pin holes.  I suppose someone could have fell down a hillside wth a relatively new/fresh import piece?  Given hard use or otherwise an accident, I don't think it was always 'old' guns that were scavenged.

While the term "trade gun" is probably inappropriate relative to these pieces, I wonder if they might be better viewed as "export guns?"  I don't see them made to an actual pattern, but there sure are a good number of them surviving here in this country and they are all very, very similar.

Online James Rogers

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2357
  • James Rogers
    • Fowling Piece
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2019, 05:17:12 PM »
Eric,
You make a good point. When someone uses the term "trade gun" many immediately envision a contracted gun for the Indian trade. A trade or trading gun is nothing more than a generic, cheap off the peg gun available for sale or trade (trading). Many guns like we would classify as a "type g" or Carolina were contracted for the Indian trade but were also available to dirt po Joe at the local mercantile. These German or Netherlands guns in discussion remind me of the later period hardware store shotguns..... if they had a name it was the hardware and not the maker.
I caveat all I said with the fact I know little and am always seeking to learn more but retention of the learning is beginning to ebb  ;)

Offline Stophel

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4210
  • Chris Immel
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2019, 03:26:14 AM »
In the 1770's it seems, you begin to see somewhat of a homogenization of German gun styles (and overall thinning in proportions, which seems to be rather sudden), and it becomes even harder to put locations on many of them (as if it was super easy all the time before...).  My first thoughts were that this form originated in S.W. Germany, but on the other hand, I sometimes lean towards thinking N.W. Germany/Belgium/Flanders....  In fact, the more I think about it now, the more I think it is so.  This gun styling seems to be primarily for smoothbore guns, not so much for rifles.

German/European guns are often unsigned, of any era.  I may have seen guns of this style signed, but if I have, I don't recall.  These are later than my period of interest, so I don't pay a whole lot of attention to them, honestly.   I tend to just pass them by.   Thin wrists turn me off.   ;D  I will say that my impression of these is that they ARE more "commercial" in appearance, if that makes any sense.  They just look more like a factory-made gun, rather than crafted by the hands of artisans.  Perhaps an over-romanticization, but still...  I suppose that there was a general industrialization going on anyway, and it's only natural to start seeing this.

Engraving patterns sometimes far outlasted their stylishness.  Old engravers die hard.

I think there is a general (and rather overwhelming) drive for people to want for things to be early. Early, early, early.  They just really WANT the "thick" Isaac Haines guns to be pre-Revolutionary, for example (and I suppose they possibly could be... barely.  And even that should help put a date on this hardware style, since, as I recall, the earliest known working date for Hains is 1773).  And I think this desire to earlify everything colors people's thinking.  Probably does mine too.  In fact, my thinking may work backwards, as I refuse to believe something is "early" until I can see some proof of it!  :D

The "Marshall" gun in particular, MAY be somewhat "earlier" than others of this basic form, I don't know.  It doesn't have quite as much of an assembly-line feel to it, nor the very narrow wrist, and if someone found a signature and legitimate date on it of 1765, I would be only slightly surprised.

I went through my photos, and I can only find one gun of this basic style that I saved pics of.  My apologies to whoever owns it, I have no idea where I got the pictures.















All of which is just my opinions, not something set in stone.  It's all styles, forms, feelings, impressions...  And it's been several years since I have made a rifle, or even barely touched a flintlock, and I'm a little rusty!  :D
« Last Edit: January 26, 2019, 03:47:15 AM by Stophel »
When a reenactor says "They didn't write everything down"   what that really means is: "I'm too lazy to look for documentation."

Offline Stophel

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4210
  • Chris Immel
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2019, 04:24:47 AM »
Now that you've got me thinking about this.....   ;D

I own a fowling gun (well, most of it) that dates probably from 1750-60.  A half stock, hook breech gun.  Unmarked, round faced lock.  I have photos of a rifle that is very obviously from the same shop.  Identical stock design, identical cheekpieces, cheek carving is similar, tang carving is different.  Same trigger, same triggerplate.  Hardware shaping is different, but I have no doubt the engraver of each was the same person.  The rifle lock is marked "Mercier a Liege"...









Oh, and there's no barrel tenon for the forward sling swivel...

Pay no attention to the ugliness of the lock....











Yes, it has a butt trap for a bayonet.  A minor fad at the time.  No, sadly, I don't have the bayonet.






The engraving on this gun is almost FLAWLESS.  There is only ONE very minor slip of the graver at the tail of the lockplate.  Whoever did this, probably did nothing but engraving, all day, every day, and was pretty dang good at it.

Particularly note the straight-in-line-with-the-bore cheekpiece, and compare it with the straight-line cheekpiece gun posted by Knob Mountain.

I'm beginning to get the feeling that these "trade guns"  are a little later version of my gun, in a way.  Possibly from Liege (Wallonia) or Flanders....
When a reenactor says "They didn't write everything down"   what that really means is: "I'm too lazy to look for documentation."

Offline Notchy Bob

  • Starting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: German Trade Gun ?
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2019, 11:58:33 PM »
I believe I've located photos of a couple of examples of these "German Trade Muskets."  I apologise for being a Luddite, but I have not yet figured out how to post pictures on the forum.  We'll have to make do with web links.

One of these muskets is in the "Guns of the West" catalog #176 from Gary Hendershot.  Try this link:  Guns of the West.  Scroll down to page 56 and have a look at item number W-135, described as a "Germanic Musket" French Napoleon proof mark Indian Trade Gun Overall length: 58 1/2" Barrel: 43"

There is a lock-side full length picture, as well as a close-up photo of the lock/trigger area.  You can't really see if there is any engraving on the triggerguard, buttplate tang, or sideplate, but the overall impression of this gun is that it is likely a very plain one.  I think an experienced builder should be able to produce an inexact but pretty good facsimile with the Knob Mountain stock and one of the early Germanic locks from Davis or Chambers.  The barrel looks to have a short octagonal section at the breech, transitioning to round without the customary "wedding bands."  I don't know of a similar barrel on today's market, but I'm sure one could be ordered.


The other gun is depicted in Milton Von Damm's book, The Fur Trade - A History of Arms and Trade Goods , pages 10-11.  This one does have some fancy engraving, and elaborate cutouts in the sideplate.  Interestingly, it is described as a "French Trade Gun," but in the description Mr. Von Damm states that "France bought guns from several neighboring Germanic areas to meet the demand for guns for New France [Canada]."


Again, thanks to all who responded to my inital query.


Notchy Bob
"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us.  Should have rode horses.  Kept dogs."

from The Antelope Wife