Author Topic: how many builders ?.  (Read 902 times)

Offline ron w

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 270
how many builders ?.
« on: January 30, 2019, 05:53:21 PM »
there is lot's of inf and record about the golden age of flintlocks and the builders. I am interested in the cap-lock era and wonder how many (known)builders there were at that time ?.

Offline rich pierce

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 11591
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2019, 06:48:37 PM »
Judging by lists from individual states, there were probably thousands of gunbuilders in the percussion era.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Longknife

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1659
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2019, 07:03:30 PM »
That is impossible to answer, when is exactly the "percussion era"? There are also new gunsmiths being discovered every day and numerous  gun that the makers have not been ID'd. Just as an estimate, In "American Gunsmiths" by Sellers there are 363 pages of gunsmiths listed and  about 60 'smiths on each page, that averages about 22,000 smiths that HE knew about at time the time book was published. Many are listed under each name or business they operated under....No way to tell,,,Ed
« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 07:14:14 PM by Longknife »
Ed Hamberg

Offline ron w

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 270
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2019, 04:32:16 PM »
  Longknife,......not after an exact number. just wondered roughly how big an industry it was.  I would say that 1810 to 1870 would qualify as an era where guns were almost entirely made as percussion weapons that used a cap and ball. if you need more definition than that your just badgering the question because you know more than the person who posted the question and think you need to hold it over their head. I realize modern cartridges are also percussion  but considering the forum we are on and the sub forum this question is in,...it's not that difficult to extrapolate a comprehensive reply...…  nothing can be set in stone as far as history is concerned, there will always be considerations that detract from precise nd specific statement.

Offline Mike Brooks

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8996
    • Mike Brooks Gunmaker
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2019, 04:44:52 PM »
Probably even more than in the flint period. Higher population density on the move west = need for more guns. Couldn't even remotely tell you a number though.
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 smokinbuck

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2476
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2019, 05:45:45 PM »
The Ohio Longrifle Collectors Association has identified more than 2500 in Ohio between 1850 and 1900. That is one state and I'm certain we had many that haven't been identified yet.
Mark
Mark

Offline ron w

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 270
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2019, 01:30:30 PM »
makes me wonder what criteria they used to define "gun builder" ……wonder if every guy that built a rifle or two for himself/family members was considered a gun builder. if the declaration was self proclaimed or Gov't assigned through tax/business records ?. where was the line drawn?. there has to be some criteria that defines the interest,... I know several today that regularly build guns as hobbyists, but as far as a declared trade,....they aren't "gunsmiths" and I wouldn't consider them "gun builders" and I know that they don't personally declare themselves as such or claim to be on their taxes..... wonder how that issue was viewed and regulated back then ?.  with the numbers I am seeing here in the response (Thank-you, to those who have responded, by the way), there must have been shingles hanging everywhere you looked !.

Offline Shreckmeister

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3099
  • GGGG Grandpa Schrecengost Gunsmith/Miller
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2019, 04:23:56 PM »
When I was first learning I kept my ears open, accepted any info that was offered and showed appreciation. Still do actually. The percussion era started about 2 decades later than stated and lasted longer.
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

Offline ron w

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 270
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2019, 06:04:34 PM »
did I say something wrong ????…..this is a "discussion board" is it not?????  learning requires that ideas are exposed so that information can generate correct fact.  I doubt there were no percussion guns being built in 1810 or slightly later and by about the middle of the civil war, we were seeing cartridge weapons being produced. I chose the years I posted to qualify the production of cap and ball weapons exclusively. if you are going to use the you state qualifiers, the percussion era is not over today, as every  conventional weapon made right this minute is a percussion gun.
 as you can see discussion IS the very instrument of learning.

 as far as appreciation,....did you read my last post in it's entirety ?

Offline Mtn Meek

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 203
    • GRRW Collector
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2019, 05:02:30 AM »
did I say something wrong ????…..this is a "discussion board" is it not?????  learning requires that ideas are exposed so that information can generate correct fact.  I doubt there were no percussion guns being built in 1810 or slightly later and by about the middle of the civil war, we were seeing cartridge weapons being produced. I chose the years I posted to qualify the production of cap and ball weapons exclusively. if you are going to use the you state qualifiers, the percussion era is not over today, as every  conventional weapon made right this minute is a percussion gun.
 as you can see discussion IS the very instrument of learning.

 as far as appreciation,....did you read my last post in it's entirety ?

ron,

Shreckmeister was just pointing out that the percussion system as we know it wasn't perfected and in common use as early as you had estimated in your date range (1810 to 1870).  Granted Alexander Forsyth announced his percussion system in 1805, patented it in 1807, and went into commercial production in 1808.  But Forsyth's system utilized a powdered fulminate for ignition that was stored in a mechanism that resembled a "scent bottle" that would deposit a measured amount of fulminate to be struck by the hammer.  Forsyth's system wasn't the most practical, but it did stimulate a lot of experimentation by gunsmiths in London.  In the 1810's, Joseph Manton developed his tube-lock, Charles Moore produced a pill-lock, and Collinson Hall invented a patch-lock.  Others were experimenting with caps of various metals that contained fulminate to be fit on a nipple.  Joshua Shaw, who filed a US patent for the copper cap, claimed he initially came upon the idea of a metal cap in 1815.  There's some evidence that Joseph Egg was independently developing a metal cap for the fulminate at about the same time.

Even though the copper percussion cap had been invented, little was done with it until after Forsyth's 1807 patent expired in 1821.  Forsyth had successfully defended his patent in the courts.  Experimentation continued until mercury fulminate replaced the far more corrosive potassium chlorate previously employed.  By 1824, all of the fundamental developments in the percussion system had taken place.

Joshua Shaw came to the United States in 1817 and was granted a US patent for the copper cap in 1822.  No one ever filed for an English patent.  That left the field wide open for British gun makers to freely us the copper cap percussion system in their guns.  The military wasn't interested in it, but the sporting market readily adopted the percussion system until it was common place in England by 1830.

Adoption of the percussion system in some parts of the US was almost a quick as in England.  The Philadelphia gun maker, Henry Deringer, was making percussion pistols as early as 1825.  By 1830, it was almost as common along the East Coast as it was in England.  When Jacob Fordney started his gun making business in 1830, not far from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he advertised, "Guns altered to the Percussion principle, and all other kinds of REPAIRING done in the best manner, and on the shortest notice."

The transition from flintlock to percussion was gradual with the tipping point about 1830 in the US.  That being said, the flintlock held on in certain parts of the country and in certain applications for several more decades.  The percussion system was only popular in the civilian market where percussion caps were plentiful and easily obtained.  Remote areas east of the Mississippi still relied on the flintlock and as well as most of the West well into the 1840s and beyond.  The US military didn't adopted their first regulation percussion infantry arms until 1841.  Fur trading companies were still ordering flintlock rifles into the 1850s and flintlock trade guns into the 1870s.

makes me wonder what criteria they used to define "gun builder" ……wonder if every guy that built a rifle or two for himself/family members was considered a gun builder. if the declaration was self proclaimed or Gov't assigned through tax/business records ?. where was the line drawn?. there has to be some criteria that defines the interest,... I know several today that regularly build guns as hobbyists, but as far as a declared trade,....they aren't "gunsmiths" and I wouldn't consider them "gun builders" and I know that they don't personally declare themselves as such or claim to be on their taxes..... wonder how that issue was viewed and regulated back then ?.  with the numbers I am seeing here in the response (Thank-you, to those who have responded, by the way), there must have been shingles hanging everywhere you looked !.

You've just stated why your original question is impossible to answer.  At times a person might be listed in the tax records as a gunsmith.  At other times the same person might be listed as a blacksmith, and still later he might be listed as a farmer.  A significant number of gunsmiths did some or a lot of blacksmith work.  In addition, a gunsmith didn't just build guns.  He spent a good deal of time repairing guns.  Owning land was prestigious and farming could be lucrative.  Some gunsmiths retired from gun making as soon as they were financially able and purchased farms.

There is just no way to absolutely know how many people were making guns in the US at any particular time in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Phil Meek

Offline Longknife

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1659
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2019, 06:30:05 PM »
  Longknife,......not after an exact number. just wondered roughly how big an industry it was.  I would say that 1810 to 1870 would qualify as an era where guns were almost entirely made as percussion weapons that used a cap and ball. if you need more definition than that your just badgering the question because you know more than the person who posted the question and think you need to hold it over their head. I realize modern cartridges are also percussion  but considering the forum we are on and the sub forum this question is in,...it's not that difficult to extrapolate a comprehensive reply...…  nothing can be set in stone as far as history is concerned, there will always be considerations that detract from precise nd specific statement.

It seems I offended you by trying to make an intelligent reply to an impossible question, so I respectfully bow out of this conversation...........Ed,,

Ed Hamberg

Offline Ky-Flinter

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 5108
  • Born in Kentucke, just 250 years late
Re: how many builders ?.
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2019, 07:39:41 PM »
I believe the original question has been answered sufficiently, so I am locking this topic before it goes further astray.

-Ron
Life is too short to hunt with an ugly gun.
-Nate McKenzie