Author Topic: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?  (Read 1383 times)

Offline rich pierce

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Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« on: February 06, 2019, 08:11:53 PM »
The so called whale rifle by Berryman H Compton is one I’d like to model a build after. Does anyone have dimensions?

Here are some pictures from the public domain of FB.











St. Louis, Missouri

Offline sqrldog

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 12:36:42 AM »
Rich the rifle is in the "Kentucky Rifles and Pistols 1750-1850" published by James R Johnston for the KRA 1976. Page 179 the description is given as length 59 3/8" octagan tapered barrel 43 5/16" long .55 cal buttplate 1 7/16". No other dimension given. Tim

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 01:33:33 AM »
Rich the rifle is in the "Kentucky Rifles and Pistols 1750-1850" published by James R Johnston for the KRA 1976. Page 179 the description is given as length 59 3/8" octagan tapered barrel 43 5/16" long .55 cal buttplate 1 7/16". No other dimension given. Tim

Perfecto!  I just happen to have a stock and barrel on the way to my place that could work. I’ve never built a Tennessee rifle before. This one really has a style that stands out to me. Much to learn.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline sqrldog

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 01:42:47 AM »
I've admired that iron mounted rifle for a long time. It would be a fine hunting rifle.

Offline Bill Wilde

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2019, 03:39:11 PM »
Greetings all I'm curious about the bone or horn inlays used on this rifle. Are there  only a few specific areas or regions that incorporated the use of bone or horn for inlays? Thanks!

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 04:12:15 PM »
From what I hear some South Carolina guns had bone or ivory inlays. Not an area where I know much.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline okawbow

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2019, 04:37:49 PM »
Where are you going to find whalebone? :)
As in life; it’s the journey, not the destination. How you get there matters most.

Offline Wobblyshot

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2019, 05:19:21 PM »
This is a fine rifle. I saw it in person several years ago at the Lexington show. What caught my eye was that it was a Giles County, Tennessee build which is down near where I grew up. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm thinking I remember it having some fashion of adjustable rear sight.

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2019, 06:32:37 PM »
Where are you going to find whalebone? :)

Whales don’t generally make it all the way upriver to St. Louis, so I might have to substitute cow bone.

Yes this rifle has an adjustable sight. Looks like it’s mounted backwards but what do I know? 
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Cades Cove Fiddler

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2019, 06:45:08 PM »
 ;) ;)....go to the Contemporary Makers heading,... click onto the direct link at top of that page to the "contemporary makers blog"... in the blue box at top left of that link, type in "the whale gun",... will take you to several detailed photos of this rifle by Jan Riser, (Mon. June 25, 2012)... I think I know a former owner,... will check if any specs are recorded  .... best wishes on your project,... DGB ...

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2019, 08:08:08 PM »
Thanks, Fiddler. I’ve collected lots of pictures and now need to make a plan. With barrel length known I am fairly well set to make a set of plans. Then I need to get P. Bigham to teach me how to forge guards. The guard is a beauty.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Arnie Dowd

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2019, 08:55:24 PM »
Rich -  This wonderful rifle has been in my small collection for many, many years and prior to that in Wayne Elliott's.  Both Wayne and I had it at a couple of Nashville shows many years ago and yes it was at Lexington several years ago as part of the KRA Southern Longrifle exhibit.  If you would like and need I will provide you with all the measurements you ask and hopefully a tracing of the but stock.  In addition to the photos referred to if you want more photos and history on Compton, the family, etc. go to the "Bruce Miller Virtual Library and Museum", then to "Child Boards" then to "Southern rifles Long Arms", then scroll down to the bottom line and it is titled "Unknown Maker - Whale Rifle"  Why its titled "unknown maker" I don't know or remember as we've know who it was for many, many years.  It took some time but I finally found his gr, gr, gr direct descent granddaughter (who happened to be the Compton family genealogist), thus many of the family facts.

The bone inlays (not whale-bone, :-)  consist of the two you see see on the left side of the stock:  an "egg" incorporated in to the incise carving, and the "heart" seen directly behind the rear lockbolt.  Something else (I do not remember if has been photographed and shown) -  there is a beautiful  1&1/2" fish engraved on the long toe-plate.  With the "egg" as perhaps representing " birth", the "heart" representing "love", the "fish" representing "Christianity", and the Whale (assuming it is meant a whale) representing that guy Noah - hence "resurrection";  there is a lot of religion on this rifle.

Rich -  if you are the only one who wants the detailed measurements it might be easier to just send me  PM and then I could phone you.
Take Care,  Arnie Dowd

Offline cable

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2019, 09:28:25 PM »
Where are you going to find whalebone? :)

 a lot of it up here, lots of carved items made from it, etc  it is usually pretty porous, and not good for inlays, though.

Offline Bill Paton

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2019, 07:44:04 AM »
Marine mammal parts are legal for Alaska Natives to make things out of, but non-Natives are not permitted to do so. I suspect those inlays are not bone from a whale, but are land mammal bone, like the Germans used so widely on their guns. Note that Arnie said the inlays are not whale bone. Additionally, the term “whalebone” was most often used for “baleen” which is the usually black plastic-like filter plates in baleen whale mouths, and which was used as the plastic of the 18th and 19th centuries (read corset stays among other things). I imagine that beef bone would be a much better materiel for replicating this rifle’s inlays.

Bill Paton
Kentucky double rifle student
wapaton.sr@gmail.com

Offline Elnathan

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2019, 06:32:55 PM »
Something else (I do not remember if has been photographed and shown) -  there is a beautiful  1&1/2" fish engraved on the long toe-plate.  With the "egg" as perhaps representing " birth", the "heart" representing "love", the "fish" representing "Christianity", and the Whale (assuming it is meant a whale) representing that guy Noah - hence "resurrection";  there is a lot of religion on this rifle.

More likely to represent Jonah than Noah, I think. I've never heard of Jonah's whale being used as a symbol for resurrection, though, but maybe I've just missed it.

Definitely an interesting rifle.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying...cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. -Robert A. Heinlein

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2019, 06:43:59 PM »
Exciting stuff!
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Arnie Dowd

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2019, 07:04:02 PM »
Elnathan -  Of course you are correct.  I realized my error last evening and was going to correct it myself this morning, sorry.  No excuse, but I'm "old" and currently recovering from pneumonia and serious bronchitis so I'm trying to blame it on the meds !!
Zack has also asked for the measurements so I've decided to post them here.  Just please be bit patient
IF, someone wants a outline of the butt-stock I'll need an address through a PM
Arnie

Offline WElliott

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2019, 06:45:37 AM »
Jonah and the whale picture God’s rescue and safe deliverance of his people.
Wayne Elliott

Offline bgf

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2019, 11:17:04 AM »
Something else (I do not remember if has been photographed and shown) -  there is a beautiful  1&1/2" fish engraved on the long toe-plate.  With the "egg" as perhaps representing " birth", the "heart" representing "love", the "fish" representing "Christianity", and the Whale (assuming it is meant a whale) representing that guy Noah - hence "resurrection";  there is a lot of religion on this rifle.

More likely to represent Jonah than Noah, I think. I've never heard of Jonah's whale being used as a symbol for resurrection, though, but maybe I've just missed it.

Definitely an interesting rifle.

Jonah spent three days in the "belly of the whale", so the connection with Christ's death and resurrection was pretty obvious.  Jonah's mission to Nineveh (the capital of the Neo-Assyrian empire), a mission which he initially rejected, might reasonably be conjectured to have been symbolic of the extension of salvation to the gentiles.

Offline Notchy Bob

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2019, 09:43:27 PM »
Wow, what a beautiful rifle!  Obviously made by a master of several crafts.


The religious theme is interesting.  One thought...  The patchbox is roughly in the form of a whale, and anything that goes in the box would essentially be in the belly of the whale.  I'm not quite sure what to make of that, but we wonder if this might have been on the gunsmith's mind when he designed the rifle.


Best regards,


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 art riser

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2019, 02:07:50 AM »
The egg and the art are also symbolic.

Offline ScottH

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2019, 01:27:48 AM »
What a wonderful flintlock!
 I'm curious as to the toe plate / butt plate?
The fit of the toe and butt plates joint seems odd. Does any one suspect that this is not the original toe plate?

Arnie Dowd, thanks for reporting on the rifle! I hope you are getting better every day and on the road to a full recovery.
 

Offline Hlbly

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2019, 02:01:56 AM »
Looks like wood shrinkage to me. Referring to the toeplate fit, of course.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2019, 03:25:42 PM by Hlbly »

Offline Arnie Dowd

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2019, 07:24:12 PM »
Guys --the following are primary measurements and comments regarding this rifle:    The rifle is 59 & 1/4" OA
BARREL:  43 & 1/2" OA    Breech is 15/16",  waist is 13/16" muzzle is 14/16";  brass blade set in brass dove-tailed front sight set 3&1/2" back from muzzle OC.   REAR SIGHT is  2&3/4" long with a screw to adjust vertical and, yes, it is installed in reverse of normal.  BARREL KEYS:  three, dome-topped, enter from right side.  Forend Cap -  1&1/8" long with metal end cap. 
TANG -  2" long with single screw, the end terminates in a low-domed soft-pointed finial.   CALIBER:  .54 smooth bore
PLEASE NOTE -  for many years it was assumed that this barrel had been reamed out, but  now I believe this is the original caliber -  careful inspection a few years back shows a perfect circle engraved around the muzzle but set far enough out that it allowed "dash" engraving all the way around between the solid circle and the bore.  Also, each corner of the where the flats join has A small circular punch-dot stamped - same as elsewhere on the mountings
TRIGGER:  a single trigger which would seem to go with the smooth-bore design. 
STOCK:  full, curly maple.  LOP is 12&3/4".  Fore-stock with two incised lines terminating at bottom with wavy line as seen in photo. 
BUTT-PLATE HEEL -  15/16" at point extends 2&5/8" forward on comb,  HEEL is 4&5/8" tall,  BUTT-PLATE is 1&1/2" max width. 
WRIST -  end of tang to comb is 4",  COMB is 10&1/2" prox, 1&58" wide flat to flat in lock/lock-bolt area,  wrist is 1&1/2" tall X  1&1/4" wide.  There is NO crack in the wrist.
NOTE:  the butt-plate and toe-plate (3&1/2" X 3/4") are ORIGINAL.  It appears to have perhaps been dropped on the bottom corner, thus accounting for the small bend and visible space.  There is a small crack (3/8") in lower corner and partial crack running from lower butt-plate screw to forward toe-plate screw.  No wood has been replaced but likely glued in period.  There are a couple of forend slivers which have been replaced.
CARVING and BONE INLAYS:  as seen in photos.
LOCK:  it is without question ORIGINAL (5&1/4" LONG) with a vg reconversion.  It is retained by two lock-bolt screws with iron washers.  NOTE -  the original hammer-screw was retained as the heads of all three bolts/screw are identical inc engraving. 
ALL IRON HARDWARE and ALL ORIGINAL:  TG -  8&1/4" long with medium ridge held by two screws.  Forward finial ( 1&58" long) flares with top filed flat which is engraved.  Bow is 5/8" wide tapering on both ends down to 1/4" where it meets the bar.  The rear finial is narrow also with medium ridge and the finger curl is only 1/4" wide/thick
RAM-ROD PIPES:  TWO forward both faceted.  ENTRY THIMBLE:  3" OA with forward faceted with lip and then extending straight back with filed flat facing. 
ENGRAVING:  This is what ties it together !!  the Lock (as can bee seen), the TG forward finial, the Entry Pipe, the bow of TG (part of which can be seen), the Toe-Plate, and the top of Butt-Plate ALL have perimeter "Dash" engraved borders and some punch-dots,  AND ALL have very well done similar/matching scroll with some incorporated geometric engraving (light/shallow but done this way) ALL of which is VISIBLE  but never photographed.
Hope this helps,
Arnie


Offline sqrldog

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Re: Info on Berryman H Compton “whale” rifle?
« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2019, 08:42:02 PM »
Arnie, thanks for taking the time and trouble to post these measurements. I know getting all of this together was time consuming. Tim