Author Topic: Southern Unknown 100718-2  (Read 10483 times)

Offline nord

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Southern Unknown 100718-2
« on: August 24, 2010, 03:14:47 PM »
37" uncut barrel x 35 cal x 3/4". Lock is a period replacement with small wood repair @ tang/top/end of lock. Brass Cap Box appears to have been made by maker, not a hardware variety, engraving matches inlay over cheek piece. Has double molding from wear plate to muzzle cap, with strong Virginia architecture/art.


I once owned a similar gun, probably by the same maker but 10 years earlier, less drop in butt and better side plate. It had the same pierced oval forestock inlays, and grip inlay, and the same four armed "pinwheel" in the cheekpiece. I was convinced the gun was from WV, but passed it on. I think it had initials on the barrel. I'll see if I can contact the current owner and have him check the barrel to see if initials are there. Never could match them to anyone. 
I have received pictures and permission to post here, from the owner of a similar rifle, probably 10 years earlier and fancier, but key details indicate it was made by the same man. I'll send them on to Nord to see if he can post them here for all to see. The new rifle has three initials on the barrel, all in Script but unreadable. The gun is in the black, and the owner doesn't want to grind on the barrel to see if the initials can be made more clear. 

I have a friend with a rifle made by the same gunsmith (in my opinion) as the one currently posted for comments "Southern Unknown #100718-2." He sent me the attached pictures, which you will probably need to crop down. He has given permission to post these on the ALR site and museum. I have no dimensional data on the rifle, but will contact him to get it, i.e. barrel length and bore size. I will also ask him to give me his best guess on the 3 initials on the barrel, which he said are not readable. These are not great photos, but at least we have enough to get a good feel for the rifle.

Someone help please. Other than the very similar check side decorative furniture, I see little in the "form" of the two rifles that are similar.

Wow...the pinwheel inlay in butt stock looks identical. as does silver pick hole inlay above toe plate, open oval inlays down forestock & the two forward of lock. Shelby, could we get close up photos to compare engraving to determine if by same hand?. Also ask owner if the three initials on his barrel could be R M ...P,T or J. I have seen another very similar rifle with same butt inlay, oval inlays & side plate signed R M, last letter may be P, T or J ?

Here are the owner's comments on the trace of initials left on his rifle's barrel (2nd rifle above with Ohio type box):

The first letter looks like a B or J or R. Next initial is a H or  ?  next is a D ? J ? or I.
I recall looking at the initials several years ago, and thinking they were hard to read, in part due to the "blackness" of the rifle and its barrel. I will ask the owner to see if I can get a better picture of the engraving on the box, and also a shot of the barrel initials. Despite differences in stock architecture and guard styles, I think the similarity of details in the inlay work, and the uniqueness of several inlays including the big pinwheel in the butt, are strong indications the same man made both guns... perhaps 10 years apart.
The owner will not scrub the barrel where initials are located, due to disturbing the patina. He is knowledgeable about Kentuckies, what can and cannot be used to clean metal, but does not want to disturb this rifle's black finish. I will see the gun this week-end and take better pictures of the barrel marks and also engraving, and ask Nord to post them early next week to see if the initials can be deciphered. 


Joel Ferree Hocking Co. Ohio   

Have to agree with XXXX on his assessment of the origin of this rifle. Can't speak to the maker but the gun has solid Ohio traits. The pin wheel, the cheek rest, t'guard spur and the style of the inlays can be Ohio as well as elsewhere. While we are conducting our deliberations on where, and or, when it was made, we need to send it on to the Library.
I had a recent opportunity to look at the second rifle posted here with National Road type box., and studied the traces of three worn initials left on the barrel. While none of the script letters are clear or certain, they appeared closest to the following letter possibilities:

1st initial:    appears to be "R"
2nd initial:   has two strong slanted cuts, most likely and "H" or "N"
3rd initial:    looks most like a "T" or "J"

I disagree with the attribution to Joel Ferree. While there are similarities at first glance with both the patchbox and the pinwheel butt inlay, closer inspection shows a different hand in the engraving, shape of inlays including the pinwheel and patchbox when looked at closely, furniture and general architecture. Joel Ferree was a much finer engraver than the hand on these two rifles. I do believe the similarity in the pinwheel inlay design may indicate one of the makers saw an example of the other's work, or at least a similar style rifle made in the region.

While I tend to lean toward a West Virginia origin, based in part on the skinny cheekpiece star on one, and the side plate and vent pick holder on the other, the guns could have been made in Ohio. But if from Ohio, I would think they came from an area near the Ohio River, and relatively close to West Virginia, due to shared details with WV rifles.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 03:11:08 AM by Dennis Glazener »
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