Author Topic: J.W. (???) 100822-1  (Read 10591 times)

Offline nord

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1548
J.W. (???) 100822-1
« on: September 08, 2010, 07:53:03 PM »
Marked JW on top of the barrel. This may be John Watts or his son James both from Juniata Co. Pa. Lately some people have suggested Jonathen Wetzel as the maker and having handled some of his work, I agree. Wetzel worked in Union/Snyder Co. Pa. and had roots in Berks Co. I wonder if he could have apprenticed to Leonard Reedy when looking at his carving.  Family history says it belonged to Peter Zerbe who moved to Schuylkill Co. in 1828 and supposedly owned the rifle at that time.He used it at live turkey shoots and was so good that the other shooters would go home if he was there. He worked out a deal in which he had to shoot last and only one shot to give the others a chance. The rifle was handed down to his son and has been in the family ever since.

An interesting feature is the cone shaped screw in the lock that bears on the sear to partially disengage it for a lighter trigger pull. Sort of a poor man's DST but it works very well.

Barrel -     Cal. about 38      L-43"      W- 7/8" no taper
Stock  -     OAL-58"      LOP-12 1/4"      Drop at heal- 4 1/8"
                 Butt plate height- 4"      Butt plate width- 1 3/8"
                Wrist-  H-1 5/16"   W-1 3/8"      Two piece nose cap.



This is a Berks County inspired rifle to my eye. The architecture, patchbox finial, star inlay, and carving suggest an association with Berks. The carving is much like Leonard Reedy's (Berks), the star inlay is suggestive of that region and the fact that the right side of the wrist remains uncarved is fairly common to those rifles. The profile speaks for itself. My take is that Wetzel is the likely maker rather than Watts, whose rifles are usually and readily identifiable as having been made further west.
There are many details that are highly desirable on this piece and it is noteworthy that a later maker retained so many nice golden age traits in building this one.
I agree. It's a nice Berks Co., PA, rifle, made in the style of Reedy and Bonawitz. I have added Bonawitz's name due to the wavy line under the cheekpiece, altho the gun more resembles Reedy's work.

It would be nice to verify whether it was a flintlock originally, by checking to see if there is an empty front bolt hole through the stock. The side plate appears to have a "plug" in the front hole, suggesting the gun was originally a late flint. 

This may have Berks features, but based on other extant examples, this is a Jonathan Wetzel, Union (now Snyder) Couty, Pennsylvania rifle, in my humble opinion.  Unless there is compelling evidence of a "J+W" signing maker in Berks, the carving is too similar to a Wetzel.  I will confess that the absence of the Wetzel upside down mustache sideplate is a bit unusual, but this is not uncommon for Wetzel's earlier pieces.   I also know several members of this family and it would be interesting to see whether they know if he started out in the Berks County area.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 03:08:26 AM by Dennis Glazener »
In Memory of Lt. Catherine Hauptman Miller 6/1/21 - 10/1/00 & Capt. Raymond A. Miller 12/26/13 - 5/15/03...  They served proudly.