Author Topic: The Lehigh Indian Head  (Read 71369 times)

Offline Seth Isaacson

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #100 on: March 12, 2018, 05:13:26 PM »
Interesting Eric. This one also looks a lot more Indian-esque than the "Lehigh Lady."
I am the Lead Historian and a Firearms Specialist at Rock Island Auction Co., but I am here out of my own personal interests in muzzle loading and history.
*All opinions expressed are mine alone and are NOT meant to represent those of any other entity unless otherwise expressly stated.*

Offline Seth Isaacson

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #101 on: April 19, 2018, 10:02:17 PM »
Here are some more examples I've saved which look far less lady like:

Unsigned rifle


Stoeffell Long attributed
I am the Lead Historian and a Firearms Specialist at Rock Island Auction Co., but I am here out of my own personal interests in muzzle loading and history.
*All opinions expressed are mine alone and are NOT meant to represent those of any other entity unless otherwise expressly stated.*

Offline jdm

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #102 on: April 20, 2018, 12:09:16 AM »
I'll add this little lady to the mix. She was in this post earlier but got lost.





JIM

Offline Arcturus

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #103 on: April 20, 2018, 07:44:07 PM »
She's all lady!  Screams "LIBERTY!", to me.  First one could be selling Starbucks coffee, second has that feathery-bonneted, haughty Princess Columbia look goin' on (even with a beak-nose, she knows she HOT).  The third with hair pulled back may be going for a new fashion trend, but I'm too distracted by the great patchbox finial inlay and the details of the patchbox cavity to pay much attention to her short-haired look!   ;)
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Offline Arcturus

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #104 on: April 24, 2018, 09:50:31 PM »
Joking aside, only the single-feather head posted above by Eric strikes me as Indian rather than Liberty Lady...and I was reminded of it when I saw on the Contemporary Makers blog yesterday a flintlock made by Eric that incorporated a similar face in brass with the single feather carved above it.  (Nice work, btw, Eric)
Jerry

Offline jdm

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #105 on: April 25, 2018, 04:14:40 AM »
Arcturus,  If some are made to be American Indian . While others are  representing  Lady Liberty. That brings up even more questions.  I agree with you in that these may not represent the same thing . Why two different things? Why almost  only in Eastern Pa.
I wonder when is the earliest known? What is the latest known? It seems the majority of the ones I've seen are 1790-1810 . I can see the Liberty cap (head) still being in the hearts and minds of people during this time.  However the Indian was certainly on there minds also.  Any way they are neat and in my mind add a lot to the gun. 
JIM

Offline spgordon

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #106 on: April 25, 2018, 04:22:42 AM »
I posted this six years ago— from the PA Gazette:

November 25, 1772
The Pennsylvania Gazette
FOUR DOLLARS Reward.
LOST, or taken out of a waggon loaded with hops, betwixt the river Sasquehanna and Philadelphia, upon the 5th, 6th, or 7th day of this present month November, a strong board CASE, without mark or direction, inclosing a very neat new FOWLING PIECE, 4 feet 2 inches in the barrel, 5 feet 5 inches the whole length of the gun, with a curled walnut stock, sliding loops, mounted with brass, the foresight and thumbpiece silver, the makername John Newcomer, engraven upon the hind part of the barrel, near the figure of a manhead, and J. Newcomer engraven on the lock. Whoever has found the same, is desired to deliver it to Joseph Vandegrist, at the sign of the Cross keys, in Chestnut street, Philadelphia; to Caleb Way, at the sign of the Waggon, on the Philadelphia road; to Matthias Slough, at the sign of the Swan, in Lancaster; or to James Wright, in Hempfield, near Susquehanna, and they shall receive FOUR DOLLARS reward. JAMES WRIGHT.

Note the remark "Near the figure of a manhead." Could that be a reference to our "indian head" decoration? If not, what could “the figure of a manhead” refer to??
Check out: The Lost Village of Christian's Spring
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And: The Earliest Moravian Work in the Mid-Atlantic: A Guide
https://www.moravianhistory.org/product-page/moravian-activity-in-the-mid-atlantic-guidebook

Offline rich pierce

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #107 on: April 25, 2018, 04:45:11 AM »
Says the signature on the barrel is near the figure of a man head.  Sounds like it may be a stamp or engraving on the barrel. 
Andover, Vermont

Online Eric Kettenburg

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #108 on: April 25, 2018, 04:58:18 AM »
There are a couple of others that I think are definitely intended to represent a single tall feather, but not many.  However, on the flip side of the same coin, there have been multiple representations of 'lady liberty' and some appear to clearly represent a native.

I feel pretty strongly that the image appearing to be a woman with a more elaborate head dress - as applied to these rifles -is the earlier form and the single feather form is a later, more 'folksy' interpretation.  This is based upon the surviving guns.  I also feel EXTREMELY strongly that this originated with John Moll Sr..  I believe it is somehow tied to the events in Northampton Co. during the war, possibly the manufactories/shops in Allentown, or possible somehow tied to the removal and hiding of the Liberty Bell as well as much of anything important removed out of Philadelphia when the British took it over.  I think it was originally intended as a 'brand' and was subsequently adopted by others associated with the manufactory, or with Moll, or those trained by him, or those simply trying to cash in on a 'brand.'

We will never have a definitive explanation of WHY this particular area, and WHAT it was specifically attempting to convey, until some text or other period document manifests offering some detail.  I won't hold my breath.  I am basing my opinion on surviving examples and a timeline that makes sense to me, based once again on my own opinion after examining many original pieces.   
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline Seth Isaacson

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #109 on: August 15, 2018, 11:37:26 PM »
Instead of starting a whole new discussion I thought this would be a good place to add this piece into the mix:
https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/unique-allentown-john-moll-jr.-engraved-patchbox-fe54ce7a30


That patch box door definitely shows an Indian not a colonial lady.
I am the Lead Historian and a Firearms Specialist at Rock Island Auction Co., but I am here out of my own personal interests in muzzle loading and history.
*All opinions expressed are mine alone and are NOT meant to represent those of any other entity unless otherwise expressly stated.*

Offline Craig Wilcox

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #110 on: August 16, 2018, 12:57:25 AM »
A darn good addition to the discussion!  This one is clearly an Indian.
For me, an extremely interesting discussion, and I thank you for the addition which has brought it to the front.
Whether an Indian, Lady Liberty in a Phrygian cap, or the woman serving the beer at the local hangout tavern, it is very perplexing puzzle.  Indeed, one that we may never know the correct answer to.
But - he/she/it IS going to be on the Rupp rifle I am attempting to emulate.

Many thanks, Rambling Historian, many thanks!
Craig Wilcox
We are all elated when Dame Fortune smiles at us, but remember that she is always closely followed by her daughter, Miss Fortune.

Offline spgordon

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #111 on: August 16, 2018, 01:01:16 AM »
To me, the most puzzling thing about this puzzle is why this design/decoration--whatever it is--would only appear on rifles from this particular area. Whether it is an Indian, or a liberty boy, or whatever, rifle makers and rifle owners from Lehigh County would have had no particular or unusual motivation to put such a design on their rifles. Lots of areas of PA and elsewhere experienced Indian encountered; and lots of areas embraced liberty; etc.

So why on rifles only from this area?
Check out: The Lost Village of Christian's Spring
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And: The Earliest Moravian Work in the Mid-Atlantic: A Guide
https://www.moravianhistory.org/product-page/moravian-activity-in-the-mid-atlantic-guidebook

Online Eric Kettenburg

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #112 on: August 16, 2018, 05:57:15 AM »
Scott - I don't see what clearly makes that an Indian.  I would say it *could* be, but it could also represent a rifleman with a 'liberty' cap and a rifle frock.  It's interesting that the rifle engraved along with the figure is indeed meant to convey a rifle given the obviousness of the box lid.  Colonial riflemen were known for carrying tomahawks also.

I likewise would love to know the "why" of this particular area.  I've offered a couple of my own theories ad nauseam but would love to hear others.
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline Craig Wilcox

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #113 on: August 16, 2018, 03:31:16 PM »
We have GOT to get to work on that "WayBack" machine!  So many questions to be answered, puzzles to be solved!
Craig Wilcox
We are all elated when Dame Fortune smiles at us, but remember that she is always closely followed by her daughter, Miss Fortune.

Offline Seth Isaacson

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #114 on: August 16, 2018, 04:21:20 PM »
One thing to keep in mind is that Native Americans and Native American imagery became symbols of white America too, especially in the early national period.
I am the Lead Historian and a Firearms Specialist at Rock Island Auction Co., but I am here out of my own personal interests in muzzle loading and history.
*All opinions expressed are mine alone and are NOT meant to represent those of any other entity unless otherwise expressly stated.*

Offline spgordon

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #115 on: August 16, 2018, 05:08:09 PM »
Eric, I do hear your explanation about the Moll shop--and that is as possible as any other explanation. But that explanation seems largely a guess, just like any others. I still haven't heard an argument about why that shop at this time. There sure would be easier ways to "brand" oneself with an association with the Liberty Bell (or the hiding of it in Allentown) than these figures. Why not a bell? I think that's grasping for some event, any event, that might have distinguished Allentown during the period that these figures seem to appear.

I don't mean to say that what you've proposed might not be true. I only mean to say it's far-fetched, but no more far-fetched than any other explanation that's been offered. I feel just stumped.

Note that the only textual evidence we have that MIGHT connect to these engravings is the 1772 reference to a rifle with the name John Newcomer "engraven upon the hind part of the barrel, near the figure of a manhead"--and that doesn't point to Lehigh County or to Moll (but to Lancaster County).
Check out: The Lost Village of Christian's Spring
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And: The Earliest Moravian Work in the Mid-Atlantic: A Guide
https://www.moravianhistory.org/product-page/moravian-activity-in-the-mid-atlantic-guidebook

Offline T*O*F

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #116 on: August 16, 2018, 07:39:17 PM »
If Moll was such a master gunmaker, why does the rifle engraved on the patchbox have a patchbox engraved on the left side of a clearly right handed rifle?  Didn't he know how to engrave a cheek piece?
Dave Kanger

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Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #117 on: August 17, 2018, 03:07:54 AM »
Is everyone on board with the Attribution of the morphy patch box To John Moll Junior And no possibility of another maker?
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 jdm

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #118 on: August 17, 2018, 03:42:19 AM »
[quote author=Shreckmeister
Is everyone on board with the Attribution of the morphy patch box To John Moll Junior And no possibility of another maker?

Rob, At the bottom of the patch box lid .The engraving that looks somewhat like a weird hat. That is on a bunch of Moll patch  boxes and I do mean a bunch. I think that is where they are getting the  attribution. This box was on the cover of a K.R.A. mag. a couple of years ago along with some kind of write up.
JIM

Offline Shreckmeister

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #119 on: August 17, 2018, 04:53:05 AM »
Thanks Jim. I didn’t know that. So great that folks share on here
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.

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #120 on: August 17, 2018, 10:20:23 PM »



This pic was from an unsigned flint swivelbreech, it looks very similar to the Stoffel Long attributed box that was posted by Rambling Historian.
Sorry, don't remember where it was :-\

Online Eric Kettenburg

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #121 on: August 18, 2018, 12:06:25 AM »
Walt O'Connor's Moll box there from the auction and the KRA newsletter very definitely looks to be a John Moll Jr. product as JDM noted.  I don't doubt it at all.  Too bad it's been cut down a bit.

Scott - I will admit that my belief that the 'Lehigh Head' originated with John/Johannes Moll Sr. is largely speculation, but it does have somewhat of an origin in observable basis in that the guns which appear to be the earliest pieces utilizing some form of this 'head' are pieces which are either signed by John Moll or unsigned guns that I personally would attribute to John Moll Sr., and I'd like to think I have a pretty good handle on his work at this point.  Actually I should say the earliest appearing Moll work appears to be concurrent also with something like the Antes swivel breech which seems potentially late War-era or earlier 1780s, so we can't overlook William Antes as well.

I can understand one wanting to include in the discussion the 1772 PA Gazette posting regarding the Newcomer gun, but on the other hand, that likewise is merely a guess:  the 'figure of a manhead' could be many things and there is no way to determine whether or not it has relevance to these Lehigh pieces.  Speaking for myself, while I find the PA Gazette advertisement interesting of course, I would choose to set it outside or at the periphery of this discussion given that we have no way of knowing exactly what is being referenced.  With the Lehigh heads, we have a visual and tangible example of some type of commonality.  All of the pieces illustrating this weird 'liberty head' or 'Indian head' or whatever seem attributable to old Northampton Co and over into eastern Berks, as well as William Antes down in upper Bucks, and they all seem to take a consistent form despite the many different gunmakers that ultimately were using them; this consistency seems to hint at a common origin or common "original" form which was being copied/emulated, and also to my mind seems to indicate a common understanding of some underlying meaning.  Just speaking off the cuff for the moment, I do not ever recall seeing this representation on anything other than these regional arms ca. late 1770s/early 1780s through the early 19th century.  I would therefore tend to speculate that it must have had some form of meaning that was on the more personal side to these regional gunsmiths being as tradesmen engaged in other work in the region did not seem to feel any propensity to include it in their own work.
Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!

Offline jdm

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #122 on: March 03, 2019, 07:19:36 PM »
Here is another one to add to the mix. It is on a Lehigh pistol.
Eric, Have you done any research on identifying gunsmiths by the style of the Liberty head?




JIM

Offline Robby

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #123 on: March 03, 2019, 10:00:11 PM »
Either way, it is a catchy little symbol, having spread to the Genesee Valley school where it is definitely considered to be emblematic of the 'Son's of Liberty'.
Robby
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Offline Seth Isaacson

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Re: The Lehigh Indian Head
« Reply #124 on: March 07, 2019, 07:57:29 PM »
Either way, it is a catchy little symbol, having spread to the Genesee Valley school where it is definitely considered to be emblematic of the 'Son's of Liberty'.
Robby
Not surprising since they dressed as Indians for the Boston Tea Party.
I am the Lead Historian and a Firearms Specialist at Rock Island Auction Co., but I am here out of my own personal interests in muzzle loading and history.
*All opinions expressed are mine alone and are NOT meant to represent those of any other entity unless otherwise expressly stated.*