Author Topic: Philadelphia rifle  (Read 7927 times)

Offline 490roundball

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Philadelphia rifle
« on: August 07, 2011, 05:29:11 AM »
Stopped at an antique store today just at closing -  this was on a table. 

please excuse the poor cell phone snap.



Lock is marked William T Howell - Philadelphia -  I found he was a merchant ( hardware ) there 1834 to 1847,  listed in Kauffman's book,  The barrel is very heavy, 36-38 inches about  .40 and stamped S. BECK and a faint name in script behind the rear sight with I assume is the original owners.  Buckhorn type rear sigt, very low silver blade on the front.  It has set triggers and a very old brass strap repair to a cracked wrist.  a little wood chipped along the barrel/fore end line - but it looks worse in the picture.  very nice almost quilted maple chunk of wood.  Brass curved buttplate, no carving,  tear drop washer on lock rear lock bolt,  barrel pinned.
 
I figure its all original,  the shop owner thought a flint conversion but the piece as a whole looked 1830- 40ish to me even before I looked up Mr Howell.  So with one poor picture - any thing scream made from old parts to anyone.   I am thinking it will look good on the wall as an example of a target piece of the time. 
"It's a poor word that can't be spelt two ways" Tom Yeardley in Swanson's Silent Drum

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2011, 05:39:51 AM »
Flint rifles were still being made in the 1840s.
So just because it looks 1830s-40s is no indication it was originally percussion.
The name in script is likely the maker, S. Beck is likely who restocked/rebuilt it(?) The name on the lock is who sold the lock which likely came from Birmingham, England.

Dan
Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.  Jame Madison
 Its been happening for over 100 years.

Offline 490roundball

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2011, 06:16:15 PM »
Flint rifles were still being made in the 1840s.
So just because it looks 1830s-40s is no indication it was originally percussion.
The name in script is likely the maker, S. Beck is likely who restocked/rebuilt it(?) The name on the lock is who sold the lock which likely came from Birmingham, England.

Dan

I knew that Howell was simply a reseller,  he imported parts and whole guns as a hardware vendor. I supose the the lock could be a later replacement, but it fit the mortice well, (the focus here isn;t good, the shot I tried of the barrel markings is worthless - poor light and a cell phone camera)



the Beck barrel stamp is similar to other barrel makers markings I have seen,  the deep curve and top spur of the butt plate look to be of the later period

The name in script on top of the barrel should be readable in good light, the first initial of "W" was quite clear.

certainly not a museum piece,  but for the scant asking price,  unless some one says put together from old parts, I think it will look nice on the library wall.
"It's a poor word that can't be spelt two ways" Tom Yeardley in Swanson's Silent Drum

Offline JTR

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2011, 07:57:11 PM »
Rick,
It's hard to tell anything from the pictures, but I'd guess that it is in fact an old original gun simply because the barrel looks to have been cut back from the breech end, judging by the placement of the rear sight. Then matching that thought, the forearm seems to have only two RR thimbles, instead of the usual three, and the thimble closest to the muzzle is too far back from the muzzle, so originally there would have been three thimbles on the stock.
To me that says the gun had the barrel cut back and the forearm cut back at the same time, so the gun isn't likely to have recently been made from parts.
However, on a gun like this with no patchbox, etc, inexpensive is a definite plus, and must!
By the way, I agree with you on it being an original percussion.
John
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 08:01:24 PM by JTR »
John Robbins

Offline 490roundball

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2011, 09:36:59 PM »
Rick,
It's hard to tell anything from the pictures, but I'd guess that it is in fact an old original gun simply because the barrel looks to have been cut back from the breech end, judging by the placement of the rear sight. Then matching that thought, the forearm seems to have only two RR thimbles, instead of the usual three, and the thimble closest to the muzzle is too far back from the muzzle, so originally there would have been three thimbles on the stock.
To me that says the gun had the barrel cut back and the forearm cut back at the same time, so the gun isn't likely to have recently been made from parts.
However, on a gun like this with no patchbox, etc, inexpensive is a definite plus, and must!
By the way, I agree with you on it being an original percussion.
John

thanks  - about what I figured  - but being a shooter not a collector - just thought I would ask - and like I said -its a decoration ( unless I find a signature of great importance behind the sight- and we know how likely that is  :D )  but keeping it in the Philadelphia context - the asking price is a little less than two of Ben Franklin's portraits - and I think I can get that down just a little more.
Thanks again.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2011, 01:09:35 AM by Rick Losey »
"It's a poor word that can't be spelt two ways" Tom Yeardley in Swanson's Silent Drum

Offline JTR

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2011, 12:45:15 AM »
I'd say go for it!  ;D

John
John Robbins

Offline 490roundball

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2011, 05:19:33 PM »
I need to check the books,  but does the name Wm Grove ring any bells as a maker during that period?
"It's a poor word that can't be spelt two ways" Tom Yeardley in Swanson's Silent Drum

Offline JCKelly

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2011, 01:20:42 AM »
Didn't find Wm Grove, or anything real close, in Sellers' 2nd edition. Haven't looked through Whiskers many volumes.

That brass wrist repair is the old way of doing it.
Of course, doesn't guarantee the gun to be old but seems to me, personal opinion only, that it would be unlikely for a 20th century guy to use a sheet brass repair.

Now & again some contemporary genius removes the brass from such a rifle, patches the wood Neatly & fixes it soundly by Nice Modern methods. I have a Schroyer-attributed that will keep its brass wrist so long as I own it.

2nd Edition Michigan Gunsmiths in progress. Should print by year's end, though Thanksgiving would be nice. Hopefully I have all the barrel making info correct, that I got from you & your long-lost cousin.

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2011, 09:24:11 PM »
Flint rifles were still being made in the 1840s.
So just because it looks 1830s-40s is no indication it was originally percussion.
The name in script is likely the maker, S. Beck is likely who restocked/rebuilt it(?) The name on the lock is who sold the lock which likely came from Birmingham, England.

Dan

I knew that Howell was simply a reseller,  he imported parts and whole guns as a hardware vendor. I supose the the lock could be a later replacement, but it fit the mortice well, (the focus here isn;t good, the shot I tried of the barrel markings is worthless - poor light and a cell phone camera)



the Beck barrel stamp is similar to other barrel makers markings I have seen,  the deep curve and top spur of the butt plate look to be of the later period

The name in script on top of the barrel should be readable in good light, the first initial of "W" was quite clear.

certainly not a museum piece,  but for the scant asking price,  unless some one says put together from old parts, I think it will look nice on the library wall.

Barrels were often restocked, sometimes several times so having a couple of names on the barrel is not too surprising.

Dan
Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.  Jame Madison
 Its been happening for over 100 years.

Offline Curt J

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2011, 05:03:43 AM »
Looks to me like a Samurl Beck, made in Indianapolis, Indiana.  He was born in 1810, and worked in Indianapolis from 1833 - 1885. The Philadelphia lock could have been used by a gunsmith most anywhere.

Offline 490roundball

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2011, 05:36:33 AM »
Looks to me like a Samurl Beck, made in Indianapolis, Indiana.  He was born in 1810, and worked in Indianapolis from 1833 - 1885. The Philadelphia lock could have been used by a gunsmith most anywhere.

I wondered about him,  he is the only S Beck I could find in the time period.   although his name is stamped like a barrel maker, there is still the Wm Grove in script behind the sight.  Just an interesting puzzle.  The cut down is a bigger issue to me than the wrist break for condition.  but then again - its a 175 years old,  a little wear and tear is understandable.  might need to make the call. 

"It's a poor word that can't be spelt two ways" Tom Yeardley in Swanson's Silent Drum

Offline Curt J

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Re: Philadelphia rifle
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2011, 10:01:54 PM »
Samuel Beck was among Indiana's most prolific makers.  I have seen quite a few of his rifles over the years. The "S. BECK" stamp is typical.  I wouldn't let the fact that this rifle has had the barrel "set back" bother me too much.  It is an honest repair, done during the time of its use.  It was usually done when the chamber area/breechplug threads became eroded by corrosive caps and black powder.