Author Topic: Shumway and rifles  (Read 12094 times)

mkeen

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Shumway and rifles
« on: May 29, 2012, 02:57:38 PM »
I've been told that George Shumway lobbied for antique American guns that looked like a rifle to be called a rifle whether the barrels were rifled or smooth bore. Does anyone have a printed reference for that statement?

Martin

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 03:51:36 PM »
His articles often referred to smooth rifles, which were also found referenced in period documents.
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Offline Don Getz

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 04:07:11 PM »
Food for thought.     Those old barrels were forged from wrought iron, rather soft stuff.   We know that the rifling did age
or wear rapidly if shot a lot, hence the survival of freshing sticks.  What if the owner decided not to renew the rifling and
would continue shooting, which, eventually would become a smoothbore.   If he no longer required a rifle to fight off the
indians, but, was now a "meat getter",  I would think that a smoothbore, loaded with shot would be a very practical gun.
Would the term "smooth rifle" be a practical name to apply to such a gun?............Don

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 05:37:04 PM »
Boring out to smooth happened a  lot over a long period of time.  My Grandpa had a 1863 Springfield bored smooth and cut to a halfstock.  Not that the rifling was that deep!
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Offline T*O*F

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 10:25:01 PM »
Quote
George Shumway lobbied
Perhaps that is an inappropriate use of the term.  One lobbies to make or change laws.  To my knowledge no law exists.  Who was he lobbying?  Terminology comes about by popular usage, hence acceptance, of said term.
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Offline Dr. Tim-Boone

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 10:42:04 PM »
Examples of LOBBY from Merriam Webster...  

an organization that has been lobbying for reform of the tax laws
The health-care industry has lobbied against the proposal.
an organization that has been lobbying Congress for reform of the tax laws
a player who has lobbied hard to be included in the team's starting lineup
I lobbied our company for a new computer.

An open mind saves embarrassment  :o ;D ;D............. Perhaps Shumway was lobbying the American Longrifle community??  Seems reasonable.....
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 10:42:22 PM by Dr. Tim-Boone »
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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 10:54:27 PM »
George Shumway was a careful researcher and would sometimes propose things based on his extensive experience collecting, handling and photograhing originals, but was never pushing an agenda in the articles and books I've read.  It's important to keep in mind that much of his work was done in the 1970's and 1980's (which is now 30-40 years ago!), and more knowledge has emerged since then.  Some of his attributions have turned out to be on the money and others, off-target, but he only made suggestions, not declarations, and did well with what was known at the time.
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Offline T*O*F

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012, 12:57:48 AM »
Quote
Examples of LOBBY from Merriam Webster... 
An open mind saves embarrassment
Tim,
I am erudite enough that I don't require a Wiki Ranger correcting me.  There are enough people posting here whose sum total of knowledge comes from that venue, along with their assumptions of said material.  In the total context of my statement, I think my point was made sufficiently clear, since you followed up with this...
Quote
Perhaps Shumway was lobbying the American Longrifle community??  Seems reasonable.....
Purely conjecture on your part, which doesn't seem reasonable to me.  Printed documentation was asked for, and barring that everything else is an assumption.

Rich says that he never pushed an agenda, which would indicate he lobbied for nothing.

ps....my mind is more open than most!!!
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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 01:21:17 AM »
Full moon tonight?  ;D

John
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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 01:25:09 AM »
John, not where I live.
Perhaps, enough said?
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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2012, 01:39:09 AM »
My, My! There is so much sensitivity here on this website thread.  Makes me want to  reach for a hanky, or perhaps,  throw up, instead.
Reekie

Offline spgordon

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2012, 02:08:07 AM »
I'm sure Martin was just asking where--or whether--George Shumway explained in print his reasons for deciding to call a gun that looked like a rifle a rifle even if its barrel was smooth-bored. I don't think any denigration of Mr. Shumway was implied by the term lobby, which, to me at least, just means argued or advocated for (both of which are honorable activities!).

Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline mr. no gold

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 02:34:09 AM »
Every profession, society, club, organization, or group of people who associate for specific purposes, adopt a jargon, jingoism, or words pertinent to their purposes. So, what is wrong with the term 'smooth rifle', a term which I have heard for some 40 years and it perfectly describes that item to which it refers! Suits me just fine and I will continue to use it. A fowler is a shotgun and generally follows the style in use for hundreds of years, and that is how it is.
Dick

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 03:40:37 AM »
Just curious, amongst those that originated and have posted, on this topic; how many actually OWN books (and other published materials) written and published by George Shumway, Ph.D., Researcher, Editor, Publisher and Advanced Collector?  Kindly avail yourself of an opportunity to declare or deny same.

Why?  Because I'm always curious where 'open' statements originate from... but can't say that I'm ever really surprised when it's rendered down to the 'nitty-gritty.'   

Offline T*O*F

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 04:34:55 AM »
Quote
Just curious, amongst those that originated and have posted, on this topic; how many actually OWN books (and other published materials) written and published by George Shumway
I have not doubt that every correspondent involved in this thread OWNS said books.
Dave Kanger

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2012, 06:15:09 AM »
I have not doubt that every correspondent involved in this thread OWNS said books.

You've saved us all a lot of time and in that spirit, kindly let us know if you find any published references, amongst your books/materials that would answer the original poster's question regarding Dr. Shumway.

There's no rush.

Offline Lucky R A

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2012, 01:14:25 PM »
    As Dave said, most of us who have lived long enough to have grey hair cut our teeth on Shumway's publications.  They were pretty much the only game in town for a while.  Between Shumway and Kindig, that was most of  our frame of reference for the 60s & 70s.  There was a time before computers when people had to do their own research.
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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2012, 03:12:31 PM »
I will give 3 examples of Shumway referring to rifle-built guns that were smoothbored as "rifles" or as "smooth rifles".  I do not have enough time or interest for a more full investigation of the subject at hand, but you may draw some conclusions from a small sample if you like.

1) In Muzzle Blasts November 1978 in his Longrifles of Note series of articles, Shumway featured what we know as "RCA19", or #19 in his subsequent book, Rifles of Colonial America.  He starts the article with these words, "This rifle...."  Towards the end of the article he states, "The barrel of this piece is of the octagon to round variety, and is smoothbored, of .66 caliber.""

2) In Muzzle Blasts November 1993 in the same series of articles George featured a robust plain early rifle-built gun with some features of the Lehigh valley.  He begins the article, "Good early rifles..."  Later he states "The full octagon barrel is 41 inches in overall length, measures 1 1/8"  across the flats at the breech, and is smoothbored at .58 caliber.  It's a smooth rifle, as so many of them were."

3) In one of his best articles ever, in MB July 1996, "A Case of Lehigh Valley Longrifle Evolution", he states in the second pargraph, "The three rifles shown here....."  In paragraph 4 he states, "Its overall length is 56 1/8 inches, and the octagon to round barrel has a length of 40 1/8 inches."
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Tatonka

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2012, 06:39:28 PM »
The "no. 19 rifle" is included with other colonial rifles because it has every attribute of a rifle other than the rifling.  It is a smoothbore.  It was built by a riflemaker for someone who specifically requested a smoothbore, as well as some other unique attributes. This is a transitional period gun and, we know now, it was built in the early 1750's.  Whether or not it has rifling, it helps tell the story of colonial rifles - as Shumway obviously knew.

mkeen

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2012, 06:43:55 PM »
Rich, thank you for the references. This answers my question. I'm preparing a short article for the general public and I wanted to be sure of the information that is in the article. For anyone outside of the gun collecting community the term smooth rifle could be confusing. Based on modern definitions the terminology of smooth rifles is an oxymoron. For the general public some definition of smooth rifles must be presented in any article using that language.

George Shumway was a careful researcher. I don't know how many of the gun collecting community realize he also wrote the absolute best book on the Conestoga wagon. It will probably never be surpassed.

Martin

Offline James Rogers

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2012, 07:05:25 PM »
The "no. 19 rifle" is included with other colonial rifles because it has every attribute of a rifle other than the rifling.  It is a smoothbore.  It was built by a riflemaker for someone who specifically requested a smoothbore, as well as some other unique attributes. This is a transitional period gun and, we know now, it was built in the early 1750's.  Whether or not it has rifling, it helps tell the story of colonial rifles - as Shumway obviously knew.

Early 1750's?
How do we know?

Offline eastwind

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2012, 08:02:19 PM »
I believe Martin may have been prompted to ask the question of Shumway's statement on "smooth rifles", as he was inquiring about my recent book, Lancaster Long Rifles, where John Kolar and I described some long rifles as "smooth bore rifles". In part I replied to Martin that Shumway often "pushed" for the use of the term and Rich is correct--it was in his magazine writing that I found those references. I did not say Shumway "lobbied", although admittedly either word may be overstretching Shumway's opinion, but it is evident by his magazine writing that he did indeed use the term and seems to prefer it.
   Moreover, I also told Martin that many of us accept the term-smoothbore rifle, by way of describing a gun which in all appearances (but the inside of the barrel) looks just like a long rifle. Then there is the case of a shot-out and later smoothed out bore that was previously rifled. Without the moniker of smoothbore rifle, what would we then call it?
   More importantly- -I believe the long rifle was referred to as a smooth-bore rifle even when it was originally made. I say that based on a number of transactions in the Anthony Fricker Journals (Berks County, c1814) where Fricker has stated sales made to individuals for a "smooth rifle". I do not think this can be interupted in any other way, as the price he charged for the smooth rifle was far more than a refreshing, and only slightly less a "new gun". This seems to show two types of rifles. Like Mr. Gold, I've sued the term for years and feel it is appropriate for our use today--and maybe for Fricker and gunsmiths of the period  as well. 
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Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2012, 08:08:14 PM »
The term "smooth rifle" is a period term that can be found throughout the Pennsylvania Gazette at least back into the 1750s, if not earlier.  I have numerous documented examples posted in one particular article on my website, each documented to a specific issue of the PA Gazette.
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Tatonka

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2012, 09:16:51 PM »
The "no. 19 rifle" is included with other colonial rifles because it has every attribute of a rifle other than the rifling.  It is a smoothbore.  It was built by a riflemaker for someone who specifically requested a smoothbore, as well as some other unique attributes. This is a transitional period gun and, we know now, it was built in the early 1750's.  Whether or not it has rifling, it helps tell the story of colonial rifles - as Shumway obviously knew.

Early 1750's?
How do we know?


We actually now know pretty much the exact date and the person it was made for, as well as the builder.  It is going to be part of an exhibit for the next few years and there will be presentations of the new research, etc..  That's pretty much all I can say at this point.  Extremely interesting.

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Re: Shumway and rifles
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2012, 09:22:57 PM »
I agree the term "smooth rifle" sounds like an oxymoron but since it appears in period texts, we perhaps should continue to use the term.  I would add that given the uncertainty whether a gun was rifled originally, owner-collectors naturally prefer their rifle-built guns to be called rifles as it adds value due to the romance of the rifle.

Regarding RCA19 and other unsigned, undated early rifles, we don't know when and where they were made but it sure is fun to guess, and George Shumway postulated 1755 or later for #19.  It's a favorite of many as a template for a pre-Revolutionary War rifle.

Just read Tatonka's post and all I can say is hot diggety dog!
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 09:23:46 PM by rich pierce »
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