Author Topic: To chase or not to chase  (Read 2828 times)

n stephenson

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To chase or not to chase
« on: January 03, 2017, 05:01:55 PM »
After studying the fowlers in Tom Grinslade`s wonderful book as well as some guns in RCA . I noticed that a lot of the guns that have engraved butt plates and trigger gaurds have other parts like sideplates and thumb pieces that appear to be engraved by a different hand. Research has shown that buttplate and trigger guard "sets" sometimes with a matching sideplate were commercially available at times. A lot of the engraving on these buttplates and trigger gaurds looks very shallow or light compared to the rest of the gun. My question is whether or not the original hardware sets were cast with the engraving in them or engraved after casting because, so many appear to have almost identical engraved patterns.If the engraving was cast in did the old smiths rechase it or just clean it up . I realize there may not be a deffinate answer to this ,I just wondered what you thought about this. The guns I`m referring to in RCA are on pages 52,53 ,252, 253 ,334 ,335. While the gun on pages 52,53 isn't as close , the second two guns share almost identical hardware including the entry thimble. These guns don`t appear to me to be made in the same shop which leads me to believe this hardware was purchased.  Just some thoughts .  Thanks Nathan

Offline jerrywh

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Re: To chase or not to chase
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2017, 10:30:54 PM »
 I don't think there is a proper answer to the question because so many different makers did things differently.  I never have seen an original with cast RR thimbles but for side plates some were and some weren't cast with the engraving on them. I can't prove it but it is logical to assume that a gunmaker used a casting for a pattern.   Two words I shy away from are always and never.  I do know that a lot of people who engraved stuff back then as well as now had patterns because it is easier to cut something than to come up with a good design.  They also copied stuff just as some do today. There is one thing that makes me very curious though. I have seen steel on iron side plates from around 1790 that had the same exact defects in the same exact places in the iron and in the engravings. They weren't supposed to be able to cast iron or steel back then but it sure looks like they did.  If it were silver or brass I could understand it.
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Offline Clark Badgett

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Re: To chase or not to chase
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2017, 01:46:21 AM »
Jerry, the casting of iron is quite old, with even some evidence of such in Roman times at least. It's the casting of steel that is disputed. I don't have a definite answer to that either.
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Offline Chris Treichel

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Re: To chase or not to chase
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2017, 03:45:03 AM »
Casting steel to make reliable springs dates to the 16th century... which is also the advent of winding clocks... Now English cast steel you can look to Benjamin Huntsman last half 18th century... he was making blades with it... I have a warranted cast steel sword.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2017, 03:47:44 AM by Chris Treichel »

Offline jerrywh

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Re: To chase or not to chase
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2017, 05:26:52 AM »
  I don't think these side plate were cast iron. They could have been cast steel. I guess I will have to find the photos of them.  I have so many books that is a major task. Chris, thanks for the info. I am fascinated by history.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2017, 05:29:00 AM by jerrywh »
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Offline Clark Badgett

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Re: To chase or not to chase
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2017, 05:58:49 AM »
Come to think of it, many of the old wooden plane blades were cast steel. Forgot about those.
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Offline deepcreekdale

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Re: To chase or not to chase
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2017, 04:19:54 PM »
Chris is right about Benjamin Huntsman. He was a clock maker that was unhappy with the quality of the blister steel available for making springs. He developed a better process of casting steel and kept it a secret. In one of the earliest cases of industrial espionage, competitors sent a man, who appeared to be blind drunk farmer to his door one night asking for shelter. Huntsman let him in to sleep it off and the supposed drunk was able to observe his process. Today I guess we would hire computer hackers to do that sort of work, they were more creative in those days! Like Jerry says, history is fascinating. Better than any fiction.
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n stephenson

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Re: To chase or not to chase
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2017, 05:11:03 PM »
Jerry , I agree ,there probably isn't an answer to  my question. It`s something I`ve wondered about for a while and I appreciate everyone`s input . So much knowledge and insight on this site. I have an old sideplate that I bought years ago at a gunshow. The gentleman I bought it from was about 80 years old and told me that his uncle was a civil engineer in Michigan back in the 1920s and 30s . He said his uncle was on a highway project when a dozer operator uncovered what I suppose was a gravesite .His uncle had everything that was left of the pistol. He said it was flintlock and the wood was basically falling apart all of the hardware was a ferrous metal. He said his uncle gave each of his nephews a piece of it. WOW!!! Even though it is pretty pitted you can still see traces of engraving and make out some of the pattern.I believe it is French maybe a trade pistol . I wish I could post to get some feedback. I`d like to know more .  Thanks Everybody    Nathan