Author Topic: Whale 090315-3  (Read 12630 times)

Offline nord

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Whale 090315-3
« on: March 27, 2009, 03:31:08 PM »
Owner Addendum (See comments below.)

The rifle is signed "BHC" both on the lock and under the barrel. I don't
know of a qualified Tennessee collector who has doubted the attribution to
Berryman H. Compton, who worked in Giles County, Tennessee. It has been
attributed as a Tennessee rifle at least since it was pictured in the KRA
"Kentucky Rifles & Pistols" book in 1976. Compton was born in South Carolina
and I think there was an influence from that direction. My view is that the
place where he worked in Tennessee was near the head of the Natchez Trace
and that he had a different clientele than Tennessee makers who worked
further east or up in the mountains. The late Sonny Nevell told me the
rifle turned up in New Orleans years ago.
We do not know that Alexander Compton, who trained in Maryland, was
Berryman's father. I had suggested that as a possibility to my friend Jerry
Noble, but to my knowledge that has not been established as fact.
The rifle has not been broken through the wrist, although there is a stain
line on one side which must have misled the commentator who was looking at
the pictures but had not observed the rifle. There is a break at the toe,
as was correctly observed.



Highly regarded, classic Tennessee rifle of merit. This is one of the finer known TN guns, and is a great piece to have made available to the museum.

A beautiful rifle and is quite out of the ordinary for a gun from this Southern school. Rarely is carving seen on these guns; ditto for the bone/ivory inlays. The original owner must have paid a premium price for this piece. It does appear that the wrist has been broken through behind the lock and the wear patterns are somewhat indistinct suggesting the possibility of a refinish job or a rifle hardly used. There is an obvious crack at the toe. The lock is a real beauty and looks to be original. Wood is nice and well shaped. Almost too good for Tennesee; is the barrel signed? The patchbox is unusual and one wonders if the maker didn't get his training in PA given the whale tail finial.

We don't know for sure this gun was made in Tennessee, but several Tennessee experts, including Jerry Noble and Robin Hale, have said it's a Tennessee gun. The barrel initials "B.H.C." have been identified as/attributed to Berryman H. Compton of Giles County, Tennessee. According to Jerry Noble, he was a son of Alexander Compton, who was learned gunmaking in Hagerstown, MD, which might help account for the more classic butt lines of this fine rifle. We had it on display in Louisville last June at the NRA National Convention, and I was impressed when handling it, a truly fine rifle.

I have jumped on the "band wagon" of those believing it was made in Tennessee. Of course, despite matching initials with a known TN maker, if another southern maker with the same initials pops up, perhaps it will re-open the gun's attribution.... presuming the new maker worked in an area that could have produced this rifle.

I personally think the gun was made in Tennessee, partially from comments by those more qualified than I am on TN rifles, and the iron mounts also tend to point in that direction. There are other maple stocked rifles with somewhat similar architecture, such as the Bogle guns, from TN, and some with incised carving from TN as well, plus a smattering of bone inlay work down there. Of course, other southen states, with South Carolina as an  example, had rifles with bone inlays. So I think your question is a good one.... we don't know this is a TN rifle with absolute certainty, but until we find another maker with the same initials, it will probably remain attributed to Tennessee by most collectors, including myself.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 06:43:58 PM by Tim Crosby »
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Offline Hurricane ( of Virginia)

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Re: Whale 090315-3
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2010, 10:44:48 PM »
This is additional history and Genealogy of the Compton family and their relatives: