Author Topic: A review of "The Longrifle Makers of the Mecklenburg School" by C Michael Briggs  (Read 2230 times)

Offline Dennis Glazener

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The Longrifle Makers of the Mecklenburg School
by C. Michael Briggs

Review by T. D. Glazener November 29, 2016

The Longrifle Makers of the Mecklenburg School documents the history of longrifle gunsmiths in Mecklenburg County, NC from1760 through 1835. This book is 8.5” x 11” and is softbound. The book contains 201 pages and all photos are in full color.

The W. B. (William Black) rifle that graces the front and rear covers of this book is probably the best looking NC made rifle that I have seen. It is also shown on the cover of John Bivins book “Longrifles of North Carolina”. At the time Bivins attributed it as being a Rowan County school rifle. Bivins mentions a Mecklenburg County school but goes on to state “so few eighteenth-century Mecklenburg rifles exist today that we cannot draw ample conclusions about the scope of the school”. Later Bivins states “Mecklenburg cannot properly be termed a school until more rifles from the section are found”. Bivins wrote these words back in 1968 and at the time it reflected the extent of what was known about early gunsmiths in Mecklenburg County NC.
Since John Bivins wrote his 1968 book, many new Mecklenburg longrifles and documents have been discovered. Bill Ivey gave a lecture to the Kentucky Rifle Association in the 1980’s which firmly established the Mecklenburg School as a distinctly different style of gunmaking than the surrounding counties.

Mecklenburg School rifles are rare and so different from other NC rifles that one can easily incorrectly identify the rifle as being made outside NC.  This is understandable since most of the surviving Mecklenburg Longrifles have scroll finials reminiscent of south central PA. Some of the longrifles were built with re-cycled barrels signed by well-known PA rifle makers causing miss-identification as PA made rifles.

In Chapter 1 Michael gives a history of the Mecklenburg School. Chapter 3 gives a detailed description of the architecture features of these fine NC rifles. Chapter 4 lists the names and information about 21 known Mecklenburg School gunsmiths. In chapter 5 there is a listing of the 10 known makers of the 19 longrifles and one pistol that are presently known to have been made in the style of the Mecklenburg School. Chapter 6 contains 71 pages of professionally made full color photos of known Mecklenburg School longrifles and the one known pistol. Most of the pages contain 3 photos.

Chapters 7 through 10 contain observations of the author along with books, magazine articles, listings of historical source documents. Appendixes 1 through 13 contain Misc. Mecklenburg School gunsmith information collected over the years by the author.

Appendix 14 was especially interesting in that it contains 9 detailed color photos of an early (1770-1775) longrifle that belonged to John McKnitt Alexander that moved to Mecklenburg County NC in 1764. The barrel of this rifle is signed by Lancaster PA gunsmith John Graeff. Michael tells the story about how this rifle was identified as likely to have been made by one of the early Mecklenburg County gunsmiths using a recycled Graeff barrel.

This is a book that any serious student of NC and other Southern Longrifles will want to add to their library. It is well written and documented click here for ordering information:
« Last Edit: November 30, 2016, 05:02:10 PM by Dennis Glazener »
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