Author Topic: Philip Heckert, York, PA, gunsmith and barrel maker  (Read 3244 times)

jwh1947

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Philip Heckert, York, PA, gunsmith and barrel maker
« on: June 04, 2009, 11:26:55 PM »
Not too long ago an acquaintance brought in a neat, unsigned York rifle, nice engraved patch box, with plain wood and good architecture.  I suspect the gun to be an unsigned Martin Fry.  If not that, then absolutely an associate.  The gun needed some work around the lock and was cracked through probably due to a burst mainspring.  Upon disassembly I noted the letters P H with an eagle between the letters on the underside of the barrel.  This made my day, as the barrel maker and I share the same last name--Heckert.  Likely a distant relative, but not direct.

Heckert ran a boring mill just outside York and made barrels not only for himself, but for the known cartel of York makers, including Fry, the Welshans, Henry Pickel, Jacob Doll, Frederick Zorger, and others.  Heckert also made beautiful rifles, some well carved.  The boring mill burnt down in 1800 and I remember seeing a pen drawing of men fleeing from it.  I think that the York County Historical Society has a copy of this drawing in an old text.  That's the second PH  barrel I've seen, so there are some out there.  Incidentally, Siro Toffolon mentioned years ago in print that he had seen four signed Heckert rifles, so they are out there, too, but not all that common.  Let me know of any others.  JWH

Offline Goldenridgekid

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Re: Philip Heckert, York, PA, gunsmith and barrel maker
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2022, 05:52:41 PM »
Hi, I am the owner of a Philip Heckert muzzle loader. His name is inscribed on the barrel. I believe it to have been purchased by my great, great, great grandfather, Christian Philip Pentzer who I can place in Philipsburg, Pa., Clearfield county in the early 1800s. I live in north-central  Idaho in Lewis County. My great grandfather brought this muzzle loader with him when he moved here in 1899 from Fort Scott, Kansas. My father said it belonged to his grandfathers father, Henry Pentzer. It was converted to a percussion cap rifle at some point. The barrel is approx 35 inches in length and measures .95 inches in diameter.It is smooth bore with no rifleing. It is octagon. The stock is striped maple and was replaced at some point also, according to my father. It has a brass trigger guard and a brass buttplate. The trigger is a set trigger with an extremely light release. My father actually shot a reduced load in this rifle a few  times, about 20 years ago. This is my most prized firearm that I own and I would certainly like to know its entire history in more detail.






Offline Tanselman

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Re: Philip Heckert, York, PA, gunsmith and barrel maker
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2022, 07:17:58 PM »
When an early rifle is badly damaged and must be restocked, it becomes very difficult to figure out its earlier history since so much of the original gun is lost in the rebuild, in this case all the original stock and York carving, and mountings such as patchbox, guard, butt plate, and inlay work. Your rifle has an early Heckert barrel that has been shortened on both ends when reused to make this much later circa 1850's half-stocked rifle. The later guard style and slight "fish belly" lower butt line suggest the gun was most likely restocked in the Midwest.  Beyond that, it's difficult to provide much more information on either the current rifle, or what the original Heckert rifle looked like. Your rifle has an interesting family history, and perhaps that's its most valuable part.

Sometimes these old rifles, if well used, appear to be a smooth bore when in fact the rifling is simply worn out and "almost" gone. Other times, when large game was gone, the bore was reamed out to a smooth bore for shooting shot at small game. Without knowing its current bore size, or seeing a good view of the muzzle and bore, it's hard to tell which is the case with your rifle from what has been posted. Hope this helps you understand your family rifle better.

Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: May 29, 2022, 07:51:16 PM by Tanselman »

Offline Goldenridgekid

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Re: Philip Heckert, York, PA, gunsmith and barrel maker
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2022, 05:28:48 PM »
Thank you for the info, Shelby. What you replied makes sense as my great, great grandfather was in Ohio and my great grandfather in Kansas, Ohio, and Indiana. No, the rifle is not in pristine or original condition. It was used very much and was probably used for the primary source of meat in the diet of my ancestors. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to have it for a short while and will pass it on or put it into our local museum. Richard Pentzer

Offline Curt Lyles

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Re: Philip Heckert, York, PA, gunsmith and barrel maker
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2022, 09:39:21 PM »
Jwh there is a Philip Heckert rifle in the book Steel Canvas on page 41 and 344 I believe I'll have to check those pages again but it is a nice rifle it looks very different than the one that was posted but it is in very good condition from what I can see Hope this helps . If you don't have the book send me an email and I will send you the pics.

Offline Curt Lyles

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Re: Philip Heckert, York, PA, gunsmith and barrel maker
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2022, 05:11:01 AM »
I found two more Heckert rifles in the book gunsmiths of York county by James whisker page 81 and 82.