Author Topic: 090823-1  (Read 9689 times)

Offline nord

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« on: August 26, 2009, 03:19:29 PM »

What a truly fine rifle!!! This is easily Henry Spitzer's finest effort and we are lucky that it is still around. On top of that, it appears to be a somewhat early gun, but let me go one step further and made the bold statement that this is one of the best Virginia rifles extant.
Our thanks to the owner who has allowed us to see the rifle from many perspectives. Should make the builders among us happy.

The barrel is a long one (48 inches, perhaps?) fully octagonal and rifled. It has that pronounced flared fore end that some other earlier VA guns have. The waist at the swamped portion must be quite small to produce such a noticeable double flared effect.

The buttstock looks somewhat thick and tall, (this looks like a big rifle), but the architecture is quite graceful and pleasing. Carving, inlays, and engraving are done with the greatest of skill and all are very tasteful. Lock is high quality English and rifle may be an original flintlock. The sweep of the hammer and the frizzen curls have a sophisticated look that most restorers do not always attain.

The barrel keys appear to be silver and therefore, probably are captive in the wood.

This will be one of the finest pieces in the Library.
Here's what I know about it specification wise;

Signed on barrel; H. Spitzer
Barrel length; about 48" long, swamped with a nice flair at the muzzle.
Cal; about 50 rifled.
Butt plate width; about 1 ĺ".
Has 4 ramrod pipes and 4 silver headed flat barrel keepers.
The carving is mostly incised, but with a bit of very low relief in some elements of the butt carving.
Lock and condition; Original flint. The rifle handles and aims nicely, but itís actually a pretty stoutly built rifle.

This is a fine Spitzer rifle, clean lines, good condition, fully decorated and one of his best. I particularly appreciate the fact that this rifle is clearly signed, and has his little four petal flowers around the screw heads to support his signature. I think some collectors get a little over zealous in attributing unsigned VA rifles to Spitzer, as witnessed by the variety of unsigned "Spitzer" rifles illustrated in Dr. Whisker's VA books. Spitzer was well known and productive, so perhaps it's been a little too easy attributing VA rifles to him.  We are fortunate to have another fine signed example, with a  good variety of Spitzer's details in it, to use for comparisons in the future in attributing, or dis-attributing, unsigned rifles to him.  This is a handsome rifle and great candidate for the museum. I'm not really into VA rifles, but I'd take this one in a heartbeat.
Spitzer was obviously a pretty good engraver, so this might be a way to differentiate his work, vs those, as Whisker wrote, a gun 'Made in Spitzer's shop'.

Another nicety on this rifle is the patchbox release button. It's the small engraved oval between the two rear screws on the toe plate!
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 03:52:06 PM by Tim Crosby »
In Memory of Lt. Catherine Hauptman Miller 6/1/21 - 10/1/00 & Capt. Raymond A. Miller 12/26/13 - 5/15/03...  They served proudly.