Author Topic: Earliest frizzen spring rollers  (Read 2200 times)

Offline J Harvey

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Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« on: June 08, 2023, 09:00:48 PM »
Hello to you all,

I'm new to this forum and my collecting interests, for the most part, lie elsewhere. However, I recently acquired a flintlock pistol and powder horn from a friend who inherited them (ultimately) from his ancestor who was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. I recognize that this forum concerns rifles; but since locks are locks, I'm hoping someone here can help me.

Do any of you know, for certain, whether or not it's possible that all the components on this Lock could have existed during the Revolutionary War? My concern is the anti-friction roller and the semi-waterproof priming pan.

I know these are 'later' features, but the provenance for this pistol is impeccable and its first owner was a man of sufficient means to purchase the best technology available at the times. He was from Stow Massachusetts and fought at the Battle of Concord as a Private. He was afterwards commissioned as a Lieutenant, and likely purchased this pistol at that time.

Thanks for any/all comments and opinions.









« Last Edit: June 10, 2023, 11:39:04 PM by Dennis Glazener »

Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2023, 09:24:34 PM »
I believe that those marvelous pistols are French. The lock shape, embellishing, and the guard construction are similar to weapons of French origin and of the 1770's vintage that I have seen photos of. They certainly are very nice examples.

Mike

Offline Jim Kibler

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2023, 12:50:36 AM »
Belgian made seems likely to me.  I think it's a toss up whether these could be 1770's.  If you said 1760's I would probably say no given the quality level.  But then again, they could be 1780's as well.  At least this is my gut feel...

Jim

Offline smart dog

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2023, 02:29:56 PM »
Hi,
I don't have a lot of data on Belgian and French pistols but I believe those are from well after the Rev War period and probably the 19th century.  That kind of roller on the feather spring shows up in Britain during the late 1790s.

dave
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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2023, 03:56:33 PM »
I think 1770s is possible.  As far as the roller goes,  the English were always about 10 years behind the French with gizmos and gadgets. L
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Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2023, 05:47:53 PM »
Atkinson, in his duelling pistol book, shows a Wogdon pistol that he dates at 1785 or later. He cites the rollers on the feather spring as one of the new features. I read somewhere else, I cannot recall which book it was, it might have been one of J. N. George's, the same thing Mike is pointing out about the technological improvements coming from the continent, largely France, to England in the 18th century.

Mike

Offline WESTbury

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2023, 06:28:19 PM »
Below is a photo of the lock on a New England Rifle I have. I believe that the rifle dates to the first decade of the 19th Century.

The Frizzen Spring does not have a roller, but the Foot of the Frizzen has a very small roller.

The rest of the rifle.
https://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=56680.0

« Last Edit: June 09, 2023, 07:25:09 PM by WESTbury »
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Offline J Harvey

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2023, 10:20:51 PM »
My thanks to all who provided comments.

My collecting has always focused on military antiques, as has the knowledge of experts to whom I've shown this pistol. Most of them date the pistol at 1790 or later but admit that some of its features go back to an earlier time.

I have very much wanted the pistol to date to the time of the Revolution, since I have its history (from the family) going back, generation-to-generation, to Lieutenant Abraham Randall of Stow Massachusetts. Randall fought at Concord as a Private; but he was quickly promoted to 1st Lieutenant and served at various engagements in New England throughout the war.

Having read all your comments, I understand that the dates at which feather spring rollers first appeared varied between the continental gunmakers and those of Great Britain. It also seems that Militaries were slower to adopt innovative technologies than was the civilian market.

Lieutenant Randall came from a wealthy family who had immigrated to New England long before the Revolution. He was a man of considerable means and could have easily afforded to purchase the 'latest and greatest' pistol technology available. As an Officer, he was likely mounted at times, and could well have chosen a horse/saddle pistol.

Thank you so much for your responses. If anyone has decisive information that supports (or refutes) my biased hope, please comment further.

Harvey

PS: Regrettably, this is not a pair of pistols, but only one. I accidently posted two full-length photos and could not discover how to delete one of them. Sorry for the confusion.

Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2023, 10:36:32 PM »
Thanks for sharing the photo of the pistol. It is truly a nice pistol. Having the provenance of the owner is great. It's possible that Lieutenant Randall stayed with the military and acquired the pistols from France later than the 1770s. The holster style butts are certainly an earlier style though' but if they were built to his specification' he may have ordered them with that tupe of butt' even if it was an older style. As has been mentioned before, the French and other Continental lock makers were generally driving the new technology. The 1790 date is very much an English dating for the feather spring rollers. They did show up possibly earlier in the mid to late 80's on high end London pistols. Do you know who built  the pistols?

Mike

Offline J Harvey

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2023, 11:33:53 PM »
“ Do you know who built  the pistols?”

Thanks for you comments. Randall did seem to have some connection with the military post-war, possibly some defense or safety committee. Additionally, he died in 1815 due to exposure to the elements whilst assisting War of 1812 veterans in their return to their homes. His son, Paul, born 1784, is mentioned in a Stow 1825 document as “Captain Paul Randall”, indicating that Paul could have been an 1812 veteran.

The pistol has no markings, other than decorative, that are visible in its assembled state. I’m unwilling to take it apart for fear of further buggering the lock plate and tang screws. I think it’s been many years since it’s been disassembled, and doing so might cause wood to splinter (though the wood does seems solid and well preserved).


Offline Dennis Glazener

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2023, 11:42:02 PM »
Quote
PS: Regrettably, this is not a pair of pistols, but only one. I accidentally posted two full-length photos and could not discover how to delete one of them. Sorry for the confusion.
I deleted one of the full-length photos.
Dennis
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Offline Bob Roller

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2023, 03:19:17 AM »
As a one time lock maker I can say with certainty the roller on the frizzen works well and is not hard to do.
Most of the small Ketlands I made had a roller bearing on the frizzen because the design allowed it.
Flint locks of any kind were constantly being changed,modified and and the English did all that could be done
by an externally generated spark making ignition system.It was assassinated by a tiny copper cup with a speck
of an impact sensitive chemical. It has been a fun trip trying to recreate all this ancient technology.
Bob Roller

Offline J Harvey

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2023, 06:06:59 PM »
Thanks Bob.

Are you saying that it's possible that this pistol could date to the Revolution, and that its Roller was added (or that its original feather spring was replaced by one with a Roller) sometime after the Revolution? If so, that might explain why the pistol has an older look than one would expect to see on a pistol with a anti-friction roller.

Thanks again to all who commented. Here are some final images showing further details.

Harvey















Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2023, 07:34:43 PM »
With these additional pictures I'm starting to doubt they are French. The carving isn't remotely French and the engraving doesn't really look French either. The quality over all isn't what I'm used to seeing for a pistol of this type. I'm leaning toward Belgian, maybe 1800 or so. The quality is right for Belgian work.
 It isn't unusual for family lore to be handed down about a particular gun being used by a family member using it during the Rev. War. Quite often those guns may have been purchased long after the war by the family member and the story gets made up long after he is dead. Could be the case here.
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Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2023, 10:13:16 PM »
By Belgian do you mean the manufacturing areas around Liege, or is there another gun manufacturing area in that region? Belgium as a nation didn't exist when this gun was probably made. That area was French controlled before 1814, and then part of the Neatherlands until it became an independent country in 1830.

Mike

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2023, 11:35:22 PM »
Liege, Utrecht etc. These were major gunmaking centers.
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Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2023, 02:16:49 PM »
Were Leige built guns proofed with the early style mark in a visible spot, or would it have been on the underside of the barrel or on the breech?


Mike

Offline dadybear1

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2023, 03:08:28 PM »
THANKS FOR SHARING THE PICS AND STORY---GREAT PISTOL, AND HISTORY!!!  AMAZING TECHNOLOGY FOR THAT TIME!!

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2023, 04:37:37 PM »
Quote
AMAZING TECHNOLOGY FOR THAT TIME!
Actually pretty typical for the time period.
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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2023, 04:38:31 PM »
Were Leige built guns proofed with the early style mark in a visible spot, or would it have been on the underside of the barrel or on the breech?


Mike
Beats me, I'll have to take mine apart and look.
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Offline WESTbury

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2023, 01:47:18 PM »
Below is a photo of the lock on a New England Rifle I have. I believe that the rifle dates to the first decade of the 19th Century.

The Frizzen Spring does not have a roller, but the Foot of the Frizzen has a very small roller.

The rest of the rifle.
https://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=56680.0

The vast majority of locks I have observed with rollers have them on the Frizzen Spring rather than on the foot of the Frizzen as shown in the photo I posted last week. Is there an inherit advantage mechanically to having the roller on the Frizzen Spring or was it a matter of preference?

In my opinion. Locks I have seen with the roller on the foot of the frizzen have a "cleaner" look.
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Offline JV Puleo

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2023, 04:11:51 PM »
I can't imagine what mechanical advantage there would be and it almost certainly easier to put the roller on the frizzen rather than the spring. Locks, however, don't tell us much. Effectively, they were all made by specialists who made nothing else. They supplied the gun trade and we may presume that all the actual makers had their own specialized tools and fixtures. They simply could not have produced the quantities they sold, at the prices they sold them for, any other way.

For some reason, I suspect the frizzen roller may be somewhat older than is posited here. The dates we are arriving at are more likely based on when this feature reached the commercial, mass production market. It may predate that on higher quality arms. In any case, the features we often use for dating like bridles & rollers are not particularly reliable for arriving at a time frame as short as 10 or even 20 years. Mass production is not very flexible and once a production technique developed, changing it would have been difficult. Earlier features – like the lack of bridles – remained in use on inexpensive locks long after they had been superseded on better ones.

Another feature I've only seen a couple of times is a roller on the end of the mainspring....a friction reducing device that must have been easier to make than the stirrup.

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2023, 04:21:16 PM »
Rollers are highly overrated. When shooting a gun I couldn't tell you if there was a roller or not.
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Offline WESTbury

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2023, 06:08:34 PM »
Joe and Mike,

Thanks for your observations.

I personally have never quite understood the roller concept for either the frizzen of frizzen spring. I would suspect that if they had any advantage, most of the flintlock muskets would have had them as well.

Perhaps they are somewhat akin to the fins on the cars of the late 50's. Nice looking but useless.

Kent
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Offline Seth Isaacson

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Re: Earliest frizzen spring rollers
« Reply #24 on: June 16, 2023, 07:40:04 PM »
On most of the really nice English dueling pistols and sporting guns I've worked with over the years, the roller frizzens secured closed very firmly but snap open with authority as well. Whether or not that actually improves their functionality when shooting is another question. The antique guns with rollers almost always seem to have good frizzen operation whereas plenty of the guns with plain setups have weak engagement, but some of that has to do with more of those guns being older and more of the roller guns being newer and higher end.
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