Author Topic: Identifying an obvious restock  (Read 4816 times)


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Identifying an obvious restock
« on: November 29, 2009, 10:53:35 PM »
This brief letter is neither intended to demean a writer or a particular gun, but serves as a great instructional tool for beginners.  First, some restocks are very well done and hard to discern from an original.  Other restocks, either done during the the period of use, or later on, are very obvious.

One blatant restock sporting a Dickert barrel which I handled when it appeared on the "for sale" wall of a noted Lancaster collector over a decade ago can be found photographed in Whisker and Wood's Armsmakers of Lancaster County, PA., page 83.  The fact that a really righteous Dickert appears on pp. 84-85, and another acceptable one appears on p. 82 makes for easy comparison.  Since you may not have the book available, I'll give details of my line of thought.

First, the rifle in question, captioned as "Jacob Dickert, a pre-Revolutionary War rifle."  The following red flags appear.  First, the architecture differs substantially from a classic Dickert as seen on the next pages.  Not even close, and, take this from me, it is thinner in width, which you can't see in the photos.  Next, and very blatant, is the lack of two crossbolts  fastening down the lock.  Look at all the other Dickert examples...they were made as flintlocks, the only technology of the era.  This appears to be a total restock of an old Dickert barrel, made into a percussion gun, with all new wood used at the time of the rebuild. 

Now to the triggerguard. I submit that the Dickert shop would have removed more metal and done a neater job on it, and anyone in that shop would have known how to install one correctly, not with a wood screw from the bottom and no inletting at the rear.  Compare to the others.

Then there is the patchbox.  Not likely.  Look at all the others.  They are 4-piece boxes of classic Lancaster design (Dickert helped establish this county characteristic).  Also note that Dickert often used a lip at the front of each patchbox sideplate that tightens it down under the pin hinge instead of using a third screw in the front to fasten it to the stock.  This basic, 2-piece box is not even representatlve of Lancaster, let alone any particular shop.

The lock is a later one marked "Warranted."  And the lock-bolt plate with the "fairy wings" and single bolt is common on later guns around here.

Please don't tell me that it could have been an apprentice.  They were trained consistent with shop standards, and anyone who did this kind of work in that shop would have been given a swift kick in the butt and handed a broom.

I submit that the only thing Dickert may have touched on this gun is the barrel.  I would agree that the job has some age on it.  Those two white spots on the wrist are filled-in worm holes, and, if I recall correctly, they come out in the patch box cavity.  Yet, this is no "pre-Rev War rifle," not by a long shot. 

Offline Hurricane ( of Virginia)

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Re: Identifying an obvious restock
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2009, 01:50:41 AM »
For the purpose of teaching, I hope this thread continues.
Amongst the obvious that generically suggest a "restock", assuming the proper motive of preserving the work of another and /or using parts from a damaged gun ( see Guslers article in Muzzleblasts on restocks), I would add the following to your comments about:
     1. Parts , style and architecture inconsistent with the other works of a known maker.
      2. Parts that do not "fit" in a manner that would be consistent with a "fine" craftsman's work.....such as a patchbox that does not abut the butt plate along its whole edge.
      3. Furniture that is variable in quality of workmanship or engraving
      4. A patchbox that is somewhat bent, rather than flat/ smooth
      5. " Fresher" wood under the lock or the buttplate with a newer patina than expected for the "era" of the maker.

There are many more "clues" Someone else pick up the thread, please.

Offline Dave B

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Re: Identifying an obvious restock
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2009, 08:19:38 AM »
Great topic,
I found that pulling the barrel will give a bunch of information about a piece if you are lucky enough to be able to do it. the bottom of the barrel where the front lock bolt nicks the bottom flat will some times have a second nick from the use of a smaller lock than the original. You will find old places where under lugs were cut off and new lugs added. If the wood is showing only one set of lugs then you know the barrel was use elsewhere first. The whole Idea that just because the rifle has a lock on it that was converted to percussion does'nt all ways mean that the rifle bearing the lock was in fact built as a flint lock. Case in point.
I have a example of a rifle that was examined by a collector and I was told it was originally a flintlock due to the converted Ketland lock on the piece. But as I explained to the gent that the stock only has one lock bolt hole and the lock plate is drilled for two (was plugged at the forward lock bolt hole in the plate) could indicate that the piece was built using a converted lock plate from the get go. If I were a gun maker and had twenty flintlock mechanisims laying around and no body was buying flintlocks you can bet I would convert every on of those over to the new popular design and use them to build new rifles as percussion guns.
Dave Blaisdell

Offline JTR

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Re: Identifying an obvious restock
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2009, 10:48:26 PM »
As for the rifle on pg. 83, I've never understood why it was listed as a pre-rev war rifle, and thought it was just a typo error, or maybe the wrong gun pictured. Neither error is uncommon in most of the books if you look close enough. It does have a nice Dickert signature on the barrel though!

As to Dave B comment on barrel underlugs and bolt nicks, IF, the barrel has been cut off at the breech, the old boys would either just slide the barrel back and cut new keeper holes in the stock,,,, or, move the underlugs forward on the barrel and reuse the original keeper holes. Either way, a new barrel nick needs to be done for the forward lock bolt. I have rifles that have been done both ways with the original barrels, so an extra set of underlug placements or bolt nicks isn't sure fire evidence of a barrel replacement. Although finding them would certainly necessitate a closer look at the gun.

Also, more than a few 'new' rifles were made with older parts, and while technically re-stocks, were made as working guns back in the day, as opposed to something recently done simply for financial gain by the unscrupulous. Easy places to look on a suspected late restock are inside the patchbox and under the lock, as the wood in both areas should look old with no signs of exceptional finish. Same for the barrel channel if you can pull the barrel out.
If you're not sure what old wood looks like, look at the unfinished areas on really old antique furniture for examples of similar textures.

John Robbins