Author Topic: ID on this old girl...  (Read 4522 times)

RTDoug

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ID on this old girl...
« on: February 15, 2010, 12:36:33 AM »
Hello,

I am new here and have been researching this rifle.

I don't have much knowledge on old stuff, but this one is fun.

It belongs to my mother-in-law, and has hung above the mantle for years.

I see it resembles the "Jamestown Rifles" but no maker marks are visible.

http://i1001.photobucket.com/albums/af138/RTDoug_bucket/DSCN0101.jpg

http://i1001.photobucket.com/albums/af138/RTDoug_bucket/DSCN0096.jpg

http://i1001.photobucket.com/albums/af138/RTDoug_bucket/DSCN0097-2.jpg

http://i1001.photobucket.com/albums/af138/RTDoug_bucket/DSCN0098.jpg

It seems to be closest to a O.M. Dixon, or Lamb.

It may be rebarreled, with 7 inches to the rear sight from the breech.

Any, and all, opinions and ideas are appreciated.

Regards



scooter

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Re: ID on this old girl...
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2010, 01:02:19 AM »
You hit the nail on the head: Jamestown NC it is. Whether you will ever be able to get farther than that I seriously doubt. Too many gunsmuiths, not enough variety. Incidentally what is that out-of-focus photo of the etching on the lock supposed to show? That is a common, ordinary commercial lock as all the Jamestown guns I've photographed have. You gun is in serious need of professional restoration and doubtless there are several [if not many] modern gunmakers who can also do restoration work. I urge you to have that done by a real professional!

RTDoug

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Re: ID on this old girl...
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2010, 01:46:24 AM »
Oh, believe me, I won't touch it.

It belongs to my mother-in-law, and I don't need that!

Are these reasonably valuable?

I understand that it is a production lock. It seems a little different that it has the square rearward portion, and the single "guinea" fowl, but I understand they were produced by the thousands.

What strikes me as different is that it only has two tang screws, and a single dovetail on the front sight.

Possibly the re-barrel idea would explain it. There is only seven inches from breech to rear sight, and the flats on the barrel are very, very straight.

I did take it to Conner Prairie Museum here in Indianapolis, and was told it was an Indiana/Ohio rifle.  I know that it is in need of help.

The lock is worn out, and I don't think it is in any shape to be fired.

The triggers still set, but that's it.

I told her that I would just try to find out more for her.

I am toying with the idea of putting together a kit as a replica of this one.

Any one come to mind that I could work into a shooter?

Regards
« Last Edit: February 15, 2010, 01:52:07 AM by RTDoug »

scooter

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Re: ID on this old girl...
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2010, 05:50:28 AM »
You raise a number of points. It is a GREAT shame if not restored before irreparably damaged. Period. Museums are the last place you can get good gun evaluations. Look at the horrible ID and comments at almost any National Parks "service" facility! And dare to suggest their cards are wrong! Nothing special about the lock. As a normal part of restoration a qualified gunsmith will restore the lock to working order. Restored the gun would likely be in the $2500 range. Many tangs have just 1 screw; no significance here. My strong suggestions on restoration have nothing to do with firing the gun-- against which preposterous idea I would be wholly opoposed.

Offline Tanselman

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Re: ID on this old girl...
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2010, 10:09:24 AM »
RT, I thought a couple of additional comments may help you understand your Jamestown, NC rifle a little better. Its pinwheel and diamond shaped inlays of German silver, attached by large silver headed nails, are typical of Jamesown work. You said the barrel might be replaced. Actually, it's probably the original barrel that was shortened by cutting it off at the breech, which pulls/moves the rear sight back. Guns were often rebreeched a couple of times during their working lives, as the breech area corroded out. The shield shaped lock bolt washer missing on the back side of the gun was more common on Lamb rifles than Dixon guns, and I would lean toward a Lamb attribution, although there were a couple of Lamb gunsmiths who worked in the percussion era when your gun was made. I have a signed "A. Lamb" half-stocked rifle with similar stock architecture to yours, German silver inlays (not all identical) as yours has, and with the same little square tab behind the front or "hair" trigger as seen on your rifle. It doesn't prove your gun is a Lamb, but it helps support an attribution to the Lambs.

Restoration raises a couple of issues with your rifle, including: 1) is the gun currently stable when handled, or is the wrist break loose under the repair, allowing the butt to move slightly when handled; 2) how extensive a restoration is desired, and what will it cost; 3) will the type of restoration needed for your gun enhance its value more than the cost of the work?  

If a gun with repaired wrist, such as yours, is solid and stable when handled, then it is not in imminent need of restoration. When a wrist break is lose under the repair, it constantly "moves" and damages the broken area as the gun is handled, making it more and more difficult to repair cleanly without the repair work showing when done.  Period repairs are not totally bad, and are an interesting part of the gun's history if the repair is solid and stable. This is particularly true when it is not a high value gun, and the repair doesn't hide significant decorative inlay work or carving.

Another consideration is the old copper plate wrapped around the wrist of your rifle. Does it sit on top of the gun's original surface, or was it inletted down into the stock wood so that it sits flush with the surface? If it has been inletted into the wood (as it appears to be) and nose of the comb, then the restoration is more difficult because the surface wood that was removed when inletting the plate must be replaced. That is substantially more work than simply repairing the old break and old screw and nail holes. It increases restoration costs. There is also the issue of stretching the barrel back to its original length, if a full restoration is contemplated, which costs about $175 to $200 and maybe more.  

I mention this to show that there are a number of considerations regarding restoration, if contemplated, and it often depends on the value of the gun under consideration. If your gun did not have a broken wrist, and the shield shaped lock bolt washer was still on the gun, it might bring up to $2500. But without a patchbox, my guess is that it would bring somewhat less. Will the restored gun bring that same amount? Probably not, since collectors have become more picky about restoration in the last few years, especially on lower end guns.

A lot depends on whether the old wirst break is still solid and stable. If so, you may not want to do much to the gun. On the other hand, if the old break is lose, then it should be repaired to protect the gun from further damage and more expensive repairs later on. If that kind of work is done, then by all means replace the missing side plate as well, and repair the poorly functioning lock. The current barrel length doesn't look awkward, so I'd leave the barrel alone, in part due to the difficulty in recouping that expense later on. So at least you now have another opinion on your rifle, and its possible restoration. Hope this helps you. Shelby Gallien
« Last Edit: February 15, 2010, 10:12:03 AM by Tanselman »

RTDoug

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Re: ID on this old girl...
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2010, 01:13:55 AM »
Thank you for the insight.

The wrist repair appears solid, and I wouldn't be surprised if the rifle was used for quite awhile with the brass repair patch. This is held in place with iron screws with the heads filed off flat. It does not appear to be inlaid into the wood.

The inlays are brass though, not silver. This makes me think it was more of a " working man's" rifle. Oddly, some of the pins are iron, some brass.

It has been mentioned to me that perhaps the brass inlay work was performed at the time of the repair.

Another difference from the photos of the Jamestown rifles is that the cheekpiece is rounded, not angular, toward the butt end. A minor difference I know, but I noticed.

So, the three screw tang, typical of..."90%" of Jamestown's,but only two on this one, and the single front sight dovetail doesn't affect anyone's opinion as to whether or not it is some other form of rifle?

The best visual matches remain the Jamestown rifles.

As I said, it belongs to my mother-in-law, and whether it is restored or not would be totally up to her.

I may have to take it to Friendship for the spring shoot, and see what I can find out.


Thanks again

Offline Tanselman

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Re: ID on this old girl...
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2010, 02:38:09 AM »
RT, I gotta' ask, how do you know the inlays are brass? Have you cleaned a small area on one of them to see the base metal clearly? They sure look like tarnished German silver to me in your photos. Don't be fooled by a "brass colored" cast to them. Brass usually goes to almost black on a gun like this that hasn't been cleaned in many years, while German silver goes to a yellow-brown, or at times to an orange/tan color like what I see on your gun. German silver is NOT silver, but rather an alloy of copper with nickel, and a little zinc. It has a bright silver look when polished, and dosn't tarnish as fast as silver.

As to the front sight, a lot of Jamestown sights had a double dovetail base, but we would have to see a good photo of the sight and muzzle on your gun to make sure it is an original sight, and not one installed after the muzzle was possibly cut back. A number of Lamb halfstocks also have a zigzag engraved line funning out along the under rib on the barrel. But again, I have a signed Lamb gun of good quality, and it doesn't have the engraving on the rib. Their guns varied at times in some detials, but overall appearance was relatively consistent. Regardless of the two vs. three screw tang question and base of front sight, your rifle appears most like a Lamb product. Could it be by someone else? Yes... since we are only attributing it to Lamb as its most likely maker based on what we can see, not positively identifying it as a Lamb product.  Shelby Gallien

Offline mbriggs

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Re: ID on this old girl...
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2010, 03:12:05 AM »
I can tell you the longrifle was definitely made in Jamestown, N.C.  I can also tell you that if it is not signed, you will never be able to know who made it as that School had at least 87 gunsmiths in it, over 50 were working there during the period the rifle was made.  They all look a like for the most part so they usually need to be signed to be identified.

Around 90% of the Jamestown School rifles have a three screw tang, but I have owned several with 2 screw tangs.  As to the front site, around 70% have double brass dovetailed based front sites with the rest have a single brass dovetailed base.

The side plate is made of brass, but Shelby is right...the inlays are just dirty and made of german silver.

I have owned over 100 Jamestown Rifles and still have over thirty of them today.

Best of luck,

Michael     
C. Michael Briggs