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Kenneth Bertschy




Location: Tucson Arizona
Joined: 29 Mar 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sun 29 Mar, 2009 11:49 am    Post subject: help identifying this flintlock         Reply with quote







Hi everyone. My doctor has this old flintlock that he says is a revolutionary war flintlock given to him by one of his patients who pickedgrov it up a long time ago back east. To me it looks like a contract rifle. let me know what you guys think. The barrel is at least 42 inches long. It is swamped and has odd looking seven groove rifeling. The pan is pitted from use and the frizzen is worn. The cock is flat with a beveled edge. there is a name engraved just to the right of the base of the cock (where a crown would be on a brown bess) that says "S Johnson". There's no date on the buttstock but this is the most worn part and pretty rusted. The barrel is pinned to the stock with round pins. The cleaning rod is all wood, tapers outwards and has a pigtail cleaning jag on the other end. The cleaning rod is "two toned". The exposed part of the rod is dark and the unexposed part is much lighter in color. Almost as if someone stained it while it was still in the stock. But it's probably just patination. The whole flintlock mechanism doesn't quite fit in the hole in the stock. You can see a gap between the lockplate and the stock on the lower left hand side of the stockplate. The trigger looks a lot older and more fragile than the rest of the gun, but seems "right" to me. The trigger plate is hand forged and is pointed on both ends with a wide area over the trigger. The neck is round, not oval, and the whole gun is in very good shape except for the rusty buttplate that has actually rusted through to the wood. Can anyone help me with this rifle? Especially that odd rifling? Is it worth getting it appraised?
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Mar, 2009 2:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It will be much easier to help if we can see some clearer photos, including a couple of full length pictures of each side of the gun. But, from what I can see, this is an interesting piece.

A few questions:

You say that the barrel is swamped. Do you mean that in the classical sense, i.e. is the barrel thick at the breech, tapering down in width for most of its length, then flaring out at the muzzle? Is the breech round? From the photos of the lock area, it appears to be. So, is the barrel half round, half octagonal. What caliber? Are there any other markings on the gun, such as proof marks, regimental marks, etc.?

Just from what you said and what I see in the photos I am going to suggest that this gun is made up of parts from various sources. I base that on the lock, which appears Germanic, with a pointed tale in the style of Germanic locks. The side plate, what I can see of it, appears to be that of a British long land pattern musket. The fact that the butt plate is iron, while the rest of the furniture is brass, also indicates a "parts gun". The shape of the finial on the trigger guard is interesting. It does not look military and actually looks like an example of one from a Hudson Valley fowling piece from 1700 or so.

The two tone effect on the ramrod is probably just what you said, patina on the unprotected half. The gap between the lock plate and the stock may be the result of the wood shrinking, or the lock may also be a replacement.

The major question is the rifled barrel. That has me buffaloed. If this was a very short barrel, I might think it was a Jaeger barrel but the length rules that out. If it is half round, half octagonal that also rules out a Jaeger barrel. You mentioned a "contract rifle" in your remarks. I doubt that is what this is, if it has an American origin, because I am not aware of any rifles made under contract during the Revolution for the American army. It does appear to date from the Revolutionary period from what I can see in the photos.

When you refer to the "neck" being round rather than oval, are you referring to the configuration of the wrist of the stock?

Clearer photos will help a lot.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Kenneth Bertschy




Location: Tucson Arizona
Joined: 29 Mar 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sun 29 Mar, 2009 3:25 pm    Post subject: re         Reply with quote

Yes, I meant wrist. The barrel is swamped, i.e. thick at the breech, tapering to the middle and widening out again. Sorry for the crappy pictures, I will get high res pics up as soon as possible (probably 1 to 2 weeks when I get my hands on the rifle again. The barrel is round. I am guessing on the caliber also, it looks to be .45 I will take measurements the next time I see it. I will get full length pics next I will get high res full length pics next time. Stay tuned for the rest of my blurry pics.
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Kenneth Bertschy




Location: Tucson Arizona
Joined: 29 Mar 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sun 29 Mar, 2009 4:03 pm    Post subject: the rest of the blurry pics         Reply with quote










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Jason Mather




PostPosted: Sun 29 Mar, 2009 4:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, lots of possibilities. My first suggestion is check the rifling. There were guns made with strait rifling, which would make a ton of sense for this piece. I have never seen or heard of a all round barrel with twisted rifling. I looks like the wood is not maple which while not definitive, would suggest a gun originating in Europe not America. The brass furniture looks English to me but that is a guess. The first thing I do when identifying an old gun is take it apart. Often there are makers marks or proofs on the underside of a barrel. Keep us posted with more details!!
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Kenneth Bertschy




Location: Tucson Arizona
Joined: 29 Mar 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sun 29 Mar, 2009 4:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Will do. The stock looks like black walnut to me. Close straight grain and darkish. I will try to get a rifling shot. I don't know if I can convince the doc to let me take it apart. I will try. One other thing I noticed about the gun is that there is a hole for a pin just under the pan that doesn't look like it's been used. Thanks for your input. I will get good pics up asap. Someone over on the muzzle loading form said that it's a combination of french and british parts.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Mar, 2009 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kenneth Bertschy wrote:
Someone over on the muzzle loading form said that it's a combination of french and british parts.


I don't see anything French about it, but the lock is certainly a Germanic style lock. The flintlock jaws are large, like those of a military lock, but otherwise the lock looks like a Germanic civilian lock. It could be of German-Dutch origin. I will wait for the better photos. The overall style of the gun looks too late to have straight rifling in the barrel, but, if this is a parts gun, as I suspect, who is to say that a much older barrel was not used.

Again, a very interesting piece.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Kenneth Bertschy




Location: Tucson Arizona
Joined: 29 Mar 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2009 12:00 pm    Post subject: high res pics         Reply with quote

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Finally, I've got high res pics of the gun plus measurements. First off, I looked down the barrel with my trusty Hoppes bore light and found that the "rifling" goes down only about 1 inch! The rifling then becomes shallower and melds perfectly with a smooth bore after that. The grooves look just as old as the barrel. Here are the dimensions: 50" from the end of the barrel tang to the muzzle. 47 1/2" from breech to muzzle. The lock plate is 5 1/2" long. The entire rifle is 63 1/2" from muzzle to buttstock. The bore is 5/8" wide from peak to peak (not valley to valley), which I make out to be about .62 caliber. The barrel is swamped and it looks like it has an octogon breech that tapers very rapidly to a round barrel.

Stay tuned for more high res pics. One other note. This gun was purchased at a Minnesota gun show back in the forties.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2009 6:38 pm    Post subject: Re: high res pics         Reply with quote

Kenneth Bertschy wrote:
[/URL]

Finally, I've got high res pics of the gun plus measurements. First off, I looked down the barrel with my trusty Hoppes bore light and found that the "rifling" goes down only about 1 inch! The rifling then becomes shallower and melds perfectly with a smooth bore after that. The grooves look just as old as the barrel. Here are the dimensions: 50" from the end of the barrel tang to the muzzle. 47 1/2" from breech to muzzle. The lock plate is 5 1/2" long. The entire rifle is 63 1/2" from muzzle to buttstock. The bore is 5/8" wide from peak to peak (not valley to valley), which I make out to be about .62 caliber. The barrel is swamped and it looks like it has an octogon breech that tapers very rapidly to a round barrel.

Stay tuned for more high res pics. One other note. This gun was purchased at a Minnesota gun show back in the forties.


The rifling situation is rather unusual, or at least it is to me. Some modern builders have relieved the rifling at the muzzle to make loading easier, in fact I have a plains rifle with that particular feature which shoots very well. However, if it is poorly done it can wreck accuracy. However I have not heard of a barrel made with the opposite situation! I will look forward to the new pics. I still believe this is a parts gun, but they can be just as interesting as one that is 100% in its original state.

Thanks again for sharing this.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Kenneth Bertschy




Location: Tucson Arizona
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Posts: 12

PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2009 6:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here they are:







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Kenneth Bertschy




Location: Tucson Arizona
Joined: 29 Mar 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2009 7:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And here's a few more poorly focused photos.



This last image is a blown out pic of the pigtail jag on the end of the ramrod. At least you can see it's shape.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2009 9:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken...

That is a very interesting piece, the likes of which I have not seen before. It could be a parts gun, or more likely one that has been modified during its lifetime, whether by choice or necessity I cannot say. It may also be in its original configuration.

As you can see, it has a front and rear sight, an unusual feature for what is essentially a smoothbore. The swamped barrel is also very unusual. I am at a total loss to explain the small amount of rifling at the muzzle and will contact a friend of mine who has done extensive research on unusual muzzle loading firearms to see what he thinks about it.

Now that I have gotten a look at the style of buttstock, I think we can say this gun was made in the US. The buttstock has a bit of French influence in its architecture but lacks the more radical curvature found in French muskets. The lock is almost certainly a civilian style Germanic lock and may be original to the gun. The damage to the edge of the lock mortice could have resulted from rough handling or removing the lock for cleaning. Otherwise, from the photos any way, it looks as if the lock fits the stock fairly well. The name engraved on it is puzzling and if I thought this is an English made gun I would say it was the name of the maker. But, what I think you have here is an American long fowler.

I base that on the overall appearance of the gun, parts like the sideplate, which resembles that of a Brown Bess Long Land Pattern, but is occasionally found on civilian guns, the length of the barrel and the somewhat ornate trigger guard. The Germanic lock also indicates a civilian piece, a sporting gun.

The two things that are really puzzling are the rifling situation and the swamped barrel. Hopefully my friend can help with those items.

I think this gun was probably made 1750 - 1770.

Any way, I hope there are other opinions out there, as my knowledge of fowlers is extremely limited.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Apr, 2009 12:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
Ken...

As you can see, it has a front and rear sight, an unusual feature for what is essentially a smoothbore. The swamped barrel is also very unusual. I am at a total loss to explain the small amount of rifling at the muzzle and will contact a friend of mine who has done extensive research on unusual muzzle loading firearms to see what he thinks about it.



Here is an article I found on Paradox Guns i.e. shotguns with only the last few inches of barrel rifled.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_gun

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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Apr, 2009 4:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean...

The paradox gun, as I am sure you realize, postdated the muzzle loader we are reviewing by many years. However, the maker of this gun may have had the same idea as Holland & Holland.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Kenneth Bertschy




Location: Tucson Arizona
Joined: 29 Mar 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sat 11 Apr, 2009 12:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I found an interesting gun that was up for auction online that ended in Novermber of 2007. It sold for $1,912.00 and was called a New England style fowler.



I found a lot of similarities between this gun and the one I'm trying to identify. Both are plain with very little decoration. Both have rear and front sights. Both have brass fittings but steel barrels and locks. Both have barrels that are part octogon and part round. Both are the same length. And, most surprisingly, both have rifling that extends only one inch into the barrel! This one was made in 1745. So at least I have one reference that I can point to.

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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Apr, 2009 5:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kenneth...

Is a link to that site still live? Were there any other photos of the gun?

I sent an email to my friend in WI who researches and restores old guns. He has replied but said that rather than try to put it all in an email he will call. Once I have talked with him we may have a bit more information to add.

This fowler does share a lot of characteristics with the one we have been discussing. Based on what my friend said in his email, I believe he will answer the question about the rifling.

I will post as soon as I hear from him.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Kenneth Bertschy




Location: Tucson Arizona
Joined: 29 Mar 2009

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sat 11 Apr, 2009 6:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's still live. You have to register to see the big photos (and they are huge) but it cost nothing. Here's the link.

http://historical.ha.com/common/view_item.php...amp;src=pr
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Perry L. Goss




Location: Missouri
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Apr, 2009 4:26 am    Post subject: Identifying a Flintlock gun         Reply with quote

Kenneth:

Good topic and some excellent responses on the specifics of the gun. There are two websites devoted exclusively to early arms. The Colonial Williamsburg folks haunt the sites and well as many other big names in the early period and repro. gun world. I know, that if you post pictures [that lock has a maker's name on it] that they will ID it to the year, if anyone can.


http://www.americanlongrifles.org/forum/

http://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/fusionbb/fusionbb.php

There are numerous meseum restoration experts registered and am sure they can help you out. One must register to post, but this is a simple process.


Thanks.

Scottish: Ballentine, Black, Cameron, Chisholm, Cunningham, Crawford, Grant, Jaffray, MacFarlane, MacGillivray, MacKay-Reay/Strathnaver, Munro, Robertson, Sinclair, Wallace

Irish/Welsh: Bodkin, Mendenhall, Hackworth

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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Apr, 2009 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kenneth Bertschy wrote:
It's still live. You have to register to see the big photos (and they are huge) but it cost nothing. Here's the link.

http://historical.ha.com/common/view_item.php...amp;src=pr


Thanks for the information. That is a great site and the big photos are REALLY big.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Kenneth Bertschy




Location: Tucson Arizona
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Apr, 2009 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the great info. When my doctor showed me this gun, I knew next to nothing about flintlocks. I am quickly getting up to speed and learning a lot. Time to hit the used book stores for any books on the subject. Again, my doctor was given this gun by the son of a patient who said that his father would have wanted him to have it. The son said that his father picked it up at a gunshow back in the 40's in Minnesota. Now I'm hooked on muskets. I will keep plugging away at identifying the gun and go looking for one of my own to shoot. Maybe start with an inexpensive pistol kit to get my feet wet.
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