Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1145: Kentucky Flintlock Rifle 44

Auction Date: September 11, 2015

Documented Adam Ernst Golden Age Flintlock Pennsylvania Rifle with Raised Relief Carved Stock and Brass Lock Plate

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $22,500 - $35,000

Documented Adam Ernst Golden Age Flintlock Pennsylvania Rifle with Raised Relief Carved Stock and Brass Lock Plate

Manufacturer: Kentucky
Model: Flintlock
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44
Barrel: 43 1/8 inch octagon
Finish: brown
Stock: maple
Item Views: 3640
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 75
Class: Antique

This rifle is pictured on in the "York School" section of The Kentucky Rifle by Merrill Lindsay. It has a tag marked "ADAM ERNST/YORK, PA./CIRCA 1810-1815." on one side and " YORK COUNTY/HISTORICAL SOCIETY/EXHIBIT 1972" on the other. Similar rifles made by, or attributed to, Ernst are pictured and discussed on pages 358-363 of "Thought on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age" by Joe Kindig, Jr. This example has a silver inlaid plate with an engraved eagle motif on the cheek piece in place of the inlaid moon seen on the examples pictured. It also has an unusual unmarked brass lock plate. Nearly all locks found on long rifles are browned or casehardened iron and were often imported. Lindsay believes the lock plate may have been made in York by Ernst or one of his apprentices. It may have been produced by Frederick Sell, given that a Frederick Sell signed rifle also features a brass lock and that Sell appears to have worked under Ernst before starting his own shop. Kindig notes that Ernst appears in historical records in Franklin Township in York County, Pennsylvania during the years surrounding the War of 1812, and appears to have died in 1857 suggesting he was active circa 1805 through the 1850s. Ernst appears to have worked under George Eister as his work has significant similarities. The barrel has the typical brass blade front and notch iron sights commonly seen on American long rifles and is signed "A. Ernst" just behind the rear sight. A "C.R" marking is on the lower right barrel flat below the touch hole hidden by the lock. It has double set triggers contained in a brass trigger guard with a grip extension. The front trigger has a curled toe. It is fitted on a full length maple stock with attractive striped figuring at the mid section, brass furniture , and detailed carved designs including rococo motifs on the left side of the butt around the cheekpiece and near the breech with some checkering and silver stud inlays. The ornate patch box also has rococo style designs and it and the side plate have light engraving patterns. The patch box has a spring release on the bottom of the butt and contains several patches and a couple of lead balls. The stock wrist has a silver thumb plate with an engraved border.

Rating Definition:

Very good as reconverted to flintlock configuration. The brass and silver components have an attractive aged patina throughout. There are some spots of verdigris, most notably on the lock plate and patch box interior. The iron has a mottled brown patina with some light oxidation. There is some erosion near the touch hole. The refinished stock has been pieced forward of the lock plate, with glossy finish, several other scattered minor repairs, some small chips, various light abrasions, an attractive striped figure and aged patina. The lock and set triggers function fine, and the markings and designs are mostly crisp. Overall, this is a beautiful example of the iconic golden age American long rifle with rarely seen brass lock plate.

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