From the 1760s to his death in 1822 Jacob Dickert was both a military contractor and a respected Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, gunmaker. Dickert was born in Germany in 1740 and arrived in the colonies in 1748 with his parents. He is believed to have made weapons for the Continental Army and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the revolution, but his first known contract is dated 1792. He owned a gun barrel boring mill a few miles from his gun factory in Manheim Township. He later took his grandson on as an apprentice and then business partner. Despite his long career and the large number of rifles he undoubtedly produced, examples of Dickert's work are extremely rare today. This example is signed "J. [faint design] Dickert" on the barrel near the breech. The faint design is likely the crossed tomahawk and arrow touch mark pictured on page 81 of "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age" in the discussion on Dickert. Kindig notes that Dickert is among the earliest long rifle makers about whom much is known. This rifle has the standard style blade and notch sights common on early American rifles, brass furniture, single trigger, unmarked lock, and a full length walnut stock with some carved line accents, on the right and rococo designs surrounding the cheekpiece on the left. The patch box is a unique rattlesnake design. A few other rifles are known to employ this motif. One is a William Weiss rifle on page 129 of the above book with a similar "coil" design. Weiss is also believed to be the one responsible for introducing the rattlesnake patch boxes to the early Richmond Manufacturing Company rifles. One of the only other known rifles with a rattlesnake design is the George Schreyer rifle also in this auction. The rattlesnake first became a well known American symbol when it was used in Benjamin Franklin's May 9, 1754, "Join, or Die" cartoon. This cartoon called for the colonies to come together and resist the French and was later used again to call the colonies together to fight against the British. The snake design was also used on the Culpeper Minute Men, First Navy Jack, and Gadsden flags during the revolution. The timber rattlesnake was a significant symbol in the era and the first decades of the new American republic. These snakes are only found in North America including much of the original colonies. Despite many modern myths, many in the Revolutionary knew that rattlesnakes only strike when provoked, but do not hesitate to respond with deadly force. This image fit the idea the revolutionaries had of themselves. They were not aggressors; they were defending themselves from British attacks on their natural rights.
Fair as reconverted to flintlock configuration. The barrel has a dark brown patina overall and flash pitting and oxidation at the breech. The reconverted lock has an artificial brown with a smoother appearance. The brass components have an aged patina. The stock is fine as restored with a pin repair at the breech, some chipping near the lock and at the toe, partially smoothed but clear carving, and various light scratches and dings. The lock functions fine but is missing one of the screws. This rifle would be extremely rare without the rattlesnake patch box; with it, the rifle is an extraordinary piece of Americana built by one of the most experienced golden age long rifle makers.
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