Wallace Gusler is one of the most influential American long rifle makers of the 20th century and began working on traditional muzzle loading firearms in the 1950s. By 1964, he was the master gunsmith at Williamsburg and tasked with researching traditional 18th century skills and methods for building rifles, and within just a few years, he was able to build rifles completely from scratch, including forging the barrels. The first modern gunmaker to do so. Such work is more advanced than nearly all 18th century gunmakers given most purchased at least some of their components already made, particularly barrels and locks. In his over sixty years as a gunsmith, he has passed down his knowledge to countless other American craftsmen, including through hands-on classes, instructional videos, and his writing. He officially retired in 2004 but has continued building. The rifle is signed "W+Gusler Wmsbg 1970" on top of the barrel and has "JA" on the upper left barrel flat at the breech as well as traditional blade and notch sights. Per Mr. Gusler, the “JA” marking refers to Jerry Abbott, then an apprentice in the Colonial Williamsburg Gun Shop. The lock has "CS" on the inside. The patch box has "R+S+Boylston" on the lid and scroll engraving. The sideplate has additional limited engraving. The full-length stock has nice molding terminating in carved scrolls on the forend, beautifully shaped raised flats, raised relief floral carving around the upper tang, scroll accents at the front of the comb, nicely shaped cheekpiece with molded edge, and raised and incised carving on the left side of the butt consisting primarily of a delicate scroll pattern. There is a block of wood spliced in the lock mortise that is original to the build. The brass head of the pipe tomahawk has "W Gusler Queens Lake 1999" signed along the top edge of the blade and has lovely scroll and floral carving including on the sculpted iron bit. The nicely figured haft has wire inlays and a horn mouthpiece. The powder horn has "RK" ("R" reversed) on the base plug, "TK" among the designs, and a carved map design. The beavertail possible bag/hunting bag has a "hair-on" flap, an antique knife, a carved powder measure, coordinating carved shot pouch, and a woven strap.
Very fine. The metal is mostly bright with some slight staining from oxidation on the lock and barrel and minor aging of the brass. The signature, engraving, and carving are crisp throughout. The stock has minor overall wear mainly from handling and storage at the hard edges, some fading from handling on the grasping area of the forend, and a very faint hairline on the right side just ahead of the lock. Mechanically excellent. The tomahawk is likewise very fine with minimal age and storage related wear and crisp engraving. The knife is fine and is well-worn. The horn is very fine and has an attractive antiqued appearance including some slight chips. The bag and other accessories are very fine and have wear minor age and storage wear including some faint age cracks in the bone that add to the antique appearance. This is a beautiful contemporary long rifle set that includes a highly desirable early rifle and an engraved tomahawk by Master Gunsmith Wallace Gusler of Colonial Williamsburg.
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