Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1096: John Harris Flintlock American Long Rifle

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Very Scarce John Harris Signed, Engraved, and Relief Carved Flintlock American Long Rifle

Estimated Price: $25,000 - $40,000

Very Scarce John Harris Signed, Engraved, and Relief Carved Flintlock American Long Rifle

Manufacturer: American
Model: Flintlock
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 50
Barrel: 45 1/2 inch octagon
Finish: brown
Stock: maple
Item Views: 990
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 78
Class: Antique

On page 12 of "Gunsmiths of York County, Pennsylvania", James B. Whisker notes that during the American Revolution John Harris was ordered by the York Committee of Public Safety on August 14, 1776, to turn over "35 pounds of powder and 145 pounds of lead and shot," but Harris refused stating he would keep his ammunition for his own use until needed locally and noted that there were many Tories and lawless men in the area. He later served as a corporal in Captain Nataniel Irish's company of artillery artificers from March 14, 1778 to November 1, 1783, and was stationed at Fort Pitt in 1781-1783 with William Craig's detachment. An inventory of his estate was recorded in York in 1805 and listed 10 rifle locks, 27 rifle stocks, 11 wipers, gunsmith tools, two powder horns, two clock bullets, and fourteen sets of brass mountings for rifles. As of publication in 1990, Whisker had only seen the rifle pictured on page 62 of the book. That rifle also exhibits fine craftsmanship and has some distinct similarities with this rifle. The rifle is very similar to an Andrew Klindinst signed rifle which features very similar designs on the patch box finial, patch box lid engraving, sideplate, cheek inlay, and other areas. That rifle is illustrated in included documentation from Wester White discussing this rifle and theorizing that some of these York gunmakers may have worked in collaboration, possibly under the same roof. The newer "Gunsmiths of York County" book by Whisker includes two rifles by Harris. Harris also appears to have operated a ferry in the 1760s. The barrel is smoothbore, but it may have originally been rifled. It has traditional rifle sights and is signed "John Harris" on top in script. The lock is unmarked but has light border engraving. The forend cap has spiral engraving. The side plate has floral and scroll engraving. The patch box has a lightly domed lid engraved with a bow, arrows, and quiver and also has a double pierced finial and floral and scroll patterns. The toe plate has four piercings and is designed as a hunters star with a floral bloom at the toe and front. The buttplate has light engraving at the front and the patch box release near the heel. The silver wrist escutcheon has partially faded engraving and appears to have had initials (possibly JD). The cheek has an engraved silver hunter star. The stock has nice molding along the forend terminating in incised scrolls by the entry pipe, shapely tear drop flats, raised relief carved scroll patterns at the top of the wrist, additional raised relief scroll carving at the front of the butt, crosshatch and dot pattern under the cheek rest, and an elaborate raised relief carved scroll and floral design behind the cheek rest.

Rating Definition:

Good as extensively restored including reconversion to flintlock configuration. The lock and shortened barrel have a mix of applied brown finish and dark aged patina as well as some mild pitting at the breech and general mild wear. The furniture displays aged patina and has generally distinct though somewhat worn engraving. The stock is also good and has been spliced from the entry pipe forward, repaired at the tail of the lock and displays some general mild scratches and dings, crisp craving, thin cracks such as at the lock screws, and some attractive figure. Mechanically fine.

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