Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3079: Early Flintlock American Long Rifle Inscribed Silas Taylor

Auction Date: September 12, 2021

Very Scarce Virginia Attributed Early Flintlock American Long Rifle Inscribed Silas Taylor

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $15,000 - $25,000

Very Scarce Virginia Attributed Early Flintlock American Long Rifle Inscribed Silas Taylor

Manufacturer: Unknown
Model: Flintlock Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 62
Barrel: 42 1/8 inch octagon
Finish: brown
Stock: maple
Item Views: 3531
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 58
Class: Antique

The consignor attributed this rifle to the "Huffman School" located in Shenandoah Co., Virginia, c. 1760s. Only a very few examples have been associated with this school. These rifles show clear German influence, including in the cheek rests. The Christian Huffman signed and attributed rifles are discussed in the American Society of Arms Collectors article "Early Rifles of the Shenandoah Valley" by Wallace B. Gusler. This rifle is inscribed "Silas Taylor" on the side plate and has an old tag reading "your Great Grandfather Taylor's musket." It is very Germanic in style and has simple blade and notch sights, no visible identifying markings on the barrel or lock, brass furniture, raised carving around the barrel tang, and a wooden patch box lid. Silas Taylor's identity is not documented, but there were multiple men by that name in the colonies at the time, including a captain in the American Revolutionary War in the 3rd Company of the 4th Middlesex County Regiment of Massachusetts Militia. All early American long rifles are rare and desirable, and rifles from the 1760s are particularly desirable as they are early enough to have been used in both the French & Indian War and American Revolution by the militia and riflemen. Many were also carried west deep into the frontier by men like Daniel Boone who pushed American settlement over the mountains and into Indian territory where rifles were prized for defense and for use by the legendary longhunters. In the 18th century, American riflemen became particularly famous thanks to the exploits of frontiersmen like Boone along with Daniel Morgan's famous riflemen along with the "Over the Mountain Men" and others. Though American riflemen actually played a relatively minor role in most battles of the American Revolution, many British officers and soldiers were afraid of the accurate and "savage" American marksmen from the backcountry. In fact, General Washington wanted to take advantage of this fear by having men dress in the fringed hunting shirts of the riflemen even if they were armed with muskets. Given this rifle was once converted for use with percussion caps, it clearly remained in use for more than 60 years and could have also been used during the War of 1812 as well as various conflicts with Native Americans during the early national period and even into the age of Jackson by which time the frontier was far from Virginia west of the Mississippi.

Rating Definition:

Very good as reconverted to flintlock configuration. The barrel and lock have a mottled mix of gray and dark brown patina as well as mild oxidation and pitting. The brass has attractive aged patina, and the side plate inscription is crisp. The stock has some subtle figure, some cracks and repairs mainly in the forend (including at the nose of the lock), some gaps around the lock, and mild overall wear. Mechanically fine.

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