Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1058: David Cooley Signed Flintlock American Long Rifle

Auction Date: August 27, 2022

Desirable David Cooley Signed, Engraved, Relief Carved, and Silver Inlaid Flintlock American Long Rifle

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $9,500 - $16,000

Desirable David Cooley Signed, Engraved, Relief Carved, and Silver Inlaid Flintlock American Long Rifle

Manufacturer: American
Model: Flintlock
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 50
Barrel: 42 1/2 inch octagon
Finish: brown
Stock: curly maple
Item Views: 777
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 55
Class: Antique

David Cooley (1790-1855) is certainly among the most artistic American longrifle makers and had a talent for carving, engraving, and inlaying as clearly demonstrated by this beautiful rifle. He is buried in Huntington Township, Pennsylvania, and his work shows the influence of the nearby Emmitsburg and Chambersburg area gunmakers. This rifle has many of the same attributes as the Cooley rifle in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the patchbox and some of the accents are very similar to the rifle on page 503 of "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age" by Kindig, while the carving is very similar to the rifle on page 505. On this rifle, Cooley used the "hurricane" style double scroll motives on the silver barrel key escutcheons as well as on the patchbox lid engraving. The drop flat inlays are silver hearts. The oval wrist escutcheon is inscribed with the initials "WS" or "WJ." The brass patchbox has pierced scroll designs on the side plats and finial and attractive floral and scroll engraving. It is opened via a button on the floral engraved 6 1/4 inch toe plate. The side plate also has floral and scroll engraving and a third screw at the tail end. The silver eight-pointed "hunter's star" on the cheekpiece is also finely engraved. The stock features incised double line molding along the forend terminating in raised relief carving with crosshatch accents at the entry pipe, raised relief gadrooning ahead of the flats, scrolls at the tang and front of the comb with additional crosshatch accents, and raised relief carving extending along the left side of the buttstock and ending in an elaborate scroll and "wing" design behind the cheekpiece. The barrel has seven-groove rifling, traditional silver blade and notch sights, and "D Cooley" signed in a lightly engraved panel on top of the breech section. The lock has a partially obscured Philadelphia company "WARRANTED" mark and light engraving at the tail. It is fired with adjustable double set triggers. This rifle was reportedly found in a southern California estate in percussion.

Rating Definition:

Very good as reconverted to flintlock configuration with even dark brown patina along the lock and barrel, moderate oxidation/pitting concentrated at the breech, attractive aged patina on the silver and brass furniture, cracked rear trigger guard tang, crisp engraving, and general mild overall wear. The stock is also fine and has distinct but mildly worn carving, beautiful flame figure throughout, some erosion at the breech, small chips at the edge of the cheekpiece, and mild scratches and dings. Mechanically needs work. This is a stunning Pennsylvania long rifle with beautiful engraving, carving, and inlays by a well-respected master riflemaker.

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