This rifle is no. 237 on page 505 of "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age" by Kindig. He notes that David Cooley (1790-1856) is buried in the Upper Bermudian Churchyard in Huntington Township and had connections with Heidelberg Township in Adams County, Pennsylvania. He states "David Cooley was a fine gunsmith whose work lies between the Emmitsburg school and the Chambersburg school both geographically and stylistically...David Cooley made quite beautiful guns that are well designed with good carving and good engraving. He was one of the best gunsmiths of his section." He notes that this rifle has similar aspects to Abraham Schweitzer's work. Whisker in "Gunsmiths of Adams, Franklin and Cumberland Counties, Pennsylvania" indicates he was born in Huntington Township in York County and was taxed as a gunsmith from 1802 through 1831 in Tyrone Township, in Adams County and then from 1831 to 1856 in Franklin Township in Adams County. "Cooley's work is rare, but is as fine as any Golden Age gunsmith anywhere. He probably spent most of his adult life as a farmer." Though Kindig lists the barrel as rifled, it is smoothbore. It has traditional blade and notch rifle sights and is signed "D* Cooley" in a nicely engraved panel. The lock is unmarked. The furniture is brass. The side plate has nice scroll, floral, and border engraving. The silver wrist escutcheon has a light wavy line border. The silver cheekpiece inlay is a finely engraved hunter's star. The patchbox has the "hurricane" style scroll pattern on the lid, wavy line borders, scroll and floral patterns on the side plates, and a pierced finial in the shape of a horse's head. The toe plate has floral and wavy line engraving. The stock has double incised line molding along the forend terminating in scrolls, nicely shaped tear drop flats, floral carving at the upper tang, single line molding along the butt, scroll at the front of the comb, a crosshatched half-circle under the cheekpiece, and very attractive raised relief and incised carved scrolls behind the cheekpiece. The carving and engraving has similarities with the other rifles in Kindig's book as well as the example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but his rifles also show a lot of variety making each unique.
Very good as an old reconversion with mostly dark brown patina on the lock and barrel, moderate oxidation and pitting concentrated by the breech and the lock, repairs on the lock and cracked cock neck, attractive aged patina on the brass and silver, chipped rear barrel wedge, and distinct signature and engraving. The stock is fine and has some loss around the lock, tension crack at the rear lock screw, mostly crisp carving, subtle figure, and mild dings and scratches. The lock needs work. This is a very scarce and well-known David Cooley "Golden Age" American long rifle.
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