Lot #1060
Lot #1062

Lot 1061: J.W. Signed Smoothbore Flintlock American Long Rifle

Engraved, Incise Carved, and J.W. Signed Smoothbore Flintlock American Long Rifle

Auction Date: August 27, 2022

Lot 1061: J.W. Signed Smoothbore Flintlock American Long Rifle

Engraved, Incise Carved, and J.W. Signed Smoothbore Flintlock American Long Rifle

Auction Date: August 27, 2022

Estimated Price: $5,000 - $8,000
Price Realized:

Engraved, Incise Carved, and J.W. Signed Smoothbore Flintlock American Long Rifle

Manufacturer: Unknown
Model: Flintlock Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 52
Barrel: 44 1/2 inch octagon
Finish: brown
Grip:
Stock: maple
Item Views: 675
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 57
Class: Antique
Description:

This "J.W." signed smoothbore rifle has been attributed to J. Welshans and has many similarities to documented "J. Welshans" rifles. The "J" and "W" and asterisks style stamped accents are similar to his signatures on rifles with the complete surname. Pages 345-347 of Joe Kindig Jr's “Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age" features two signed examples, and rifle no. 150 from Kindig was sold in our May 2022 auction. Photographs of the details, including the signature, can be seen on our website. Note the feather design on both of the other signed rifles' patch box lids that is similar to the design on our current rifle as well as the wrist checkering, the trigger and trigger guard, and other comparable design features. Kindig notes that Welshans was a good engraver but that he was not certain which J. Welshans made this rifle or the other two examples he discusses due to the several J. Welshans listed in and near York, Pennsylvania in the late 18th century and early 1800s. "Gunsmiths of York County, Pennsylvania" by Dr. James B. Whisker lists Jacob Welshans Sr. (1716-1763), Jacob Welshans Jr. (1742-1819), Jacob Welshans III, John Conrad Welshans (1761-1827), Joseph Welshans Sr. (d. 1793), and Joseph Welshans Jr. (b. 1755). Over the years there has been confusion due to the overlapping periods of activity by these men all active in the firearms trade. The family operated a barrel boring mill on the Baltimore Pike south of York that burned in 1800, and multiple members had government contracts for rifles and muskets and repairing arms in the late 18th century and early 19th century. Joseph Welshans Sr., for example, had a contract to make 328 rifles in 1792 as part of the build up of the Legion of the United States. The legion was created for frontier duty in the Northwest Indian War during George Washington's first term as president following St. Clair's disastrous defeat at the Battle of the Wabash in 1791. The smoothbore barrel has traditional blade and notch sights, "+J. W+" signature, and a sunken "GR" mark on the upper left at the breech. The lock has an unclear maker's mark and light engraving. The silver wrist escutcheon has light border engraving, and the brass furniture features floral, scroll, and "track line" patterns. The stock has double line incised molding along the forend, checkering on the wrist, single line molding on the butt, and incised scroll carving on the left behind the cheekpiece.

Rating Definition:

Good as reconverted to flintlock configuration. The barrel and lock have dark brown patina and applied finish, mild oxidation and pitting, and moderate wear. The silver and brass have attractive aged patinas and distinct engraving. The stock is good and has some thin cracks and chips most notably at the nose and tail of the lock, mild dings and scratches, distinct but worn checkering, and distinct molding and carving. The lock is inoperable.



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