Jacob (1786-1849) and Samuel Hawken (1792-1884) are among the most famous makers of American muzzle loaders and were active together in St. Louis starting in 1825. They have long been associated with the 19th century mountain men, and their early rifles are known to have been used by the mountain men active in the fur trade in the 1830s, including by General William Henry Ashley and the American Fur Company. Many of their rifles, including this one, date to after the heyday of the Rocky Mountain fur trade when Hawken rifles continued to be in demand, including by former fur trappers like Jim Bridger and Kit Carson who found new work as hunters, guides, and scouts. They were also in demand by the new wave of migrants heading to the West in search of gold or fertile farmland. For example, in the gold fields of Denver in 1860, Thomas Pollock is recorded in the papers as striking claim jumper William McCarty on the head with "a heavy Hawken's rifle, laying open his scalp, and effectually rendering him hors du combat for the remainder of the campaign" after McCarty threatened to cut his throat with a Bowie knife. "Had he given him the contents of his rifle in a vulnerable place, it would, no doubt, have terminated the trouble, and, as everybody says, served him right." McCarty had been part of group. Many continued to use their rifles into the late 19th century, with a few like Tom Tobin photographed with their trusty Hawken rifles near the end of the century. Per Bob Woodfill in "The Hawken Rifle," both James Clyman and John Brown likely had full-stock Hawken rifles. A dependable rifle was a must for both hunting and defense against man and beast alike. While the Hawken shop is best known for its half-stock rifles, they also continued to build full-stock American long rifle style rifles which some customers may have preferred and were also offered at lower prices: $18 for a full-stock vs $25 for the more labor intensive half-stocks. This c. 1850s full-stock rifle is typical of the full-stock rifles manufactured by the famous Hawken shop in St. Louis. Jacob and Samuel Hawken are far more well-known for their distinctive half-stock rifles, but these full-stock rifles were also key products for the business but are far less often seen today. The "S. HAWKEN ST. LOUIS" marking was used following Jacob's death in 1849. Samuel Hawken retired in 1855 and passed the shop onto his son William. William Hawken and Tristram Campbell had been partners since at least 1853 but split by early 1856. The Hawken shop was sold in 1860 to a group of gunsmiths, including J.P. Gemmer who eventually took over. The shop also marked some of the rifles "S. HAWKEN ST. LOUIS" after 1862, but by that time the full-stock rifles would have been out of fashion. The barrel tapers from 1.11 inches at the breech to 1 inch at the muzzle and has seven-groove rifling, a silver blade front sight with dovetailed copper base, a dovetailed iron notch rear sight, "S. HAWKEN ST. LOUIS" stamped on top of the barrel behind the rear sight, and a solid breech plug with integral tang that extends to just ahead of the comb and has a tapering and then swelled profile. A fence on the bolster appears to have been removed during the period of usage. The lock has scroll and border engraving. It is setup with only a full-cock notch and requires the triggers to be set first. The lock screw washer has a pointed finial pointing down. The adjustable double set triggers are fitted in a long trigger plate with a pointed rear finial and squared front. A screw from the upper tang secured the trigger guard's scrolling tail. The barrel is secured by three wedges entering from the right side. The forend is also fitted with a iron forend cap, two iron upper ramrod pipes, and an iron entry pipe. The butt has a straight "Tennessee" style cheek piece with an incised line at the edge, a difference noted between the Hawken full-stock rifles versus the beavertail cheekpiece of many of the half-stock rifles, as well as a crescent iron buttplate with rounded heel tang and an iron toe plate with pointed finial that coordinates with the trigger plate finial. These full-stock Hawken rifles are highly sought after but less well-known than the half-stock rifles thanks to fewer surviving examples. A similar J. & S. Hawken marked full stock rifle was chosen by John D. Baird to be in his portrait on the back of his books "Hawken Rifles: The Mountain Man's Choice" and "Fifteen Years in the Hawken Lode" and on the first page of his "Full Stock Hawken Rifles" chapter in the former. Also see page 2 of the first book for another similar "J. & S. Hawken" rifle attributed by Baird to the 1830-1840 period. The Latter Day Saints Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah, also has a full-stock J. & S. Hawken rifle attributed to Mormon pioneer John Brown and shown on pages 38-40 of Bob Woodfill's recent "The Hawken Rifle" book. That rifle has similar architecture but somewhat different components. It is also a close match to the "S. HAWKEN ST. LOUIS" marked full-stock rifle in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (see the museum website and pages 77-80 of Woodfill's book). Provenance: The Greg Lampe Collection
Fine. The iron mainly displays an untouched, original smooth mixed gray and brown patina along with some minor oxidation and pitting. The rear upper tang screw is a replacement, and the hammer has some repairs at the face. The overall wear is fairly minor for a Hawken rifle. The stock is also fine and has some dings and scratches, faint hairline cracks, some small repairs at the edges of the barrel and upper tang mortises, and general mild wear consistent with the metal. Mechanically fine. This is a very attractive and solid representative example of a rare S. Hawken signed full-stock rifle. Most of the surviving Hawken full-stock rifles known are signed J. & S. Hawken making this a rare later example built in the 1850s while the West was still being explored and contested.
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