This extraordinary rifle was made by John Armstrong of Emmitsburg, Maryland. The Kentucky Rifle Foundation notes, "John Armstrong is listed as a gunsmith in Emmitsburg Maryland in the early 19th century. John was born on September 5, 1772, in Liberty Township, Pennsylvania, and it's believed that he learned his trade, as a young man, from noted gunsmith George Schroyer, of Hanover, Pennsylvania. The exact date when John Armstrong arrived in Emmitsburg Maryland and set up his business is unknown, but he is listed as a gunsmith in that town in 1808." He may have remained active until his death c. 1842. On page 445 of "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age", Joe Kindig, Jr. writes: "John Armstrong was a fine gunsmith. He was a very good carver, and he made beautiful inlays and large patch boxes. His engraving is very good. He also added "John Armstrong's workmanship is magnificent and his designs are just perfection. I cannot emphasize the beauty of his rifles." Kindig notes that Armstrong used the same attributes many times over. This creates less variety in his work, but it also allowed him to really refine the details. Armstrong's designs draw from the earlier work of George Schreyer who was based in the town of Hanover just a short distance away. His four sons and his apprentices Nathaniel Rowe and Marine Tyler Wickham were trained in his style, but his sons did not remain in the gun trade. Examples of Armstrong's work can be found in many publications on American long rifles/Kentucky rifles, such as "The Kentucky Rifle" by John G. W. Dillin, "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age" by Kindig, "Kentucky Rifles & Pistols, 1750-1850" by James R. Johnston, and "The Kentucky Rifle" by Merrill Lindsay. This rifles barrel is coned at the muzzle and has distinct rifling and traditional blade and notch sights. The breech section of the barrel is signed "John Armstrong" in script. The lock plate has a script "JA" marking at center, lined borders, and some simple engraving. It has a full-length maple stock with fine molding and raised relief floral and scroll carving in classic Armstrong patterns, including a fleur-de-lis style motif on the forend, attractive tear drop flats, scroll carving at the barrel tang and rear of the wrist, the distinctive raised checkered pattern below the cheekpiece, and a gadroon and scroll design behind the cheekpiece. The wrist has a blank silver escutcheon, and the silver cheekpiece plate is engraved with a federal eagle and shield design. The remaining furniture is brass, and includes a distinctive four piece patchbox with fine engraving and pierced sections on the finial and sideplates. The patchbox release is in the engraved toeplate. A tow worm is inside the patchbox. The sideplate is also engraved, and the buttplate is faceted at the tang. The long and slender rifle measures 59 inches from muzzle to heel and weighs just under 8 pounds. The cheekpiece inlay has the name "J Morrison" lightly signed in cursive towards the top. Their identity is not confirmed, but Morrison may have been the original owner of the rifle or at least one of the early owners of the rifle. There were a few J. Morrisons buried in Maryland in the period, including Jesse Jacob Morrison (1807-1874) of Boonsboro which was founded by Daniel Boone's cousin George in 1792 and is located on what became the National Road. Provenance: The Samuel Dyke Collection; The William H. Reisner Jr. Collection; The Michael Simens Collection; The Greg Lampe Collection
Fine as expertly reconverted to flintlock configuration using the original Armstrong lock plate and parts copied from an original Armstrong lock. The barrel exhibits an even brown patina and has minor oxidation/pitting. The lock displays a dark blue and some minor oxidation/pitting. The silver and brass furniture have attractive aged patina. The engraving and signatures are crisp. The stock is also fine and has distinct carving with some smoothing from handling, minor marks and scratches, faint repairs, and some thin cracks at the toe. Mechanically fine. Greg Lampe noted that this rifle "is probably in the top 5-10% in condition of a surviving Armstrong rifle." It is certainly a stunning example of his highly sought after work.
There are currently no customer product questions on this lot