Kentucky Rifles

American Longrifle Attributed to Jacob Christ, II Graceham, Maryland

A scare Maryland rifle attributed to Jacob Christ II at a very affordable price.

Price: SOLD

Description: Land and marriage records show several members of the Christ family in the Frederick, Maryland region in the late 19th century. This rifle shows architectural, engraving and stylistic features identical to two other known signed rifles by Jacob Christ II all from the same period of time c. 1835-50. Jacob Christ II’s father was involved with Annapolis armorers who were making muskets on contract to American militias in 1786. Records show that Jacob Christ II was born in 1780, perhaps near, Creagerstown, Maryland and ended his career in Harpers Ferry, Virginia in the 1850’s perhaps working at the U. S. Arsenal. During his gunsmithing career Christ II worked in the area of Graceham, Maryland near the Moravian Church (1749) which still stands there today.

This rifle is mounted on a stock of figured or curly Maple that is of the highest quality. Its rich striping and dark reddish brown color is superb. The rifle measures 54” overall with a 38” octagonal barrel about .38 caliber deeply rifled. The four-piece patchbox is lightly engraved at the head in the exact style as other known rifles by Christ with the finial terminating in a flower-like figure.  The remaining brass furniture is finely cast and plain. There is teardrop shaped silver inlay on the wrist of the stock behind the barrel tang and, on the cheekpiece, a scalloped crescent moon shaped silver inlay with light border engraving which matches the patchbox. The rifle was made, and has always been, a percussion firearm having an engraved lock and hammer by Golcher with a hunting scene behind the hammer. Double set triggers, a block rear sight and silver blade front sight complete the gun.

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Longrifle by John Crummey

Exceptional Signed and Incised Carved Virginia Longrifle by John Crummey of Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, circa 1810-15

Price: $14,000.00

Description: According to “A History of Rockingham County, Virginia” by John Walter Wayland (1912) John Crummy was a gunsmith in 1826. Tax records from Rockingham County also identify Crummy as a gunsmith from 1805-1832 and other sources mention him as being both Justice of the Peace and Sheriff of Harrisonburg at various times. Very little has been published about this high quality rifle maker whose works range from relief carved, silver inlaid masterpieces to plain rifles of moderate distinction. This example is signed “I Crummy” on the top barrel flat in stamped block letters. His stock architecture, furniture designs, inlays and engraving are closely related to those of the Winchester School centered some 60 miles north of Harrisonburg. Crummy certainly would have been aware of the predominant design features of the Winchester School perfected by the Lauck family of gunsmiths.

This rifle exhibits superior Virginia design with slender stock architecture, incorporating a tall butt plate, high comb, thin wrist, masterful incised carving and a long barrel measuring 44.25 inches. The four-petal flower engraved patchbox is typical of Crummy’s work and is beautifully engraved. The surface of the entire rifle, both wood and metal, has not been cleaned, polished, or damaged with a wonderful soft sunset patina overall.

The lock, signed Ketland & Co., is original to the rifle and, although it may have been reconverted to flint, matches the patina of the rest of the rifle perfectly. An engraved 8 point silver star is inlaid on the cheekpiece.  The incised carving at the wrist, along the forearm, in front and to the rear of the cheekpiece is well designed and executed in the upper Shenandoah Valley style.

The figured maple stock is of excellent quality with consistent curl from toe to muzzle. The entire surface has a wonderful chestnut color and has never been cleaned. Small pieces of wood have been missing behind the rear ramrod pipe and in front of the trigger guard for most of the rifles’ existence-as they are worn from generations of handling and use. About 2 inches of wood has been expertly pieced at the muzzle and the fore end cap may be replaced. Incised carving surrounds the barrel tang and stretches to the silver thumb plate. Two double acorn silver escutcheons adorn the rear barrel key and are the quintessential feature of many fine Virginia rifles from this school of design. Though extremely rare, a few signed Crummey rifles exist and this rifle most certainly excels in its quality of curly maple, pleasing architectural form, surface condition, and originality.

Ex. Coll: Wallace Gusler, James Survil, Frank Kobilis, Mike Tuccori, Timothy Hodges

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Fine Long Rifle Signed by Golden Age Riflemaker Andrew Kopp

Rifles by Andrew Kopp are scarce and desirable because of his excellent workmanship and his association with John Armstrong.

Price: SOLD

Description: Here is a later, percussion, period rifle made and signed by Andrew Kopp of Adams County, Pennsylvania and, later Emmitsburg, Maryland. Joe Kindig Jr. in his landmark work Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age extols the workmanship and artistic style of Kopp. Kindig states in the 1960 publication that he found no contemporary records for Andrew Kopp. Since then some deeds and other court records have turned up that firmly place him in Adams County, Pennsylvania prior to 1818 and in Emmitsburg, Maryland thereafter (see Maryland Longrifles by Hartzler and Whisker, 1991). He was born in 1781 in York, Pennsylvania and is listed on the tax rolls for that town from 1804-1810 as a gunsmith.

 Kindig believes that Kopp learned his engraving and carving skills from George Eister of York. It is undeniable that Kopp had a closed association with master gunsmith John Armstrong of Emmitsburg, in fact, Kindig states that Kopp may have been the master from whom Armstrong learned the trade. Kopp died in 1875 at the age of 94 but was active in the gunsmith trade until right before the Civil War. This example in original percussion dates to the period around 1835-40. Kopp’s well executed stock architecture and incredible engraving skills are on display in this rifle on the Emmitsburg style patchbox and the wonderful oval inlay on the stock’s cheekpiece.

There are 4 silver crescent moon inlays before and after the lockplate on one side and the sideplate on the other. An oval silver escutcheon is inlaid at the tail of the barrel tang on the wrist and there is a large oval silver inlay on the cheekpiece engraved with a wonderful eagle carrying an olive branch. The rifle measures 57.5” overall with a 42.25” octagonal iron barrel which is signed “A. Kopp” on the top barrel flat just behind the rear sight. Along the forestock are 4 rectangular brass keys that hold the barrel to the stock. The Maple stock is highly figured with a very handsome reddish brown patina.

 The rifle is in wonderful original condition. Immediately behind the percussion hammer is a lead inset placed there during its period of use presumably to fill in a burned out section of wood from repeated firing.  A well done period repair. The percussion lock and double set triggers are not functioning perfectly and could use some tuning by a talented gunsmith. I never or rarely perform any repairs to antique firearms preferring that the ultimate owner have that work done to their own satisfaction. I can find no evidence of any major replacement parts, wood restoration or other recently done work.

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Shaver Long Rifle

Overall a very nice rifle in wonderful condition with a fabulous piece of figured Maple exhibiting interesting and artistic pieces of Virginia back country folk art.

Price: $2,750.00

Description: Little is written about the Shaver family of gunsmiths but both William (b. 1802) and Daniel (b. 1812) made some fine rifles in the percussion period 1830-60. The Shavers originated in Rockingham County and their riflemaking style, architecture and the folksy engraving and details were heavily influenced by Alexander McGilvray, Rockingham County’s most prolific rifle maker. The bulk of their work, however, was apparently done just south of Rockingham County in Augusta County on the road to Staunton, Virginia. To the best of my knowledge no signed rifles are known by this family.

This rifle attributed to William Shaver measures 57” overall with a 42” long octagonal barrel. The stock, which exhibits a wide butt with high comb, is fashioned from a most wonderful piece of flamed figured Maple with a lovely reddish-brown color. The brass furniture is very well made with a patchbox very similar in type to McGilvray. William Shaver, however, took the time and artistic license to put a gentleman’s face on the patchbox finial. In addition to the engraved grass-like decorations on the patchbox lid, this is one of the most delightful attributes of this rifle which clearly exhibits some folk art qualities not present in many Virginia guns. On the bold cheekpiece is an elongated 8-point silver star inlay. A shield shaped silver inlay is also present on the wrist of the stock. Immediately behind the cheekpiece is a slight flourish of incised carving. A mere wisp of lines emanating from the bottom of the molded cheek rest.

The forestock has nice molding and the triggerguard and ramrod pipes are well made in faceted form-the triggerguard being decorated with an interesting filed pattern. The rear sight is a wide and bold buckhorn style. The rifle is untouched overall with no restoration. A sliver of wood is missing from just behind the nose cap on the left side of the rifle.

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Signed Kiser Long Rifle

Its architecture, brass furniture engraving, stock carving and the overall form is excellent. A testament to Abraham Kiser’s artistic skill.

Price: $6,800.00

Description: Abraham Kiser worked in Juniata County, Pennsylvania in a local area known as “Kiser Hollow” in Fermanaugh Township based on the birthplace of one daughter. The marriage and burial records of the Mifflintown Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fayette Twp. contain the following two entries:

1.  1809 Marriages:   Abraham Kiser to June Lowery on November 16, 1809

2.   Burials:    Caroline Kiser –   Nov 1827 to 17 Feb 1903

Mrs. Caroline Switzer for many years a resident of Mifflintown died at her home in Lewistown on Tuesday afternoon Feb17, 1903, aged about 75 yr.  Her death was due to a general break down of her once vigorous body.  The deceased born in Fermanaugh Twnp, north of Arch Rock in what is known as Kiser Hollow. Her father, Abraham Kiser was a gunsmith of wide renown.  Her husband, Isadorcus Switzer died in this place about 20 yrs ago.
One child, Mrs. John Bender, of this place survives her.

This rifle is boldly signed “A. Kiser” on the top barrel flat and shows Lancaster influences that he brought to the rifle making region known as the Upper Susquehanna School. It is unknown exactly when Kiser worked but this rifle appears to date to the late flintlock period circa 1810 to 1825. Overall Length is 59.5″ the barrel measures 44″. The brass furniture is well executed with a 4-piece engraved brass patchbox having a distinctive daisy head finial at the top. The patchbox is expertly engraved and the petals of the daisy are deeply punctuated-a feature distinctive and unique to this rifle. The stock is of figured Maple with nice patina and a pleasing reddish brown color.

Two silver inlays include an 8-pointed star in the cheekpiece (one small tip of one point has been lost) and a small oval escutcheon on the top of the butt stock wrist. In front of the triggerguard is a long brass overlay presumably covering a worn spot in the forearm over top of the ramrod channel behind the rear ramrod pipe. This overlay has some edge engraving and is a nice looking period repair to this rifle.

Behind the cheekpiece is a large area of nice incised carving having two opposing rococo “C” scrolls and a lined heart-shaped carving in the center. The flintlock is a reconversion and the forearm (I am told) has been lengthened about halfway out. This restoration is well done and not obvious at all. Overall this is a fine incised carved rifle made by a relatively unknown but masterful gunsmith.

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Spitzer Long Rifle

Historic Virginia Incised Carved Longrifle Ex-Eagle Museum Collection Attributed to Henry Spitzer, New Market, Virginia.

Price: $14,000.00

Description: One of the nicest Virginia longrifles on the market today is this Henry Spitzer attributed carved and elegantly crafted piece of Shenandoah Valley history that had a long standing provenance with Kentucky Rifle Association founder Vincent Nolt and the Eagle Museum he curated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

The Spitzer family were renowned riflesmiths in Shenandoah County for generations. This rifle is attributed to the earliest of the Spitzer gunsmiths Henry (1767-1840) of New Market, Shenandoah County, Virginia and dates to the period 1800-1810. It is probable that Henry trained as a gunsmith in Pennsylvania prior to moving to New Market in 1795. Henry died in 1840 and is buried in the cemetery at St. Mathews Church in New Market.

This rifle measures 60.5” overall with an octagon barrel measuring 44.5”. The architecture, brass furniture and fine figured Maple stock all emulate characteristics of the Spitzer family including the unique and distinctive pierced side plate which is, essentially, a Spitzer hallmark. The large 4-piece and wonderfully engraved patchbox shows typical Virginia design with some North Carolina influences. Several screws on the patchbox have floral engraving surrounding them-a Virginia feature found nowhere else. The incised carving on the butt stock is profuse with opposing rococo “C” scrolls with gadrooning, and a wonderfully checkered triangular carving beneath the cheek rest. The carving continues in front of the cheek piece and behind the barrel tang and also includes a nice forestock molding, and beaver tail decoration at the rear of the lock plate and side plate. The rifle boasts a circular silver escutcheon at the wrist and an oval/lozenge shaped silver inlay at the first barrel key just behind the first ramrod pipe. Although worn from use the forestock molding terminates with a flourish just behind the rear ramrod pipe. The lock is original flint and made by Ketland and Company.

To the best of my knowledge this rifle has no major restoration, is in original flintlock condition and, other than being cleaned at one point in its life, is one of Henry Spitzer’s best works from this period. A delight to behold this is a fine Shenandoah County rifle of the first order.

Provenance: Vincent Nolt c. 1960 to Eagle Museum; Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, ______________ to Courtney B. Wilson

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