COLLECTION: Mechanical Arts & Arms

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"Benjamin Franklin" Pennsylvania Rifle

ca. 1825-1840
Origin: America, Pennsylvania, Williamsport
Overall: 56 1/8" Barrel: 40 3/4" x .45 caliber Lockplate: 4 1/2"
Maple, iron, steel, hickory, red brass or bronze, yellow brass, and silver
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth R. (Mildred) Samuelson Sr., Dr. and Mrs. Donald A. (Kathleen P. Samuelson) Tyndall, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth R. (Betsy) Samuelson Jr., Drs. Allen D. and Tamara L. Samuelson
Acc. No. 2018-282
Classic Pennsylvania rifle, fully-stocked in curly maple and heavily embellished with tacked inlays. Incise-carved stock with linear tracing to the bottom of the butt and rammer channel, with foliage and "C" scrolls behind the cheekpiece. The tip of its spiral-stained hickory rammer is brass, and an iron or steel worm is affixed to the bottom end.

The octagonal barrel is secured by a single screw through the breech tang and 4 blind hooks and pins (hidden by eagle inlays). The barrel also mounts an iron rear sight and a brass and silver front sight, both of which are dovetailed in place. Percussion conversion includes a round bolster and nipple set into the former location of the vent.

A product of Richard Ashmore of the Birmingham, England area, it's filed and engraved lock was converted from flint to percussion, and is worked by adjustable double-set triggers. The percussion hammer and sidenail heads are also engraved, and the screw holes for the frizzen and frizzen spring remain vacant.

Cast brass mounts include a faceted triggerguard and buttplate, a beveled sideplate, three octagonal rammer pipes, and a matching tail pipe.

Thirty-nine silver inlays include an oval plaque engraved with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin near the cheek piece, engraved eagles, stars, crescents and tear-drops (one star is now missing). Sheet brass mounts, of two distinct colors, include an engraved four-part hinged patchbox, topped by an openwork standing eagle, a toe plate, and a grip plate between the tailpipe and triggerguard. At the end of the buttplate tang is a long yellow brass and silver extension which runs the entire length of the buttstock comb.
Label:Created during the waning years of the American longrifle's golden age, this example of the gunsmith's art is literally covered with patriotic silver and brass inlays. An engraved portrait of Benjamin Franklin appears on a silver oval set into the butt while American eagles and stars line the forend of its curly maple stock. A larger eagle tops the openwork patchbox crafted from red and yellow brass alloys, adding further color to this beautiful longarm.

As was common during the period, Henry Gable built an imported British flintlock mechanism into this longrifle, which was tastefully altered to the percussion ignition system sometime after 1840. Though it exhibits wear, it survives in very fine condition, showing that it was highly valued and well cared for during its many years of use.
Provenance:Purchased at a Hepburnville, PA auction in October of 1940. Then by decent to the donors.
Mark(s):Lock marked R ASHMORE WARRANTED in three lines, forward of the hammer.