COLLECTION: Mechanical Arts & Arms

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American Long Rifle

ca. 1800
Origin: America, Southeast, Virginia, Staunton
Overall: 62 3/8" Barrel: 45 7/16" Caliber: .45
Maple, iron, steel, brass, silver and horn.
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1980-210
Label:Following an apprenticeship under gunsmith Simon Lauck of Winchester, Virginia, John Shetz (also Sheetz) moved to the Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton and opened his own shop in 1796. Soon thereafter he built this outstanding rifle.

After a half century of use along the frontier, the American long rifle had evolved from a strictly utilitarian firearm into an object that could be heavily ornamented. The Shetz rifle exemplifies that art in the southern Backcountry. Beautifully proportioned, it features relief carving, file work, wire inlay, and engraving of the best kind. This was not the everyday hunting gun of a frontiersman. Discovered in an English collection in the late 20th century, the rifle survives in remarkable, almost unused condition. It likely left Virginia as a prized collectible in the early 19th century.
Provenance:Found in England.
Mark(s):Signed on barrel: "J Shetz"