Signed “C Beck” Christian Beck, Jonestown, Lebanon County Ca 1810
Born in 1782, Christian Beck was the son of J. P. Beck, from whom he learned the trade of gunsmith. He died in Jonestown in 1861 at the age of 79.
This rifle, made about 1810, remains in pristine original condition. The whale tail patchbox finial is recognizable as a Lebanon icon and used by J P Beck, Nicholas Beyer, and himself. Few rifles by this Christian Beck are engraved but all exhibit exceptional workmanship, architecture, and carving.
The carving behind the cheek piece is typical of the Beck’s and Beyer. It is simple yet well executed.
He carved a fluted shield in relief behind the barrel tang on this and another rifle which deviates from the usual rococo design. Commonly used in the Federal period by cabinetmakers, silver smiths, etc. the shield motif is taken from the seal of the newly formed United States.
Undoubtedly, the lock is original to the rifle and has always been flintlock. Signed ”C Beck” in script on the 42 inch barrel, which has never been shortened and retains its original early style rifling.
The style of the trigger guard and sideplate are nearly identical to those of J P Beck and Beyer suggesting they all used the same casting molds.
This untouched surface and unscathed condition is a rarity among Kentucky rifles.
Though used by its owner, it was well cared for and never altered to percussion. Most importantly, it never suffered modern day cleaning, polishing, or needless restoration. A small area on the barrel was cleaned to illuminate the signature. Even the original barrel keys are intact.
Pictured in “Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age” by Kindig, rifle # 102, it retains various inventory tags representing decades of ownership. The purchaser would be one of the few owners of this rifle since the early 1800's.