Signed P Heckert, Philip Heckert, York, Pennsylvania ca 1785
This is a rare example of a well carved early rifle with superb architecture signed in script "P Heckert". Heckert was an early gunsmith and barrel maker in York. His boring mill burned just outside York in 1800; the event was featured in the Lewis Miller drawing book.
Maybe the most desirable artistic feature of a Kentucky rifle is its architecture. All other decorative details only compliment great architecture. If a rifle has nice carving, patchbox, and inlays but has poor or uninteresting architecture its appeal can only be mediocre. This rifle has great architecture from the thin wrist graduating to a generous butt stock with a graceful comb and perfectly placed patchbox. Beautifully designed and executed relief carving are present with wonderful detail behind and under the cheekpiece. Carving in other areas are worn from use but show wonderful form. The pierced brass patchbox is beautifully designed and nicely engraved with scrolls, flowers, and leafage in the American Rococo.
The rifle appears in beautiful condition; it has had some high quality restoration by the renouned craftsman Louie Parker. The lock is a wonderful example of the "handmade" type imported from Germany; from one of their rural cottage industries. This one is initialed inside the lockplate. The restored 45 inch .50 cal full octagon barrel is signed in script. Surfaces have a pleasing patina. Great rifles made just after the Revolution command high prices especially if they have pleasing architecture, and decorative details. Restoration can make these rarities more affordable; great restoration makes them both affordable and desireable.