Signed “ H Sheets” Henry Sheets, Staunton, Virginia, ca 1825
Henry was born in Jefferson Co, WV the son of John Sheets both of whom worked in Staunton, Virginia. In 1832 Henry moved to Huntersville, VA (now WV) and then to Union City, OH in 1835.
This rifle remains in unrestored condition and has been extensively used, expertly repaired, and thankfully never cleaned. The photos do not reveal the glorious color and surface quality of the wood. The original flintlock was replaced when the rifle was converted to percussion. The replacement lock was altered to a shape that fit the mortise since the copper repairs were in place before the conversion.
The surface is remarkable showing original patina and character. The wrist repairs are of copper. Minor losses along the fore arm detract little from its desirable condition. The engraved border at the breech and muzzle indicate the barrel length, 42.5 inches, is original.
The typical engraved 4-petal flower patchbox as well as the 8 point silver cheek piece star, trigger guard, and butt stock architecture are identifiable with John and Henry’s work.
This is a rare and desirable signed Virginia rifle by the Sheets family with lots of character. It is possible the rifle was made by Henry in Huntersville, WV or Union City, OH, though it is in the style of his Staunton, Virginia work.
thanks to B.M. Smith for photos and to Gordon Barlow for Sheets family information