Berks County, PA Flintlock Rifle Attributed to Henry Mauger Ca. 1793
Signed and dated on Patchbox lid “John Shof 1793”
In the Berks County region and to the east a signature found on the patchbox lid is often that of the maker. John Shof may be the maker of this rifle but to date I am not aware of records identifying him as a gunsmith. An attribution to Henry Mauger is plausible as many features, i.e. stock carving and architecture, trigger guard, side plate, and handmade lock are seen on his signed rifles.
Henry worked in Douglas Township Berks County from the 1780’s until his death in 1827. Working in one area for a span of nearly 50 years establishes ones style and those that apprenticed, journeyed, or even worked close by produced similar characteristics on their rifles. The style of the patchbox on this rifle is borrowed from the region east of Berks and the engraving is typically more decorative than Mauger’s. A journeyman may be responsible for these decorative elements.
The handmade lock is original to the rifle and probably made by Mauger, but was converted back to flintlock condition in an expert manner. One would think the lock to be in original flintlock condition since there is consistent pitting and color around the pan and touch hole areas and little damage to the adjacent wood.
The stock is nice curly maple and has been repaired during its period of use and in recent times. There is an early repair to the cracked wrist using an oval piece of brass at the top of the wrist. This is a very acceptable repair as it mimics a thumb plate usually seen in this location, though it interrupts the simple incised carving around the barrel tang. Another old repair to the stock is at the toe. Restoration to the stock in recent times includes 4 long slivers of wood along the forestock, a small piece replaced above the rear ramrod pipe, and about 16 inches of forestock. The forestock replacement incorporates a piece of forestock from another old rifle and is quite acceptable. The barrel is 43&1/2 inches and most likely the original length. The fore end cap is a replacement.
The butt stock, lock area and forearm have original surfaces and patina on the wood. There is nice patina on the brass mounts and nice even patina on all iron parts.
I am told a similar rifle exists with name and date inscriptions on the patchbox lid.
The rarity of a rifle with a signed and dated patchbox lid, original gunsmith made lock, and old surfaces will command a high price, however this rifles’ value is slightly compromised by the wood replacements on the forestock.
Sold 21 Feb 2009