Nicholas Beyer, signed “N Beyer” Lebanon township, Lancaster County, PA Ca 1795
Very little information is available for such a prolific and accomplished rifle maker. Beyer is listed in Lebanon Township, Lancaster County as a gunsmith in the years 1807 & 1810. He most certainly learned his trade from John Phillip Beck and/or John Christian Beck. Kindig suggests he worked from the 1790’s through the 1820’s based on his study of many Beyer rifles.
I believe Beyer continued to work for Beck after apprenticeship and strictly adhered to Beck’s style in architecture, carving, engraving, patchbox design, etc. It was not till after Beck died in 1811 that Beyer felt free to develop his own style. He may have left Beck and began his own business around 1807; a good reason to be taxed. Beyer’s later work, in general, has less artistic merit than his early work; that which was done under the strong arm of J P Beck.
This rifle remains in like new condition; and extreme rarity for a turn of the century rifle. This example has no noticeable wear, the pins securing the trigger guard have never been removed, the wood to metal fit and condition of the screws in the patchbox indicate it has never been removed, the ramrod pipes have never been removed and are tight, probably the original ramrod is intact with its screw on worm (housed in the patchbox recess), a slight seepage of pitch (?) around the top screw area of the lock bolt plate possibly to keep it secure when removing the lock, and most importantly the carving is crisp and high in relief.
Here is an opportunity to observe how relief carving appeared when the rifle was new. One can appreciate the 3 dimensional quality of this carving by sight and touch; no imagination needed. Carving at the wrist shows some wear but is still pristine. No build up of patina exists (or existed) to obscure even the incised portions of the carving.
The octagon to round smoothbore barrel measures 46 ½ inches and is original length. Front and rear sights have never been moved. The barrel wedges are original and no wood has broken out around them. The flintlock is original to the rifle and is in working order, however, the lock bolt screws are frozen and cannot be removed.
Few rifles have as nice curly maple as this one. The grain is strong and consistent from butt to muzzle. A small sliver of wood was recently replaced after minor restoration to the toe plate.
This rifle has superb condition, beautiful curly maple, excellent carving in perfect condition, long graceful architecture, made and signed by a well-known Lancaster County riflemaker.