Unsigned Peter Anstat, Rockland Township, Berks County, PA ca 1800
Though unsigned this rifle can safely be attributed to Peter based on 2 nearly identical signed examples. According to Dave Hansen 6 examples of Peter's work exist with the same patchbox, architecture, relief carved lion, and overall style.
This example is pictured and discussed by Capt. John Dillon in his 1924 book "The Kentucky Rifle". Another was used as a prop in a Davy Crockett movie. Three others were in the Kindig Collection 2 of which are pictured in "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age". Another owned by and pictured in Dave Hansen's book.
Peter, the son of Adam Angstadt, was born in 1763 and died in 1815. He worked in both Rockland township and Maxatawny township in Berks County. The rifles of the Angstadt family of gunsmith's exhibit a provincial style incorporating folk motifs found on local decorative arts.
On this example, as described by Dillon, Peter inlaid a double headed eagle on the cheek piece which is a symbol of his Germanic heritage. Dillon suggested the human upper torso in brass inlaid in front of the trigger guard is an Indian which represents his American heritage, and finally the carved lion represents his English heritage. A plausible theory.
The patchbox is simple in design and has a stylized heart shaped piercing in the finial and has a single band hinge to the lid. Peter was more fond of carving than engraving as seen in his simplistic execution.
Low relief and incised carving is present in all the usual areas and the lion carved in relief on the cheek side is quite masterful. An elementary but attractive version of rococo is used in the composition of carving and engraving designs. When a gunsmith masterfully decorates his rifle with an animal, a human, or mythical figure it adds to its artistic merit. He uses 12 brass inlays to decorate the rifle, one being the Indian or Liberty head in front of the trigger guard.
A 44 & 1/2 inch octagon to round .50 cal smoothbore barrel is the orignal length. The handmade flintlock is original to the rifle and in original flintlock conition. Sadly the forestock is an excellent restoration done decades ago. The ramrod pipes and forestock inlays are original to the rifle. As was the custom in the early years of restoring these fine rifles the restorer simply lopped off the forestock and replaced it reusing the pipes and inlays rather than tediously replacing missing or broken pieces or mending cracks.
The value of a fine Kentucky rifle is affected by any restoration. As much as half its value can be lost for major restoration. Fortunately, this can bring the price of a great rifle within reach of collectors who have limited funds or those who are not deterred by restoration especially if it is excellent.
The price reflects the rarity, condition, quality, and desirablility of this rifle.