Unsigned Daisy Finial Patchbox Flintlock Rifle Ca. 1780
This rifle was attributed to Philip Sheetz of Shepherdstown, VA (now WV) by the late George Stanford who owned and loved the rifle for years. It is pictured in Johnston’s Kentucky Rifles & Pistols 1750-1850. I do not know the basis for this attribution but the rifle has many Virginia characteristics.
At first glance the rifle appears to have been made in or around Lancaster, PA; and it may have been. However, the architecture suggests mid-Shenandoah Valley in that it has a low comb. The heft of the butt stock is lighter than Pennsylvania rifles of the same period.
The side plate is foreign to Lancaster and related to a rifle of southern manufacture pictured in Shumways Colonial Rifles in America Vol II No. 126. Both trigger guards are uncommon yet closely related.
Recent research by Mel Hankla on rifles of the Brock’s Gap region Rockingham County, Virginia suggests a characteristic found on the patchbox of this rifle. That is, the bottom portion of the upper and lower plates are straight rather than curved. Later rifles by the Bryan’s carried this detail further by extending these flat areas to the top extension of the butt plate and to the toe plate.
The heavy moldings on the ramrod pipes are singular. Also, uncommon is the tapered tang to the rear ramrod pipe.
The use of graduated gouge marks and small arched gouge marks in the carving are seen in Lancaster work as well as carving on rifles in the Brock’s Gap region. Intaglio carved beaver tails on the lock mortise and side plate panel are uncommon. Usually they are outlined with incised carving.
English locks are often seen on early Virginia rifles. This one is round faced and is in original unaltered flintlock condition. In my opinion this lock is original to the rifle but of earlier manufacture. Probably, the gunsmith robbed it off a less important gun rather than making a lock himself. During the Revolution, locks were hard to come by since importation had stopped.
Condition of Revolutionary period rifles is usually poor. However, this rifle remains in great condition. The toe plate is replaced, tiny triangular pieces of wood replaced where toe and butt plate meet, and a piece of wood replaced at the breech next to the tang (opposite the lock side). The barrel (almost 44 inches) is the original length, tapered and flared at the muzzle, having a large bore with deep rifling. The fore end cap is short; another early detail.
Surface quality is excellent retaining much patina.