Signed "J Graff" John Graff, Lancaster, PA. Ca. 1785
First mention of John Graff in Lancaster city tax records as a gunsmith is in 1772. Much information is published about him, as he was active for a long time. Though not plentiful, a number of his rifles exist proving him an excellent early rifle maker.
Stylistically this patchbox design, with its domed lid, dates to the Revolutionary War period. It has a simplified daisy finial (without petals) which Graff used in a more elaborate format (with petals) on other rifles. Engraving is sparse but well executed.
Stocked in plain maple (or possibly cherry) this rifle has no wood replacements and retains its original finish. With a butt plate 1&15/16 inch wide, this generous stock is streamlined by a long slender wrist and low comb. The lock and sideplate panels add to the slender architecture.
Signed in neat script, this tapered and flared barrel is 44&7/8 inches and has never been altered. A large bore and deep rifling is another early detail. Few rifles of this period retain any rifling remaining.
Incised carving appears behind the barrel tang and to the rear of the cheek piece and is of the pattern typically seen in the Shenandoah Valley. The brass trigger guard is of the style used in this region as well. It is possible that at an early date the rifle was broken and restocked in the Valley.
Original to the rifle and in unaltered condition, this lock is identical to one on another signed Graff rifle (pictured in Whisker) suggesting he made both locks. The jaw screw may be an old replacement.
Minor restoration has been undertaken recently. The tang on the rear ramrod pipe was missing and restored. The patchbox finial was bent and recently straightened and screws restored. Considering the age and heavy usage of the rifle, it remains in amazing condition. Even the barrel wedges are original as well as the ramrod pipes and fore end cap. The sideplate is original and one commonly used by Graff.
Pictured in “The Patchbox Book” by Chandler, it had previously been in the Kindig collection, from whom I purchased the rifle.