Sunday, March 16, 2014

Relief Carved York county Rifle by Michael Edwards

44″ full oct 52 Cal. rifled bbl signed “M Edwards”. Overall 59-3/4″, butt is 4-1/4″ x 1-5/8″. Magnificent curly maple stocked rifle which is profusely relief carved on entire cheekpiece side of butt, around bbl tang and forward of patchbox. Rifle is incised carved around rear ramrod pipe. Forend is nicely paneled with 8 brass inlays surrounding 4 bbl wedges. Forend has 4 brass ramrod pipes. Intricate 6-1/4″ long engraved brass toeplate features an amazing 12 piercings. Unique silver wire inlay design extends over comb from buttplate. Brass patchbox is finely engraved with 5-piercings and the finial is decorated with a beautifully designed and engraved long necked crane. Similar to no.108 p. 262 in Kindig’s Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in it’s Golden Age. Large flintlock is marked Ketland and Co. Long brass sideplate is nicely engraved in keeping with style of patchbox. This gun is pictured in James B. Whisker’s Arms Makers of Pennsylvania and Gunsmiths of York County. Whisker’s book considers this gun to indicate the best of the arms maker’s art. Michael Edwards was born in August 1767 in “York Town” (now York Borough) York County, PA. His father is listed as a member of the York Militia in 1778. Michael apprenticed as a gunsmith with York County gunsmith Conrad Welshans. Michael continued as a gunsmith until 90 years of age. Michael is recorded as having attended a local funeral procession honoring George Washington in 1799; a fire in 1800 at a bore mill used by York gunsmiths; a meeting at Furry’s Tavern on the day Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated in 1801 and was included in a membership list for Laurel Engine Company in 1803. Michael moved from York to Washington County, PA around 1805 and to Wheeling, VA about 1835. In 1870, at 103 years of age, Michael attended the County Fair in York where he was presented a gold-headed cane by the Laurel Fire Company recognizing him as the oldest living fireman in the world. His portrait and leather fire bucket are on display at the York County Fire Museum in York, PA. Michale Edwards died March 26, 1876 at the age of 108 years, 5 months and 14 days. 
PROVENANCE: Collection of Dr. Douglas Sirkin. 
CONDITION: Outstanding orig condition throughout. Very interesting in-period repair to first 20″ of ramrod channel. As is true in many cases the wood began to split under the ramrod and was stabilized by an entire row of iron staples. This unique repair is completely invisible until the ramrod is removed. This repair is very desirable as it speaks to the originality of the forend wood. 4-49994 RG7 (35,000-55,000)

Copy and photos from James Julia.

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