“Several years ago I had the opportunity to join Tom Curran to study the two Jacob Kuntz rifles at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. During the visit, I was allowed to handle both rifles and document their dimensions. What struck me about both pieces was the quality of workmanship and sheer creativity and imagination that went into every detail of the work. In the time that has passed since handling those two guns, I have had the opportunity to handle and study several other Kuntz rifles and pistols as well – all equally imaginative in decoration. Kuntz was apparently not a man content to follow the same patterns of decoration as his peers, but developed new patterns ahead of his time, as the unique designs of his more elaborate patchboxes and sideplates show.
This rifle was heavily inspired by the two rifles at the Metropolitan Museum, but uses a two-piece patchbox design from an earlier Kuntz rifle. It is built around a 44” .45 B weight barrel, stocked in a dense piece of sugar maple. There weren’t any castings available that were suitable for the project, so I made patterns from the dimensions taken, and Bill Shipman had them cast for me. The rest of the parts were formed from sheet brass and silver. In keeping with the original Kuntz rifles, there is a horn button in the toeplate to serve as the patchbox release, as well as a horn overlay on the edge of the cheek. The incised carving throughout is designed in the style of Kuntz, but is not an exact copy of his work. The tang carving on the original piece was obliterated when the wrist was broken and repaired, and this is my interpretation of Kuntz’s designs elsewhere on the rifle. The rifle was stained with a mild solution of aquafortis, then was sealed and a red madder pigment varnish was applied to the surface. The varnish was rubbed back in wear areas to reveal the light amber base color below.”
Copy and photos supplied by Eric von Aschwege.