Thursday, May 24, 2018

"Moravian Gunmaking II - Bethlehem to Christian's Spring" by Robert Lienemann

Robert Lienemann and team extend their previous pioneering study focusing on the gunshops at Bethlehem and Christian’s Spring 1750-1790

224 pages with high quality photos - most in color, plus sketches and critical dimensions

Great reference for collectors, builders, restorers, and historians

Our first book – Moravian Gun Making of the American Revolution included a brief history plus twelve wonderful arms - rifles, smooth rifles, a swivel breech rifle, fowler and pistol from various communities over many years, and allowed for a broad introduction to Moravian gunmaking. 


In contrast, Moravian Gunmaking II focuses narrowly on arms that were – or may have been made at the gunshop set up at Bethlehem in 1750, which then moved ca 1759 – 1763 to Christian’s Spring – a small community where young men and boys learned trades in support of their mission work.  The gunshop there was very active during several wars, but it and the broader vocational effort had faded by 1790.   


An introduction is provided to Moravian gunmaking, and the two gunshops along with typical tools, materials and techniques are discussed.  This is followed by a brief summary of who was where, their roles and what was happening in the world around them for each year 1750 through 1790.  Then come chapters introducing the arms, their art and history.



Many individuals, families and museums have shared their collections, and new color photographs were taken of all available pieces.  Wherever possible, key dimensions are given and construction details reviewed and compared.  This should be of value to study, stocking and restoration, while still being respectful of those who have shared their treasures with us.  Twenty two long guns, a pistol and a pair of pistols are presented in this book, often with eight to fifteen or more photos each –


A ca 1725 rifle and ca 1750 pistol stocked in Germany, to show what Albrecht, Beck and others might have learned as apprentices and journeymen there, and what they may have taught their young apprentices here

The keystone Edward Marshall rifle, often attributed to Andreas Albrecht, presented in color with comments from John Bivins and the author

Smooth rifle that seems a twin to the Marshall rifle, with comments from a prior curator

Rifle attributed to Albrecht, known as rifle # 43 in Shumway’s Rifles of Colonial America, Vol I   

Photos and notes regarding a “lost” rifle that might have come from these shops

1773 Christian Oerter rifle, known only from a letter in Oerter’s hand describing his work

Oerter rifle signed and dated 1774 with wood patchbox and wire inlay, now restored

“New” 1774 Oerter rifle, recently discovered in Europe in near new condition, broken down for careful review inside and out, with nearly 50 photos, many dimensions and details

1774 Oerter rifle for Coykendall, restored and now in color with review

Extensively decorated “new” 1774 Oerter rifle for Hankinson with review


Hankinson thumb piece and wire inlay

Aaron Hankinson portrait

Aaron Hankinson gravestone

Short description of another surviving 1774 Oerter rifle without photos

Signed and dated 1774 Oerter barrel in probable restock

1775 Oerter smooth rifle at Windsor Castle with modifications by Durs Egg (Shumway’s # 44), also in near new condition, now in color with detailed review

1775 Oerter rifle stolen from Valley Forge (Shumway’s # 45), with additional black and white photos which clearly show the profile, details and wire inlay

A long fowler attributed to the Christian’s Spring gun shop

Fine pair of brass barreled pistols signed W Henry, Jr. at Nazareth, now in color
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Six additional rifles or smooth rifles that seem related to these gunshops are presented in color with notes.  Two are covered extensively, while four are mentioned briefly with two or three photos each.

We also learn about the musical abilities of these individuals, and their formal teaching roles.  Their additional artistic talents and the closed nature of the two communities may have allowed and encouraged greater artistic expression at the bench.

This focus on one trade at two locations allows a more in-depth study of how the gunmaking trade operated, and much of the understanding of the trade can be projected to other men and shops in this period. 

Here is a small part of the story of the birth and development of the Kentucky rifle, and of our art and history expressed upon this common tool.

The book is now available on the Kentucky Rifle Foundation's website under the Store. You can order online with PayPal, credit card or with a check by mail. The book sells for $85.00 plus $8.95 S&H. Proceeds support the KRF mission of broadening the knowledge and appreciation of the American longrifle. Descriptions of all KRF books, CDs, and ordering information can be found at: kentuckyriflefoundation.org (or send check or money order to: Kentucky Rifle Foundation, 844 Round Hill Rd, Winchester, VA 22602)

Copy and photos supplied by by Robert Lienemann.

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