Thursday, October 17, 2019

"Lion and Lamb" Moravian Flintlock Rifle, Attributed to Andreas Albrecht

This Moravian rifle is probably the most important and decorative Kentucky rifle in existence. It is featured on the cover of "Moravian Gunmaking of the American Revolution" published by the Kentucky Rifle Foundation. This rifle has been prominently displayed since 2016 until very recently at the Museum of the American Revolution. The loan documents and a photo of the rifle in the "Arms of Independence" display are included. The rifle was first pictured in the first "Accouterments" book by James R. Johnston. It is shown in a four page spread on pages 17-20. The gun is also featured on pages 57-63 of "Moravian Gunmaking of the Revolution". Copies of both of these books are included with the rifle. This pre-Revolutionary War rifle dates circa 1760 and is attributed to Moravian gunsmith Andreas Albrecht. During the period when this rifle was made, Albrecht was working in Christian Springs, Pennsylvania. The completely octagonal rifled barrel has been fitted with a bayonet lug on top near the muzzle for use in the Revolutionary War. The iron ramrod and Brown Bess trumpeted cast brass ramrod ferrule were probably added at the same time. The barrel was also shortened at this time. The notched iron rear sight is seated in the center of a molded brass block dovetailed into the top flat, there are double lines both in front of and behind the sight. On the left flat, just behind the sight, there is a dagger shaped marking. The high quality lock has a flat plate with a molding at the tail and beveled edges. The frizzen spring is scalloped and terminates in a long, foliate finial. The unbridled pan is faceted. The brass furniture includes a two piece, horizontally hinged patchbox, the finial is in the shape of a lamb's head and is engraved with facial features. The early style brass lid has a molded border and is engraved with scrolls. The brass buttplate is nearly straight across the back and measures about 2" in the widest spot. Originally, the rifle probably has a wood sliding, dovetailed cover for its patchbox door. This is probably a pre-war in-period replacement. A wide flat can be seen around the brass patchbox, which does not contour to the rest of the buttstock. There is also a dovetailed cut-out in the buttplate where the original sliding wooden lid would have been seated. The toeplate is a simple, unengraved trifed shape. The brass trigger guard shows a wide bow and significant space between the back of the trigger guard and the wrist, as well as being retained by a screw at the back tang. All of these features are commonly seen on early Moravian rifles. The brass sideplate has slightly beveled edges and a flute surrounded by two engraved lines near the tail. There is a large engraved eight point Moravian star secured by a screw in the center and inlaid above the cheekpiece. The ramrod entry ferrule has a long, rectangular tang which was reinforced by iron pins during the period of use. The highly figured maple stock is of classic, early Moravian form with a step below the wrist and large relief panels around the lock and sideplate. Behind the molded relief cheekpiece is a completely relief carved "Teeth-Bearing" lion with a spade-like tasseled tail and ferocious claws. The eyes are two brass nails and the body is covered with a series of incised accents and circular punched dots. In front of the cheekpiece there are relief foliate scrolls and beneath the cheekpiece is a stylized, incised carved sprout or sprig. The relief carving around the barrel tang and buttstock comb is a traditional form of decoration incorporating and foliate design with scrolls and volutes. The rifle is complete with an associated, period altered 1st Model Brown Bess triangular socket bayonet measuring 20-1/2" overall in length with a blade of about 16", marked at the top "IP", perhaps for Joseph Perkin. On the socket, there is a threaded wing nut type adaptation, presumably, to hold the bayonet onto the flat of a rifle. This adaptation is American and was done during the period of use. This bayonet fits the rifle perfectly and has a matching patina.

CONDITION: This iconic Moravian pre-Revolutionary War rifle has survived in untouched condition. The barrel retains a mottled brown patina. The lock retains a matching patina and is in its original flintlock configuration. All of the brass furniture retains a pleasing, unpolished, dark mustard patina, showing some light wear and scattered marks. There is one minor crack at the back of the trigger guard tang and one small area of losses from the iron ramrod at the front of the ramrod entry ferrule. The stock retains an original finish, showing many dark areas as well as light areas where the rifle was handled. The carving shows some light wear and the patina is a soft, pleasing orange color. There are some age cracks on the left side towards the toe. The bayonet retains a patina nearly identical to that of the barrel. Because of the condition, the combat-theater adaptation for a bayonet and the carved lion in contrast with the lamb patchbox all set this rifle apart from any other Kentucky. It clearly shows American creativity and perfect architecture. The rifle also shows the European influence with the Baroque style carving, blended with the American aspects such as the lion. This rifle is probably the most decorative and important Kentucky in existence. 

PROVENANCE: Peter Finer, Tom Wilson, Wallace Gusler.

Barrel Length: 36-3/8"

Caliber/Bore: .50 Rifled

Minium Bid: $130,000.00

Estimate: $250,000 - $500,000

Copy and photos from Morphy Auctions here.
October 30, 2019 
The Collection of Steve and Marcy Hench

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