This rifle is an excellent example of early Americana by an extremely scarce maker. Not much information is known about John Nitchman, although Joe Kindig, Jr. reported that Nitchman worked in Beavertown, near Dillsburg, in York County, Pennsylvania. It is believed that Nitchman apprenticed under George Eister and this rifle shows many similar features and a great deal of Eister influence. Similar details include the end of the patchbox door, which is cast as part of the buttplate, the style and design of the patchbox and finial, the sideplate design and engraving, the long toeplate, and design of the patchbox release button. The architecture of this rifle and buttstock profile are also similar to George Eister's rifles. The rifle has a deeply rifled, full octagonal barrel with a decorated brass and silver front sight and a notched iron rear sight. An inlaid brass plaque on the top flat is inscribed "John Nitchman". The handmade lock has beveled edges and detailed engraving around the molding at the tail, as well as single borders engraved around the lockplate. It is inscribed in the center "John Nichman". Rifle has double set triggers and ornate brass furniture including a four piece patchbox, the lid and pierced finial are brass, and engraved with 'C' scrolls and other designs. The patchbox surrounds are of inlaid bone and retain a pleasing honey patina. The sideplate is very similar to those observed on Eister rifles and is engraved with foliate scrolls. Behind the ramrod entry ferrule there is an engraved shell extension inlaid in brass. There are a total of 13 silver inlays, all engraved. The long toeplate has two piercings and is engraved with foliate scrolls. There is a heart inlaid on each side of the wrist behind the lock and sideplate, a small oval wrist escutcheon inscribed "JW", a crescent moon engraved with floral designs above the cheekpiece, engraved eight point stars around both sides of the rearmost brass barrel key, and inlaid silver diamonds around the remainder of the barrel keys. The rifle has a partially figured maple stock of York County form with incised designs around the barrel tang, scrolls on both sides of the wrist, and floral 'C' scrolls behind the cheekpiece. The rifle is complete with a brass tipped original wooden ramrod with its original steel tip on the opposite end.
CONDITION: Barrel retains a mottled brown patina. Signature is excellent. Lock is in its original flintlock configuration and retains a freckled, grey patina with some light corrosion and a clean signature. Lock functions properly. Brass is lightly polished and now retains a light mustard patina. Furniture shows some wear, scattered marks, and some denting to toeplate. Stock shows some wear and scattered marks from use. One area of heavier wear on cheekpiece molding and one piece replaced between lock and barrel tang. A very nice, signed York County rifle by a rare maker.
Minimum Bid: $5,000.00
Final Price include buyers premium: $14,400.00
Estimate: $10,000 - $20,000
Number Bids: 14
Copy and photos from Morphy Auctions here.