Monday, January 23, 2017

The Longrifle Makers of the Mecklenburg School by C. Michael Briggs

A well researched volume from Michael Briggs dealing with the Mecklenburg School of longrifle makers. Briggs is very knowledgeable about the history of Mecklenburg County and the gunsmiths who worked there. This volume contains a great deal of information about those builders and the area that they worked in. Their work is profusely illustrated with excellent color photography.

In the first chapter the reader is provided with an informative look at the history of the Mecklenburg longrifle school. This is followed by a discussion regarding the highly decorative works of this school. In his book, “North Carolina Schools of Longrifles 1765 – 1865,” William W. Ivey writes, “Mecklenburg County and those rifles made just to the west in Gaston and Lincoln County are of the highest quality and deserving of artistic as well as future historical study.”

The reader will find an extensive list of the gunsmiths of the Mecklenburg school along with biographical information on the makers to be most interesting and informative. A list of rifles from the school and their makers is also provided. The author also provides the reader with maps and a brief look at all of the longrifle schools in North Carolina.

The grand collection of photographs is most impressive. The reader is provided with a number of views of each rifle. Each piece is well captioned and the information is invaluable. There are seventy three pages of photographs!

The author challenges his readers to look for answers to questions regarding the school and then provides the reader with his own observations from many years of study.

In addition to the information regarding the Mecklenburg School of longrifle makers, the author also provides interesting information regarding the lives of those makers. For example there is a look at the John Price rock house with correspondence and copies of old deeds regarding it, there are also interesting period accounts of the people of the area. The reader learns that Zenus Alexander was a silversmith as well as a rifle maker in the school and some of his work is illustrated.

The wealth of information provided about the gunsmiths, along with the beautiful photography and the historical data concerning the area give the reader such great insight regarding the Mecklenburg School of longrifle makers. Briggs has once again provided the reader with a passionate and enthusiastic look at a subject dear to his heart.

"The Hornets Nest Rifle"

This is one of the two earliest known Mecklenburg School Longrifles, circa 1770 to 1790.  It is possible that this rifle was made by Isaac Price, founder of the Mecklenburg School.  Isaac Price is believed to have trained many of the later gunsmiths in this school.

Sliding wood patchbox

This is an early Mecklenburg School Longrifle, circa 1770 to 1790.  It is signed I.H.  This gunsmith has not been identified.

Early style daisy patchbox

Cheek rest side view

This is the only known Mecklenburg School Longrifle signed by Zenas Alexander.  He was born in 1771. After he became an orphan in 1787, he was bound by the Court to serve as an apprentice under Isaac Price.  He became a master gunsmith in 1792.  He worked as a gunsmith and silver-smith in Mecklenburg County until his death in 1826.

Cheek rest side view

This rifle has nicely forged triggers and early English flintlock.

This Longrifle was made in Mecklenburg County and is one of five known examples signed by Isaac Thompson.  He lived north of Long creek on 105 acres.

Mecklenburg School matchbox with scroll finial signed I.T. on lid

Silver plate on barrel inscribed "Isaac J. Thompson" indicates this was his personal rifle

Decorative toe plate with silver piercings

Book available for $40.00 plus $4.00 shipping 
Michael Briggs
103 Battle Road
Greensboro, NC 27410

Other books available by Michael Briggs:

The Longrifle Makers of Guilford County
$40.00 plus $4.00 shipping
A review can be found here.

Piedmont North Carolina Banded Powder Horns
$40.00 plus $4.00 shipping

The Longrifle Makers of the Rowan School
$40.00 plus $4.00 shipping

Guilford Under the Stars and Bars
$44.95 plus $4.00 shipping

Review by Art Riser.

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