Friday, December 13, 2019

Morphy Auctions: The Susquehanna Collection


This rifle is featured on page 44 of "The Pennsylvania-Kentucky Rifle, a Lancaster Legend" by Donald Heckert, J. Wayne and Vaughn. At the time, it was in the Donald Vaughn Collection. J.P. Beck was a prolific maker born in 1751, who worked in Lebanon Township, Lancaster County until his death in 1811. The rifle has a full-length octagon barrel with sights mounted on top and partially visible signature towards the breech. The flat lockplate is stamped "UNITED / STATES" at the tail with traces of what were probably "Ketland" markings in the center. The rifle has a buttplate measuring 2", dating it between 1775 and 1785. The brass four-piece patchbox was added during the period, when the original sliding wooden patchbox was probably broken or lost. The patchbox is engraved with Pennsylvania German tulips, flowers, and scrolls. A toeplate with patchbox release was also added at this time, perhaps by Beck. Classic early brass Beck sideplate and triggerguard. Full-length partially figured maple stock of classic early Lebanon form with high-relief cheekpiece. Relief panels around lock and sideplate terminate with a teardrop in the back. Carved with Beck's classic relief scrolls around barrel tang and on both sides of the cheekpiece. There are also relief moldings along both sides of the forend. Later wooden ramrod. 

CONDITION: Barrel retains a brown patina, tang screw a replacement. Lock is possibly a second lock and has been reconverted to flintlock configuration, retains applied blued/brown finish. Brass retains a pleasing unpolished dark mustard patina and shows some wear and minor marks. Stock very good with no restoration. Some minor wear to carving, scattered age cracks and marks from use. One area of minor loss above front of lockplate and a few thin slivers missing along forend. Retains much original finish in protected areas. A very early and attractive signed relief-carved Beck rifle.

Barrel Length: 45"
Caliber/Bore: .57 Smoothbore
FFL Status: Antique
Manufacturer: J.P. Beck
Model: Flintlock Kentucky Rifle

Estimate: $20,000 - $40,000

Minimum Bid: $10,000


This very well documented powder horn is pictured on pages 196-197 of "Folk Art of Early America, The Engraved Powder Horn" by Jim Dresslar. It is also shown in "Engraved Powder Horns from the Collection of James E. Routh, Jr." from the exhibition in the Georgia Museum in March of 2000. The powder horn measures about 17" in length with a tapered body and bulbous spout section with a large relief ring at the tip. There is another relief ring closer to the engraved section. The engraved portion has a scalloped edge and depicts folk art Germanic designs including a man smoking a long pipe, a Georgian house, foliate and floral motifs and scrolls, a ring near the top in inscribed "FRIETRICH LEPPERT 1782". The neatly engraved eight-line inscription is entirely in German and translates to "When mine hour has come I shall go my way to Lord Jesus Christ. He will not allow my soul, which I entrust to His keeping, to go unaccompanied on my last journey". The convex wooden plug retains an early coat of red paint and is inscribed with a large "M" in the center. There is a horn flange for sling attachment, which is decorated with a scalloped edge. It is also believed that Frietrich Leppert was also the engraver of this horn, as another example in this sale is done by the same hand and is also dated 1782 and signed "FL". The names of both men on the horns appear on the roster of the Tryon County Militia 1st Regiment. Both fought in the Herkimer's Battle in 1777, also known as the Battle of Oriskany, named for the swampy creek flowing into the Mohawk River six miles below Fort Stanwicks. The horn is complete with a file of information, including a handwritten note signed by Jim Routh, dated 1986; information on Leppert; copies of books listing him in the New York Revolutionary War records; a handwritten letter from Walter O'Connor discussing the three known horns engraved by Frietrich Leppert; and copies of a book showing that Leppert and Schreibber are both listed as prisoners of war during the Revolution and listing them both as members of Camp Bell's regiment of the Tryon County Militia. 

PROVENANCE: Ex James E. Routh, Jr. Collection.

Estimate: $25,000 - $50,000

Minimum Bid: $13,000.


This is an excellent example of a hunting bag with its original raccoon head flap, which is also decorated with a pierced heart design on a red leather background. The bag measures about 9 - 1/2" by 8" and is complete with a diminutive 8 - 1/2" screw tip powder horn, which appears to be from Berks County, Pennsylvania. For a similar example see horn number nineteen on page 83 of "Pennsylvania Horns of the Trade" by Arthur J. Decamp. Also attached to the bag is a small hand forged belt ax with a blade on one end and a pole on the other. Complete with its original haft. The head measures 4 - 1/2" overall. Also included is a brass powder measure. 

CONDITION: Excellent, showing some light wear, and minor crazing to surface. Horn very good retaining a dark patina, complete with its original screw tip. Belt ax head retains a dark undisturbed patina. Powder measure retains a dark patina as well. A very scarce, high quality bag such as this is a rare and desirable encounter.

Estimate: $2,500 - $5,000

Minimum Bid: $1,300


Boldly drawn with colorful images of tulips, parrots, mermaids and a large alligator, this fraktur is inscribed in the bottom in English "Allegator & Mare Maid & Man". It is closely related to several fraktur made by Daniel Otto that include a large alligator and mermaids but appears to be made by a different hand, possibly Daniel's brother Jacob Otto. The unusual purple color used on the alligator is very uncommon on fraktur by Henrich Otto, father of Daniel and Jacob. Jacob Otto worked in Lancaster County as a furniture maker and a fraktur artist; he is listed in the 1790 census as a resident of Mount Joy Township and in 1800 in Rapho Township. On the Otto family of fraktur artists, see Lisa Minardi, "Henrich Otto and Sons: Fraktur Artists and Furniture Decorators" in "Der Reggeboge: Journal of the Pennsylvania German Society" vol. 49, no. 2 (2015). For related examples by Daniel Otto, see Minardi, ibid., p. 79; Weiser, "Fraktur: Pennsylvania German Folk Art", (Ephrata, Pennsylvania: Science Press, 1973), p. 94. 

CONDITION: Examined out of frame. Losses and toning.

Item Dimensions: Frame: 10 - 1/2" x 11 -3/4"

Estimate: $10,000 - $20,000

Minimum Bid: $5,000

Photos and items from Morphy Auctions here. Auction is January 16, 2020.

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