North Carolina "Jamestown Rifle"

Jamestown North Carolina Full Stock Rifle

Jamestown North Carolina Full Stock Rifle – According to author and historian, C. Michael Briggs, who has made a study of what is called the Jamestown School of gun-making: “The Jamestown School made over 20,000 long-rifles from 1840-80,” Briggs mentions that there were nine schools of gun making from 1765-1810, in North Carolina; the Jamestown School became the predominant, indigenous gun makers from 1810-1902.   “These guns were extremely well-made. By 1840, Jamestown basically put everyone else out of business,” says Briggs, who has authored three books, The Long Rifle Makers of Guilford County, The Long Rifle Makers of Forsyth County and Davidson County, and Piedmont North Carolina Banded Power Horns and Hunting Bags. Briggs has identified 87 men who were gunsmiths, gun-stockers or apprentices (many became gunsmiths) from 1795-1902. He was responsible for the placement of a marker in Gibson Park along the Greenway honoring the local gunsmiths. These names include Thaddeus Gardner, William Lamb, H.C. Lamb, Henry Wright, Anderson Lamb, Jabez Stephen, Fletcher Merritt, Evan Johnson and Judd Franklin Ledbetter. These guns were predominantly hunting rifles, and as local historian Fred Hughes wrote, in 1988, in Guilford County, N.C., a Map Supplement, “This gun was not made for royalty and aristocracy; it was made for the ordinary citizen, the Joseph Tater- diggers and Thomas Corn-shuckers of the nineteenth century, the backbone of America. It was a simple gun, solid, durable, dependable, and above all, it was accurate.” Gunsmiths signed most of their pieces, usually with initials, but often with complete names and town of origin. Rifles from the Jamestown School can be identified by several distinctive characteristics, most notably the initials or signature of the gun-maker inscribed into the barrel, a three-screw tang, a high cone on the stock, no button to push to open the patch box (if present) and at least one, usually two brass dovetails holding a German silver, front sight. All of these features are not present on every Jamestown rifle, however. By the late 18th century, European settlers came to North Carolina to what would become Jamestown. Many were Quaker families who moved to the area from Pennsylvania in search of productive farmland. By 1800, Jamestown was a bustling settlement of 150 residents with its own post office, inn and Free Mason’s lodge. Around this same time, gold was discovered near Jamestown, and several mines profited until the California gold rush frenzy shut down local efforts. In addition to farming and related industries, Jamestown was home to a gun factory and numerous, skilled gunsmiths, all involved in the manufacture of a sturdy and accurate muzzle-loading gun known as the “Jamestown Rifle,” the mainstay of Jamestown’s industry through the latter half of the 19th century and a highly prized collectible among gun enthusiasts today.   This example of the famed Jamestown rifle is in overall fine condition. It retains a pleasing brown, plum patina finish, while the nice, tiger maple stock remains in a wonderful, untouched state. As Briggs notes, some prominent features that appear on most Jamestown rifles are present: a long barrel tang, secured by 3 screws; a German silver front sight secured by a single, brass dovetailed mortise; the gunsmith’s initials “EMT” inscribed on the top of the heavy octagonal barrel; the stock is characteristically thinner than other NC schools with a flat cheek piece and a lower stock comb, indicative of pre-civil war era manufacture. This rifle’s lock plate is unmarked; the hammer is present, but it appears that the mainspring is broken and some later screws have been added. As often found in these rifles, are double set-triggers. This rifle’s lock plate, like most plates of 19th century long rifles, is unmarked, as most were usually an out-sourced component as many makers did not build their own locks.  The brass butt plate has beveled sides as do the bases of the trigger guard.  Ramrod pipes beneath the barrel are all made of brass.  The rear sight is a standard, non-adjustable v-type, hunting sight. The rifle is approximately .36 to .40 caliber, with a heavy, octagonal, rifled barrel, 59” in length; the original, oak ramrod is present, although broken off for about a 12” length. This Jamestown rifle is truly a fine example of fine North Carolina, early 19th century guns-smithing. SOLD

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