Historical inquiry/identification

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by jmmymack, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. jmmymack

    jmmymack New Member

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    Hello,

    I am trying to figure out any information about the type of gun pictured in this engraving (c.1831). The object is partially obscured but I'm hoping enough clues are still visible that you experts might be able to hazard a guess! If it helps, the engraving accompanied reports of 1831 slave rebellion in Southampton, Virginia.

    Any light you might be able to shed would be greatly appreciated!

    JM

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  2. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    I believe it is just a generic rendition of a muzzle loading percussion rifle .It doesn't represent any one make or model. It would be impossible to state that it is a so and so rifle made by so and so. Heck, from the drawing it might even be a shotgun or even a rubber band gun:)
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2011
  3. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Moderator

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    In the early 1800s, guns were specially built. The idea of interchangeable parts was a relatively new thing, and it was just beginning to catch on with firearms.

    At this time, there were hundreds (probably thousands) of gunsmiths making firearms that were very similar in form and function. Each was, for all intents and purposes, it's own company and model.

    I would guess the "long rifle" style, but there is nothing definitive to say that.
  4. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    We can't even say it is percussion; at that time it would probably have been a flintlock. But the others are right, it is just an artist's rendition of a gun. It is not intended to be an accurate drawing of a real gun any more than the "rifles" in the Beetle Bailey cartoons are intended to look like those actually used by the army.

    At the time, I am sure the cartoonist's intent was to show the noble white man triumphing over the evil and bloodthirsty black leader of a slave revolt. A more modern caption might be, "Don't bring a short sword to a gunfight."

    Jim
  5. Buffalochip

    Buffalochip Active Member

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    It appears to be a Springfield Model 1795 Flintlock musket Type II made at Springfield in 1809, converted to percussion in the 1830s, rebarreled in the 1850s, and restocked just before the Civil War (and it has a loose ramrod).
  6. jjmitchell60

    jjmitchell60 Active Member

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    IF the revolt was a wide spread revolt to where the militia was called out; then they would most likely be carring Springfield muskets. Now the picture does show a sling on the gun to which tells me the artist was attempting to show a musket since most hunting long rifles did not have slings. As told above the artist was most likely painting a general impression of a muzzle loader with no type specific intended.
  7. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Member

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    As said above, it is not a realistic rendition of a specific gun, But also notice the unrealistic way the gun is held, the man's trigger finger hanging on the back of the trigger guard. The artist obviosly knew nothing about guns or how one is held ready.
  8. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Come on, folks, the artist, like today's anti-gun cartoonists with their wild renditions of "assault rifles", was making a political statement, not illustrating a book on firearms.

    Jim
  9. redwing carson

    redwing carson Former Guest

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    JimK so true. This is an anti-slave rendering. You will note the noble slave armed only with a knife. His head is high the slaver looks cowardly hiding behind his evil fowler. Their was a push at that time to arm slaves so they could take over the plantations. We all recall J Brown at Harper Ferry hoping to arm slaves from the U.S. armory and then Capt. Robert E Lee U.S. Army. The gun was only a prop.

    RC
  10. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    You might be right, but my reading was the opposite; I think the cartoonist was showing the black man as evil, almost an animal, with the stalwart white man defending his home, tradition, and Southern womanhood. It would help to know where the cartoon came from. If a Northern paper or book, you may be right; if a Southern source, my view would be more likely.

    In any case, that was a horrible time for the country and led to an even worse period.

    Jim
  11. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Member

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    As often is the case, replies stray from the issue. All he asked for was to ID the gun.;):D:)
  12. jmmymack

    jmmymack New Member

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    Jim--you most certainly are correct. The illustration accompanied a triumphant report in the Norfolk Herald of Virginia. These were certainly not "objective" reports; the illustrator, like the antebellum periodical journalists in the South, were certainly in the business of producing representations we might call racist.

    I guess another way to state my original inquiry might have been, is this indeed a generic gun or is the illustrator trying to create "realistic" portrait right down to the details. The fact that the illustrator isn't interested in the latter suggests to me, as it has to Jim, that the symbolism of the piece is its most important function.

    Thank you all very much for these thoughtful contributions!
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2011
  13. redwing carson

    redwing carson Former Guest

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    Darn it. It seems to be a promo for Uncle Toms Cabin.

    RC

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