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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have an old muzzleloader that was passed down from my great-grandfather who came to America in 1860. Family legend has it that he brought this piece with him. It appears that it was originally a flintlock but somewhere along the way it was converted to a percussion firearm. The stock has been extended which makes me think that the piece may be quite old.

Markings: an archiepiscopal cross (two horizontal on one vertical member)
script name, H Schafer followed by Mayence

I believe Mayence is a town/city in Germany.

This much information may give the pro enough to identify the piece and possible age.

I am fairly sure the conversion (if that is actually what was done) decreased the value of the piece. However, so that some determination can be made I add the following description:

Wood: dark and appears to be beryl wood extending full length to the end of the barrel. The wood is capped at the muzzle by two inlayed white rings (possibly ivory) and a 2 inch piece of dark wood which is straight grained.
The forearm has recessed engraving in the wood with dimples throughout, spaced at about 3/8 inch. This artwork is also present on the grip. The stock has a cheekpiece for a right-handed shooter.

Brass: the trigger guard is brass with decorative "flourish" both ahead and behind the trigger. The rear extention of the trigger guard also has a scroll of brass. The ramrod has a brass cap and the wood appears to be ebony. There is brass inlay scrollwork on the left side of the reciever (the side opposite the hammer).

The piece has a hair trigger and set trigger.

That should be enough for now. Any information would be greatly appreciated
 

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Welcome to TFF.

Mayence is (or was) another spelling of Mainz, across the Rhine from Wiesbaden.

Clear photos would help confirm if it was converted from flintlock, and the condition.
 

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That is good info, but not enought to help identify the gun. Can you provide good clear pictures of the markings and both sides of the lock and breech areas, as well as pictures of the buttstock and muzzle area. An overall picture would be good, also.

FWIW, Mayence is the French name for Mainz; the use of that spelling on something made there might date it to the Napoleonic era c. 1800 when the area was under French control. I can't find that name for any location elsewhere.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Welcome to TFF.

Mayence is (or was) another spelling of Mainz, across the Rhine from Wiesbaden.

Clear photos would help confirm if it was converted from flintlock, and the condition.
Thanks for the reply. Now I know a little more about the history of this piece. I'll submit photos as soon as I get the camera charged up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the reply, Jim. I'm working on posting photos of the piece and looking forward to any information you or others may pass on.
 

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Good pics, but how about closeups of the lockplate, the marking, and the sideplate (opposite the lock plate).

Jim
 

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Even though plugged holes are not obvious in the pictures, I have no doubt that the rifle was converted from flint to percussion. The fit (or lack of it) of the lockplate to the bolster, and the whole style of the rifle indicate a percussion conversion of a rifle that was originally flintlock and made well before the percussion era. My WAG would be 1750 or even earler.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
wow, Buffalo Chips, you have a good eye - i wouldn't have noticed it from the photo.

but, no, they are not plugs. what you see are (i don't know what to call it) patina spots. but it's iron, not brass or bronze, so it's really not patina. maybe i should use the more technical term, "goober".
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
reply to Jim

you've confirmed my suspicion that it was a conversion. the barrel has obvious "rifling", if you will let me call it that. you can see in the photo of the head-on shot that the groves are quite deep. i inspected with my bore light, and as far as i could see down, the rifling was continuous.

my question is this: i have always assumed that flintlocks were smoothbore rifles. so, what am i looking at?

now, given that we know the approximate age and that it is a conversion, i have to ask if it has value or does the conversion null everything?

finally, if it has value, can you give me an idea of what that might be, and, if i'm so inclined, where would be a good place to put it up for sale?
 

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Rifling dates to the 15th century, even before the flintlock system. It was not common for military arms because rifles had to be loaded carefully, usually requiring a patch or some method of expanding the ball into the rifling where smooth-bore "muskets" could be loaded just by dumping in powder and ramming the ball.

But rifling was common for hunting and target rifles in Germany for centuries and since it was mainly German gunsmiths who immigrated to the U.S., they naturally brought the idea with them. The result was the American rifle, called either the "Kentucky rifle" from where it was used, or the "Pennsylvania rifle" from where the earliest ones were made.

That rifle, in fact, looks quite a bit like a Pennsylvania rifle, and I thought at first that was what it was.

The barrel is shorter and the caliber larger than the typical American rifle, reflecting both the cost of lead in the (then) colonies and the distances involved for the pioneers; the smaller caliber allowed more shots for a given weight of lead.

Incidentally, it has been often said that German rifles were heavy and clumsy, and that they did not use patches and so needed thick iron ramrods. I submit that that German rifle is light and clearly has a wood ramrod. The patchbox, like the early American ones, has a sliding wood cover, not a brass one like later American rifles.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
thank you for the very interesting explanation of what I was wondering about, Jim.

do you have any idea what the piece may be worth? if not, could point me in the direction of someone or some group like this who may have?

and, if you do have some sort of estimate of value, where might I put the piece up for sale?
 

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I really have no idea of the value of that gun. I tried checking a couple of German sites, but I saw nothing that old and of course, like most firearms of the period, it would have been the product of a small shop with limited priduction. If I had to guess, I would say $2000, but please understand that that is a wild guess. Letters to museums (with good 8x10 color photos might get a response, but I am not sure the value would make that approach worthwhile.

Jim
 
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