Muzzleldrs Rifle ID - 1795 Harpers Ferry

HotGravy

Cadet
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Greetings!

I need a little help in identifying a rifle. I believe it to be a 1795 Harpers Ferry flintlock rifle that was later converted to a percussion cap. All of this checks out on Google, but I don’t know if any/all of it is authentic.

My stepfather was a very active re-enactor before his passing, and the rifle was passed down to me with the little to no information, other than my mother mentioning that the man ’rarely bought cheap stuff.’ The rifle was water damaged in a basement flood many years ago and took on considerable rust, as well as dark water stains on the stock.

Recently, I’ve decided to restore it a bit, and get it back to looking good again. This has involved completely disassembling it. As I was analyzing the pieces, it seemed to me that the metal parts were old, while the wooden stock seemed relatively modern, by what I imagine a 225 year old piece of wood to look like. But, mine is a humble and very uninformed hypothesis.

Can you tell what I’ve got from the attached photos? Thanks for any help you can offer!
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Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
Some overall/full length pics would help. You can't always rely on dates stamped on the hardware as there was overlapping in production on some model muskets. But here's a few things to look for. If the butt stock has a cut out on the left side ( a cheek piece) and if it has finger ridges on the strap behind the trigger guard, it's probably a Model 1812. BUT some of these didn't have the cheek cut out. Until I see more pics I can't say 100%. I suspect it's more than likely a Model 1816 which as very little if any "comb" to the butt stock. The guns looks to be in overall good condition. No major rust. FWIW the Model 1812 didn't go into production until 1815. In 1816 a new model musket was adopted. In 1822 there were some minor changed made in this type. The most notable being the switch from the rear sling swivel attached with a stud and pin to riveting the rear swivel through the front of the trigger guard. The 1822 is really not a seprate Model but that is the most common smoothbore pattern you'll see today. I'll give you a dollar American fer it !!!!
 

captaindrew

Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 13, 2017
Location
West Palm Beach Florida
Welcome from South Florida and the Reenactors Forum, it indeed looks very nice, you're doing a great job cleaning it up. I have a similar piece also marked OHIO. Looking forward to seeing it all together.
 

drezac

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2014
Location
Baltimore,Ohio
The OHIO marking indicates that at one time it was in the inventory of the State of Ohio Arsenal. It was the common practice of the arsenal to mark all equipment with an OHIO stamp. From the beginning of the war to mid 1863, the State of Ohio practically emptied it's arsenal providing equipment for troops going into federal service. When the Ohio National Guard was in the process of being created in 1863-1864, Ohio received a large number of arms from the US Government, consisting of old obsolete guns, many were conversions from flintlocks. So it could either be from arms issued at the start of the war, or from the arms received when the Ohio National Guard was established.
 

rob63

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Location
Indiana
The ramrod is a reproduction, originals were forged as a single piece. This one has a separate head threaded onto the shaft, typical of reproductions, as evidenced by the line where the two pieces join.

There appear to be the remnants of some other markings that have been erased at the location where the ET marking is located. I think I can make out the date "1983", but I'm not sure.

I have never seen an Ohio marking that looks like that. There are variations, so it could be real, but it looks too fresh and the font is odd.

I can't put my finger on it, but the proof marks on the barrel just don't look right to me and the eagle on the lock doesn't look right either. Again, there are variations over time, so it doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it causes red flags to pop up for me.

In sum, I suspect this may be either a reproduction that has been defarbed (by someone with the initials ET) or possibly a combination of real and reproduction parts with some freshening up.

The fact that your father-in-law used it in re-enactments certainly adds credence to the idea, and his use of it would have added wear and tear that makes it even more convincing. Re-enactors are the target market for defarbed muskets.

I think the practice of defarbing is abhorrent as it causes questions just like this. Here is a link that shows what they do, it is very difficult to detect, especially when they start mixing real and reproduction parts.

 

HotGravy

Cadet
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
I’m happy to report - the mystery is solved. First off, thanks to everyone who took the time to reply; this forum is truly a wealth of knowledge.

I was really struggling wit this one. Some days I was convinced it was an original (or at least partially so) and then the next day I was convinced that it was a reproduction.

My biggest stumbling block was that I could not get the entire rifle disassembled. The firing mechanism would not come completely apart, and I had resigned myself to that, even if it meant not giving it a completely thorough cleaning (see first pic). My ‘Eurkeka’ moment came when I was able to uncock the rifle. I can’t remember how I did it or what prompted me to do so, but just as I gave up it seemed like I had one more bout of inspiration from somewhere to give it one last try. I was able to uncock it and lower the hammer, and in doing so, all of the tension that was keeping several parts married together, suddenly became released. Once I was finally able to get all of the parts removed, the maker’s mark revealed itself to me in what seems to be the unlikeliest of places (see second pic).

The mark, which was completely obscured by the metal, turned out to be that of Davide Pedersoli. At first, I wasn’t able to discern what it truly said due to its small size and cursive font, and so I spent some time running down dead ends on the Internet. Once I figured out what it said, it unfolded itself rather quickly.

As it turns out, this is a reproduction, but what I imagine to be a very good one. Here is a link to the Italian gunsmith’s site and to the rifle in question.

This rifle is VERY CLOSE to what I have, although the percussion nipple is a different color and appears to be in a slightly different place.

All that said, it is fully cleaned up and restored to my liking - although it took A LOT more time to do it than I had originally anticipated - although most projects worth doing tend to end up that way. It now has a proud spot in my home office, with the help of some repurposed railroad spikes.

Again, thanks to everyone for looking and sharing.

Dan

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Jeff in Ohio

Corporal
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
Glad you solved this mystery.
As mentioned before, that OHIO marking is different from the real ones.
One important point - this looks like it was made as a flintlock, and converted to a percussion arm with the nipple screwed into the top of the barrel. This method of converting the originals (the "Belgian Cone Conversion") proved to be troublesome, since that created a weak point in the barrel that could fail.
If you are just displaying this , no problem.
If it is being fire with blank cartridges, no problem.
But, if someone would pour a good deal of power down the bore, than ram down a lead bullet, that could be exciting but awful.
Because this looks like someone has sealed up the original place where a drum with nipple was screwed into the side of the barrel (this is the way the gun you linked to was made), it could be that your father had a private conversion done to create the historically common, but perhaps less safe "Belgian Cone Conversion" method where the nipple was screwed into the top of the barrel
 

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