Page 171 - 4090-BOOK3
P. 171

    LOT 3288
Historic Highly Embellished Patriotic Themed German Silver Mounted and Engraved Back Action Percussion Half-Stock Rifle Presented by Joseph Lewis and Won by Sergeant William Watts at the New York First Company Union Riflemen Match in 1839 - NSN, 45 cal., 36 inch
part octagon bbl., brown/casehardened/German silver finish, walnut stock. This very attractive early percussion rifle was recorded in the 8th Edition of “Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values” on page 523. It has a rifled, two-stage barrel with a German silver front sight, notch rear sight, and coned/relieved muzzle. The latter gives it the appearance
of a shotgun at first glance. The main bore measures .45 caliber while the smooth section towards the muzzle is around .56 caliber. The lock has scroll engraving and a dog chasing a bird. The rifle is fitted with an adjustable single set trigger, and there are two small taps on the upper tang from a potential peep sight. The furniture is engraved German silver. The patchbox has an engraved scene of a dog chasing a buck on the lid, pierced sideplates, and a stylized pineapple finial. The patchbox compartment has a shallower round section at the butt and a deeper rectangular section at the front. The long toeplate has three small compartments for caps or spare nipples. There is an accent plate on the left side of the butt depicting a spread wing bald eagle. The large cheekpiece plate has military officers, colors, a cannon a bald eagle, a banner reading “UNION RIFLEMEN” over the inscription “PRESENTED/ by/JOSEPH LEWIS ESQ/to the/First Company Union/Riflemen” and a lower “WE ARE ONE” inscription in a banner. The side plate design is the same design on a broadsheet for the First Company of Union Riflemen from August 22, 1840, in the collection of the University of Rochester. An oval inlay on the left side of the wrist reads “The/Col. Rd M. Johnson.” The wear plate on the bottom of the forend is inscribed “WON BY/SERGT WM WATTS/at a Target excursion of the/Company to Caldwell/July 31st 1839.”
The First Company Union Riflemen was based in New York City. Their early history is detailed in “New York Military Magazine Volume 1” from 1841 which states: “The First Company Union Riflemen of the city of New York was raised by Samuel S. Parker in the winter and spring of 1836. The company is now attached to the 142d regiment, 64th brigade and 32d division of New York State Infantry, commanded by Colonel N. Carroll; but was, at the time of its formation, attached to the 51st regiment, 3d brigade, commanded
by Colonel, afterwards Brigadier General W.B. Lewis, so favorably known as one of the best informed and efficient officers attached to the infantry of
our state, and as particularly partial to the rifle...”The unit was raised out of concerns of conflict with France. Their dark brown uniform was inspired by Governor Houston of Texas, and they are listed as using 60 bore percussion rifles with three foot barrels and sword bayonets. They held an annual ball at Tammany Hall. Colonel Richard Mentor Johnson (1780-1850) of Kentucky was a hero of the Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812 and Tecumseh’s War. During the battle, Tecumseh was killed leading to the collapse of the confederated Native American resistance. In 1839, he was the vice president of the United States. His campaign slogan was “Rumpsey Dumpsey, Rumpsey Dumpsey, Colonel Johnson killed
Tecumseh.” He was a Democrat, and
Tammany Hall held dinners in his
honor in the period. The identities of
the other two men are less clear. Both
names were common. William Watts
was clearly a sergeant in the Union
Riflemen based on the inscriptions, and
the “ESQ” indicates Joseph Lewis was a
lawyer/attorney, likely in New York City.
CONDITION: Very good. The lock and
barrel have dark brown patina, mild oxidation
and pitting, and general mild overall wear. The German silver
displays attractive aged patina, crisp engraving and inscriptions, and minor marks and scratches. The nicely refinished
stock is also fine and has attractive figure showing through the finish on the butt,
minor dings and scratches throughout,
faint signs of a repaired tension crack at the breech on the left, and general minor wear. Mechanically fine. This is a very attractive and interesting presentation rifle from the late 1830s. At that time, the U.S. military was still using primarily flintlock muskets. New York was one of the leading states for marksmanship and was later the founding place of the National Rifle Association to continue to encourage marksmanship after the Civil War.
Estimate: 7,500 - 12,000

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