Need help in identifing.........


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intimidator
October 1, 2003, 09:27 AM
I recently acquired an old Benchrest Percussion Rifle .68 ? caliber with the lock engraved J. Dana & co. Warranted.....Can anyone tell me more? Who, What, Where and When Thanks in advance.

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Mike Irwin
October 3, 2003, 02:18 PM
Could have been made by Dana, but chances are that just the lock was made by Dana.

There were a number of makers who supplied different parts of the firearm to gun makers.

4v50 Gary
October 3, 2003, 03:03 PM
Mike is right. Parts like locks, buttplates, trigger guards were recycled and reused often. Are there no markings on the barrel or on the stock?

Jim K
October 3, 2003, 10:31 PM
The only J. Dana shown in my sources was a flintlock rifle and musket maker in Canton, MA around 1815. I can find no Dana as an English maker, but the term "Warranted" is often found on English locks, which were used in large quantities by American rifle makers.

As Mike and Gary say, by the percussion period, very few American gunsmiths were actually making guns from scratch. A number of companies (e.g., J&D Little, in Pittsburgh - the Brownells of its day) were supplying barrels, stocks, locks, buttplates, patch boxes, etc. to the trade at prices that made it uneconomical for gun "makers" to make them on their own. If any part was made by the "smith" it was usually the stock. The typical shop of that period might have had a forge and a rifling machine in the corner, but it is a pretty good bet they weren't used.

Even in the early days, in Lancaster Co., one or two shops supplied most of the furniture. Books talk (for example) about a patch box being of the "Lancaster style", giving the impression that all the gunsmiths in an area just happened to like that style and adopt it. Actually, they just added their own art work to the plain items they bought from the mass producer, so naturally those used in the area would be in one of a few basic "styles".

Jim

intimidator
October 5, 2003, 11:29 AM
Thanks to all that have replied so far. There is a marking on the top of the barrel. I BELIEVE it is L.ADAMS UTICA I do not know if this is the name of the barrel manufacturer, gun maker, or the name of an owner. Can I get some help on this? The barrel is 37 inches long with a outside diameter of 1 1/4 inches and a bore of .68 inches.

Jim K
October 12, 2003, 10:44 PM
Hi, intimidator,

The barrel marking could be the original owner or the maker. If a barrel was bought, the actual barrel maker's name was usually stamped underneath. But here is some info that indicates L. Adams was the maker:

From Small Arms Makers, by Robert Gardner:

"Adams, Lyman - gunmaker, corner Main and Division Streets, Utica, NY, 1832 directory. See also Adams & McCoy."

"Adams & McCoy - 4 John Street, Utica, Oneida Co., NY., 1848-1851. Probably Lyman Adams. The census of 1850 indicates that they had $1000 invested in the business and employed two hands at a total of $80 per month. During the year ending June 1, 1850, they purchased 40 gun barrels at $100, locks and mountings at $100. During the same period, they made 40 rifles, valued at $800 [total], miscellaneous articles at $700, and repairs at $450."

There is no indication of the markings on the guns, but yours would indicate that "L. Adams", if he was the Adams of Adams & McCoy, used his own name instead of the name of the partnership/company, or that he made guns separate (before/after) from the company.

That barrels, locks and furniture were bought rather than made was, as I noted above, common in the late percussion era before the Civil War. The information also shows a bit about prices, with a completed rifle selling for $20, a considerable sum considering that a skilled shop hand was paid only $40 per month, though he might have gotten room and board. (For a general price conversion to 2003 dollars, multiply by at least 50 in that era, by 40 in the 1880-1914 era.)

HTH

Jim

intimidator
November 5, 2003, 01:52 PM
First I want to thank all of you that took the time to reply to my question on this heavy barrel shooter.

I also am curious about if anyone knows the general design of the sniper style rifles that were used during the civil war?:rolleyes:

4v50 Gary
November 5, 2003, 02:20 PM
Regarding the Union sharpshooter rifles, it could vary from the medium weight target rifle (14 pounds) to the very heavy scoped target guns that required paper patching, false muzzle, bullet starter, front barrel rest. Not all were scoped and some had iron sights. BTW, while these rifles were used throughout the war, they were never as popular as they were during the Peninsula Campaign. Being so heavy, many were exchanged for the lighter and handier Sharps rifle and why not? The recruiting ads promised a $100 bounty for every man who brought their own target gun and said bounty was never paid. Many sent their guns home. One unit had their knapsacks stolen and contained within those knapsacks were the crucial accoutrements (patch cutters, bullet molds, etc.) to service those guns. After the theft, they converted to Sharps.

Scoot down to the Smithsonian (or West Point) as they have period target guns. At the former, the gun carried by Berdan Sharpshooter James Ragin is presently on display.

The Confederates also had some heavy barrel target guns and some scoped rifles. While some were made domestically, others were imported from England. The most famous of these was the Whitworth.

For further reading pick up a copy of William B. Edwards Civil War Guns. BTW, if you must buy, buy directly from him. He'll autograph yours like he's done mine. :)

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