Kentucky Rifle- Can Anyone tell me what this is?


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varmintsunlimited
June 10, 2010, 01:11 AM
I recently inherited this .36 caliber Kentucky long rifle- I can trace it to my grandfather but no one in the family can tell me where he got it- looks to be much older than his time. I have attached pictures. The only indentifying marks on the rifle are located on the lock itself. As you can see in the photo's the words stamped into the lock are:

"G.W. LEONARD & SON" - "MADISON" - "INDY"

Can you tell me anything about this rifle- where it was made, by whom, how old it may be? Does it have any value. I have the original nipple that was recently changed due to the corrosion on the original so it could me made safe to shoot. I appreciate any insight you may be able to offer.

Thanks

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bogus mcall
June 10, 2010, 11:38 AM
Don't know anything about it, but it sure looks like a nice one!

varmintsunlimited
June 10, 2010, 01:40 PM
I just received this information from a historical reference:

Your gun is called a "half-stock percussion rifle". It was probably made by the man mentioned on the lock.

Not much to go on, but I guess its a start- can anyone tell me what era the "half-stock percussion rifles were made"- maybe venture to guess how old this rifle may be?

Thanks for you help!!

deadin
June 10, 2010, 02:10 PM
The period of the "Half-stock Percussion Sporting Rifle" was from the early 1840's through the 1870's although a few were still being made up to the turn of the century. They are generally put into 3 categories, Eastern, Southern and Western with the western makers being more collectible than the others.
I have several what are called "Ohio half stocks" (Eastern). Yours would be similar. However, the name on the lockplate doesn't necessarily mean that is the gunmaker, only the lockmaker. Many of these rifles were made by what I call "farmer/gunsmiths". They would make a few rifles over the winter when farming was lax. Many times they would use "store-bought" parts, such as the lock, findings triggerguards, buttplates,etc. Sometimes they would make their own. Much of the time the maker didn't mark his work, when they did it was usually on the barrel, but not always.

Question on yours... Do you have to set the trigger (pull the rear trigger) before it will hold a full cock? Also, does it have a half (safety) cock?
Two of mine must be set before cocking and have no half-cock. When I first got one I figured that something was broken but found out that this is not uncommon. Rifles set up this way were intended strictly for target shooting so there was no need for a safety notch. You toed the line, set the trigger, cocked and capped, and fired. No walking around with a loaded & primed gun.

Jim Watson
June 10, 2010, 02:41 PM
The only Leonard - George Leonard - that I could google was a riflemaker in New Hampshire.
He typically marked his guns on the barrel and used locks from one of the specialist lockmakers like Golcher or Brazier.

Probably not your guy.

Indeed, your Leonard and Son might well have been lockmakers themselves, since that is where the name appears. I think this a late enough gun to have been built by a stockmaker using commodity barrel and lock, instead of the Pennsylvania-Kentucky one man shop tradition.

deadin
June 10, 2010, 03:19 PM
I've a listing for two George Leonards. One is the one Jim found: George O. Leonard, General gunsmith Keene, NH 1859-1869. The other is listed as George Leonard, Charlestown, Mass. 1850-1855. Maker of pecussion pepperboxes with saw-handles. Got a couple of other Leonards, but none with the right initials and none from Indiana.

Regardless, it's still a collectible rifle and a family gun to boot:D:D

varmintsunlimited
June 10, 2010, 03:38 PM
All-

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my request for information regarding this rifle. All this combined information is beginning to paint a picture for me. I am bound and determined to uncover the history behind this rifle no matter how long it takes and how many rocks I have to turn> So thanks again for all your input.

varmintsunlimited
June 10, 2010, 04:23 PM
From Bonham's & Butterfield are the guys that do Antiqes Road Show.

"Your rifle is correctly called a half-stock percussion rifle and was probably built between 1840 and 1860 although this type of gun was built somewhat later also. There is no listing for G.W. Leonard in any of the standard references although there were many small gunmakers in Indiana during this period. You might check the top of the barrel carefully and see if there are any markings there. Usually American rifle makers put their maker marks on the barrels as that was the main item they made. Many also made the stock and some made the furniture, i.e. triggerguard, buttplate, etc. The locks were usually purchased as the mechanism is difficult to manufacture so the lock markings rarely indicate the maker. Value for this type of firearm generally runs between $500 and $1500. Let me know if you find any markings on the barrel or if you have any other questions.

Sincerely,

James Ferrell, Specialist, Arms & Armor Dept."

deadin
June 10, 2010, 05:26 PM
The price range listed is about right. However your half-stock is pretty plain (no patchbox, no inlays, an unknown maker, etc.) so it will fall into the lower range on value.
The gun looks good. How's the bore?? If nice it will help in the value.

KodiakBeer
June 10, 2010, 05:46 PM
Well, obviously, at least the lockmaker (and possibly the gunmaker) was in Madison, Indiana.

I happen to know that Madison is a tourist area capitalizing on its old riverboat past.

If you contact the Jefferson County Historical Society, they can probably tell you about the maker: http://www.jchshc.org/

After further thought, they may be interested in purchasing the rifle...

Curator
June 10, 2010, 06:09 PM
The drum looks to be a replacement, not just the nipple. How about a picture of the whole rifle. Is there a cheek rest on the butt stock? The style appears to be "mid-western", not Pennsylvania/Kentucky. Check the underside of the barrel to see if it is marked by the maker.

varmintsunlimited
June 10, 2010, 07:48 PM
I just sent the rifle back to the gunsmith to have him pull it all apart to look for any markings- so I will know here shortly if there is anything on the underside of the barrel. Also- Thank you for the link to the Madison historical reference- I just emailed them and believe that will be my best shot at getting to the bottom of this deal. I have included a few more pic's of the stock etc. per the last post!!

Again thank you all for your input- I am very excited about all the responses!!

KodiakBeer
June 10, 2010, 08:29 PM
Keep us posted!

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