Kentucky Rifle, ca. 1810
Appraised Value: $20,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:06)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: I inherited it from my aunt about 15 years ago. My uncle was... collected guns, and my aunt collected antiques. So it was sort of an ideal acquisition by them. It was always my aunt's gun, despite the fact my uncle was the gun collector. They purchased it in the late '30s, um, from a farmer in Massachusetts. That's really about all I know. I've tried to get some information off the Web and don't know much other than it's... it's a beautiful gun.
APPRAISER: It's a Kentucky rifle, but made in Pennsylvania. If we turn the gun over and we come down, we'll see where the keyhole parameters are. They're actually engraved. The other thing is it has a wonderful little forend rail, a little forend line that's been carved in it, the inside's carved. That's actually very nicely done. If you come to the back here, we'll see these two wonderful C-scrolls done almost like in the manner of a furniture maker. These are really nicely executed, really delicate. They're very, very pretty and attractive. And we can follow this carving. It comes all the way around the gun and then terminates here at the patch box. Now, if we look here on top of the barrel, we'll see there is no maker, nor is there a designation for the area where it's made. But if we move back here to the patch box on this gun, which is also just really wonderfully executed, very nice, it terminates in this daisy, right? And with that daisy, we can identify the area that this gun was made.
APPRAISER: So this gun would have been made in either York or Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which is really nice. We don't know the maker, but we certainly know the area. The gun was probably made sometime between 1810, 1815. It's the golden era of the Kentucky rifle. It's really a wonderful gun.
GUEST: What would somebody have used this for?
APPRAISER: It is almost like art. It's a subsistence rifle; it's made to put food on the table.
APPRAISER: Absolutely. You could protect yourself with it. You'd spend a lot of money on something that keeps you alive. That's the mark of who you are, was the rifle that you carried. Any idea as to what this would be worth?
GUEST: Well, my aunt and uncle paid $13 for it in the late '30s. There's so much information that it's... it's meaningless to me. I mean, you see numbers that are all over the board. So I have no idea what it's worth.
APPRAISER: Well, one of the things that really helps this gun is this total undisturbed patina, the finish, just the color of the wood. It's curly maple, it's just untouched, I mean, right out of the barn. That's what collectors like today-- they really like the things out of the attic. And if I had this and I were going to sell it at a retail price, I'd want 20,000 for it. It's a fantastic rifle.
GUEST: Really? Twenty grand?
APPRAISER: $20,000, absolutely.
GUEST: I mean, it hangs on the... on the wall in my office.
APPRAISER: I'll tell you, as I said, one of the things that makes it so valuable is that it hasn't been messed with. It's yours to do with whatever you like, but I would definitely recommend that these just stay completely untouched.
GUEST: I want it to stay looking like it does.
APPRAISER: You can oil the metal surfaces. Leave all the silver, the brass and the wood alone. It's a fantastic... it's a really wonderful rifle.
GUEST: Thank you very much.
APPRAISER: If somebody had really polished the wood, shined the brass, the silver, you could knock it in half.
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