Pennsylvania Percussion Rifle, ca. 1840

Value (2011) | $12,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
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GUEST:
This rifle has been passed through my family for six generations. It goes back to my great-great-great-grandfather. It came to me about 12 years ago from a great-uncle. I remember seeing this gun when I was five or six years old. My great-grandfather was still alive. He brought it out, showed it to me, and very proud of that item back then. And I'm proud of it today.

APPRAISER:
When was your great-great-great-grandfather alive?

GUEST:
Well, he was born...I don't have the exact dates, but in early 1820s, 1830s. I don't know where he acquired the gun or how he acquired the gun or what he used it for.

APPRAISER:
So do you know who made the gun?

GUEST:
Well, the gun is signed by an "A. Daniels."

APPRAISER:
Well, you're correct in that the barrel is signed right here, "A. Daniels." Adam Daniels, the gunsmith, was recorded as being active in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
From the 1820s to 1840s.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
So all the elements of the story fit into place. Your great-great great-grandfather, was it?

GUEST:
Correct.

APPRAISER:
He probably purchased it new. It's actually quite common for rifles during this period to have been made with engraved silver and brass overlays. But what really impresses me is the number of them. They're scattered along the barrel, and they're scattered along the wrist here. And then this is engraved brass here. Really elaborate. He must have paid quite a bit of money for it. But what really struck me more out of anything is that right here we have what appears to be a fish.

GUEST:
Now, I thought that was perhaps a bird's eye.

APPRAISER:
Could be a bird's eye.

GUEST:
A quail, perhaps.

APPRAISER:
Quail. But what's interesting is that he created this figure with a mother-of-pearl plaque. And that feature is, to me, really unique. I've really never seen it on another gun. Have you given any thought to the value?

GUEST:
I... I have absolutely no idea of value. We've never had it appraised.

APPRAISER:
I think normally, engraved overlays of this type of rifle would generally go for about $5,000 to $7,000.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
But I think with the extent of the overlays that you have, and with, again, this little mother-of-pearl feature, I would say that at auction, the gun would probably make somewhere between $12,000 to $15,000.

GUEST:
Wow. I never expected it could be of that value, but that... that's, uh, very, very interesting to know and it's exciting to know.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2011)
$12,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Event
Pittsburgh, PA (August 13, 2011)
Period
19th Century
Form
Rifle

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