Unsigned Frederick Sheets rifle

Frederick Sheetz worked in Hampshire County, VA. (See Gunsmiths of Virginia by James B. Whisker, page 61.) He was one of the gunsmiths who got contracts from the state to build rifles for the militia prior to the War of 1812. A number of his contract rifles survive along with a few of his civilian arms.

This rifle is a small, delicate example of his work. Unfortunately I do not have exact measurements. When I purchased it the barrel had been shortened and it had been converted to percussion. The photographs here were taken prior to any restoration work.

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This photograph, taken with raking light, shows the very low relief typical of the carving on rifles from this region. (top)

The symmetrical arrow point finial is a popular variation of the more familiar spiral flower patchbox seen in the northern Shenandoah Valley.

Using round gouge cuts in engraving was popular with several Valley makers.

The use of rectangular nails, instead of the usual round pins, to attach inlays is a Frederick Sheets detail found on the work of only a few other makers.

The English style import grade lock was originally a flintlock.


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