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Original Rare U.S. Pennsylvania Long Rifle Signed By John Moll with Full Length Figured Stock - Circa 1805

Regular price $5,495.00

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Well this is a real treat! This is a wonderful late 18th Century U.S. "Pennsylvania" Long Rifle, sometimes called a "Kentucky Rifle". The thin stock with a gently curved butt is gives a shape of one of the most elegant weapons of the 18th Century. The Eastern Pennsylvania area had been originally been settled by immigrants from the German States, as well as those from nearby Moravia in what is today the Czech republic. The guns produced show the unmistakable influence of Central European firearms. The style then spread Westward, and eventually made its way down to the Ohio River valley into the Kentucky area.

This incredible example is signed on the top of the barrel John * Moll, who operated in the Northampton and Lehigh county areas of Eastern Pennsylvania, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Johannes Moll, the Moll family patriarch, first appeared on the tax assessment of “Northampton Town” (Allentown) for the year 1764, and his son (John Moll Sr. / II) would take over the business, and we believe this rifle is from the second generation. The family would go on to produce many other famous gunsmiths in the area. To see a nice list of all the members of the Moll family in the Lehigh / Northampton area, please see this lovely page at the Kentucky Rifle Foundation website: Northampton - Lehigh Gunsmiths. You will notice there are SEVEN well-known gunsmiths from the Moll family.

The 60 inch long gun features a smooth bore barrel of 45 inches with a bore of approximately 0.5". However, it is very possible that it was once a .30" or .39" rifle, which was worn down or smoothbored over the years to use as a fowling piece. While these rifles are beautiful works of art, they were just as famous for their effectiveness, and were made to be used. The beautiful well grained elegantly curved tiger maple full stock is carefully fitted with all brass mounts, characteristic of the style. An arstisan-made recently produced replica of a John Moll Sr. rifle by Eric von Aschwege can be seen at his website here:  John Moll Sr.. While the replica is more upmarket than our example, it definitely gives a good approximation of the style.

The rifle does not have a carved stock, as some early examples did, however it still is quite well ornamented. The left side of the butt stock has a lovely characteristic German style cheek rest, above which is a silver "hunters star" inlay, surrounded by a brass wire inlaid oval. The left side of the stock features a two piece patch box, retained by the characteristic 3 screw retained fitting. It is opened by sliding down button on the rear of the butt stock, which is no longer springy like it once was, so it does not hold it closed securely. The end of the cover features an engraved / stylized reversed C around the riveted end of the latch, a Moll family trademark. There is also some lovely brass wire inlay around the patch box as well.

The lock on this rifle looks to be a "Trade Lock", as we often see on these rifles, though it is possible that it is a working life replacement. We can make out "R" On the top line, and "PH" on the lower line, so it was most likely made by one of many makers in Philadelphia during the early 19th century. The other side of the rifle features a German-inspired Lehigh style brass side plate, with an arrow at the tail. The slender gently sloping design is a typical Lehigh county form. Another Allentown area specific trait is the "Liberty Head", engraved onto the brass hand guard on the underside of the stock. Also called an "Indian Head", this design is iconic, and definitely adds to the displayability of the rifle.

Condition of the rifle is very good, showing some old repairs to the stock around the lock and breech, but no major damage. The finish shows some of the original reddish varnish used during the late 18th / early 19th century, though other areas have become worn, and were possibly refinished. We have left the rifle untouched except for a quick wipe down to preserve its long history. We checked the lock, and it is functional, but does not appear to have a half cock position. The lock screws and tang screw all appear to be recent fabricated replacements, and it is very possible that some components inside the lock were replaced and/or serviced. There is a display replacement cleaning rod under the barrel, which is fitted with a simple notch rear sight and nickel blade front sight.

These very early LEHIGH flintlocks are so very rare and need to be preserved. Ready to cherish and display!


Year of Manufacture: c.1805
Caliber: approx .50" smoothbore
Cartridge Type: Ball and Powder
Barrel Length: 45 Inches

Overall Length: 60 Inches
Action type: Side Action Flintlock
Feed System: Muzzle Loading

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