Original U.S. Relief Carved Pennsylvania Long Rifle Attributed to John Moll with Full Length Figured Stock - Circa 1785

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 relief carved example is attributed to Johannes (John) Moll Sr., who operated in the Northampton and Lehigh county areas of Eastern Pennsylvania, in the late 18th century. It was featured on page 36 of Accouterments V by James R. Johnston. This unsigned rifle shows influence from other earlier Moravian makers located in the Christian Springs and Bethlehem areas. Johannes Moll and the Moll family patriarch, first appeared on the tax assessment of “Northampton Town” (Allentown) for the year 1764, and his son would take over the business. 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 63 inch long gun features a smooth bore barrel of 47 3/4 inches with a bore of approximately 0.52". However, it is very possible that it was once a .30" or .39" rifle, which was worn down over the years. 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 carefully fitted with all brass sculptured mounts is 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.. This gives a good approximation of what this fantastic example looked like when it was newly produced.

However this example probably looked a bit more ornate, as the many carvings, now faded from cleaning and wear, look to originally have all inlaid with brass wire, of which only a bit remains on the right side of the butt stock by the patch box. One can see large "Lancaster" style scrolls on the left side of the butt stock around the characteristic German style cheek rest, and these also look like they originally had brass inlay.

The left side of the stock features a two piece patch box, retained by the characteristic 3 screw retained fitting. It is opened by pressing on a screw button on top of the butt stock, and the end of the cover features an engraved / stylized reversed C around the riveted end of the latch, a Moll family trademark. The butt plate is about 1 7/8 inches wide, which going by other examples puts the production date of approximately 1785.

The lock plate on the rifle is the typical Germanic style, with beveled edges and molding at the tail. The inside of the lock plate is marked GVE. 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" incised into the bottom of the stock in front of the trigger guard tang. Also called an "Indian Head", this design is iconic, though on this example very hard to see due to wear in the stock. We suspect it was also originally inlaid with brass wire.

This wonderful long gun is what we call "A SLEEPER" in that it is totally untouched and unrestored probably an attic find. It has very old wood damage notably a section of the left side toe is missing and a slice of wood behind the flintlock hammer partially exposing the interior of the lock workings. The fore end has some barrel wood broken away with cracks down each side for five or six inches, crack in other areas but nothing that effects the form, function or solid feel of this wonderful rifle. All this damage is minor and could be easily restored if so desired but that is for the ultimate owner to decide. The lock still is fully functional, holding at half cock and firing at full. The ramrod also looks to be original, and has an iron fitting on the end.

We choose to offer this exceedingly rare Flintlock from the 18th century in all original condition. These very early LEHIGH flintlocks are so very rare and need to be preserved. Ready to cherish and display!


Year of Manufacture: c.1785
Caliber: approx .52" smoothbore
Cartridge Type: Ball and Powder
Barrel Length: 47 3/4 Inches

Overall Length: 63 Inches
Action type: Side Action Flintlock
Feed System: Muzzle Loading

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