45. Superb American Percussion Sporting and Target Rifle attributed to John Belknap of St. Johnsbury, Vermont

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.28 caliber, 28" octagon barrel is turned at the muzzle for a starter and shows a bright excellent bore. This rifle is just wonderful. The gun features an action made of what appears to be German silver with what appears to be an integral skeleton stock which is wrapped in leather which is finely sewn along the interior edge. The barrel has a steel ramrod channel which extends nine inches from the action with a pair of wonderful steel ramrod ferrules which are both finely knurled on each end. The lock fits into the German silver frame flawlessly and is engraved in beautiful relief floral scroll which also appears on the opposite side of the frame. The frame also shows lovely border treatment at both the barrel and the stock, the top of the action shows a sunburst and geometric patterns used by Nimschke and others. The triggerguard is a finger loop style, made of the same material as the action and shows some light scroll engraving as well. The top of the frame also has an integral peepsight base which holds a lollipop style adjustable sight. The rifle is also equipped with adjustable double set triggers which function properly. This rifle is unique in design and exhibits wonderful quality and it has tons of condition. The only making on the barrel is a very light and only partially visible "INGTON / T STEEL", the remnants of REMINGTON / CAST STEEL". The marking is light and the barrel was obviously shortened when Belknap made the rifle and part of the Remignton marking was obliterated, after finishing, the balance is light. The condition of the rifle is wonderful with the barrel retaining about 95% original brown finish with just a little silvering on the high edges. The action shows a lovely mellow patina and the lock is a very smooth and even gray patina. The rifle is sighted with a Beach combination front, beautifully crafted open sporting rear and the previously mentioned lollipop tang sight. What appears to be the original ramrod with nickel silver fittings on either end is present. The leather covering on the skeleton stock is excellent with a small area worn through the leather on the left side of the butt. This rifle is featured in Vermont's Gunsmiths & Gunmakers to 1900 by Harry Phillips and Terry Tyler. They state that due to the quality, attention to detail, workmanship and the rear sight they attribute the rifle to John Belknap. John Belknap was a fine craftsman and mechanical genius having designed and built water wheels and turbines that generated power, 17 of the "water motors" he sold to and installed for the city of Springfield, Mass. He also built several boats as well as a steam engine. Born in St. Johnsbury in 1840, his percussion rifles were later being made between 1879 and 1888. His life was cut short at the age of 48 when he drowned trying to clear a timber from a dam he was building across the Passumpsic River to power his shop. Regardless of who made this rifle, it stands on its own as a truly fabulous and likely unique American percussion sporting and target rifle. (18786-1) {ANTIQUE} (3000/5000) SOLD FOR $5,750.00

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