An important full-stocked Pennsylvania flintlock rifle by Frederick Sell
Lot 3276ANTIQUE
An important full-stock Pennsylvania flintlock rifle by Frederick Sell
Sold for US$ 25,740 inc. premium
Lot Details
An important full-stock Pennsylvania flintlock rifle by Frederick Sell
Littlestown School, circa 1810-20
Blued 42 1/2 inch octagonal barrel with eight-groove rifling in .50 caliber; brass fore-sight and open iron rear sight; breech inlaid with a 1 5/8 inch long brass plate with worn signature Fredrick Sell. Reconverted lock. Finely engraved brass patchbox with six piercings and C-scroll finial of characteristic form for this maker. Brass ramrod thimbles, fore-end cap, triggerguard, buttplate and engraved toe plate. Cheekpiece inlaid with oval silver plaque engraved with owner's name A.J. Barnes. Full striped maple stock; fore-end incised with two lines framing the ramrod trough and relief-carved with scrollwork below the lower thimble; buttstock finely relief-carved with scrollwork at the barrel tang, the left side of buttstock with scrolls in front of the cheekpiece, a scroll panel below it and behind it scrolls, shell forms and a blossom; the right side with incised and partial relief scrollwork panel in front of the patchbox. Top of wrist inlaid with vacant oval silver escutcheon, the sides with small rectangular silver plates. Behind the toe plate an oval mother-of-pearl plaque framing a button for the patchbox release, which is not functioning.
Condition: Fine to excellent. Barrel retains perhaps 30-40% original blue finish mixed with brown patina and showing some light pitting at breech. Touch hole bushed. Lock reconverted as noted above. Patchbox missing one screw. Some loss to face of fore-end cap. Wood generally very clean with crisp edges and carving and showing one 2 1/2 inch sliver missing to left side of fore-end, a replaced piece at the upper rear of lockplate, small chip below counterplate, repaired hairline cracks at right side of fore-end and rear of lockplate and with partial crack at the toe of the buttstock.
See Illustration

Footnotes

  • Note: This important and previously undocumented example of Sell's work was, by family history, purchased by the consignor's father in the 1920s and probably from Francis Bannerman & Company.
    Frederick Sell, 1781-1869, Littlestown, Pennsylvania, is widely regarded as one of the finest and most important of the Pennsylvania rifle makers. Son of the gunmaker Jacob Sell, and though apprenticed to his father, he evidently also worked as a journeyman with George Eister, John Lechner and Adam Ernst, as noted by Joe Kindig, Jr. in Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in it's Golden Age. These associations helped Sell refine his own designs and become, as Kindig asserts, one of the great masters of Kentucky rifle making. See pages 407-424 for a discussion of Sell and illustrations of his work and page 418 for images of a rifle that is nearly a pair with the present example.
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Contacts
  1. Paul Carella
    Specialist - Arms and Armor
    Bonhams
    Work
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    Work +1 415 503 3360
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  2. Wes Sparling
    Specialist - Arms and Armor
    Bonhams
    Work
    220 San Bruno Avenue
    San Francisco, 94103
    United States
    Work +1 415 503 3408
    FaxFax: +1 415 503 3300