This is a very good example of Long Rifle made by one of the better known gunsmiths from the Jamestown School of gun makers in Guilford County, North Carolina during the 1850's. Bore appears to be about .38 Caliber, percussion ignition, half stock w/brass cap, and 38 octagon barrel. The stock is Maple with brass furniture and no patchbox. This particular rifle was found last year in Greensboro, NC...which is located in the same County and practically connected to Jamestown. The left side of the barrel is marked "A. LAMB" for Anderson Lamb with the Roman numeral Five. The marking is a bit hard to read after 150+ years but we've been told its definitely Lamb's work.
Anderson Lamb lived from 1815-1891 and is noted by local Guilford County historian C. Michael Briggs as the most prolific of all Jamestown rifle makers. The following is paraphrased from Mr. Brigg's excellent Pamphlet on Jamestown Rifle makers (Note: If you'd like one, I think I found my copy at Greensboro Historical Museum a few years back and sell for only $7.00...money well spent for so many years of research.) The 1860 census noted that Anderson he produced 200 rifle guns annually but he was also known for making barrels and rifling barrels for other Jamestown makers using a powered water mill located on Bull Run Creek. During the Civil War, he was a sub-contractor of barrels and other parts for another Jamestown maker and nephew, HC Lamb, who built and delivered 532 Lamb rifles to the Confederacy and the State of North Carolina 1862-64. There were even a few Jamestown Rifles that ended up in the hands of Confederate troops during the Civil War...particularly the 20th Alabama which purchased 59 rifles supplied by J.H. Lamb. Several letters have survived from the Lamb's business trip into the Deep South from Dec. 1860 through Feb. 1861. See Chapter XXXII of Confederate Rifles and Muskets by Murphy.
Anderson Lamb later went into business with his son, Jesse who took over the business in the 1870's. This particular rifle appears was most likely built by Lamb during the 1850's as it appears to have Lamb's early type signature "A. LAMB" used from 1850-60. Some time after the war, it was changed to A. LAMB & Co. after his son came on board. Briggs also notes that the Jamestown school was the largest school of riflemakers in the South for over a century. Culturally speaking, the Jamestown rifle's heritage and style is derived from the early settlers of Guilford County made up of the Scots-Irish (or Scottish from Ireland), German, and English settlers who moved from PA, MD, and DE through the Shenandoah Valley via the Great Wagon Road from 1730-1775. Once settling in places like North Carolina, many of their offspring moved further into the Southeast into SC, GA, AL, etc. to farm their own land. Briggs further notes that many of the descendants of these earliest settlers had strong cultural and stylistic ties to Southeastern Pennsylvania. In fact, many of the Lockplates and double set triggers found on Jamestown rifles were typically out-sourced parts from Pennsylvania makers.
This rifle has two features that Briggs notes are very prominent on most Jamestown rifles. It has a long barrel tang with a rounded end secured by 3 screws and a double-strapped front sight with brass bases secured by two dovetails instead of the usual single dovetail. Briggs notes that approximately 90% of Jamestown rifles have this type upper tang and 70% will have the double-dovetailed front sight. In addition to those two commonalities, the stock is characteristically thinner than other NC schools with a flat cheek piece and a lower stock comb---indicative of pre-civil war era manufacture. This rifle has a lockplate marked G. Goulcher with double set triggers...an out-sourced component as many makers did not build their own locks. This seems to follow the norm for 19th century long rifle makers. The brass buttplate has beveled sides as do the bases of the trigger guard. Ramrod pipes beneath the barrel are all made of brass. If you look very closely, there's even a little bit of simple border-line zig zag style engraving on the large brass eyelet for the lock plate screw and the third ramrod pipe where it inlets into the stock. Rear sight is a standard non-adjustable semi-buckhorn. The front sight however is a work of art! The blade is a low-profile blade made of German silver while the two bases are made of delicate brass with flared out edges. Having no patchbox, it was built for someone who didn't have a lot of money but probably needed a good rifle to put meat on the table. This rifle's simple but elegant style seems congruent to Anderson Lamb's business philosophy. Brigg's pamphlet notes an adverstisement Anderson Lamb ran in the Greensboro Patriot:
"RIFLE GUNS I keep constantly on hand at my shop two miles North of Jamestown a supply of SUPERIOR RIFLE GUNS which will be sold at reasonable prices....address is Jamestown, Guilford County. N.C. A. Lamb"
Overall condition is NRA Antique Very Good overall. For a working man's rifle which often lived a hard life, this one is in better than average shape. For starters, its all there and complete...only non-original part appears to be the ramrod which is made of aged hickory and matches up well to the rifle. The metal has turned to a smooth brown patina some light pitting on the right side of the barrel near the nipple/bolster....common to most percussion rifles from the 19th century. The brass furniture has turned to a fantastic patina and over 150 years ranging from to a rich butterscotch coloration to almost black around the trigger guard. The stock is maple and quite attractive. It still retains 65% of its original varnish or shellac. Over the years, shellac has a tendency to turn dark and grow opaque resulting in greater contrast to the more worn areas and edges where the lighter colored maple is exposed. This rifle has got just such a look. The majority of wear is from carry wear along the forend which has exposed some nice tiger striped or curly maple. Aside from a little bit of burnout just in front of the nipple drum on the wood, the stock is remarkably solid with no noteworthy flaws. All in all, a very good example of a North Carolina made Long Rifle from a well-known Jamestown maker.