The area of Eastern Berks County surrounding the Kutztown region (as well as extending in a northerly direction through Greenwich and into Albany township at the base of the Blue Mountain) is particularly noted for Federal period rifles which display more “folk-art” influence of the Pennsylvania German culture than anywhere else in the state. Some of the gunmakers who are known to have worked within this area apparently were not full-time gunsmiths but rather were farmers, generalized smiths, stonemasons etc., while others would appear not to have undergone a formal apprenticeship. This somewhat informal approach to the trade carries through into many of the surviving rifles as they variously display awkward (yet equally charming) architecture, whimsical decorative details and the occasional use of bone or horn as distinctive elements of the rifles’ design.
Very often the workmanship of these pieces falls short when compared to the more developed work of surrounding Lehigh, Bucks and Montgomery counties (as well as the more western areas of Berks County itself, i.e. Reading), however the entire picture presented by these pieces really “works” and it is impossible to be anything but fascinated and strongly attracted to such odd rifles.
Reminiscent of the Rockland-Kutztown area as well as the Angstadts, this rifle is not copied from any specific original but is quite representative of a ‘type’ which was regionally common ca. 1790s through the early decades of the 19th century. It can be viewed as being extremely ‘hasty’ and primitive in design and style. This rifle has been aged to reflect a good deal of usage, though not to the level of an outright ‘fake.’