Joseph Mills percussion conversion rifle

This rifle was made by Bedford County gunsmith Joseph Mills. Although worn, the signature on the 42-inch-long barrel is definitely that of Joseph Mills, and the handmade lock plate is signed "JM". The specific design of the eagle and the pointed element in the patchbox finial match other known Joseph Mills rifles, proving that stock was also made by Joseph Mills. Mills wasn't afraid to experiment with design, and the wonderful relief carving on the left side of the stock strays far from the traditional vine carving. The engraved patchbox door has an extra latch, apparently to ensure that the patchbox remains closed. The patchbox door is released by pushing in on the rear of the top part of the patchbox, near the buttplate, where some damage is evident. Push in there, and the patchbox flings open under spring power. The quality of the engraving on this rifle is excellent, and the engraved eagle inlay is superb.

The rifle was built with a rat tail flintlock that was later converted to percussion. The rifle was obtained in 2020 from a Somerset County, Pennsylvania family it had been in for years. The lock, tang, and associated bolts were missing when the rifle was sold at auction, but were found loose in a box a few weeks later by the "Picker" who put the rifle at auction, and reunited with the rifle! And so, this marvelous example of the work of Joseph Mills has been saved intact for another generation to enjoy.

The following four screen grabs from a video show the patchbox opening.

gunsmith project collaborative notice

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