A black powder double gun attributed to William Defibaugh

The unsigned half stock over-under muzzleloader double gun pictured below has been attributed to the Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith William Defibaugh (1814-1891) by two individuals with large collections of Bedford County rifles. I don't know what the basis of the attribution is, or know enough about William Defibaugh's work to have an opinion. Based on the Whiskers' 1991 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, I do know that several Bedford County gun makers used patch boxes with this same general style of finial, including John Amos, William Border, Joseph Mills, Jacob Snyder, Thomas Oldham, and Peter White. The 1991 book also shows that Elias Crissey of Somerset County used this style of patch box finial on at least one rifle. Joseph Mills and Peter White can be ruled out as the maker of this gun because they left Bedford County during the flintlock era. Thomas Oldham made at least six black powder double guns, and moved to Iowa circa 1855.

This is a fixed breech design with two locks, rather than a swivel breech gun. The upper barrel has a 38 caliber rifled bore, and the lower barrel has a 56 caliber smooth bore. One interesting feature is two ramrods, one mounted on each side of the gun.

The earliest known owner of this custom-made double gun was Levi Brallier, and the photos were provided by one of Levi's great-great-grandsons, who reported the William Defibaugh attribution. The photos were converted from old slides using a cell phone camera. Levi Brallier is buried in the Bethel Brethren Cemetery in Bedford County, Pennsylvania (near Brallier) where his tombstone indicates he was born on March 31, 1837 and died on April 5, 1924.

The first photo below provides a full length view of the right-hand side of this antique half-stock muzzle loading gun. The right-hand barrel key escutcheon is visible on the forearm. The forward end of the right-hand ramrod is held by two normal-sized brass thimbles, and the rearward end is held by a long brass tube. The front sight blade is relatively large, and appears to be silver. The half-stock forearm is capped with a brass fore end cap.

The next photo features the patch box side of the buttstock, with the camera focused on the four-piece brass patch box. The finial of the patch box has two piercings, and each side plate has a single piercing. It is difficult to tell if the patch box is engraved. The buttstock terminates in a crescent-shaped brass buttplate. The comb and belly of the buttstock are straight, as is typical with Bedford County long arms.

The following photograph provides an oblique view of the underside of the rear portion of the gun, and provides a good view of the grain in the curly maple stock. It also provides a view of the right-hand bolster, which is constructed from brass and has a vent screw. The brass toeplate on the underside of the buttstock is unusually long, and extends to within a few inches of the trigger guard.

The following image provides an oblique view of the upper side of the rearward part of this old black powder cap lock gun, providing a view of the interesting stock geometry at the front end of the comb.

The next picture features the patch box side of the buttstock, with the camera focused on the unsigned right-hand gun lock. The lock plate of this back action lock is engraved, and contrasts in color with the percussion hammer.

The following photograph provides an oblique view of the top of the breech area of the gun, highlighting the long brass tang atop the wrist. The right-hand ramrod projects from the rear of its support tube and abuts the right-hand bolster.

The next picture provides a full-length view of the left-hand side of this black powder double gun. The barrel key and its escutcheon are visible a little forward of midway on the forearm.

The following photograph provides an oblique view of the rear part of this old superposed muzzleloader, taken from the left-hand side, with the camera focused on the cheekpiece region. There are six fasteners securing the long toe plate to the stock. Looking inside the bow of the trigger guard, the triggers are a little out of focus, but clearly comprise an adjustable double set trigger arrangement. The set trigger is deeply curved, and the hair trigger is substantially straight. The shape difference allows each trigger to be identified by touch. The adjustment screw is visible between the triggers. I surmise that the trigger assembly operates on whichever hammer is cocked. Although out of focus, it seems apparent that the breech block of this firearm incorporates a laterally raised flash guard that projects up behind the percussion nipple. The guard would help to protect the gun lock from cap-related corrosion, in addition to helping to protect the shooter's eyes from flying cap debris.

The next photo shows the underside of the gun in the vicinity of the cast brass trigger guard, revealing the various decorative elements of the guard. The metal pins that secure both ends of the trigger guard to the stock are visible.

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