Antique gunsmithing tap and die set, Somerset County, Pennsylvania

This hand-forged tap and die set was in the bucket with the 19th century gun parts that were found on the Southampton Township, Somerset County PA Lepley farm in the early 1970's. Note that the end of the male-threaded part is flattened for a wrench, much like modern taps.

The major thread diameter on the tap is 0.173", and the overall length of the die is 3-1/8". The tool is made from a ferrous material. The tap does not fit the wrench handle that was part of the gunsmithing tools.

At the time this gunsmith tap and die set was manufactured, the die was referred to as a "screw plate". For an example of such a description, see the 1830 inventory of Fayette County gunsmith Peter White, which refers to "2 screw plates and 7 taps" (reproduced in the book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties" by Wisker & Wisker). I have seen advertisements for modern jewlers "screw plates" where a single plate has a number of holes for threading various sizes of screws. Early examples of sets of modern round dies are sometimes referred to in the sets as "screw plates", suggesting that the term could also refer to a plate with a single threading hole.

Here are some older photos of the antique gunsmithing tap and die set:

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