Antique THOMAS HESS FLINTLOCK
Here we present an antique Thomas Hess Flintlock Musket, made circa the mid-19th Century in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Thomas Hess was the great-grandson of German immigrant gunmaker John Frederick Hess, who arrived in the colony of Pennsylvania in 1753. He was a gunmaker by trade and first lived in Philadelphia before moving his family to Lynn Township. His youngest son, Philip, continued in his father’s footsteps, becoming a gunmaker and producing two sons, each of which were gunmakers. Jonas was Thomas Hess’s father, and Thomas and his four brothers all became gunsmiths themselves. Jonas’s brother, Philip Jr., built a water-powered factory to build rifles close by in nearby Heidelberg Township (also in Lehigh County), the Hess Gun Factory, which at its peak employed 20 men! This factory operated from about 1832 to 1872, which is just as most people in the United States were looking to arm themselves with a newfangled breechloading rifle such as a Henry, Spencer, Maynard, or soon to be Winchester.
This rifle features a nearly 41-inch part-octagonal, part-round barrel in .60 caliber mounted in a full-length maple stock. The maker’s signature is on top of the barrel. There is an engraved patchbox set into the right side of the stock. The patchbox has a latch at the rear for positive closure and is long and bullet-shaped. Opposite the patchbox is a crescent “man in the moon” detail in German silver mounted into the cheek piece.
Pennsylvania and Kentucky rifles were the order of the day and were essential tools for providing meat for the table, pest control for the crops and livestock, and protection against beast and man for the homestead. Rifles in this caliber were used for taking medium to large sized game on the frontier to include deer and elk, and likely a few squirrels and rabbits too! Frontiersmen, homesteaders, pioneers, trappers and traders would have used a rifle like this for all of the above.
The overall condition is very good. Original finish. The vent has been repaired. The action is excellent. The bore is patinated and smooth. The stock shows use and remains solid throughout. This is a great example of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania gunmaking.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 40-3/4 inches.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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