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Daniel Wesson: Engraver for Winchester and T J Stafford
December 14, 2018
5:43 am
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Apache,

Thanks for the excellent input and details.

Bill

December 14, 2018
12:23 pm
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Stafford.jpgImage EnlargerApache,

Another photograph in brighter light.  Some minor pitting at the end of the barrel, but iron components mostly smooth and not corroded.  Wouldn't be surprised if the brass components had been polished--current state suggests that.  Iron components may have been produced "in the white"; if not, any applied finish (blue, silver, nickel, etc) is gone.

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December 14, 2018
3:16 pm
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Onefish
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Don't think you are wasting your, or anyone else's time with this. It needs to be studied and discussed. Desperately. There are some people out there that have done extensive work documenting makers marks as well as Masonic symbolism worked into the engraving. Their info is readily available online with references and examples of documented rifles.

This was a common practice to work initials or mark into the engraving pattern. Especially when doing coins or minting plates. It was a counterfeiting deterrent. Same thing with whatever item was engraved. Use of anothers mark was not taken lightly by the Guild. It just wasn't done.

Just to focus on the Stafford pistol for now. Can you show makers marks on the pistol? I looked closely for something other than makers marks worked into scroll work that doesn't require as much of an education on makers marks. They often used more block style initials on the edge of the engraving cuts. The pictures are not good enough to make them out, BUT I can show you where to look. Maybe the owner can get some pictures posted of this area under magnification.

On the forward bottom of receiver right. Behind front pin and under the little slash marks you will notice there is a dimple. It's actually an "all seeing eye" in the flat part of the scroll. It's telling you to look here. There is another little dimple above the slash marks. Telling you to take notice to this area as well. This area also has a little line off the corner of the barrel seam pointing to the slashes. This is not random. It is identifying the craftsmen that did the work. If you choose to do "styles" of engraving instead of reading the document "the pistol itself". Take notice to the shape of the scrolls, especially on the barrel. Now compare those to known Gustave Young works. Hmmm, pretty much spot on. Good chance one or several of his apprentices would use his "style".

This Stafford pistol is a great example to use for a debate such as this.

I urge everyone reading this to take a look for yourself and please add your own opinion. Take time to find comparisons of makers marks on known documented firearms of these engravers in question.

I am pretty certain the debate of who did the work will be ended when the area I mentioned is put under good magnification.

December 15, 2018
3:21 am
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Onefish;

   I've examined what you're referring to as the "Ulrich" marks and I must respectfully disagree with your conclusion that what you interpit as a "U" for the Ulrich family's mark is what you think it is. Did the Ulrich engravers sign their important works? Most definitely they did. Did they make secret marks on lesser works? I've owned and examined over the last 42 years numerous works, both important and less so of the Ulrich's, Younge's and others, I.ve not seen these "Secret Marks" on other pieces. It was once said that Gustov Younge put a secret "G" incorporated into one of his engraved firearms. I've examined Macro Photographs of this "G" and couldn't say for sure yes or no. However it was only put on this one piece as far as anyone knows, so you decide. The best way I'm told to know who of the Masters engraved what is to study their work. Every engravers work (CUTS) are different, sort of like a persons fingerprints. Do I fully agree with this? Well, almost. There are or were several engravers out there that for a very exorbitant fee can virtually duplicate the cuts of the Masters. They don't work on standard items.

Apache

December 15, 2018
10:46 am
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Onefish
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MRCVS,

If you would like, I will identify some areas on the Stafford for you to study. Send your pictures to my email; davetunafishing@gmail.com

Try to get a picture of the area I mentioned. Line camera up with the angle of the cut, not the surface of the pistol. Try light direction from left and right opposing the camera. If you notice the last picture you posted with different lighting angle shows things not in the other pics and visa versa. 

APACHE,

Message me to email mentioned above. I know you are a respected researcher and I believe we can help each other with our endeavors. I have information and examples you will find interesting. I understand the methods of identification you mention and it's not necessarily wrong, but there are methods of embellishment that most collectors don't even know exist. When you find these it is an indisputable verification that it is not a copy or fake. Even if every cut or chisel mark is exactly the same as a copied work by a modern engraver. There is a fine example of one of these methods included in pictures in this string of posts. Not one person has recognized what is right there in plain sight.

And yes they did sign their work, all over them with their makers marks worked into the patterns. I found information put out by Gary Gianotti that addresses known makers marks on well documented rifles. He did a great job of pointing out the makers marks with multiple examples. I have examples of Ulrich engraving that include the block type initials in the cuts that I am guessing may be on the Stafford pistol by the familiarity of the indicator marks of their presence.  Look at the "dimple" I mentioned. Can you make it out? It's the eye of Horus. It doesn't require any interpretation or imagination to read letters. (Hopefully these are on the Stafford) The overall engraving pattern is a smoke plate to begin with. There is little deviation from one pistol to the next. There are deviations in the details. I have my theories as to who may have had the contract to to do work. There could be a whole host of engravers that did these pistols using a common pattern. The list may include all of the craftsmen mentioned. Maybe we can figure it out. Hopefully MRCVS sends me some pictures and you can pick up the debate when I point out what I am seeing. It is much more than a "U". 

December 15, 2018
3:05 pm
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Onefish,

I don't see what you describe as far as maker's marks.

Can you take my photograph and put an arrow where you describe and I can photograph through a magnifying glass?

December 15, 2018
7:09 pm
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Okay Onefish, since you've pointed out the "Ulrich Mark" on mrcvs's Stafford, and you're conviinced it is Ulrich engraved based on these marks, I've one question. Which Ulrich did the engraving? 

ApacheConfusedConfusedConfusedConfusedConfusedConfusedConfusedConfusedConfusedConfused

December 16, 2018
12:31 am
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Believe me, I would love to discover that my pistol was engraved by an Ulrich, but Herbert Houze did significant research to prove that this engraving is the work of Daniel Smith Wesson.

December 16, 2018
4:55 am
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Onefish
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APACHE,

If I have to pin myself down with the pictures provided. It was engraved by John, Conrad and Herman in the study of Gustave Young who most likely made the plate and had contract with Stafford. The Ulrichs may have not been the only ones working on them in the Young shop or in his stead. Good chance Wesson was as well, but he didn't do this one. 

MRCVS,

Email me and I will give show you proof of who engraved your pistol. 

December 16, 2018
1:45 pm
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Onefish,

I cannot seem to find you in the drop down list of individuals on this forum when I start typing your user name.  But, I am very interested in your thoughts.  Herbert Houze has never seen photographs of this pistol, so he isn't necessarily the last word with regards to this matter.

Feel free to post in this thread or email me at orpingtondarwin@yahoo.com

December 17, 2018
2:14 am
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mrcvs;

     This from me to you. One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. I wish your Stafford was engraved by one of the Ulrich's also. Perhaps, just perhaps it was done after one of the Octoberfest parties back in the day. No one was very steady after one of those.

ApacheLaughLaughLaughLaughLaughLaugh

December 17, 2018
10:24 pm
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Onefish GRACIOUSLY gave me permission to attach these photographs, with his annotations.  WOW.  What an incredible knowledge base!  I should state again that Herbert Houze never looked at my pistol but his research suggests these all were engraved by Daniel Smith Wesson.  Onefish's superb research suggests otherwise.  See attached, and THANK YOU Onefish!!!Stafford-1.jpgImage EnlargerStafford-1_kindlephoto-1458082.jpgImage Enlarger20181127_143935-1.jpgImage Enlarger20181127_143935-1_kindlephoto-374305.jpgImage Enlarger20181127_143959-1.jpgImage Enlarger20181127_143959-1_kindlephoto-2105186.jpgImage Enlarger

December 18, 2018
12:14 am
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MRCVS;

      I hate to be the one to rain on this parade, but before you go thinking that based on the "Secret Marks" pointed out on your Stafford suggesting it was engraved by John and or Herman Ulrich may I offer the following. First, that is what Onefish is saying, correct? If it's not then disreguard MY song and dance. Why waste your time. Second however if it is what Onefish is suggesting, then please consider doing the following. There is a book that was published in 1989 by Dr. Fredric A. Harris containing macro photos of many major and minor works of the Ulrichs, Younges, Nimschke, and Cuno Helfricht. If you're collecting engraved American firearms of the 19th and early 20th Century then this book is a must have. I would suggest you first read the text and then examine the design, cuts, and quality of engraving found between the covers of this book. Then examine the same on your Stafford, then draw your own conclusion as to whether or not an Ulrich did the engraving. Good hunting!!

ApacheCool

December 18, 2018
12:28 am
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Apache,

I am not saying you are right or wrong, nor am I saying Onefish is right or wrong.  I am open to all opinions.  I do own a copy of the Frederic Harris book, which is equally fascinating.  However, I simply have not examined enough engraved firearms to be able to use the Harris book and state that my pistol was engraved by Daniel Smith Wesson, an Ulrich, Gustav Young, etc.

December 18, 2018
12:36 am
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MRCVS;

     Okay, I understand. Good luck with hunting engraved firearms, whatever the manufacturer's name.

Apache

December 18, 2018
3:45 am
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Onefish
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Makers marks are only a "secret" to someone without an education or reading the wrong books.(which is understandable considering a lot of the examples in the books are wrong to begin with) 

I can understand Apaches frustration on this subject. It would really suck to have spent 42 years trying to compare chisel marks and using misidentified works as a norm when all you had to do is read the rifles. Once you recognize the indicator marks that point to what the engraver wanted you to notice it gets much easier. Its absolutely ridiculous for anyone think Gustave Young only ever put his mark on one firearm. And it is Young not Younge. You may have seen his name (as I have) spelled like this, but it's usually seen as YoungE only the E (capital) is half size like a lower case letter. The "E" is referencing his closeness to Emmanuel (God). 

I was really hoping for an intelligent debate on this subject instead of an insult. Is there anyone that can help Apache a little. Does anyone have pictures of the master engravers "chiseling" patterns? Maybe I can be convinced if you do. How do you do that anyway? Measure the angles? The space between the chisel marks?  Wow! That would surely be some trick. I would rather say I don't know after not finding actual makers marks than misidentify something on that basis.

I will say the "chiseling" is a little under par for the Ulrichs, but realize they were in their teens at this point. Just getting started in their careers and pounding out contract pieces like the Stafford as apprentices. The techniques of metal embellishment used by especially the Ulrich family included much more than the engraving itself.

I gave MRCVS info on how and where to take pictures to find the Ulrichs initials in block letters. These areas are not visible in any of the pictures that have been provided. Maybe when he comes up with those pictures anyone that disagrees will be a believer. 

APACHE,

I invite you to email me and I will gladly help you along with this. Collectors such as yourself are needed to help get correct information and identification techniques in the mainstream. You just might learn something. At least you won't continue to embarrass yourself in public.

December 18, 2018
4:54 pm
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Onefish;

     If you want to debate the marks that famous engravers made on their works, works done in the 19th and early 20th century, I'm certainly open to learning something new in the field. If you wouldn't mind answering a question for me. How and where did you learn about these "Hidden in plain sight" markings that I assume are on all or at least most of the works done by not only the Ulrichs, but others also? I assume that after you teach me about where to find these marks of authenticity I'll be able to find them on several known Marlin firearms engraved by members of the Ulrich family, and Colt pistols engraved by the "Young" family. My intention on this WACA site has NEVER, and I mean NEVER to insult, but to offer perhaps a different point of view. I personally would love to be shown by you, Onefish, something I've failed to see in over 40 something years of observing and owning engraved firearms. Perhaps my $5000.00 engraved 1881 Marlin rifle could become a $50,000.00 Marlin by my discovering that it was actually engraved by Conrad U. 

Thank you, ApacheEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassedEmbarassed

December 18, 2018
7:54 pm
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I will get back later; have to go over what Onefish said with pistol in hand, but what he states is COMPELLING. and well, well beyond my knowledge base.  All I can say is WOW, he is dedicated and sure knows his stuff.  It really is hidden in plain sight!

December 18, 2018
8:55 pm
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Onefish
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APACHE,

Well it would definitely help to identify the engraver/s. And yes you should be able to find something on almost everything. Some good pictures of stock and forearm taken straight down, 3 receiver pics from off center right -centered - off center left. Fill picture with each. Keep light indirect from the top of rifle (not overhead). Take off butt plate. Do not clean or brush it. Picture with indirect light. Picture with overheard light from angle above - center - angle from bottom. Take a couple of wood under butt plate.

We will see what we can see. It will be easier for me to review to send to my email as well. Davetunafishing@gmail.com

Sounds like quite a rifle. Speaking of quite a rifle, I am aware of your work on the LBH rifle. Impressive!  You can equate the fervor and passion you showed on that project to mine on (especially) Ulrich engraved firearms.

I started trying to identify engraver of my first 1866 by the means like you mention of the Harris book and others. Buying that rifle was quite a commitment for me. I poured over it and all the info and examples I could find. Knowing if I identified it there would be a great increase in value. Just wasn't getting it after much effort, BUT I was noticing the same types of marks from firearm to firearm. Initials, Masonic symbols, constellations in certain lighting and eventually much, much more. This resulted in starting to school myself on symbolism, astronomical positioning, etc.  Around this point one of my friends being intrigued found information that Gary Gianotti started putting out. He printed it out and brought it to me saying this guy is way ahead of you, check it out. Wow! No kidding, huh! It was the same marks etc that I was finding and similar interpretations with awesome examples. Finally I had verification I was on the right track. Since then I have been able to add more to my collection and further my education through these and other firearms as well continue my education on symbolism, etc. (I don't think there is an end to it) Many amazing revelations have followed. Way past what we are discussing. I also know there are individuals that can see these type of things easily and others who will struggle. It must be easy for me to notice as I am truly amazed this is even arguable. Not that there wasn't a learning curve of what indicators were used or countless hours spent, but I think I naturally notice tiny variations in whatever. Years ago I collected Indian artifacts by walking our fields. I could follow right behind most people picking up points they missed by the time I was in grade school. All that time spent looking for things that were different may have been good training for this.

I have of course asked the same question of; why would someone do all this work that 99% of people don't even see or understand? What's the point? Well, I think there are several reasons. In order to fully appreciate their artwork you have to interact with it just trying to see it clearly. (You can't help, but be in awe of some of the work) Not only that, but after you do see what is there, an interpretation or understanding has to be accomplished. When you have gone this far you have learned something that was important to them. The list can go on to include anti counterfeiting measures and the continuation of their craft to apprentices. I am sure they used methods passed down by the likes of Johann Ulrich Kauss that was done in the late 1600s - early 1700s. There are examples of his works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a side note the man considered "the king of the counterfeiters" was none other than a Charles F. Ulrich. He was considered such a threat that he was on the secret service payroll as a deterrent. I never tried to make the link, but it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think he was a relative. He died in 1907.

Anyway... I think this subject is very important and am willing to be everyone's "chew toy" if that's what it takes to bring more modern methods and understanding to properly identifying these works of art we all enjoy. We all need to contribute to this. If nothing else I hope everyone that cares to be involved in these endeavors enjoy the continued learning that comes with it as I have. It certainly adds a new aspect to collecting these rifles and I am sure some will find new excitement and enthusiasm in rifles they have owned for years.

Like Apache said. "Maybe my $5K Marlin is a $50K one." I wouldn't doubt it one bit. 

I urge everyone to revisit their collections with an open mind, a good camera and a bit of a look at what Gary Gianotti has been trying to show for a couple years now. (At this point he is the only one I can find with indisputable examples and interpretations available that are easily found)

Don't be afraid of what you might find...

December 18, 2018
11:05 pm
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Dave (Onefish)

   Please pardon my stupity, but I don't know the gentleman Gary Gianotti. Would it be asking to much if I ask for his e-mail address? Could you perhaps tell me a little about him, as I said before I don't know of him and would like to?

   You've now got me looking for symbols on my engraved firearms. In my misspent youth I studied Mythology and Astronomy as a hobby, so I'll be searching for these symbols in addition to initials.

Thank you, Apache

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