FINE PUBLISHED “M ALDENDERFER 1811” SIGNED KENTUCKY RIFLE.
Bbl. 43.5″ octagonal to round smoothbore bbl., & forged lock w/ chiseled mainspring & bridled frizzen.
All brass mounted including inlays, engraved brass floorplate runs from ramrod thimbles to the triggerguard, 3.25″ engraved thumbplate.
This exact gun is pictured in plate 69 & 111 in Dillin’s 1924 text & in the 1941 Harry Davis “A. Forgotten Heritage”. The gun at the time of both publications was part of pioneer Kentucky rifle collection of Captain John G. W. Dillon. At the time the German script signature was thought to read “M. Roesser 1746”. The signature is light & quite difficult but not Roesser. Steve Hench, well-known Kentucky expert who is amazing at deciphering the old script solved the mystery. W/ a little scrutiny the inscription is “M. Aldenderfer 1811” the last digit in the date may not be correct but first three are clear. Joe Kindig in his text shows 2 examples of Aldenderfer, one signed & dated 1809 & the other 1810, since his guns are very rare, maybe only made one gun a year. Kindig states that this maker “is somewhat of a mystery because his guns display characteristics of different sections in various techniques. Practically all gunsmiths who moved at all moved west following their market. Contrarily, Michael Aldenderfer seems to moved east…. I believe M. Aldenderfer learned his trade in Lancaster County. In fact some details lead me to believe that he might have had some association w/. Haga or the man he learned his trade from [note engraving on patchbox lids, especially the engraved arc]…. The placing of a date w/ the name is characteristic of the section east of Reading.” This rifle also lacks the Daisy finial on patchbox that the 2 earlier dated guns possess, though still employing daisies in the engraved lid. This gun has less carving than the 2 examples in Kindig but does have very similar carving behind bbl. tang, lock plate & sideplate. The sideplate on this example is much more elaborate, pierced scrolls w/ 2 bird heads on either side of rear lock screw terminating out into feathered wings, quite unique design. Another Reading characteristic is the unique brass Indianhead inset on top of comb at buttplate w/ engraved heart on his chest, another unique feature, “suggestive of target” Dillin. Kindig also points out that the trigger bows on this maker are suggestive of Reading guns which are wide, w/ only 2 facets w/ central ridge, unlike most Golden age guns that had 3 facets on bow. “I believe M. Aldenderfer was one of the earliest gunsmiths to use the 2 faceted trigger guard & his are much broader than most. These rifles are very beautiful in line, proportion, detail, & quality of wood”.
PROVENANCE: Capt. John Dillin collection 1920s: Herman Dean collection: William Crews: Dr. Howard Engle collection 1962. CONDITION: very good overall, gun appears in the same configuration when photographed in 1924, the only notable repairs: slender piece of wood glued & pinned around the entire perimeter of lock, 2 large crack repairs on right side of forestock about 10″ from muzzle & a 4″ x .25″ sliver inset just forward of forearm crack repair, none of this work tried to hide or blend anything. Lock & hammer have dark mostly smooth iron patina. Mechanically fine w/ clean smoothbore. (01-19969/JS). ANTIQUE. $6,000-8,000.