This is a FANTASTIC museum-grade example of a Southern Percussion Rifle mounted completely in German silver that was made by Anderson Lamb & Company of Jamestown, North Carolina during the mid-19th century. The stock is North Carolina curly maple. Features include 40" octagonal barrel in .34 caliber with double set triggers. It has the classic Jamestown half-stock with high comb and long rebate or step-down leading into the forend cap. Other characteristics of the Jamestown school of gunmakers are this rifle's double-dovetailed front sight and long upper tang secured which is secured by three screws that is rounded on the ends. Best of all, there are twenty-four pieces of German silver on this rifle in the form of inlays and furniture...many of which are lightly engraved.
The Jamestown school was formed in Guilford County in the central part of North Carolina in the early 19th century and lasted past the Civil War. There were at least eighty known makers in an around the Jamestown-Greensboro area who often partnered and apprenticed with one another in making rifles. During the Civil War, many makers such as the Lamb Family found steady business selling their rifles to Confederate troops who were in desperate need of weapons. As the war progressed, the Lambs turned their sporting production to producing military rifles for the Confederacy and the states of North Carolina and Alabama. Interestingly, the Lamb military rifles still retained part of their commercial DNA as their barrels were left partially octagon at the breech.
Most of the information I've come across on these Jamestown Rifles has come from historian Michael Briggs whose studied this school for many years.
Another excellent source is the newly published North Carolina Schools of Longrifles 1765-1865 by Bill Ivey. One of the inlays on this rifle is the same unique pattern pictured on the opening page of the Jamestown chapter.
Finally, the chapter on HC Lamb Rifle in Confederate Rifles and Muskets by John M. Murphy provides several letters written at the beginning of the Civil War pertaining to sales of sporting rifles in nearby states including GA, AL, TN, and LA.
This particular rifle came out of central GA about twenty years ago. It is known that Jamestown makers such as the Lamb family traveled through surrounding states like Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee selling their rifles. At the beginning of the Civil War thousands of men left their farms to become soldiers resulting in an acute shortage of military rifles and muskets as most of the secession states were ill-prepared for the war that ensued. The need for weapons was so great that states like Georgia turned to making pikes while others scrambled to convert old flintlocks, some dating back to the Revolutionary War, into percussion weapons. That said, many men went into military service with their own shotguns or personal sporting rifles for the first year of the war until better weapons became available.. We recently stumbled across a photo of a Confederate infantryman from Tennessee armed with a heavily-inlayed Jamestown rifle that is remarkably similar to this one. See photo.
Most makers who signed their work typically placed their name on the barrel. This barrel has only traces of the Anderson Lamb signature but fortunately, there was enough visible to conclude with a high degree of certainty that this was his work. We ran this rifle past a well-known Jamestown Rifle expert from NC and he concurred with our belief that this is indeed an Anderson Lamb. The key giveaway is the first letter "A" in A. LAMB that is still quite visible. If the rest of the marking were stronger, it would read A. LAMB & CO. JAMESTOWN N.*C. Like most rifle makers of the 1850's and 60's, the lock mechanisms were usually purchased from larger makers from Pennsylvania. This one has a lock made by Leman of Lancaster, PA. This can be a little confusing to newer collectors as to why a rifle maker would choose to buy their locks from an external source. However, 19th century gunmakers were not unlike watchmakers in the 21st century. Today, most smaller independent watchmakers will purchase and install a Swiss-made movement while they focus on building the case, dial, cover, wrist-band, etc. In regards to rifle-makers during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, they generally chose to buy a factory made lock that was proven to be reliable rather than delve into the complexities of producing such a mechanism in-house. Thus, it is normal for a rifle of this era to have a PA-built lockplate.
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Very Good Overall. The metal has turned to a smooth brown patina while the wood is sound and solid at the wrist and lock areas. Maple is still light in color with nice discernable tiger striping running vertical to the grain. The lock works quite well as do the double set triggers. Original hickory ramrod. The screws on the upper tang are brass and are replacements from many years ago. All in all, this is a great North Carolina rifle and the best example of a Jamestown Rifle we've ever had.