Make: The lockwork was done by Joseph Golcher of Philadelphia, the balance of the work was done by James Stapleton of Beavertown, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.
Model: Over / Under Percussion Rifle
Serial Number: NSN
Year of Manufacture: Our research concludes that James Stapleton of Beavertown was alive from 1836 until 1900, Joseph Golcher was in Philadelphia in the early to mid 1800’s before moving out west, putting the DOM in the mid 1800’s.
Caliber: .36 Caliber Ball
Action Type: Over / Under, Double Set-Trigger Percussion Rifle
Markings: The top of the upper barrel is marked “J. STAPLETON” in a hand engraved banner. The locks are marked “JOSEPH GOLCHER”, depicting a man hunting birds in a field. The patch box, brass plate of the stock’s belly and cheek piece insert have beautiful hand engraved border designs; the patch box lid also has a nice floral depiction, please see our pictures of this rifle!
Barrel Length: Both barrels are about 36″ long and are octagonal.
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a brass blade, which is fixed to a base which is dovetailed onto the upper barrel. The rear sight is a small “U” notch in a base that is dovetailed onto the upper barrel, about 22″ aft of the front sight.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The 2-piece stock set is smooth American hardwood with a brass capped forend, showing a metal insert on the underside; the forend has a crack and chip loss on the underside, with another loss towards the aft portion at the through-peg. The butt stock has a slight left side cheek piece which has a metal insert; the right side has a brass patch box with nice hand engraving. The wood shows some staining and scattered marks but appears to be free from cracks. The wood to metal fit on both items is crisp but for the upper portion at the nipples, which have a slight gap and a small chip loss on the right side. The LOP measures 12” from the front of the rear trigger and 13 1/8” from the front of the forward trigger to the back of the crescent brass butt plate; the plate has a few scattered marks and natural patina, though it looks like the surfaces were cleaned at some point the plate is in about Fine condition. The stocks rate in about Very Good Plus overall condition.
Type of Finish: The barrels, upper tang and lockwork are browned, the patch box, trigger guard, butt plate and ram rod loops are brass. The underside of the forend has a bright metal plate that looks to be steel.
Finish Originality: The finish is original, however it looks like the brass and plate were lightly cleaned at some point, given the lack of darkened natural patina.
Bore Condition: The bores are semi-gray from age, the rifling is still defined. There is light erosion present.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 55% of its metal finish. The browned items have some spots of surface and pin prick erosion, retaining their crisp lines; the braising of the barrel set has some scratch marks and small dings but remains strong on the left flank, the forward right side at the muzzles shows a small loss. The left hammer has scroll engraving and a smaller profile than the right hammer that does not have any engraving and has a grind mark on the flank; the right hammer appears to be a later addition but it functions correctly and fits the rifle well. The brass items have scattered marks and a re-emerging patina; the inside of the patch box has a waxy material as photographed. Overall, this rifle rates in about Very Good Plus condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The rifle has double set triggers; with the rear trigger set, the forward trigger breaks at just over one pound! The cock spring is strong and there is no movement in the fixtures. The left hammer sets back into position by first pulling the rear trigger, this process does not need to be done for the right hammer which will cock back without the trigger being set. We have not fired this rifle. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: Included is a wooden ram rod with a metal tip; the item looks to be of period and shows scattered marks, expected of such an item, rating in about Fine condition.
Our Assessment: This is a captivating over / under double-set trigger percussion rifle; the lock work was done by Joseph Golcher who resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania until the mid to late 1800’s, before he moved to the West Coast. The barrel is marked by James Stapleton of Beavertown, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, who probably did the engraving and finishing work. This rifle has a beautiful 2-piece hardwood stock set, a finely engraved patch box and crescent butt plate; the plate is quite small for me (at 6’3″), leading to imagery of a smaller original purchaser. This rifle has been around for quite some time and looks to have been a treasured piece; this is your chance to own a named Pennsylvania rifle that almost certainly has some interesting stories to tell. Please see our pictures and good luck.