So much for attempting to post every Sunday! A few weeks ago I received a phone call from a coin dealer in Vermont asking about having some restoration work done on a Thomas Earle fowler. His friend had picked it up from someone who discovered it in the attic of a house that was being renovated in Montpelier two years ago. After talking about values and my price of restoration, the dealer decided he would prefer to sell it outright. I drove 4 hours to Burlington to have a look, made an offer, and bought it from the dealer.
I was happy to find that the gun has not been messed with except for some brass polishing at some point. The fowler has its original length 54" 20ga barrel, with a sighting rib on top that stops about 3" from the muzzle. The lock is signed "THOMAS EARLL", and saw a decent amount of service as a percussion gun based on the wear on the drum. The flats on either side of the barrel extend about 14" from the breech. The "fullness" of the stock on either side of the comb was slightly spokeshaved early on in its life, presumably to make it easier to get your face on the comb. The stock appears to be cherry, but I've never seen a piece of cherry with such tight growth rings - I wonder if it could possibly be apple? The growth rings are 1/32" apart! My favorite part is the bold triggerguard - several Worcester-Sutton gunsmiths used similar French style guards, but Earl really exaggerated the front finial into a defining feature. The wrist escutcheon has the same style font as Earl's signature, including the flourish on the "R", and is signed "THOMAS BAIRD". Baird was a landowner in Leicester, MA, died in 1782, and is buried in Auburn, MA. I look forward to researching more into who Baird was and where he lived.
There are a couple condition issues, mostly that the last 12" of forestock are shattered with several small bits missing, and the last 1" of the buttplate return is missing. I intend to restore the forestock and the brass, and then I will likely reconvert the lock back to its flintlock form. The process will be fully documented and photographed, with updates here as things progress.