Very little information is available for such a prolific and accomplished rifle maker. Beyer is listed in Lebanon Township, Lancaster County as a gunsmith in the years 1807 & 1810. He most certainly learned his trade from John Phillip Beck. Kindig suggests he worked from the 1790’s through the 1820’s based on his study of many Beyer rifles.
I believe Beyer continued to work for Beck after apprenticeship and strictly adhered to Beck’s style in architecture, carving, engraving, patchbox design, etc. It was not till after Beck died in 1811 that Beyer felt free to develop his own style. He may have left Beck and began his own business around 1807; a good reason to be taxed. Beyer’s later work, in general, has less artistic merit than his early work; that which was done under the strong arm of J P Beck.
This example is rather plain but has beautiful curly maple, color, and patina making it a pleasing rifle. It is Beyer’s less expensive work having no inlays or relief carving. He did carve at the rear ramrod pipe which is clearly his hand. The only restoration on the rifle, other than the reconversion, is a piece of wood restored in front of the lock where it burned out during its life as a percussion rifle. The full octagon barrel is 42 inches long; its original length, about .65 cal., and signed in script. Here is an opportunity to own a signed Nicholas Beyer rifle in essentially unrestored condition with beautiful curly maple, his most desireable “preening bird” patchbox, at a reasonable price. The best Christmas present!
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