Evans Repeating Rifle Co. Transition Model Lever Action Musket

Manufactured by Evans Repeating Rifle Company
Engraved by Louis Daniel Nimschke American

Not on view

This musket is one of the renowned German-American engraver Louis Daniel Nimschke’s most impressive works and a rare decorated example of a firearm manufactured by the Evans Repeating Rifle Co. of Mechanic Falls, Maine. Made around 1876, it features as its central motif a winged, serpent-tailed snarling wolf—possibly the demon Marchosias—holding a bullet-riddled target. Though the significance of this motif remains unclear, the gun may have been made for exhibition or decorated for the New York firm Merwin, Hulbert & Co., the Evans Repeating Rifle Co.’s general agent, which presented Evans rifles to officials from Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Honduras and Brazil in the late 1870s on behalf of the Evans company. Notably, Nimschke preserved the musket’s "pulls" (inked impressions of its engraving) on page 66 of his workbook (acc. no. 2018.856.19), an album he compiled over the course of his career as a record of his own work and of other artists’ designs that inspired him, thus confirming his authorship. Nimschke’s personal set of sixty-two engraving tools which he used to decorate the gun is also preserved in the Museum’s collection (acc. no. 2018.856.20a–jjj).

Nimschke established his workshop in New York by 1859, six years after his arrival from Germany, and quickly established himself as a preeminent figure in the new class of artists in the city specializing in the ornamentation of machine-made guns. An independent contractor, Nimschke decorated firearms for dozens of companies and individual clients over the course of his career. He embellished high-profile exhibition-grade and presentation-quality guns for a domestic and international clientele, in addition to decorating scores of more modest pieces. In his fifty-year-long career he cemented his reputation as New York’s foremost firearms engraver and relief carver, and, more broadly, as one of the most skilled and prolific American gun decorators of the nineteenth century.

Evans Repeating Rifle Co. Transition Model Lever Action Musket, Manufactured by Evans Repeating Rifle Company (American, Mechanic Falls, Maine 1873–1881), Wood, steel, nickel, American, Mechanic Falls, Maine and New York

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