Long Lost Revolutionary War Flintlock Displayed at Museum
By Chris Eger
The 1775-dated Oerter rifle, recently returned to public display for the first time since it was stolen in 1971. (Photo: Museum of the American Revolution)
A historically significant flintlock rifle was recently returned to its owners and put on display at the Museum of the American Revolution.
The flintlock, crafted by Pennsylvania master gunsmith Johann Christian Oerter, is dated 1775– the year the colony joined with others in the War of Independence against British rule. Acquired by the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution in the 1960s, it had previously been displayed at Valley Forge, the famous site where Gen. Washington sheltered his Colonial Army through the hardships of the winter of 1777 to 1778.
Sadly, the rifle was stolen from its “unbreakable case” at Valley Forge in 1971 and remained missing until recently when it was purchased by prominent Pennsylvania antique dealer Kelly Kinzle at a barn sale.
“I bought it on a house call with a group of things,” Kelly told Antiques and The Arts Weekly. “This was the last thing the owner pulled out, and I told him that it was a copy of a famous gun, it couldn’t be the real thing. Collections are usually consistent and everything else