Not since 1960 and the publication of Joe Kinding, Jr.’s book, Thoughts on the Kentuky Rifle in its Golden Age, has a book featured rifles from the famous Kinding collection of the American longrifle. This book shows selected examples from the Kinding collection, which were displayed in 2014 at the Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania-the first comprehensive public display of the collection.
Joe Kinding, Jr. was known as the "Dean" of American longrifle collectors, having been one of the earliest collectors to recognize the artistic virtues of the gun. Long a symbol of freedom and independence, the longrifle was only recently recognized as an example of America’s artistic material. In the early 18th century, American gunsmiths adapted the basic design of rifles from Europe, and like their counterparts in the "old country", thy began to carve the stocks and embellish their rifles with a variety of personal designs. They added the hinged brass patchbox, an American innovation, which soon became the individual gunsmith’s trademark, while their carving often equaled the best furniture carvers of their period.
This book attempts to show the high level of artistic skill achieved by these early gunsmith’s, a virtue often overlooked by the general public. It is hoped the reader will appreciate the craftsmanship of the longrifle and see it as a unique American form of artistic expression, just as Joe Kinding, Jr. did almost a hundred years ago.