The Town of Northampton, alternately known as ‘Allen’s Town’ or Allentown on the southwestern bank of the Lehigh River, was home to gunsmith Johannes (John) Moll Sr. as early as 1764, and he worked at that location until his death in 1794.  His son John Jr., assumed to have been trained by his father, thence ran the business until retirement in approximately 1820, followed by his son John Moll III (amongst other Moll descendants who also were engaged in the same business nearby).

I am currently aware of only four rifles signed “John Moll” which are conceivably attributable to Johannes Moll (the eldest) as well as one pistol with a cast-brass barrel stamped “MOLL” upon the underside which carries an alleged Revolutionary War provenance.  The rifle illustrated here could be considered a composite of the two more decorative signed rifles, and evinces close ties to associated Northampton County work of Herman Rupp, John Rupp (the elder) and Peter Neihart.  Assuming that the aforementioned rifles are indeed the work of John Moll Sr. and not John Moll II (their signatures appear to have been nearly identical), they likely date to the late 1780s and raise the possibility that Moll taught the elder Rupp brothers (note the extreme similarities in style and decoration).  The Moll rifles which I have personally viewed - including those of John Jr. and John III - are considerably larger, overall, than the two well-known dated Herman Rupp rifles and carry a definitively earlier appearance.  Likewise, the brass mountings found upon rifles of John Moll Sr. and/or John Moll II, Herman and John Rupp and Peter Neihart all bear extreme similarity and some likely came from the same patterns.  Nevertheless, there are no surviving records indicating any concrete connections between these men.  All that remain are a handful of very distinctive rifles and many questions.

As will be immediately evident, the piece herein illustrated which represents the work of John Jr. was created as a fake.  This rifle is somewhat interpretative in that it is not a copy of any particular surviving rifle, however it clearly echoes the style of both the elder Moll (John Sr.) as well as that of John II (see pages 182-183 in Kindig’s Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle for published examples).  For this reason, I choose to view it as being representative of John II’s earliest work and likely datable to the last years of the 18th century.

More information concerning Johannes Moll can be found HERE.


Allentown Rifles - The Moll Family.