18th Century Suit of Clothes

I have been meaning for some time to make myself a set of late 18th century clothing to wear to longrifle culture events.   As my weight has stabilized at a reasonably healthy level and I had the time due to the pandemic, I decided to get this project done.     I made an 18th century English work shirt, some drop front breeches, and a 1770’s style waistcoat.   The shirt was made of a blue checked cotton and completely hand sewn.   I will not do that again; particularly since I need to make another, smaller, shirt.    The breeches and waistcoat were mostly machine sewn with hand sewing for things like hems and button holes.    I used natural cotton duck for the breeches and blue wool with a red cotton print lining for the waistcoat.

Fraktur Painted Blanket Chest

Given that my work fell off by about half this year due to the pandemic economic downturn,  I started to fill my time with personal projects.  This blanket chest has been on my personal project list for some time.    I finally got it finished.   This chest is approximately 50″ L x 24″ W x 28” H and is made up of six glued up pine panels.   It is assembled with hand cut dovetails.  The bottom, apron, and lid edges are all pegged in place.

The painted finish started with a deep red base of furniture paint.   That was then covered with a sponge applied black acrylic glaze.   The fraktur painted panels used acrylic gesso as a base.   The fraktur designs were painted in acrylic artist’s paints.

This item is not for sale and I do not intend to build another of this size.  However, I might be open to making a much smaller painted chest or box.  If you like this, perhaps you might be interested in some of my other fraktur such as my Birth/Baptismal/Marriage Certificates or paintings.

Artisan Book Series – Mark Elliott

I have been honored by the publication of a book about my life and work by the Contemporary Longrifle Association.  This book includes a longer  biography than I have included on this website and  high quality glossy color photos of my best work.   If you are a collector of my work, you will want to have this book to accompany your collection.

You can order the book for $20 directly from the Contemporary Longrifle Association at this link; https://store.longrifle.com/shop/cla-publications/artisan-book-series-mark-elliott/.

Why Black LIves Matter to Me

Given the current unrest and uncertainty over race, as a Christian and a person working a twelve step program of recovery, I have felt challenged and called to write on my experience with racism.   This is my personal story, but I call on all white southerners, like myself, to examine their own story with racism.   For me, this is a first step in making a living amends.

I am a 58 year old white male born into the Jim Crow south in the capital of the Confederacy.  At home I was told that God loved everyone and that I was to treat everyone the same, as I would want to be treated.  However, as a young child, I had to be taught that there were white and colored rest rooms and that I was only to use the white facilities.   In the process, it was also communicated that the white facilities were better.   A young child might be forgiven for concluding that white people were better than colored people and as a white child so was I; especially, since that idea was reinforced in so many other ways.

Black people were not a part of my early life except as servants of one sort or another; janitors, cafeteria workers, and nurses for example.   They were the people who took care of me.   They weren’t my friends or my parent’s friends.   In downtown Richmond, according to my mother,  white folks had free range of downtown everyday except Saturday.    Saturday was reserved for black folks to do their shopping at the white owned stores like Miller & Rhodes or Thalhimers.   Also black folks lived and worked on the north side of Broad Street and white folks lived and worked on the south side of Broad Street.   I can’t remember going to the north side of the street except to drive through or visit the Miller & Rhodes warehouse with my father until I was an adult working where black neighborhoods had been systematically removed to make way for the Coliseum, Convention Center, and various office buildings, including one in which I worked.

I was an adult, working, before I had any real interaction with anybody who was black.   By then, the damage had been done.   I was polite and professional in my interaction with black colleagues in order to do my job, but I can’t say I was comfortable with them or that they became real friends.   On the street, I would be anxious when approaching black men, particularly young black men, usually precipitating some form of distancing, or rolling up my windows if driving.   Somewhere it had been communicated to me and internalized that black men were a threat.

When frustrated or challenged by a black man, I would find myself getting unduly angry, angrier than if I had been similarly challenged by a white man.  I had internalized the idea that black men were supposed to be subservient to me, and was enraged when they dare step out of the role I expected them to inhabit.  I suspect that I am not the only white male with this attitude, and hence the prevalence of the brutalization of black men by the police.

This is why, for me, black lives must matter.   Of course, all lives matter, but black lives matter more in this case because I owe them a living amends for my past attitudes and behaviors even though the expression of my racism may have been subtle.  I suspect, however, that it did not go unnoticed by the black folks I encountered.   I suspect that they were all too used to dealing with white men like me.  At least my racism is now out in the open.   I apologize for it and all the harm I may have done over the years to my black and brown brothers and sisters.   May God keep my racism before my eyes and help me to remove it from my character.   Until he does, black lives matter and I choose to make amends.

Mark Elliott


Important – Leather Care

I just wanted to post a quick note about leather care.   Leather dries out and cracks over time.   I recently saw an old bag of mine that had been put away for several years and had cracked badly.   Fortunately,  the leather had not cracked all the way through and the bag could be saved.  It just looks like it is a hundred years old now.  That was not the look I was going for.

To  maintain the appearance and functionality of a shot pouch, hunting bag, or any other leather goods,  I recommend that it be oiled at least once a year; every six months would be better.    I oil my leather goods with a high quality Mink Oil.    Some people prefer Neatsfoot oil   I think it gets a little gummy, but that might depend on the quality of the oil you use.  As to the Mink Oil,  I use Fiebings Mink Oil Paste.

Apply the oil/paste liberally with a rag and rub it in all the nooks and crannies and into the stitches.    You don’t want to leave any white paste.   After you have rubbed the paste in good, wipe off any excess.   Then brush vigorously with a stiff horse hair brush to a sheen.    Your leather item is now good for another six months.

Appraising Antique Firearms

I get lots of requests for appraisals on antique rifles. Consequently, I felt I should make a general blog and FAQ post on the subject.

In order to properly estimate the value of an antique firearm, it must be closely inspected, in person, including disassembly. Additionally, you should seek out an appraiser who routinely buys and sells similar antiques. Still, any appraisal you get is just a guess based on previous sales of similar items. Any given item offered for sale is really only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

A value can vary substantially depending on the location of a sale and how well advertised it is; in other words, the potential market. This is why you are likely to get more for something on eBay than Craigslist where you have a national (or international) market instead of a local market.

The current economy also has a lot to do with how much something is worth. The values of all collectibles and antiques were at record highs in 2008, just before the collapse of the financial markets. This collapse significantly affected those with the most disposable income and most likely to purchase luxury goods such as antique firearms. The antique firearms market was been hit hard by this shock to the economy. The values of most antique firearms are half what they were before 2008. The very best firearms held their value, but the rest were hit hard.

The antique longrifle market has been further impacted by a large number of collections hitting the market right now due to the aging of collectors. People with money can get a good deal on average quality longrifles right now. That is not good news for someone with an average longrifle to sell.

If you would like an appraisal on your Virginia longrifle, I would direct you to Tim Hodges at Aspen Shade Ltd. He is very familiar with Virginia longrifles and should be able to help you with an appraisal or consignment. Otherwise, I would seek advise from one of the major auction houses that have specialists in firearms, such as James D Julia or Cowan’s Auctions