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244-Year-Old Rifle Stolen Decades Ago Is Returned to Museum

A rare Revolutionary War-era rifle stolen from a display case at Valley Forge State Park nearly 50 years ago has been returned to its rightful owners.

The five-foot-long rifle was made in 1775 by Johann Christian Oerter, a master gunsmith at the Moravian settlement of Christian’s Spring, near Nazareth, Pa. Only a few signed and dated rifles from that era survived, and Oerter’s work is considered among the finest. A similar Oerter rifle belongs to the British Royal Collection Trust.

The F.B.I.’s art crime team and other law enforcement officials returned the antique on Friday to the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution during a ceremony at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. It will go on display there Wednesday.

“The Christian Oerter rifle exhibits exemplary early American artistry, and is a reminder that courage and sacrifice were necessary to secure American independence,” R. Scott Stephenson, the museum’s president, said in a statement.

Read entire article at New York Times