Beginning stages: |
Wallace Gusler's interest in the Virginia 18th century frontier led him to become a specialist on Virginia flintlock longrifles at a very early age. Having completed a pistol at the age of fourteen, he continued the pursuit of the rediscovery of 18th century gunsmithing techniques. For seven years he operated a gun shop in Salem, Virginia conserving, repairing and producing flintlock and percussion rifles and pistols. Before long the excellent work he was doing at such an early age was discovered and he was introduced to Colonial Williamsburg. Master Gunsmith:
In 1962 Wallace started there as an interpreter in the Historic Trades Department. Two years later he was promoted to Master Gunsmith. In 1965 he became the first in modern times to master the original processes, including the forging of rifle barrels. In 1969 Wallace and his gunsmithing techniques were the subject of a documentary film "Gunsmithing of Williamsburg" produced by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Other Interests:
Also as a young boy, Wallace apprenticed at his family's sawmill, learning the timber business. Felling and harvesting trees, firing a 1909 steam engine were all part of his duties. This, plus his love of the outdoors, stirred his interest in wood and carving. His carving skill is well recognized in his riflemaking and furniture carving. He is also a perfectionist when it comes to metal work, the forging and welding of iron and steel, stand casting of brass and silver, engraving and chasing and repousse work of brass and silver as well as inlaying of silver and gold in steel and brass. Director of Conservation:
His continued interest in the arts of colonial Virginia led to an interest in furniture and in 1972 he joined the staff of the Department of Collections as curator of metal objects. Then in 1974 he assumed the postion of curator of furniture. In 1985 Wallace went to the Department of Conservation as chief conservator, furniture and arms and was promoted to director of conservation in June 1987. In 1994 Wallace resigned as the director and returned to being the Master Gunsmith. This put him back to his first love and afforded him research and writing time for his long awaited Virginia rifle book. Publications:
Wallace has written many articles for various publications on rifles and co-authored with James D. Lavin the book Decorated Firearms, 1540-1870: From the Collection of Clay P. Bedford in 1977. His courses in wood carving, arms conservation, and Kentucky rifle making are too long to list. In 1993 he made two videos Relief Carving a Kentucky Rifle and Engraving a Kentucky Rifle as part of the American Pioneer Series. Organizations:
Wallace is an active and dedicated member of a number of professional organizations. He received the distinguied service award and life membership in 1986 to the Kentucky Rifle Association. He is an honorary member of the Virginia Arms Collectors and Virginia Arms Society. He founded and is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Arms Technology and Journal of Historic Trades. A True Friend and Teacher
One does not have to spend much time around Wallace to catch his enthusiasm for life in general and whatever interest he is pursuing, whether it be rifle making, furniture carving, sculpture, Indian artifacts, rock climbing, gardening or African art. He's always willing to share his knowledge and insight no matter what the subject. He is a true friend and teacher. His long awaited Virginia rifle book will be a tremendous asset to the longrifle community.
Resource: Contemporary Longrifle Association Member.
Contact Wallace Gusler at:
205 West Queens Dr
Williamsburg, VA 23185
phone number: (757)229-7914