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Hand Engraving Glossary - by Roger Bleile -  Sponsored by Steve Lindsay  -  Leave Feedback

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American Engravers
The 21st Century

C. Roger Bleile

NEW YORK STYLE – Gun collectors use this term in reference to gun engraving that looks like the work of L. D. Nimschke but cannot be directly attributed to him. Nimschke’s workshop was in New Your city and it is believed that other, less famous engravers in New York used the same styles of decorative engraving. “New York engraved,” is a way of saying, “Nimschke engraved but I can’t prove it.”
NEGATIVE SPACE – In the design of ornamental scrollwork, the negative space is that portion of the design left unengraved which at the same time is part of the overall design. Negative space should not be confused with the background that is the enclosed small areas between the leaves of scrollwork or other ornamental motifs.

NEOCLASSICAL – Of, relating to, or characteristic of a neoclassic style, as in the decorative arts, prevalent in France during the first part of the 19th century. Also known as Empire period ornament because it is related to the First Empire of France (1804-1815). Characterized by the use of delicate but elaborate ornamentation imitated from Greek and Roman examples or containing classical allusions, bas-reliefs of classical figures, motifs of wreaths, torches, caryatids, lyres, and urns and by the occasional use of military and Egyptian motifs.

Pictured are illustrations of neoclassical motifs.
NEUENGLISCHE ARABESKEN – German-speaking engraver’s term meaning new English scrollwork. Austrian engravers use this term to describe what American engravers usually call “German scrollwork.” British engravers refer to their version of this style as “large scroll.”

Pictured are two similar but different examples of neuenglische arabesken engraving on Austrian guns.
NGRAVER COMPANY – A company located in Bozrah, CT, that manufactures and sells engraving tools and accessories. Primarily known for the Magnagraver™ which is a hand held engraving device that is powered by a flex shaft motor.
NICK & DOT – A common pattern of border engraving characterized by a row of triangular cuts opposed by dots or dashes between the points of the triangles.

Pictured is a nick & dot border surrounding a rossette and a simple nick & dot border.
NIELLO - A black metallic alloy of sulfur, copper, silver, and usually lead, used as an inlay on engraved metal. It can be used for filling in designs cut from metal. The Egyptians are credited with originating niello decoration, which spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. The goldsmiths of Florence in the middle of the 15th century ornamented their works by means of engraving the metal with a burin, after which they filled up the hollows produced by the burin with a black enamel-like compound made of silver, lead and sulfur. The resulting design, called a niello, was of much higher contrast and thus much more visible.

Shown here is a 16th century engraving with niello fill.
NIMSCHKE, LOUIS DANIEL – Noted American gun engraver active from 1850 to 1900. Nimschke was born in Germany and learned his trade there, as did many American engravers of the 19th century. Nimschke is the best-known engraver of his era for three reasons. First, because of his longevity in the trade resulting in a significant body of work. Secondly, due to a distinctive style of scrollwork he engraved into many Colt, Winchester, and other highly collectable guns. And lastly, because of the record of his work he left preserved in the form of a book of ink pulls which were used to create a book entitled “L. D. Nimschke Firearms Engraver” by author R.L.Wilson. It should also be noted that Nimschke was one of the few engravers of the 19th century who occasionally signed his more elaborate commissions. His signature may be found as complete as “L. D. Nimschke, Engr.” Or as simple as “LDN.” Unfortunately, as with many things of great value, counterfeits of Nimschke’s work are frequently found in the collector gun marketplace. Anyone considering the purchase of an alleged Nimschke engraved gun should have it authenticated by an authority on the subject of gun engraving and not rely on an engraved signature.
NIMSCHKE SCROLL – A style of scrollwork associated with German born, American gun engraver L. D. Nimschke who was active from 1850 to 1900.

NIMSCHKE STAR – A motif featuring deep and tapering cuts that radiate from a central point. Named after 19th century engraver Louis D. Nimschke who popularized the motif on guns of American manufacture.

NOSE CAP – Usually made of brass, steel, German silver, or horn the nose cap protects and adorns the forward end of a rifle stock on full stocked rifles such as American long rifles and bolt actions having a “Mannlicher” stock. As with any metal part of a firearm, nose caps are sometimes found decoratively engraved.

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