Category Archive 'Guns'
05 Dec 2019

Great Writers Who Owned Great Guns

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Papa Hemingway looks down the barrels of his .577 Westley Richards Double Rifle.

Sporting Classics points out that Turgenev owned a Joseph Lang, Hemingway the above Westley Richards, and Karen Blixen (Isak Dineson) a Rigby.

Russian author Ivan Turgenev, whose efforts to free the serfs produced the Sportsman’s Sketches, bought a Joseph Lang gun. Ernest Hemingway acquired a Westley Richards while Isak Dinesen, famed for her farm in Africa, was gifted a John Rigby.

“Turgenev had discovered the existence of the gunsmith Joseph Lang, of Cockspur Street,” wrote biographer Patrick Waddington in Turgenev and England. “Some years earlier, Lang had brought to Britain the new Lefaucheux shotgun and made some improvements in its performance. For Turgenev, ‘Leng’ (as he pronounced the name) was simply the world’s best craftsman.” The Russian émigré paid £41 for his breechloader and wrote: “How beautiful it is! It makes you feel like going down on your knees! And what an aim it has!” In reality, the “aim” took some adjustment since Turgenev fired 50 shots to bag just 11 brace while walking up grouse on the 12th at Fincastle near Pitlochry in 1871.

Turgenev’s clipped sentences and snapshot characterization influenced Ernest Hemingway’s writing sometime after Sylvia Beach encouraged Papa to read Sportsman’s Sketches. Hemingway borrowed the book often from Beach’s Left Bank lending library and appeared to have learned its lessons well.


23 Nov 2019

Lord Byron’s Greek Blunderbuss

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Auctions Imperial LLC, November 30, 2019, 9:00 AM PST

Est: $7,000 – $8,000
Opening Bid: $3,500

An exceptional example of a “tromboni” made in Epiros, covered entirely in superbly embossed and engraved silver displaying naturalistic flowering vinework. The brass buttplate and triggerguard engraved en suite. The fine matched flintlock mechanism and barrel with flared muzzle elegantly chiseled in relief with vinework and a stand of arms highlighted with gold. Set on the left side of the stock with a silver plaque with foliate border engraved, GGB for George Gordon Byron. From the Samuel Gridley Howe Collection. Early 19th century. Very minor wear.

George Gordon Byron, Sixth Lord Byron, was England’s greatest Romantic Era poet. He led an adventurous, often dangerous, existence and at age 35 journeyed to Greece to join the revolution and fight the Ottomans. Given command over a brigade of Suliots, he was preparing an attack on the Ottoman stronghold of Lepanto, but died in Missolonghi on April 19, 1824. Byron’s passing was mourned throughout the world. He became a national hero to the Greeks and his renown as a poet grew in England, Europe and America.

Samuel Gridley Howe M.D. (1801-1876,) noted American abolitionist, was so inspired by Lord Byron’s cause, that he sailed for Greece in 1824 with the intention of fighting by Byron’s side. Howe arrived just weeks after Byron succumbed to fever; he nonetheless fought for six years against the Ottomans at Missolonghi, Crete, and other locations, and assisted Byron’s close friend and protégé, Alexandros Mavrokordatos, among other Greek notables. Howe acquired Byron’s helmet, sword and a number of other military effects before returning to the U.S. in 1830; the helmet was repatriated to Greece in 1926, donated to the Ethnographic Museum, Athens (now the National Historical Museum) by Howe’s daughter, Maud Howe Elliot, which memorialized her father’s service to Greece as well. Howe’s eldest daughter, Laura Elizabeth Richards, celebrated American author, presented the blunderbuss to her son, Henry Howe Richards, at the beginning of the 20th century.

Late 18th-early 19th century. Minor wear. Overall length 51.4cm. Condition II

Samuel Gridley Howe, 1801-1876

The images of a portrait of Samuel Gridley Howe as a Greek freedom fighter, painted by John Elliot c. 1830, now housed at Brown University.

10 Oct 2019

Gun That Fired the First Shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill Goes to Auction

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The musket will be sold along with John Simpson’s original military commission dated March 17, 1778.

Just Collecting:

The gun that fired the first shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill is heading for sale Morphy Auctions in Denver later this month.

The Revolutionary War musket belonged to John Simpson, a Private in the 1st New Hampshire Regiment who fought during the historic battle in Charlestown, Massachusetts on June 17, 1775.

As the British troops advanced, Simpson fired his weapon prematurely – disobeying the famous order given to American soldiers not to fire “until you see the white of their eyes”.

Having been passed down by Simpson’s descendents for almost 250 years, the historic weapon will now be offered for sale for the first time, and is expected to sell for up to $300,000. …

Following the battle, John Simpson was the only American soldier court martialed for disobeying an order and firing too early.

However, he was only lightly reprimanded and went on to serve with distinction during the war, rising to the rank of Major before returning home to his family farm in New Hampshire.

His trusty musket was then passed down through generations of his family, creating a remarkable unbroken line of ownership, and has been described as “arguably the most significant, positively identified Revolutionary War long arm in existence”.

Not only is John Simpson’s name forever linked with the Battle of Bunker Hill, but his descendents played an even greater role in shaping the history of the nation.

Simpson’s grandson was Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War hero and 18th President of the United States; and his great-grandson was Meriwether Lewis, who explored the Western territories of the country as part of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition.



Morphy Auction Lot Description

06 Oct 2019

Ithaca Auto & Burglar Gun

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Model A

The Auto & Burglar Gun was manufactured in two variations. Approximately 2,500 of the original variation were manufactured from 1921 to 1925 using Ithaca’s standard 20 gauge Flues model shotgun, and designed to fire 2½” shells. Sometimes referred to as “Model A”, its barrels were about 10″ in length. These guns should only be fired with 2½” shells; firing longer shells will “bulge” the barrels.

Flues model

The Flues model was designed with a “saw handle” style grip featuring a large spur at the top to absorb recoil.
New Improved Double model

Ithaca redesigned the gun in 1925 using its New Improved Double (NID) model shotgun, which fires 2¾” shells; the barrels were lengthened to about 12.2″; and the grip was redesigned without the spur. Sometimes referred to as “Model B,” about 1,500 were manufactured. Model A and Model B are not formal factory designations.


Ithaca stopped manufacturing the Auto & Burglar Gun when it became subject to registration and a $200 transfer tax under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 (the transfer tax was reduced to $5 in 1960). Relatively few Auto & Burglar Guns were manufactured, and they are today highly prized as collector’s items. Approximately 20 Auto & Burglar Guns were specially manufactured, representing .410 bore, 28 gauge, and 16 gauge, only 11 of which have been reliably documented, and all these guns are extremely rare. The earliest known Ithaca Auto & Burglar Gun was manufactured about 1921, possibly as a prototype; it bears serial number 354442; is in 28 gauge with 12″ barrels; “Auto & Burglar Gun” is hand-engraved on each side; and the gun is listed separately in the Firearms Curios or Relics List published by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

While it is sometimes incorrectly identified as a “sawed-off shotgun,” the Ithaca Auto & Burglar Gun is a smooth bore pistol which since 1934 has been classified as an “Any Other Weapon” (AOW) under the NFA, and it must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Auto & Burglar Guns that are not currently registered are contraband, and cannot be legally possessed or registered. The penalties for illegal possession include up to a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison.


Auction sales estimates range from $2500 to $8000. Expect to pay nearer the latter.

27 Aug 2019

Rock Island Has Smith & Wessons

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Coming up September 6, 7, and 8: great Volcanics, a really cool Third Model Target complete with stock, a couple engraved by Nimschke, and a Kornbrath-engraved Registered Smith & Wesson to die for, and (for the icing on the cake) Elmer Keith’s own .38-44 with holster and Roper grips no less. If you recently won the lottery, you’re all set.

20 Aug 2019

“A Varied and Valuable Tool”

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Cat Urbigkit writes books and raises sheep and Hereford cattle in Sublette County in Western Wyoming. If you raise sheep, wolves are a serious problem. Cat has also occasionally run into human predators and she consequently look upon guns as essential tools.

I continue to renew my [concealed carry] permit when it comes due, even though most of the time I openly carry a firearm– because I keep guns in my work truck as a rancher. I’m a woman who works alone outside on most days in a remote region that is home to numerous large carnivores, so yes, I am armed.

Firearms are valuable tools in my life, just as necessary as standard fencing pliers, rope, an assortment of gloves made from leather, cotton, and wool, and the ever-present shovel.

My firearm use is a result of my personal journey. As I became more proficient with each gun, and we have changes in our lives and on the ranch, my need for various types of firearms and calibers changes. Much as the case of our shovel collection.

Living on a ranch, we have numerous types and styles of shovels: plastic shovels to push snow off our steps; strong but lightweight shovels strapped onto snowmachines; short, narrow shovels to dig up weeds; wide, curved shovels for firefighting; manure shovels; and traditional wooden-handled shovels in every ranch truck. Each shovel is best-suited for specific tasks, as each firearm we wield.

I’m disappointed to listen to national news media talk about gun ownership in America as though it were an alien idea. Interviews with gun owners are rare, and tend to involve either members of the gun lobby, or people at a shooting range – both of which are members of our “gun culture,” but neither of which are representative of the varied users of guns in America.

When major media in our nation talk about guns, the discussion involves speakers in metropolitan areas, usually after a horrendous tragedy. They aren’t airing interviews of people who take their children out with gundogs to hunt birds; elk hunters preparing for mountain trips they’ve dreamed about for years; former military members who enjoy competitive shooting sports; women who train to never become victims; gun collectors dedicated to preserving history; or ranchers who use firearms as tools, to name a few.

Our stories may be alien to those who haven’t shared the same life journeys, but they are the stories of American gun ownership. In a way it’s no wonder we don’t hear our stories in national media. With the current gun debate so narrowly defined, what gun owner would be willing to be interviewed by a national network or news outlet? The risks are great: nuances will be missed; statements can be taken out of context for a soundbite; and the internet backlash/cyber bullying by cowards with keyboards is nearly guaranteed.

We’ve become the silent majority.

It always amazes me that urban nincompoops in New York and other big cities, who know absolutely nothing about guns, are perfectly prepared to offer detailed regulatory schemes affecting people like Cat Urbigkit living in the remote wilds of Wyoming.

29 Jul 2019

Trump’s Revolver Is Ejecting a Case

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17 Jul 2019

Elmer Keith’s Ka-BOOM!

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02 Jul 2019

Alex Henry Double Rifle Gifted By Queen Victoria to Her Servant John Brown Bought by National Museum of Scotland

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Alex Henry .450 Double Rifle given by Queen Victoria to her personal attendant John Brown in 1873.

The Henry double rifle, commissioned by Queen Victoria as a Christmas present for John Brown, has been bought by the National Museum of Scotland and will be displayed in public for the first time this summer, from 26th June until November.

Scottish Field:

A gold plaque fitted into the butt of the.450 double-barrelled hammer rifle records that Queen Victoria presented it to John Brown as a Christmas gift in 1873. It was made that year in Edinburgh by noted Edinburgh gun maker Alexander Henry.

Dr Patrick Watt, curator of the exhibition, at National Museums Scotland, said: ‘This a tremendously significant acquisition for National Museums Scotland. It is a stunning object which shows directly the connection and the affection between Queen Victoria and John Brown.

‘The high-quality design and obvious expense of the gift highlights the position of trust and esteem in which the Queen held her loyal servant. …

John Brown had worked on the Balmoral estate since 1842, and rose in the Queen’s favour to special status as Her Majesty’s Highland Servant. After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, in 1861, Brown supported Queen Victoria in her grief. …

Brown died unexpectedly in 1883. Devastated by his loss, the Queen wrote to Brown’s brother Hugh, ‘we all have lost the best, the truest heart that ever beat!’

20 Jun 2019

Alleged Van Gogh Gun Sold at Auction

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Art News:

The rusty gun which Van Gogh probably used to shoot himself sold for €162,500 at a Drouot auction in Paris this afternoon. ArtAuction Rémy le Fur, which estimated the revolver at €40,000-€60,000, describes it as “the most famous weapon in art history”. The private buyer has not been named.

Although the seller has also not been identified by the auctioneer, she is believed to be Régine Tagliana, an artist and the daughter of Roger and Micheline Tagliana, who in 1952 had bought the café where Van Gogh lodged in 1890. The Tagliana family were given the gun in around 1960 by the farmer who had found it on his land, just behind the château in Auvers-sur-Oise. This is the village just north of Paris where the artist spent his final 70 days.

The auctioned Lefaucheux pinfire revolver is almost certainly the weapon used, although this cannot be conclusively proved. The type of weapon, its calibre, its severely corroded state and the location and circumstances of the find strongly suggest it is the gun. In the evening of 27 July 1890 Van Gogh suffered a gunshot wound while in a wheatfield and he then staggered back to the inn, dying two days later.

The discovery of the gun once again raises the question of whether Van Gogh committed suicide or was murdered. The 2011 biography by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith argued that he was killed by a local young man, René Secrétan, possibly by accident.


Earlier post.

17 Jun 2019

The Nemrod Toggle Action Fusil Superposé (Over-and-Under Shotgun)

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On the Double Gun Discussion Board, there recently was a short discussion of the Nemrod Toggle Action Fusil Superposé (Over-and-Under Shotgun), a strange and interesting contrivance out of St. Etienne.

There’s one of these cool guns for sale right now on the French Outdoor Auction site Natura Buy for €1100, not a totally appalling price, but unfortunately we lost our Freedom long ago and Big Brother won’t allow you or me to import a firearm. No, no, no! We have to use a specialized importer who, poor chap! must fill out forms roughly the size of the Holy Bible and must grovel to the minimum wage security staff at Customs. Consequently, his service fee is large, typically about a grand a gun.

Last 20th of September a similar gun went for a mere £600 (plus buyer’s premium, I expect) at Holt’s.

07 Jun 2019

The Ultimate Multi-Tool

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This crazy and incredibly complicated multi-tool was made in Solingen, Germany, around the early 1880’s for J. S. Holler & Co.’s cutlery store in New York City.

And when I mean multiple blades, I mean 100 blades, and that’s not even the craziest part.

According to the National Museum Of American History, “It includes pocket knife blades of every style imaginable, a serrated blade, two dagger blades, several different types of shears and scissors, an auger, a corkscrew, two saws, a lancet, button hook, cigar cutter, tuning fork, pens and mechanical pencils, mirror, straight razor, and a functional .22-caliber five-shot pinfire revolver.


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