OF ALL PECULIAR FIREARMS the most unbelievable have resulted from man's fondness for combining a gun with something else.
Firearms combined with edged weapons, such as knives, seem reasonable. Pistols combined with table forks seem ill-devised, but they exist. In fact, there is one instance-I believe one onlywhere a small flintlock pistol was built into a spoon as well as into the companion pieces, the knife and fork.* [* Illustration #267]
Guns have been built into purses, canes, police truncheons, flash lights, cameras, and even sundials, with some reason. They have also been built into wrenches, pipes, helmets, stirrups and fish hooks. We shall come to those later.
In starting with combination weapons it may be well to point out that only weapons combined with guns are shown. There are many other forms of combined weapons, such as spears combined with axes, and swords with throwing knives in the scabbards. In this volume no piece is shown that is not capable of shooting, using powder as a propellant. Any miniature pistol, or any tinderlighter for that matter, that is illustrated, can shoot.
We usually think of a combination weapon as combining a gun with another weapon designed for offense. One of the very early combinations was of a pistol and a weapon of defense.
1. Matchlock buckler-diameter 18 /2"/ Metropolitan Museum of Art collection.
Illustration # 1 shows a shield, or buckler, with a built-in match lock pistol. Enough of these shields to outfit at least a company of men-at-arms were made in England early in the 16th century. The shield is made of wood faced with steel plates, and is about 181/2" in diameter. The pistol barrel is about 6" long, having about half its length protruding from the front of the shield. Ignition is by means of a slow match, which is a slowly burning fuse made of chemically impregnated rope. The gun is breech loading, using vented cartridge-like steel casings loaded with powder and ball. These steel chambers have no obturating power, but otherwise they function just like the separate primed metallic cartridges used in the nineteenth century by the well known 1865 model Maynard rifles. Illustration #2 is a reproduction of a drawing in Creener's The Gun and its Development which shows the mechanism better than a photograph. On the left is the outer side of the shield and the muzzle of the gun. On the right is the inner side of the shield and the breech of the barrel ready to receive the cartridge which is shown separately in the illustration. To quote Greener - „The system adopted for loading consists of a block hinged upon each side of the barrel: it is raised up for the insertion of a loaded thimble or steel chamber. The match was affixed to a serpentine attached to a rod stapled to the interior of the shield, which was depressed by hand into the flash-pan upon the top (of the lowered block) to ignite the charge".
2. Drawing from Greener's The Gun and Its Development.
What looks like a barred window is no more than that-just a grating that may be opened or closed.
A soldier carrying a supply of the loaded cartridges should be able to fire a gun of this construction rapidly, once the match was alight and fastened to the serpentine. Very few motions are necessary to raise the block, withdraw a fired casing, insert a loaded casing, press down the hinged block, and then press down the serpentine. A modern single shot hammertype shotgun without an automatic ejector might not be fired more rapidly.
Probably only one in twenty gun collectors has seen one of these „gonne shields". The one illustrated is in this country's top public museum collection of fine firearms. However, other similar shields are in private collections in this country and in Europe. Occasionally one goes on the auction block or finds its way into a dealer's hands. Probably the largest number of these shields to be found in a single collection is in the Tower of London. There were ten there in 1916 according to the Charles Ffoulkes inventory. Ffoulkes reports the inventory of 1547 showed forty.
Some of the pieces illustrated in this book are easily obtained by collectors who want unusual guns. Nearly all-of which photographic prints are shown-even a „gonne shield"-can be acquired by a patient collector. A few pieces are unique. It is very probable there is no other example of the combination weapon which is illustrated in Figure 3 and also in the frontispiece. This is another, but quite different, combination of shield and gun. The first was a buckler, held by the forearm, equipped with one matchlock pistol. This is a cuirass, fastened around the body, equipped with nineteen cartridge pistols. It was „found in Bordeaux, 1917", and was in the collection of the famed Charles Noe Daly from that time until it was sold at auction June 5, 1935 in Toronto. It weighed thirty pounds.
I quote a description supplied by Stephen V. Grancsay, Curator of Arms and Armor. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City-"Cuirass of steel on which have been mounted nineteen similar pistols, which may be dropped for loading, and when brought into a right angle position may be fired in batteries of four and five by pressing the studs and levers, which release the hammers which are cocked by a hook carried on a chain. This remarkable effort to create a human arsenal is accompanied by a pair of stirrups, each of which contains two pistols, dischargeable by the pulling of a strap in the event of pursuit or attack. Undoubtedly the most remarkable freak in the line of small arms extant, and the life work of some French armourer of the first order."
The just described stirrups are companion pieces to the cuirass. They are shown in illustration 4 and also in the two illustrations where Mr. Daly is pictured wearing the cuirass, carrying the stirrups in the left hand and a large combination knife-revolver in the right.
Now we turn to firearms combined with other weapons designed for offense rather than defense. Simple attachments to firearms, such as bayonets to muskets, daggers to pistols, or nightsticks to revolvers, are not included, but still the list is long. Early guns were mostly single shot, and reloading was a slow process. They could not be surely depended upon to go off when desired. They were unfair and unchivalrous in the eyes of the knights. The knights were dismayed by „the murderous intent comprised in villainous saltpetre",* [*Rudyard Kipling, ARITHMETIC ON THE FRONTIER.] but they could not ignore this hated invention. The men-at-arms soon accepted guns as auxiliaries to be built into cutting, thrusting, and clubbing weapons.
The very early hand firearm, simply a steel tube with a touch hole, was often primarily a mace. The mounted men-at-arms who could command the services of the best armourers were soon carrying at their saddle bows, instead of the usual maces, such elaborate weapons as those shown in illustrations 5 and 6. Both are Holy Water Sprinklers, made long ago in Germany. Figure 5 is the first form. It is a mace with four separate steel barrels, each 9" long.
These barrels are formed into a wooden cylinder held with four iron bands, two of which have six spikes each. The ignition system is that used before any gun lock was invented, and consists of touching a slow burning „match", or other tinder, held by the hand, to the powder in the touch hole. There is a touch hole with a sliding cover for each barrel. The muzzle has a hinged spear-topped iron cap, held in place by a hook. When the touch holes and the muzzle are all covered this first of pepperboxes is completely concealed within the mace. In the illustration one vent cover is shown open.
Figure 6 shows one of these multishot comination weapons equipped with gun locks. There is a matchlock for each of the four barrels. The gun powder is still ignited by the glowing match cord, but now the match, instead of being held by the hand, is fixed in the end of a curved holder, the serpentine, and mechanically moved down to the touch hole by pressure on a button trigger on the side of the lock plate.
Students are not in full agreement as to the correct name for these mace combinations, though they have been known as Holy Water Sprinklers for four hundred years. One item in the inventory made in the year 1547 of the weapons in the Tower of London was „Holly water sprincles wt thre gonnes in the Topp". Many students think the name derives from a fancied resemblance to an aspergillum, but Joseph Skelton, in Meyrick's Ancient Armour, states, „To sprinkle the holy water was the cantphrase for fetching blood, which will account for the appellation, as there is no resemblance between the weapon and the aspergillum."
The matchlock mace combinations were made of wood with fanciful bone inlays and iron fittings. They were followed by maces equipped with wheel lock pistols, often made entirely of iron or steel. Figure 7 illustrates an all-metal Saxon mace, circa 1550, decorated with etched and gilded designs. The handle of the mace encloses a foot long barrel which has its muzzle at the mace's spiked end. This piece possesses the great advantage that in sudden emergency it does not require having at hand a slow match already alight in order to shoot. The wheel lock can be kept for hours or days ready to shoot at pressure on the trigger.
It is assumed the reader is no stranger to either the conventional flintlock or the later percussion firearms. To those not familiar with the complicated but very efficient wheel locks it may be said they are similar to flintlocks in that they ignite powder by developing sparks by friction-but in the wheel lock, steel moves against flint, whereas in the much simpler flintlock, which includes the miquelet and the snaphaunce, flint moves against steel.
Illustration 8 is of a late 16th century dagger, probably German, combined with a wheel lock pistol. Except the wood grips the dagger is all metal completely covered with etching. There is a 2" tip which pulls out to disclose the pistol barrel.
Illustration 9 is of a German hunting sword with a bone-inlaid curved wooden stock, fitted with a late 17th century wheel lock. The knights thought the early guns unchivalrous. The later hunters sometimes condemned swords fitted with pistols as unsportsmanlike-that is when used against animals.
11. Flintlock saber/ Harold G. Young collection.
11. Flintlock saber/ Harold G. Young collection.
12. Hunting sword/ Frank R. Horner collection.
12. Hunting sword/ Frank R. Horner collection.
In figure 10 is shown a combination of a wheel lock pistol with a hunting knife, or „chopper." It is German of about 1540, decorated with foliation and gilding, with horn handles. A perpetual ecclesiastical calendar is etched on the blade. Any calendar sword is highly prized by a collector of valuable antiques. A calendar blade on a combination weapon is very rare.
In the first column of the table etched on the blade are the days of the month. In the next column are the days of the week, represented by the first seven letters of the alphabet, continuously repeated in sequence. In the third column the appropriate saint to whom to appeal is named for every day of the year.
A sword with a flint pistol is shown in figure 11. This is unusual in that the blade is the larger saber blade used by the military. The flintlock is the goose neck type, the most commonly used form of gun lock from about 150 up to 250 years ago. On this piece the barrel is just over 7" long, with a bore of .50 caliber. Most of the edged weapons which are in combination with flint pistols have shorter barrels and smaller caliber bores.
Swords, particularly hunting swords, fitted with single-shot flint pistols, were made in sufficiently large numbers to permit the present day collector to find one with little difficulty. Less easy to locate are swords with two pistols.
A fine Italian hunting sword made by Pietro Bruni, figure 12, has two .35 caliber flint pistols, one on each side of the blade. The illustration shows one pistol in cocked and the other in fired position. The triggers are small buttons in the hilt. In this piece, as in most hunting swords and knives, the pistol is aimed toward the point of the blade. In hunting boar the idea was to drive in the sword and then press the triggers.
That was not how the weapon in illustration 13 was designed to function. This has its pistol barrel pointing in the opposite direction. The knife thrust and the pistol shot would hardly occur simultaneously. The barrel is only 1/2" long, and of only .25 caliber. Perhaps this piece, made around 1720, is a combination weapon designed primarily for personal defense, though having a hunting blade. The sheath is of leather, brass mounted. The handle, also of brass, is inscribed F. x. RICHTER IN NEJ. Of much interest is the lock. That has all its mechanism on the outside of the handle.
Another combination weapon with a very interesting lock is the highly ornamented Turkish over-and-under pistol, illustration 14, which has a slim double edged dagger concealed between its two slightly converging barrels. The hilt of the dagger is also the grip of the pistol. It is of silver, engraved, with the foot-long blade of steel, gold damascened. The wooden part of the stock is finely silver inlaid with floral designs. The barrels and the lock are gold decorated. The two barrels are fixed, not tuyn-over, and the lock appears to be designed for only a single shot pistol. However, drawing back the cock after the top barrel is fired, automatically pulls back an upper flash pan and discloses a second pan underneath with a vent leading to the lower barrel.
A crossbow and a wheel lock arquebus is a very rare combination. An excellent example is pictured in illustration 15. The crossbow is the hunting type called a prodd. It is of steel and shoots stones or pellets of lead.
It is to be noted that this weapon, which bears the Nuremberg mark and was made about the year 1600, has a set trigger for the wheel lock. The guard for this trigger looks like the conventional under the frame bow release. The actual bow release is mounted over the arquebus barrel, along with the nut designed to engage a bow string and the large steel lever for bending the bow, while a two-piece telescopic ramrod is in a channel under the barrel. The stock, of walnut, is richly incrusted with engraved bone representations of animals, masks and scrollwork. This is of course strictly a hunting weapon. The prodd is for very small game; the arquebus is for larger game.
In illustration 16 are shown two axes, 36" and 33" long respectively, a chopping knife 14" overall, and a sword 27" long-all combined with firearms.
Axes were popular weapons when firearms were first used. They were favorites for taking apart an unhorsed knight.
With the development of flintlocks the demand for combination weapons for combat was fast waning. Such pieces as the flintlock axe shown at the top of the illustration were made in small numbers. This particular piece has a stock of wood; axe, lock and barrel of steel; and furniture of brass. It comes apart at the wide brass band to permit withdrawal from the shaft of a short sword. The gun is fired by a button trigger which is equipped with a slide safety.
Next is a fine early wheel lock battle axe. This is a sturdy piece with a heavy blade and a rather large bore barrel. The stock is a completely inlaid work of art, with serpents and animal heads preponderant in the design.
13. Hunting knife/ Major Leo E. Huff collection.
13. Hunting knife/ Major Leo E. Huff collection.
14. Dagger pistol - 20" overall/ Eddie Reider collection.
14. Dagger pistol - 20" overall/ Eddie Reider collection.
Between the wheel lock axe and the sword is shown a Saxon chopping knife, complete with the trousse and its accessories. This piece is outstanding. It is not only of superior workmanship, but in remarkably fine condition. The horn grips, the fine etching, and the original blue and gilding have come through four centuries in fine style. The illustration shows the small wheel lock. It does not show the part round, part octagon barrel which lies along the other side of the blade. The knife is designed for chopping meat after a stag hunt. The trousse, which sheaths the hunting knife, holds in addition to the small knife and fork shown, a combination rammer and spanner.
The sword with the single flintlock and the two pistol barrels is another unusual piece. As in the Turkish dagger combination (Illustration 14) the flash pan for the lower barrel is concealed under the pan for the top barrel. On this sword combination the sliding plate that must be pulled out to permit sparks to reach the vent in the lower barrel is not connected with the cock and must be drawn back manually. The pistol barrels, the lock plate, and the sword furniture are of brass. The decoration is very ornamental. The sword has a guard, an indication the weapon is intended for combat rather than hunting.
Illustration 17 shows the heads and parts of the hafts of four polearms. Each piece has a full length of approximately six feet.
Many gun features, such as rifled barrels, folding sights, set triggers, which we find on twentieth century guns, may also be found on sixteenth century guns. Such features alone are not criteria of a gun's age. Type of ignition is a guide in dating a gun, and guns are primarily classified by lock types. There are usually considered to be just four main types of locks made prior to the development of modern cartridge arms. These four main types are all shown here in this collection of polearms.
The early hand guns, around 1400, had no locks. The chronology of the gun locks, from first use to outmoding, is roughlymatchlock (European), 1470 to 1680; wheel lock, 1510 to 1700: flintlock, 1575 to 1825; percussion cap, 1815 to 1875. It should be remembered that no one knows who invented these locks, nor exactly when nor where. We are not even sure who invented the percussion cap. We do know the percussion cap was developed as a result of Reverend Alexander Forsyth's bringing out in 180 7 his detonator lock-the most important development in guns since gunpowder.
15. Wheel lock prodd/ Joseph Kindig, Jr. collection.
15. Wheel lock prodd/ Joseph Kindig, Jr. collection.
There are sub classes of each main type of lock. There are a dozen or more distinct varieties of flint locks, including Baltic, snaphaunce, miquelet, Scottish. Knowledge of varieties enables the student better to place a gun in its niche of time.
The halberd with the matchlock-to get back to the illustration -is very rare. The shank of the halberd is hollow and forms the barrel of the pistol. The long spiked end, shown separated from the halberd, is an extension of the shank. The square hole in the blade is intended to receive and hold this pointed end when the end is disconnected.
The polearm with the two wheel locks is a boar spear. Two sets of triggers are provided. One set is near the spear head; the other set is well back on the staff.
The flint piece with the odd forked spear head has the trigger placed about two feet back from the lock.
The percussion cap polearm with the bayonet-like spear has no conventional hand-operated trigger. The gun is designed to fire on impact. Pressure on the point of the bayonet pushes back the trigger to permit the hammer to drive down and detonate the cap.
The year 1836, believed to be the date of manufacture of the double-action Colt revolver pictured in illustration 18, was a momentous one in the field of United States patents, and particularly eventful as far as patented American firearms are concerned. A very disastrous fire in the Patent Office left little known of patents granted between 1790 and 1836, beyond the patentee's name, the year of the patent and the class of invention.
In the United States prior to 1836 very few patents were taken out on guns. About the only guns patented before 1836 of which a few examples have survived are the pistols with the Hart pill locks, invented in 1827.
In 1836 there were two patents issued for revolvers with mechanically turned cylinders. One was the famous „Revolving Pistol" marked PATENT ARMS M'G CO. PATERSON, N. J. COLT'S PT. The other was that champion rarity, the „Rotary Pistol" marked R. AND R. M. DARLING. Both are single-action with cylinders turned mechanically.
The Colt shown in figure 18 is one of several different experimental combination weapons produced by Colt. The blade is noteworthy because of its size, but the most unusual feature of the gun is that it is double-action. A strong point about the percussion cap Colt revolvers was the sturdiness of their singleaction locks. Mr. Colt was able to use this piece to demonstrate the superiority of the single-action over the double-action.
The combination pistols most sought by American collectors are the Elgin pistols, usually known as cutlass pistols. Mr. George Elgin, of whose history before and after the year 1837 almost nothing is known, obtained U. S. Patent #254, dated July 5, 1837, for „a new and useful instrument called the Pistol-Knife or Pistol-Cutlass". The drawing refers to the „instrument" as a „Pistol-Sword." In the patent specification Mr. Elgin states „The nature of my invention consists in combining the pistol and Bowie knife, or the pistol and cutlass, . . . ." The blades on the Elgin pistols which I have seen, or of which I have seen photographs, all follow the same pattern as regards the shape of the pointed end. They come closer in appearance to true Bowie knife blades than to conventional cutlass blades.
Charles Winthrop Sawyer listed the Elgin pistol among „arms used by militia, privateersmen, or other citizen martial bodies" and stated regarding it, „The expected sale was to the government to issue to sappers and miners, and to the navy for repelling boarders, and to the merchant marine trading in the Far East, for the same purpose."
Collectors have been uncertain that Elgin pistols, other than two samples, were ever ordered by, delivered to, or paid for by the Department of the Navy. An abridged copy of a letter was published several years ago and was referred to as a contract between Elgin and the Navy. The published reproduction was of an incomplete copy of the original letter. As the copy gave no evidence that the terms of the proposal contained in the letter were satisfactory to the unnamed addressee, students have been aware it was not demonstrated that Elgin pistols should be given martial status._
18. Colt revolver/ Colt's Manufacturing Company collection.
19. and 20. Elgin pistols/ Sam E. Smith collection. Photographs 19 and 20 courtesy The Gtin Collector.
Now, original documents recently examined, all found in the National Archives Building, Washington, not only tell of the negotiations for the purchase of one hundred fifty of the pistols for the South Seas Exploring Expedition, but also show approval by the then Secretary of the Navy for payment in full for an invoice for the entire number. To me, proof is conclusive that the pistols were not only ordered by, but delivered to the Navy. It seems advisable to quote at some length from a few of the records of the Department of the Navy, and to give data that will enable any student to locate the original documents.
In Account Book No. 3, among the records of the Commissioners of the Navy for the period from 1833 to 1842, there is a ledger account for George Elgin which mentions „2 Pistol Knives or Cutlasses made as a pattern-to be left in the Navy Comm's Off." This ledger item, approved by Isaac Chauncey, President of the Board of Navy Commissioners, shows these two pistols cost $20.00 each.
The reference for the next quoted document is - Records of the Department of the Navy: Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library: Exploring Expedition Letters, Volume 4, letter dated September 8, 1837, R. G. 45. The document is a proposal submitted in the form of a letter by Elgin, addressed to „Com. Thos ap C. Jones, U. S. Navy." Jones was at the time a captain and in command of the South Seas Exploring Expedition. The letter reads:
New York 8th Sept. 1837
I propose to furnish for the use of the South Sea Exploring expedition One Hundred & Fifty Pistol Knives of the following description. The form of the Stock or handled (sic) to be of the same shape as that of the sample now exhibited but larger, and suitable for a large hand.
The Lock to be of the best materials and workmanship, the Cock of the same to be on the side of the Pistol as usual.
The Barrel to be five inches long made of the Best Steel or Iron either of solid or otherwise as may be directed and to carry forty two balls to the pound which is understood to be of the same size of the modern Navy pistol.
The Blade to be of the best sheer steel eleven inches long forming a Guard over the hand of good temper.
The Blade & Barrel to be Combined by tonge (sic) and groove in the best manner either as the sample now furnished or the samples now in the Navy Commissioners office in Washington City.
The Scabbard to be made of leather of the same description as those made by Mr. N. P. Ames for the Ordnance department.
The whole to be tested in the usual manner of testing arms for the Army and Navy of the United States by any officer of the Army or Navy of the U. States or other persons that you may select.
I will deliver them in the City of New York on the 25th day of October Proximo at Seventeen 50/ 100 dollars each including all the aforesaid appurtenances.
Yours Respectfully, Geo. Elgin"
Subjoined to the letter are the following notations.
Referring to paragraph 3 - „It is agreed that the barrels are to be made of metal that may be most approved by the Superintendent of the Springfield Armory."
Referring to paragraph 5 - "It is agreed that they are to be combined in the sam (sic) way as those in the Navy Commissioners office at this time."
Referring to paragraph 6 - „Tipped with German silver with a button."
Inserted after paragraph 6 - It is understood and agreed that three extra Nipples or Cones are to be furnished with each pistol and one Wrench to each ten pistols also that the barrels are to be an Octagon and further there is to be a ramrod encased in the scabbard of each pistol."
Below Mr. Elgin's signature is the following subscript:
„Payment to be made on delivery accompanied by satisfactory evidence of proof according to the ordnance regulations of the United States War Department
New York Sept. 8th 1837 (Signed) Thos ap Catesby Jones Comdg. S.S. Expedition"
The aforementioned Volume 4 of the Exploring Expedition Letters, which, incidentally, is marked „Dec. 1837-Aug. 1838, also contains two other pertinent letters, one dated March 12, 1838, and the other March 27, 1838.
The March 12th letter was from Leverett and Thomas, of New York, to Levi Woodbury. Levi Woodbury was Secretary of the Treasury at the time, and according to Longworth's New York City Directory for 1837 Josiah S. Leverett and Edward I. Thomas were operating a hardware business at 13 Broad Street. In their letter Leverett and Thomas stated they acted as agents for George Elgin and requested payment in the amount of $2631 for 150 Pistol Knives which had been inspected and accepted by the Navy Yard at Brooklyn. They mentioned they were sending „certificate of inspection" - apparently with the letter.
The March 27, 1838, letter was addressed to „The Honrl. Mahlon Dickerson, Sec. of the Navy" and was signed „Your Obd Svt-Thos ap Catesby Jones, Late Comdr. of S. S. & Expl. Expedition." ( Lieutenant Wilkes had succeeded Captain Jones in command.) The letter was in reply to the Secretary's „letter of the 15 Inst. enclosing the bill of Leverett and Thomas." Captain Jones stated the original delivery date of October 25th had been extended to November 15th, but that Elgin had not reported the pistols were ready for inspection until November 20th. Captain Jones then stated he wrote Elgin on November 24th, „It is proper for me to observe that the 15 day of November being the termination of the extended time in which by your contract you were to have delivered the articles, it is not impossible that some difficulty may grow out of your non compliance-never will with me if the Pistols are delivered before we sail but should their delivery be tendered to another person I think you would meet with some trouble." Captain Jones then went on to tell Secretary Dickerson of „the unquestionable superiority of the weapon over any other for arming Boats crews and exploring parties for penetrating into the interior of Islands inhabited by savages." He concluded his long letter with a recommendation that the bill, less a small incorrect charge for boxing, be paid, „as the arms are well approved of by the Inspection officer and they are in time for the expedition which I understand has not yet sailed."
The reference for the finalizing document is - Records of the Department of the Navy: Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library: General Letter Book # 24, Page 370, R. G. 45. This entry is the original record of the letter written March 30, 1838, to Leverett & Thomas, New York, and reads,
Your bill for 150 Pistol Knives for the exploring Expedition, Amounting to $2631-00 has been transmitted to James K. Paulding, Esq. Navy Agent at New York with directions to pay this amount.
I am, Very respectfully yr Obd Mahlon Dickerson"
Secretary Dickerson allowed the charge for boxing - it appears to have been $6.00.
It is still not known whether or not any of these pistols were actually taken on the expedition. Many items that were supplied for use of the squadron were not embarked after Wilkes was put in command. An article in Issue 33 of The Gun Collector refers to „5 Bowie Knife pistols-percussion" as being in an 1852 „list of arms at the New York Navy Yard which are not now called for by the regulations."
All Elgin pistols conforming to the specifications approved by Captain Jones and supplied to the Brooklyn Navy Yard were undoubtedly made by Cyrus Bullard Allen, of Springfield, Massachusetts. One such pistol is shown in illustration 19. This is marked on top of the 5" octagon barrel, ELGIN'S PATENT PM CBA 1837, arid on the frame, C. B. ALLEN SPRINGFIELD, MASS. It bears the serial # 149 and is .54 caliber smoothbore. Notice the most distinguishing feature of this Allen Navy pistol, the unusual hand guard.
Other Elgin pistols, without the hand guards, were made by Allen, and also by Morrill, Mosman & Blair, Amherst, Massachusetts, and by the tatter's successor Morrill & Blair. By 1840 all manufacturers of Elgin pistols were out of business.
One of the Morrill, Mosman & Blair pistols bearing serial #13 is shown in illustration 20. This has a 4" round smoothbore barrel and is .36 caliber. Illustration 21 is of a pistol marked MORRILL & BLAIR, AMHERST, MASS. with serial #8. This has a 3" round rifled barrel, .34 caliber. A rare variation of a Morrill, Mosman & Blair pistol is shown in figure 22. In place of the usual back strap this has straps on the sides. It has a 41/4" round rifled barrel, .36 caliber.
No two Elgin pistols are quite alike and no attempt is made here to describe all the variations of size and construction. For such data the reader is referred to The Gun Collector, Issue 30, which contains illustrations and detailed descriptions of twentyodd Elgin pistols.
Illustration 23 shows along with its sheath, a two-barrel knife pistol, one barrel on each side of the blade. The two percussion cap locks have unusual hammers, fired by a single folding trigger. When the blade is sheathed, the hammers seem to be simply cross guards, or quillons, and the weapon nothing more than a dagger with a curved handle. The use of a single trigger to fire first the right and then the left barrel was well known in the days of muzzle loading percussion cap guns, but had little popularity except for the superposed load abnormalities which will be discussed in Chapter 9.
Two views, figures 24 and 25, are shown of an eccentric weapon of unknown provenience and indeterminable age. When assembled, the piece resembles a rolled umbrella fitted with carrying rings. There is a velvet covered brass scabbard and a curved brass handle that is easily removed to permit drawing the sword. The steel grip of the sword is a small muzzle loading cannon, fired the same way cannon have been fired for more than 500 years, by touching a lighted match to a primed vent.
The unsheathed product of Burma in figure 26 is somewhat similar to the unsheathed weapon just shown, but the assembled weapon, shown in figure 27, is of more efficient construction. The ease with which the gun barrel may be securely fixed in the gun stock by simply slipping the blade into the scabbard is surprising. There are no screws or other fastenings used or needed to hold the barrel ready for firing. After firing, it is necessary only to raise the percussion cap hammer and give a quick tug on the barrel to release the blade. The barrel makes a sword handle of such length the sword may be swung either with one hand or two hands.
Illustration 28 is of a large combination knife-revolver, or cutlass-revolver, similar to the one being carried by Mr. Daly, as shown in the frontispiece. The revolver is a Belgian 12 mm, 6-shot pin fire, serial 7349, with the barrel built as part of the 12" blade.
A combination of a revolver with a saber, blade scabbarded, is shown in illustration 29. This revolver also is a double-action pin fire. An unusual feature is the construction of the loading gate so it may be set to act as a safety. This piece has no maker's mark, but it has Birmingham proofs.
The sword combination illustrated in figure 30 is the patent model. A few of these weapons were probably produced and marketed commercially. Patent 34,740 was granted March 25, 1862 to Robert J. Colvin, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for this „Pistol Sword". The revolving pistol is a percussion cap model with double-action lock and cylinder automatically turned by the trigger shown inside the sword hilt. The ramrod is held by the attachment at the middle of the scabbard.
Mr. Colvin secured another patent, 44,784, on October 25, 1864, for an extraordinary combination of revolver and bayonet. This probably was never put in production. A copy of the patent drawing is shown in illustration 31.
This is a triple threat weapon. Mr. Colvin states his invention can be attached to any gun and he says, „The gun being fired, the pistol is then operated, and afterward the bayonet can be used." The patent has expired and any one may now make as many of these guns as he wishes. Just put in a second trigger and attach it to a rod so it will fire a revolver that is attached to a bayonet that fits over the barrel muzzle. If complications develop, I suggest the reading of Mr. Colvin's patent specifications -and see if that helps.
Inventions of firearms naturally increase greatly when war comes or threatens. Many patents are granted for arms that die a-horning. These range from meritorious and valuable inventions that are overlooked, to the absurd and bizarre.
The remaining illustrations in this chapter are of patents for combination weapons which if marketed at all, sold in very small numbers.
The combination piece, illustration 32, was not invented under the stress of war. Several examples are believed to exist, but none is available for illustration. R. W. Andrews, the inventor, was given his patent, #328, in July, 1837. In the patent drawing, „A" and „B" show the two parts of the weapon. The stock, the lock, and the knife are in one part; the barrel and the scabbard form the other part. The pistol is mode whole by simply pushing the blade home in the scabbard. There are two triggers, one for firing, the other for releasing a catch so the two parts may be disengaged. „If an antagonist seizes hold of the barrel and scabbard, for the purpose of wresting the weapon from the hand of the holder . . . he . . . leaves in the hand of his adversary an unsheathed dagger . . . ready for his destruction" - to quote the patent specification.
32. Andrews pistol-sword patent drawing.
33. Lawton pistol saber patent drawing.
34. Campbell lance pepperbox patent drawing.
Another 1837 patent was that granted to Robert B. Lawton, of Newport, Rhode Island, on November 23rd, patent #481. As the patent drawing shows, illustration 33, the cylinder revolved around the shank of the blade. Pulling back the trigger turned the cylinder to bring a nipple under the hammer, which was simultaneously raised by the trigger pull. To fire the cocked gun the trigger was pressed forward. To fire another barrel the pulling back and the pressing forward was repeated.
A patent of Civil War days was #39032, granted James C. Campbell, of New York City, June 30, 1863. The patent drawing, reproduced in figure 34, is of a sixteen-barrel pepperbox turning on the shaft of a lance. At close quarters, with the lance leveled at an enemy, this could have been a fearsome weapon, capable of very rapid fire if it functioned as planned. „With the cylinder grasped in the left hand and the back part of the pole in the right hand" a one-sixteenth revolution of the cylinder fired a charge. This manual turning resulted in the edges of teeth at the rear of the cylinder pushing back a hammer against spring pressure. It was assumed when one of the teeth cleared the nose of the hammer, the hammer would be driven forward quickly enough and hard enough to hit and detonate the percussion cap.
The patent drawing reproduced in illustration 35 is of a weapon for which Walter Davis received a British patent, provisional only, #4644, December 7, 1877. In addition to combining a regulation sword with a conventional revolver, Mr. Davis hit on the idea of having the scabbard, cut in sections and provided with stop hinges, to fold up in the form of a rifle stock and to be attached by „a simple slot and catch" to the sword hilt. It should be noticed that the front sight is the tip of the sword.
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