279. Reform pistol-5 /2" overall.
The sliding barrel pistols that have gained most favor with collectors are the Jarre pistols commonly called simply „harmonicas." The pistols are of two types. The earlier type, United States patent #35,685, has a single barrel and a horizontally-sliding row of chambers; the later type, United States patent # 137,927, has a horizontally-sliding row of barrels. The first patent was granted in 1862 to J. Jarre, of Paris, France; the second was granted in 1873 to A. E. and P. J. Jarre, both of Paris.
Figure 281 shows a single barrel Jarre pistol, photographed from below and at the side. The lock is double-action and trigger pressure moves the sliding breech-bar from left to right. The breech-bar holds ten pin-fire cartridges. A face plate, or yoke, holds the cartridges in position when the loaded breech-bar is secured in the frame. This plate is lifted for loading or unloading when the bar is removed from the frame.
Figures 282 and 283 show two Jarre pistols of the type described in the later patent. One of these has six barrels and is in firing position. The other has ten barrels and is in carrying position. Any of these multiple-barrel harmonica pistols can be put in the carrying position by pushing the barrel group, with the hammer held slightly raised, until the hammer is in line with the last barrel, and then turning and pivoting the group. An ejector rod is screwed in the butt of each of these short-barreled pistols.
These barrel blocks could be made with any number of bores. The inventor thought ten should be the limit.
The several guns just described which have sliding barrels or chambers have all been of modern cartridge type. A rare one with percussion cap ignition is in illustration 284. This is Belgian, marked H. COLLEYE BREVETE. The block has four chambers, each with a countersunk nipple, and is shown in position for the firing of the first shot. Pulling the ring trigger will raise the block, draw back and drop the hammer.
A gun patented by Otto Schneelock of Brooklyn, on December 31, 1872, United States patent # 134,442 is shown in figure 285. This uses a cartridge that is rarely seen and still more rarely identified. In fact, the gun itself is not noticed as being abnormal until one looks into the cylinder or down the barrel. As the invention has to do mainly with the boring of the cylinder, the gun is shown with the patent cylinder and one of its cartridges separate. At the right of the Schneelock cylinder is a conventional cylinder and one of its cartridges.
The Schneelock cylinder is bored to take cartridges having cases and bullets with isosceles triangle cross sections. Both cylinders illustrated have the same diameter. The Schneelock cylinder is -slightly longer than the conventional cylinder. It holds seven bullets, each weighing 57 grains; the other cylinder also holds seven bullets, but these bullets weigh only 30 grains each. The gun appears to have a Smith & Wesson frame-third type of the first model .32-and the conventional cylinder illustrated is from such a gun. ( The Smith & Wesson cylinder is of course fluted. The Schneelock cylinder is round.) The triangular bore of the Schneelock barrel is spirally cut. The ejecting rod is also triangular in cross section.
Perhaps the oddest point about the mortar pistol in illustration 286 is that collectors do not know the exact purpose of its unusually large barrel. Was it intended to serve as a signal pistol, a flare pistol, or to hurl either incendiary or explosive bombs? This Dutch pistol is stamped L. D. MEYER UTRECHT. The barrel is brass, 8%2" long with a 11/2" diameter bore, and has a round part about 6" in length which unscrews from the short octagonal part, to load whatever was used as a projectile.
Another pistol that is surely odd in appearance but which was developed for a purpose that is not now clear, is shown in figure 287. An old print shows the four outriders of a royal Spanish coach carrying guns similar in appearance. The enormous butt, over five inches in diameter, could serve as a club head. The belted muzzle might then help in grasping the gun. The barrel does not have a blunderbuss bore and the muzzle is of no practical value in shooting. The guns would make a parade more spectacular, and perhaps nothing more was required of them.
286. Mortar pistol-15 /2" overall/ Sam E. Smith collection.
286. Mortar pistol-15 /2" overall/ Sam E. Smith collection.
Most pepperboxes have four, five, or six barrels. Occasionally we find one with eight barrels, but rarely with more than eight. One with twenty-four barrels is a curiosity. Of the few in existence, a fine example is shown in figure 288. This is a European ring trigger percussion cap Mariette with the barrels in two concentric rows, fifteen in the outer row and nine in the inner.
An American revolver with twenty-four chambers is shown in illustration 289. This piece was formerly in the Philo Remington collection and was designed by Fordyce Beals. I do not know of the existence of another example of this gun, or in fact of any other 24-shot American revolver. Revolvers having two barrels and with from fourteen to twenty chambers were described in an earlier chapter. This gun has twelve chambers in each of two rows, but it has only one barrel. The barrel, shown in position to guide bullets from the outer row, is pivoted near the muzzle and has a rotating lock at the breech end. The barrel may be depressed against spring pressure and locked in position to direct bullets from the inner row of chambers. The nipples are staggered and there is a rotating lock back of the hammer that may be set to limit the motion of the hand so the hammer will strike nipples in the inner row. The yammer has a double head that reaches both rows of chambers.
In illustration 290 is shown an all-metal folding revolver and in illustration 291 an all-metal folding pistol. Both guns are small and designed to be carried inconspicuously. The 5-shot revolver is Belgian and marked NOVO. It is double-action, hammerless and fires small low power cartridges. The thin curved metal grip may be put in the folded position shown when a stud is pressed. The folding pistol, figure 291, fires a single small caliber pin-fire cartridge and has several unusual features. It may be loaded by drawing back a pivoted breech section of the barrel when the gun is folded. After pulling up on the barrel muzzle until the barrel locks at a right angle to the frame, the gun may be cocked by pulling up the rear end of a heavy spring. This spring, which is screwed tight to the muzzle end of the barrel, acts as the striker to drive in the detonating pin of the cartridge. When the spring hammer is cocked, the gun may be fired by pressing a folding trigger which is attached to the barrel. The gun may be unlocked for folding when a button on the side of the frame is pressed. An ejecting rod is carried under the frame.
Perhaps as a result of the fact that some early American percussion underhammer pistols had odd shaped grips and were carried in boot tops, some collectors class all underhammer pistols as oddities. The bootleg pistols do not have the beauty of fine Kentucky rifles, but they are equally worthy of collection as Americana and harder to find in good condition.
Three bootleg pistols are shown in illustration 292, two with hammers cocked. The top one is .41 caliber; the middle one .36; the bottom, .30. The one at the bottom is the most nearly conventional, in shape of grip and also in having the small star and diamond insets of silver.
In figure 293 is shown one of a pair of pistols, unmarked but believed to be American and probably made in Philadelphia. These finely made guns are short, but of heavy caliber, about .50.
A very unusual unmarked but apparently American underhammer pistol is in illustration 294. This has two swivel-breech, over-and-under barrels. There is a ring release to permit turning the solid breech block. The split trigger guard is also the mainspring.
A most peculiar underhammer percussion cap pistol is shown in figure 295. The illustration shows the barrel with the nipple on top and the front sight underneath. This position, necessary in order that a cap may be placed on the nipple, was reached by turning the barrel through 180° from its fired position. When the barrel is turned back the ring trigger will come forward, the hammer will be eased down and the pistol will be ready for double-action discharge by a pull on the ring trigger. After firing, the trigger will remain back until the barrel is again turned for recapping; it can not again assume the position for firing, which is double-action, until the barrel is turned both half around and then back. There is nothing missing in the picture. You can look right through the open space back of the barrel in the actual gun.
That pistol with the long underhammer extending forward from the grip has a complicated action. The two pistols shown in figure 296 solve the problem of making the nipple accessible for capping in a much simpler way. On each of these the long underhammer is attached to the barrel and is capable of being pushed to one side sufficiently to permit capping. One of these pistols, the top one, seems to be American; the other, completely unmarked, appears to be French. The top one bears the word „patent" as well as a name and a date, neither of which is clear. If the patent exists I overlooked it. Possibly an application was made and denied.
Each gun has only two moving parts. The lower gun operates the same as the upper, but is more expertly finished. When the spring hammer is pressed to the side the ring trigger falls away. The nipple is then capped, and the hammer and trigger moved back to the position in the illustration. Now when the trigger is pulled the spring hammer will be bent down until its end clears the lug on the trigger. The released hammer nose will then drive up and detonate the cap.
The pistol with the reversed flintlock, figure 297, is decidedly an oddity. The gun, by Tatham & Egg, London, is finely made and of heavy caliber, about .65. It was probably made on special order, but it is unlikely it was made just to prove it would work, for other guns exist with upside-down flintlocks.
Such guns as the Winchester, Marlin, Henry, Volcanic, have accustomed us to a magazine under, not over, the barrel. A peculiarity of the repeating pistol illustrated in figure 298 is the location of the magazine above the barrel. The gun is usually called the gravity feed pistol. It fires a cartridge which is nothing more than a lead bullet hollowed at the base to hold a thin primer and a light charge of powder, quite like a Volcanic cartridge. The process of getting a cartridge from the magazine to the chamber requires first that the hammer be brought to half cock and left there until the cartridge is fully inserted in the chamber. Drawing the hammer to half cock raises the chamber block, or carrier, until the chamber is in line with the magazine. Pointing the muzzle up lets a cartridge slide down to the chamber. A very small yammer, operated with the thumb and forefinger, is provided to insure that the cartridge is pressed fully back. The illustration shows the gun at half cock with the little pivoted yammer having finished pushing the cartridge into the chamber. When the pistol is brought to full cock the carrier goes down, violently and with considerable noise., and aligns the loaded chamber with the barrel. The gun is Belgian, finely finished and ornamented. I can find no maker's name on the example illustrated.
In any repeating firearm that fires cartridges from a cylinder we confidently expect to find the barrel lined up with a chamber at the instant of firing. When the gun in figure 299 is fired the bullet must follow a curved path to get in the barrel. The gun illustrated was patented by William H. Morris and Charles L. Brown, of New York City, United States patent #26,919, dated January 24, 1860. The cylinder has six chambers for rim-fire cartridges which are fired by a revolving striker. The cylinder itself does not rotate. It may be moved out of the side of the frame for loading, and when returned to the frame it may be pressed forward and locked to make a gas-tight joint with the barrel breech. The extended and conical rear end of the barrel has six short passages converging from the six chamber mouths to the single bore of the barrel proper.
In figure 300 is a much earlier flintlock cylinder pistol, one of a pair, in which the bullets are well off center when discharged. In this gun the bullets are guided by a funnel and deflected into the barrel bore. The pistols, of masterly workmanship, are marked GORGO AT LONDON. Jackson, who illustrated this same pair, plate XXVII, in his European Hand Firearms, states, „The maker . . . to judge from the decorative design, was doubtless of Italian descent and probably domiciled in London during the second half of the XVIIth century". The cylinder is not stationary. It is revolved manually, when the trigger guard is pressed up, and has three chambers of about .40 caliber. The lock is equipped with a priming powder magazine operated by a lever attached to the frizzen.
301. and 302. Wilkinson pistol-16" overall/ Henry M. Stewart collection.
Another exceptional piece, this by the English maker, Wilkinson, whose British patent for its features was 6139 of the year 1831, is shown in figures 301 and 302. This gun has several unusual features but its distinctive oddity is its special cartridge, designed to take full advantage of its elliptical blunderbuss barrel. The paper cartridge contains twelve quarter circle lead projectiles as well as a charge of powder and a thinly covered detonating cap. The twelve projectiles are formed by the mold illustrated. The pistol has a rising breech pivoted at the rear, like a Hall Army rifle. This is operated by a lever, at the top of the lock plate, which not only tilts the chamber but moves it backward and forward to give an obturating effect, like the movement of the cylinder on a Savage revolver. Before introducing the cartridge in the chamber the thin paper over the copper detonating cap is broken as the cap is pressed down on the nipple. If the special mold is not available the twelve projectiles may be formed from a long cylinder of lead by two longitudinal and two transverse cuts. The inventor explains that these projectiles „will be so scattered laterally by the flattened bell shaped end of the barrel as to constitute a most formidable weapon of defence."
A blunderbuss was always esteemed as a weapon of defense, particularly by any highwayman who possessed one.
Francisco Xavier made the work of art shown in figure 303, just before 1800, in Spain. The steel is very finely and beautifully engraved, and the wood is artistically inlaid with silver. The three blades on this one-shot and one-barrel pistol certainly make it an oddity. There is a sliding penknife blade on top, a larger single-edge blade on the left, and a three-edged bayonet on the right. The one on top may be drawn back; the two on the sides may be folded back and secured.
In illustration 304 is an unmarked double-action 6-shot revolver, probably European, designed for use by a man who because of loss of fingers can not operate a conventional trigger.
There are four triggers on the gun in figure 305, which is the last photograph in this book of an actual gun. Any flintlock gun with more than two barrels, particularly if it has more than two triggers, is unusual. This fowling piece, with four barrels, four locks, and four triggers, is a finely designed gun by Le Compte a Chateaudun. The four 30" barrels are 24 gauge and are grouped around a center channel which holds the ramrod. The ramrod fits flush at the muzzle. There is a small stud on the side of the barrels to give it a push so it may be pulled out.
All illustrations that follow in this chapter are of patent drawings. The patent drawings illustrate strange creations which undoubtedly never were produced in quantity and of which I have located no example to photograph.
All quotations that appear under the patent drawing illustrations are taken from the related patent specifications.
303. Xavier pistol/ Photograph reprinted by permission from The Corpus and History of Hand Firearms by Thomas T. Hoopes and William G. Renwick.
ALBERT B. PRATT, OF LYNDON, VERMONT U.S. Patent 1,183,492-WEAPON-May 16, 1916
306. Mr. Pratt considered that his combination of helmet and blowback automatic had many advantages. „The gun is automatically aimed . . . to the turning of the head of the marksman in the direction of the target . . . leaving his hands and feet free further to defend himself . . ." The crown may be detached, „inverted and used as a cooking utensil." The barrel cover becomes a handle and the spike gives support in the ground. Blowing through a tube expands a pneumatic bulb which acts as a trigger. - I get headaches and I prefer to have someone else test the gun, though Mr. Pratt is confident the two movements of the blowback breech-bolt „naturalize (sic) one another . . . no discomfort . . . from the recoil."
H. HEINEKE ET AL, GERMANY
U.S. Patent 2,253,125-FISHING HOOK-Aug. 19, 1941
307. A firing mechanism entirely encased in the hook so the fish will „not be frightened away without biting" and so aimed that when . . . a fish gives a sudden jerk on the hook . . . the firing pin will be released to strike the cartridge and the latter will be discharged, thus killing or stunning the fish." --Might have caught the big one that got away.
Smuutot ifo/i/i Stfinacher, tj
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