Dr. J. H. Mathews, a 1903 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, with later Master's and Doctor's degrees from Harvard, is one of the real pioneers in criminal investigation work involving firearms identification. His first criminal case was in 1923 and involved the metallographic analysis of certain parts of a bomb which had killed one person and badly injured another. As a result of his success in this case, other cases, including firearms examinations and identifications, soon came to his laboratory and, as his well-deserved reputation in this work spread, the demand for his services rose until he now has a record of several hundred important cases successfully completed and can be considered one of the world's outstanding experts in this field. For 16 years he was a member of the Madison, Wisconsin, Police and Fire Commission, and for a time he was president of that body.
During World War I, Professor Mathews served 18 months in the Ordnance Department of the U.S. Army, and from 1919 until his retirement in 1952 he was a Professor in the University of Wisconsin, with the duties of Chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Director of the Course in Chemistry. Besides being a Past-President of the Madison Rotary Club, the Madison Professional Men's Club, and of the Madison University Club, he is also a founder of the professional chemical fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma, a Fellow of the A.A.A.S., and a long time member of the American Chemical Society as well as the organizer of the first Annual Colloid Symposium.
Dr. Mathews is the possessor of a superbly equipped laboratory devoted to firearms identification work containing many instruments designed by him and employing techniques which he developed or discovered in nearly 40 years of work in this field. Several of his cases have attracted international as well as national attention, and his work has been highly commended by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin in a Supreme Court decision, by the Wisconsin Bar Association, and by international experts. He has lectured widely on scientific criminal identification and has given a course of lectures on this subject each year for 15 years at the University of Wisconsin. Since his „retirement" on July 1, 1952, he has been putting in full time working at his hobby of improving the methods of criminal identification by scientific methods.
Early in his work along this line, he found that the data on the characteristics of various makes of hand firearms were unsatisfactory in quantity, woefully incomplete in many instances, incorrect in others, and not only inadequate but scattered and hard to refer to.
In an attempt to remedy this condition and obtain some of the data which he urgently needed in his own investigations, he began to collect and tabulate such information as width of lands, width and number of grooves of rifling, twist of rifling, diameter of bore and grooves, and various other important dimensions which the criminal investigator would be likely to need to know.
The task turned out to be colossal, for he soon found that many makers of pistols and revolvers had no fixed specifications for these things, and that the dimensions varied from gun to gun and from year to year. Others had specifications which might or might not be adhered to. In other words, he found that rather than to depend on published tabulations he had to obtain actual samples of every pistol and revolver available, make his own measurements, and construct his own tabulations.
This monumental task proved to be most difficult of accomplishment, involving as it did the collecting of information from all over the world and then the checking and verifying of this information by actual measurements made on sample guns which were often extremely difficult to obtain. The instruments used are described in detail in this book.
During the course of this part of the work, Dr. Mathews managed to obtain the loan of over 2100 different pistols or revolvers originating in 23 countries. His new book gives the rifling data taken by him in his own laboratory for all these guns, plus photographs of both sides of over 1100 different guns taken by him and some 900 gun photos from other sources. He has also included well over 100 photographs of rim fire firing pin impressions.
Besides all this tabular and illustrative matter, the book contains a meticulously complete text on the techniques and instrumentation of criminal firearms identification, all of which is copiously illustrated.
This treatise should also be of great interest and value to gun collectors, present and future. The number of photographs of hand guns far exceeds that to be found in any book heretofore published and many arms are shown here for the first time in any book of reference. Supplementing these numerous and unusual photographs, the section entitled „Miscellaneous Notes on Automatic Pistols," containing a large amount of hitherto unpublished information, will be of particular interest to collectors of such arms.
The publication of this splendid reference work will be an event of the utmost importance in the field of firearms identification.
Julian S. Hatcher, Maj. Gen., U. S. Army, Retired Technical Editor, The American Rifleman Washington, D. C. April 21, 1960
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