Antique and Collectable Firearms
and Militaria Headquarters www.OldGuns.net Newsletter Number 10 -May,
2003 Celebrating Over Six Years Of
Service To Our Collector Friends! Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.
Colt Exhibit at Cody
Firearms Museum and
Your Family's Yellowstone Vacation Trip (Ending
October 6, 2003, so don't procrastinate too long!)
Once again the Cody Firearms Museum (one of five world class museums under
a single roof at the Buffalo Bill Historical
Center in Cody, Wyoming) is the site of a once in a lifetime special exhibit
for gun collectors. In 1997 Cody hosted the Remington exhibit with one of
every model they made, with loads of information shared by the most advanced
collectors and researchers. This was then incorporated into a superb reference
book, Roy Marcot's Remington: America's Oldest Gunmaker. Regretably,
this books is not widely available, and the limited stocks printed are nearly
all sold, so get one before the prices start to climb. We have one copy on
our book page and a few are still available from the author via the Remington
Society of America page http://www.remingtonsociety.com/books/RemingtonMarcot.shtml
Billed as " the most historically significant exhibition of Colt firearms
presented in the past 100 years" this year's Colt exhibit alone is well worth
the trip to Cody. Of course, other family members may be more thrilled by
the other great stuff there, and you really need at least two days to adequately
explore everything in all the museums.
The Colt exhibit features narration by Tom Selleck, himself a serious gun
collector, introducing the exhibit, and explaining the significance of the
carved wooden model of the revolving cylinder made by Sam Colt, and also the
awesome qualities of artistically engraved Colts. As would be expected, the
guns selected for this prestigious event are comprehensive in covering the
many variations. The technical significance is matched by the superb condition,
and historical provenance of many. Starting with the earliest Paterson Colts,
the display continues through the percussion and cartridge eras including
the auto loading and full auto weapons.
Collectors with any arms interest will surely find a lot to appreciate, even
if not a Colt specialist. If cased Patersons do not trip your trigger, gaze
upon the many Single Action Armies, or nearly an equal number of variations
of the unsurpassed M1911 series, or the disrespected double action pistols.
If handguns are not very exciting, then check out the amazing variety of Colt
longarms, sporting and military, from the early days to the present. Berdan
rifles, double barrel shotguns, Lightning rifles, Colt brand bolt action sporters,
the ubiquitous M16 and the sexy Thompson may raise your pulse rate. If big
boys need bigger toys, then check out the variety of crew served machine guns,
complete with mounts, and even a WW1 machine gun cart to carry them. Owning
a Colt made Browning potato digger, the Vickers and Maxim, and the later water
cooled and air cooled .30 and .50 Brownings is the secret fantasy of many
collectors. [Just wait until I hit the lottery!]
Overall the exhibit is spectacular, both in content, and presentation. Well
lit, with good signs to explain the significance of most things. My only complaint
is that several dozen guns deserving of special added information have cards
with the info placed at the bottom of the case, but refer to the accession
number (such as L02.1476.302B that the curatorial staff likes) instead of
a simple, easy to find letter or number to allow the visitor to match the
info and the hardware.
While billed as the "most historically significant . . . in the last 100
years" and a truly superb exhibit, the 1962 "Samuel Colt Presents" exhibit
at the Connecticut State Library featuring presentation Colts is a close second.
As an impoverished high school student gun enthusiast (in the days before
that would become grounds for expulsion or worse) I saw the 1962 exhibit.
and its memories have been cherished ever since. Those fortunate enough to
see this exhibit will have similar fond recollections for decades.
The Colt Collectors Association, whose members provided most of the guns,
also arranged for a book to document this exhibit. At $125 it is pricey, but
beautifully photographed, and even though I do not care much about Colts,
I invested in a copy, and think it will be a useful augment to R.L. Wilson's
definitive Book of Colt Firearms..
Remember, the Colt exhibit is a special feature for this summer only, in
addition to the awesome regular gun exhibits of the Cody Firearms Museum.
Those cover most major models by nearly all major US makers, although the
museum began the factory reference collection of the Winchester Repeating
In addition to the Cody Firearms Museum, the other sections of teh Buffalof
Bill Historical Center are: the Buffalo Bill Museum; the Western Art Collection;
the Museum of the Plains Indian, and the Draper Museum of Natural History.
The Draper Museum of Natural History opened last year and the geology and
wildlife exhibits should appeal to many people. In my view, it is badly manured
by a politically correct environmentalist bias, which I found disgusting,
but be convincing to others. Triggering the gag reflex were such comments
as noting that wildlife species are thriving becasue of "government agency
programs" but ignoring the funds and efforts of the hunters and sportsmen
which are every bit as important as "government agencies." How about
"famers and ranchers fear..." stuff about wacky restrictions on
their liivelihood, or reintrodcution of predator species, but "scientists
and envirionmental studies..." show something or other. Farming, grazing,
irrigation, and breathing by white settlers are clearly frowned upon, but
Injun activites are okay. Send your mother-in-law to see this section, or
breeze through quickly and it may be useful. (Major donor is a former Connecticut
state legislator, Ms. Draper, so she who paid the piper probably called the
tune on this one.)
Anyone contemplating the trip to Cody should also plan on spending a day
or two in Yellowstone National park, just a few hours west of Cody. Yes, summer
is tourist season (You would be up to your butt in snow most of the winter,
so summer is a better choice!) However, if up to your butt in tourists is
not to your liking, a September visit after Labor Day and before the Colt
exhibit closes would be a better schedule. Make reservations early, and just
accept the fact that everything will be expensive. (Just tell your spouse
that if saving money is a concern, you will gladly just take her to the next
local gunshow instead of Cody and Yellowstone.)
Our family trip thru Yellowstone last week included seeing hundreds and hundreds
of buffalo in various herds, scores of elk, a dozen big horn sheep, several
mooses, lots of gooses, and a bald eagle proudly guarding their nest about
50 feet from the road. And, breathtaking scenery, scary bubbly caldrons of
sulfery brews, jumping geysers, and an endless variety of the other neat stuff
to see. Artist's Point view of the Falls of the Yellowstone is breathtakingly
beautiful, so don't miss that.
Lodging in the park facilities is not much more expensive than that in Cody
or West Yellowstone, and is conducive to seeing a lot more sights instead
of fighting traffic in and out of the park each day. Food at some park restaurants
is good, and at others not good, and never cheap. Advance grocery shopping
is recommended, or you can stock up on MRE's to share among your passengers.
We just got done cataloging a lot of different types of guns. Before posting
them for the public, we wanted to give our loyal customers and subscribers a
shot at them. A bit of everything with some ugly guns ("assault rifles"- that
we normally do not carry, but got as part of a collection); some great Enfields,
a variety of U.S. military longarms and other WW2 guns, some nice modern handguns,
and who knows what else. Go check them out at http://oldguns.net/nlspecials.htm
This page will only be up for a few days and then we will begin posting these
on the regular catalog pages for everyone else.
The Newsletter Specials page only has guns, so don't forget to check all the
regular catalog pages as we have added a lot of stuff in recent weeks that you
may have missed.
1903 Springfield Rifle Centennial Exhibit Opens Saturday May 31,
2003 1:30 PM
The National Park Service invites everyone to Springfield Armory National Historic
Site for the opening of a special exhibit "The Centennial of the Model 1903
- A Soldier's Priceless Friend." The guest speaker at this event will be prolific
writer and author, Joe Poyer, of the North Cape "For Collectors Only" series.
Free Admission. Book signings afterwards.
"No American standard issue rifle was ever held in greater affection and awe
or elicited more confidence," states Armory historian, Richard Colton. Poyer's
presentation will trace the historical research and development of this famous
WWI and early WWII rifle. Poyer's expertise dovetails nicely with the new exhibit
that interprets the early prototype (1900 - 1902) rifles based on the German
Mauser rifle design, the social history of the 1903 rifle and the influence
of President Theodore Roosevelt.
More than 80 rifle have been specially brought out for this exhibit. Many are
scarce, some unique, examples showing the evolutionary development of the Model
1903 rifle from some of the concepts of the Mauser rifles. Other special rifles
on exhibit will include the "battle ready 1903's."
After the presentation, find out about the opportunities for a second floor
Rifle-room Tour. Take yourself, your relatives or friends on a memorable 1 hour
guided tour of the firearms storage area! See over 5800 weapons not on exhibit
- part of the largest American military firearms collection in the world. (I
have been through it and begged to be locked in for a week or two, but they
Visit the Springfield Armory web site for more information or to browse the
collection at www.nps.gov/spar
There is an amazing amount of information available at the "Browse collection"
link, although it takes a bit of trial and error to figure out how to look through
their inventory of guns with historical information and references for each
item along with a good photo. (This is a wonderful resource if you need ideas
for labels for an exhibit). I could not get into the documents section but have
high hopes of finding treasures in there.
Shots: Episodes in the Life of a Weapons Developer
Roy E. Rayle, Random Shots: Episodes in the Life
of a Weapons Developer, privately published, 2002, 150 pages,
This little gem is something I stumbled across when surfing one day. Before
getting into the fascinating content of the book, I have to put in a plug for
the publisher (whom I have never met, and I don't get anything for saying good
stuff about him.) Ray Merriam in Bennington,
Vermont is a dreamer, or more accurately a visionary who enjoys his job,
and perhaps makes a living doing what he likes instead of what some corporate
boss likes. He enjoys military history, and in 1968 began a WW2 History magazine
that went through several name changes. After about 10 years he broadened into
a general Military Journal, and in the 1980s into the Weapons and Warfare theme,
but then abandoned the unprofitable periodical field to focus on publication
of booklets and books. In this endeavor, he has remained focused on WW2 era
people and events, but sometimes covers a wider scope of military matters. It
appears that his offerings are mostly individual or unit memoirs, or copies
of obscure manuals, reports or other documents. The company's goal is " is to
promote the study of all aspects of the Second World War and, to a lesser extent,
military history in general, to help make resources and materials more readily
available and known to all who are interested."
Beyond the content of the publications, which reflects dedication and hard
work to locate and prepare for sale, he is to be commended for the technology
he uses. This is literally a "print on demand" type operation where your order
is printed when you order it, on high quality printers, with good paper, and
then neatly bound with cardstock covers. In addition to hard copy, he also can
provide a wealth of info in electronic form, mainly as .pdf versions. (He also
peddles the hard copy originals after digitzing them, so you can find originals,
reprints, or digital versions on his site. Prices are modest, and quality is
excellent, and service is great. If you want a printed copy of some old dogface's
memoirs, a copy of a WW1 grenade manual, a set of high-res WW2 photos on a CD,
or one of dozens of other eclectic items basically not available anywhere else,
this is a great place to look. We added a link
to him, and urge you to support him You gotta like someone who is having
fun doing what interests him, and we hope he is successful.
The author of the book being reviewed, Roy Rayle, spent time working for
the U.S. Navy on gunfire control systems in WW2, and worked on Air Force armament
systems after the War. In 1953 he was commissioned in the Army as an Ordnance
Officer. He spent a lot of time at Springfield and was a key player in the small
arms development and trials in the 1950s leading up to the adoption of the M14
rifle over the T48 and FN designs. He had personal contacts with such experts
as John Garand, Melvin Maynard Johnson, Bill Brophy, and Jim Crossman. He also
participated in the M60 machine gun development, and helped figure out how to
mount the 105mm Howitzer in the AC-130 gunships. His account is not "braggy"
credit taking, but a fascinating and dispassionate, detailed account of what
went on in the way of testing, scheduling, technical challenges, political factors,
personalities, and the bureaucracy, etc that all go into a weapons development
program. Those of you who wisely heeded our advice to read Bruce Canfield's
excellent book Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns, and also Billy
Pyle's Gas Trap Garand will really appreciate learning the "rest
of the story", about how rifles are tested and evaluated and selected. Much
of Rayle's story is truly "random" which help keep it interesting as it gets
into varied topics. There are also a couple of appendices at the end full of
technical stuff for engineers to love (although history majors will shudder
at the mere thought of such matters).
(Note: Darwin Awards are earned by those who remove
themselves from the gene pool by extraordinarily stupid actions, demonstrating
the survival of the fittest members of a species.) Used courtesy of http://www.darwinawards.com
The Smoking Gun
2002 Darwin Award Nominee
Unconfirmed by Darwin (July 2002, Wisconsin)
Two drunks were goofing around, when one challenged the other to shoot
him with cigarette butts "to see what it would feel like." His friend
obligingly loaded a gun with three cigarette butts, placing ammunition
behind the butts to make sure they left the barrel of the gun. He then
shot his friend from a distance of seven feet. The friend who issued the
challenge died of two cigarette butts to the head, and one to the heart.
The gene pool is in trouble!