Monday, January 25, 2016

If These Guns Could Talk

An alternate title for this post could've been "Guns that have Witnessed History".....
 Similar to my post last year regarding History's Most Notorious Guns.



When discussing a gun with historical significance, it is important to establish provenance, which is a fancy word for proof of custody. Many guns are sold with stories, but without some kind of proof they are just ordinary firearms.

A member of a gun collector forum tells a story of eating at a restaurant in New Mexico. In the restaurant's bar there was a gun mounted on the wall (over the bar) with a plaque reading: "This is the only gun in New Mexico, that did not belong to Billy the Kid".

Similarly the estate of Elvis Presley added a special,secret mark on his guns, allowing them to later authenticate the firearm as once belonging to the King. 

As you can imagine, faked history is a real problem in the world of gun collecting.

It is well known that the Mother of the infamous outlaws Jesse and Frank James would often offer to sell old, rusted, often inoperable guns that she said belonged to Jesse before he died, which in reality she had bought second hand.

This of course led to a proliferation of people claiming to (and sincerely believing so) that they owned a gun that had once belonged to the outlaw Jesse James. 



Imagine if these guns could tell us what they had witnessed? What stories we might hear?.... truths lost forever, facts that might differ from those who wrote our history books. After all the accounts of a shootout or battle are only told by the survivors.

We'll start with one of the 1st guns to hit American soil.

This French made Wheel Lock musket traveled to America aboard the Mayflower with its owner John Alden.


This flint lock pistol was built in 1776/1777 and served with the 1st Continental Regiment of Washington's Army during the Revolutionary War.


 This strange looking gun is actually an Italian made air rifle that accompanied Lewis & Clark on their 1804-1806 Corps of Discovery Expedition to the Pacific Northwest. I have personally been to several of the sites in which Lewis & Clark camped with this gun. The rifle now resides in the National Firearms Museum.
 This Spencer Carbine serial number 30670 has been forensically proven to have been used by a Native American Warrior in the battle of Little Big Horn. Was this the gun that delivered the fatal wound to General Custer, who knows?
The gun eventually ended up in the hands of a Doctor doing work among the plains tribes (who was also a gun collector). 
For a time it was on display at the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum, see the amazing story here
Another Little-Big Horn battlefield gun is this Colt Single Action Army that belonged to Lt. William Van Wyck



This is a picture of a very unassuming man and his small collection of rifles.
What you may not know is that this man was once one of the most feared men by the Russian Army, he was known as the "White Death". 
His name is Simo Hayha, he is credited with the most confirmed kills of any sniper in the history of war (505). 
The picture was taken after WWII, in his home, in Finland.
I don't know if any of the rifles on display were used by him during the Winter War, but we can wonder..

This Polish VIS 9mm pistol was found on a battle field in Germany, the soldier who dropped it had placed pictures of his two women under the home made plexiglass panels. I wonder who these women were, did they survive the war and were they reunited with their soldier?




This Model 1844 Piedmontese Musket was recovered from the battlefield of Gettysburg, U.S. Civil War.
General Simon Bolivar's Flintlock Pistols

This is Elmer Keith's personal carry gun: a 6 1/2" Smith & Wesson model 29 .44 Magnum. I believe this is the gun that he made the famous 600 yard shot with. If this gun could talk what would it say about that day in Idaho?
This Thompson Sub-Machine gun was stolen from an Auburn, Indiana police department by John Dillinger and his gang. The gun was used by the gang in numerous bank robberies and shootouts before being recovered in Tuscon, Arizona some years later

The Colt M1911 pistol below was carried by Col. Frederick H. Fox in North Africa in World War II beginning with Operation Torch landing in Morocco and continuing through Patton's Tunisian campaign.

This Singer made 1911 parachuted into Normandy and stayed along side its owner for the remainder of the war.
 
This 1911s story is pretty amazing....the gun was on the hip of a Marine on Iwo Jima, when a Japanese sniper hit the holster carrying the gun, you can see where the bullet penetrated the holster and inserted itself into the pistol


Another 1911, this one was built in June or July of 1918, then sent to the Rock Island Arsenal to be rebuilt sometime after 1937. The gun could very well have served in both WWI and WWII......see my blog post here


One M1911 that we would really like to find is that of Sgt. Alvin York, The pistol was used to silence some machine gun nests and capture 132 Germans during The Great War (WWI).
Unfortunately his M1911 pistol went missing on his trip back to the U.S.. Serial # 25468 is out there in someone's collection (I hope it wasn't the victim of some leftist gun buy back/meltdown program....).

This AH Fox side x side 12 gauge accompanied Teddy Roosevelt on his famous African Safari in 1908/1909


This .44-40 Colt Single Action Army was found in the home of the legendary outlaw Jesse James the day Bob Ford killed him. It is believed to be the one stolen from a Military Payroll office in 1881 in Muscle Shoals Alabama by Jesse and his gang. What crimes has this gun witnessed? Could it tell us the location of the treasures the James Gang supposedly buried?


This relic was discovered at the Alamo, and was proven to have been part of the famous battle. Do you suppose this could have been fired by Davy Crockett or maybe Jim Bowie?
 This collection of Nazi guns were all brought back from the European theater in WWII, imagine what atrocities these guns may have witnessed or even possibly participated in.


Pictured here is author Ernest Hemingway with his W.C. Scott & Son 12 gauge side by side. The gun has been proven to be the one he committed suicide with at his home in Idaho in the early morning hours of July 2nd, 1961. If this gun could speak, what would it say about the life and death of its former owner?


This Winchester model of 1873 rifle was found leaning against a tree in Great Basin National Park in Nevada last year. 
Archaeologists conducting surveys found the gun, sitting where someone apparently left it. The serial number dates the 44-40 chambered rifle to 1882. No clues yet as to how long it had been there, who left it there or why.
See more here




This Colt was surrendered by the infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy when he was seeking amnesty in Utah. He did not get the amnesty he sought and went back to stealing and killing, but the gun stayed with the authorities.
The gun was sold at auction in 2012 for the hefty sum of $175,000, behind one of the grip panels was a number inscribed.....no one knows what the number was for, but people have offered many theories.

This Colt Gatling Gun was one of the four that fired upon San Juan Hill along side Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders in the Spanish American War......
These two revolvers were the personal property of General George S. Patton. He was often seen carrying one or both of these on his hip. There are two notches on the grip panel of the Colt, which symbolize two lives taken during General Pershing's Campaign in Mexico, searching for Poncho Villa.
 This collection of guns, now residing in the Museum of Police History in Bogota, Colombia, once belonged to infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar



This full-auto Glock 18 pistol was ripped from the hands of the doomed dictator, Saddam Hussein when the American Special Forces pulled him from the rat hole he was hiding in. It was given to the Commander in Chief George W. Bush and is now on display at his library

This Springfield M1903-A4 is on display at the December '44 Museum in Le Gleize, Belgium. It was used in the Battle of the Bulge and no doubt punched the cards of some hapless Nazis. The stock is engraved with the name of its operator: W. Faucett. What stories of bravery might this rifle give us?

  This H&R top break .38 S&W revolver once belonged to notorious gangster Al "Scarface" Capone. It sold at auction recently. I wonder what meetings or crimes this gun was present for?
This Soviet made AK-47 was found near Osama Bin Laden after he was provided with a one way ticket to Hades by SEAL Team Six. I wonder what stories this gun could tell about its former cowardly owner?
This is a special, purpose built, Ruger Mark I .22 Pistol. These were contracted by the CIA and featured a built in silencer in the barrel. Supposedly these were "sterile" guns, made without serial numbers.


Our last gun has been in the news as of late, the movie American Sniper was released in theaters just before Christmas 2014, it is based on the book and life of Navy Seal Sniper Chris Kyle. Kyle was the most prolific sniper in American history with over 160 enemy combatants eliminated. His SOCOM MK13 (Remington 700) was highly customized to his specifications.
Here is a picture of him in action, rest in peace brother.....




References
icollector 
James D Julia Auctions 
National Firearms Museum 
Gettysburg Address
America First Books
Wikipedia 
AR15.com 
History.com
Guns.com 
Live Auctioneers 
Chris Kyle American Sniper 
WAGUNS
Milsurps 
CalGuns 
Garden and Gun
The Velvet Rocket