Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
More thinking on the perspective of the 'wild west' play scenario:
In the first place, the suicidal notion seems unlikely as Van Gogh in various writings abhorred the idea of such an act. From accounts of his abdominal wound, the point of entry was oblique, not straight forward as would be characteristic of a self inflicted shot. The idea that someone intent on suicide would shoot themselves in the stomach is unfathomable. Such a wound, especially from such a small pistol, would result in lingering and painful sepsis and death, as was the case with Van Gogh, who lasted only two days.
The story of two young boys 'playing' wild west', especially with the diminutive revolver in question seems unlikely. These small pinfire revolvers are nothing at all like the guns of the west, and cannot possibly be construed in such sense. The fancy gun actions popularized in the famed Buffalo Bill wild west shows on 1870s and later used full size guns with trigger guards and large calibers. These pinfire revolvers were the size of the palm of the hand, small caliber and NO trigger guard, easily concealed.
I would suspect these young men had some interaction with Van Gogh, and threatened him, and accidentally shot him during the issues. He apparently knew them, and probably did not expect to die, trying to cover the action by saying he had done the deed himself. He may have been trying to shield them, or could he have feared reparations if he exposed them?
There was an evolution of criminal activity well in place in 'La Belle Epoque' Paris,near the turn of the century,as would be expected in large cities. While such activity in gangs seems a modern phenomenon, it most certainly is not, and extortion and such things may well have crept into outlying regions even in 1890. This criminal gang activity which involved mugging, extortion and all manner of such crimes, in about 1900, the term 'apache' was applied to these brutal gangs. This of course likely lifted from the influences of the forementioned 'wild west shows and romanticized violence of the Indians portrayed'.These gangs were even known for a distinctly unique weapon that they evolved from PINFIRE revolvers, a kind of 'saturday night special, with brass knuckles and stabbing blade.
Perhaps these young men were in some fashion, a kind of proto-apache element who were indeed carrying one of these small pinfire revolvers.
In such case, the gun would certainly not have been dropped or left, so the probability of this gun in discussion being 'the one' of Van Gogh, is not remotely possible,
Pictured is an actual pinfire revolver similar to the one sold, and shown with a pen and quarter to illustrate its diminutive size
Next is a pinfire combination weapon of 'apache' type from early in 20th c.