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Old 20th June 2019, 06:35 PM   #1
fernando
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Default Van Gogh ... or a gun without DNA tests ...

Do you folks believe that a rusty crippled revolver sold in auction for a fortune was in fact the one used in Van Gogh's suicide/homicide?
... or was it one more dud to make big bucks with ?

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Old 20th June 2019, 09:47 PM   #2
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Just read an article on the gun
The provenance on this is terrible and totally made up story. You might as well buy a rusty nail in Jerusalem and say it is from the cross of our lord. Crazy
Thanks for article though,
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Old 20th June 2019, 09:50 PM   #3
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This is a really interesting topic, and one that has bewildered art historians for years, if not generations.
It seems that while Van Gogh has long been thought to have been an absinthe addled madman, though he did have some psychological issues, he does not appear to have been suicidal.

The 'ear' issue of 1888 is still a matter of debate, why, how and even whether it was just the lobe or entire ear removed. Despite the irrationality of this bizarre action, it does not seem to have bearing on his death in July, 1890.

It is believed he went to the fields near the Auberge Ravoux Inn, in Auvers-sur-Oise on that day to paint. It is unclear whether he had a gun (one reference said to shoot crows) or not, but it seems there were two young guys he knew at the field as well. Some say they were adversarial to him, but other accounts suggest there was some horseplay with a gun having to do with the 'wild west' fascinations which were popular at the time.

The thing is that he went back to the hotel after being shot in the abdomen, and died two days later. There does not seem to have been an investigation as he had claimed his wound was self inflicted. It is believed he intended to shield the two guys. The thing is that forensically the wound entered his body at an oblique angle, contrary to a self inflicted shot. Then why would he shoot himself in the abdomen, the most painful and often lengthy types of mortal injury?

It seems either nobody thought to collect the gun, or it was lost in the fields at the time. As he died he could not have gone to find the gun, and the boys probably could not find it either, likely staying away from the scene.

With that being the case, and given the excavated condition of the now relic gun, this may very well be the gun involved in this accident/event. As always provenance is key, and the gun is said to have been discovered c. 1960. This is really not surprising, the battlefields of WWI are still full of relics that have been undisturbed since then.
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Old 21st June 2019, 11:54 AM   #4
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The way i, for one, view it...

In the absence of forensic evidence or documental proof that the gun auctioned is the one used in that sad episode, all we may admit is that it is possible, or plausible if one prefers that, such is in fact the very one. As it is also possible, not to say plausible if we stirrup a theory on the money involved that, in an extreme situation, the person that found the real gun, assuming that such has occurred, kept it for himself and his heirs, submitting a copy (from which type there are zillions) to the auction.
At such stage one is compelled to admit that, the difference in value between that of an object which possibly made part of an historical event, and that of the irrefutable real thing, ranges a span from here to the skies.
As to whether the killing was self inflicted or (even accidentally) caused by the two young men while playing Far West gunmen, this uncertainty may be paired with the spot where the gun is said to have been found. Whether the film writer was well documented or he only used his fictional imagination, we can see in the movie "At Eternity's Gate" (starring prize winner Willem Dafoe), the 'Lefaucheux' being tossed to nearby river, as per extracted image attached.


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Old 21st June 2019, 01:52 PM   #5
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Well said. As with so much of 'history', it becomes embellished by the writers, novelists and of course 'fake news' (in todays parlance).
The true story of Van Gogh has been deeply clouded in the book "Lust for Life" (Irving Stone, 1934) which was made into a movie starring Kirk Douglas in 1956. This was apparently where the suicide notion developed and most of the other distorted or embellished perspectives evolved. The movie you mention is yet another version, and while like the others fascinating and entertaining, not necessarily historically accurate.

As with most such cases, there are grains of truth which grow into crops of rich lore, and the industry of related or key antiquities thrives with innovative dealers and their concocted descriptions.

Without irrefutable chain of custody or provenance, such items can only be presumed 'of the type' or illustrative dimensionally in portraying the elements used in historic events.
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Old 21st June 2019, 02:55 PM   #6
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Default Pinfire revolvers

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.
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Old 21st June 2019, 04:23 PM   #7
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Default Un-jumping to conclusions ... or stirring the pot !

Applying logic to how a fellow commits suicide, or suffers homicide, meets more coherence within CSI series than within reality. Such episodes can happen in the most bizarre conditions and circumstances. For example, suppose the man, against all odds, decides to kill himself, as in actual life such unpredictable episodes occur, and the young men tried to prevent him from such desperate act, ending up triggering themselves the shot, as a result of such struggling, giving (i) logic to the odd place & angle in which the projectile entered Van Gogh's guts. The caliber of the bullet doesn't necessarily determine how long one resists to death ... only potentially. There are 'good' and 'bad' shots.
On the other hand, we are hypothetically assuming that the gun auctioned was actually the one used, which could have not. To say that, there also large pinfire (Lefaucheux system) revolvers (i had some), with so large, or even slightly larger caliber than cap & ball system .44 Colts (which i also had); and not only small versions, some even rather tinier than the show off but reportedly clumsy 'Apaches'.
On yet another hand, when you play Wild West, you do it with what you have at hand; even wooden guns. It's imagination that counts, not the caliber; to be (or not) ridiculous is not in the plans, i guess. When i was young, like others, so poor as not able to have a toy revolver, i used my forefinger to order 'hands up' to my foe and bring him into custody. But i am digressing .
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Old 21st June 2019, 05:25 PM   #8
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Very good detective work, and of course logic is not always applicable in cases where something illogical is being investigated, suicide being far more so than homicide. Of course both can be irrational acts, but all things much be considered from various angles.
You have carried my suggestion of 'interaction' with these boys further, and I had not thought of the possibility they well might have been trying to stop him from suicide. A struggle ensued, and the gun discharged. That would explain the uncharacteristic angle of the wound, and that it was aimed at his stomach.
So, Inspector Poirot, I think you might have solved the case?

Then what of the pistol. I have illustrated a pinfire of the same size and presumably caliber of the one auctioned. The 'apache' theory is tenuously applied to suggest only ruffians of the times who indeed carried pinfire revolvers.
In the scenario you suggest, it well might have been dropped, and the boys frightened by the resulting shot, the gun not theirs, might simply have run. Van Gogh, knowing their intent and not wishing to implicate them, would have taken the blame. Not expecting to die, and incapacitated, he never thought more on the gun, so it remained in situ for years until c. 1960, covered by whatever vegetation was there in the field.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 04:35 AM   #9
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With interest in this curious case, I found more on the gun used, or alleged to have been:
In the book "Van Gogh: The Life" by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, the authors have meticulously researched and brought in forensic research assistance in subsequent rebuttals.

There seems to have been a great deal of competition (other artists acquainted with him) and opportunism with some of the rather inflated and contrived accounts of Van Gogh, his 'ear incident', his drinking and illnesses and of course, his alleged suicide.

Apparently he was often ridiculed by a local bully and his brother and small group of local miscreants. The main character was named Rene Secretan, son of a well to do family and who was intrigued by the 'wild west' after seeing the Buffalo Bill show in Paris the year before.
He bought costumes including chaps and western attire as well as outfitting himself with a SMALL CALIBER pistol, which 'looked menacing, but often misfired'.
This sounds very much like the 7mm Lefaucheaux pinfire revolver I was referring to. These were known for misfires, much as many of these small pocket pistols, which were cheap and profusely manufactured.

The boys taunted Van Gogh (calling him Toto) and he was acquainted with them despite that. Years later, Rene claimed that Van Gogh had gotten his gun, as he insisted he was not involved in the shooting.
There was no investigation records, however it was said that the gendarme who talked to him asked if he had intended suicide, to which Van Gogh said, "I think so".

The doctor who attended him did not note any black powder debris or presence near the wound, and the angle of the wound as well suggested he was not shot point black, but from a distance. Much of that information was obtained from him in 1920s as well as his son.

Apparently not only was the gun never found, but there were no paints or easel which indicated he was going to paint...in fact it was said he was not in the fields at all, but on the road to the Secretan villa.

While he was troubled with some obscure medical maladies, including the use of absinthe, popular with artists, medications used, lead poisoning, and others.....but a letter found in his coat was highly upbeat and inconsistent with suicidal tendencies.

These things suggest it was a small caliber pinfire used, but unlikely that it was dropped in the field by Van Gogh and probably kept by Rene. Rene had noted he was surprised the gun even fired with its unreliability, but not saying more on its whereabouts....still claiming Van Gogh had 'gotten' the gun from him.

The images are the "Auberge Ravoux" in Auvers-sr-Oise where Van Gogh was staying when he died. Here he returned after his 'wounding' which was how it was referred to at the time of the event.
Another image of the pistol of the discussion.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 10:26 AM   #10
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I will dare say that, while my theory was composed with feeble arguments, Naifeh & Smith findings are not less feeble, on what counts for the issue we have at hand; and calling them forensic is, i guess, a kind concession.
If the gun was brought from France, by known stats of cheap (Belgium?) production, reputedly a misfiring species, did not hesitate this time to the right job; Van Gogh to agree with such conclusion.
En passant, the dude that gave so much money for an excavated cheap pistol, on basis that it participated (?) in a famous event can, for a far less amount, have the gun examined to check for marks ... like the Liege poinçon, for one ?
So he was not painting in the fields but going on the road to the Secretan villa ... whether going to the house or only using that road. While this is interesting to fulfill empty spaces in the artist's biography, would not bring any light on the shooting episode or, one can say, makes one more tending to consider a road stalking ending with a homicide, than being seated and painting, with all time to introspect and decide to cease existing. I don't know.
One thing not determining but coherent is Van Goghs confiding that he 'might' have committed suicide, to prevent the boys getting into trouble; besides being a kind gesture from an intellectual, suits his fatality view of life. Wasn't the last words he pronounced to his brother "sadness for ever" ... or the like ?
Do we understand that, if according to the boys, Van Gogh had his own gun, this brings two pistols to the stage ? I don't think he was the type of owning a gun but, no one is the type until he is. Besides, the doctor's assumption that the shot was not point blank, only tightens the tangled knot; in the extreme, if the gun in the scene as one belonging to Van Gogh, the boys (or whoever) could have grabbed it and shoot the artist. On the other hand (quote)"a letter found in his coat was highly upbeat and inconsistent with suicidal tendencies", while not fully counting, as coming from a known inconsistent mind, is not a written text that we can read and judge by ourselves but a interpretation from an (un) suspected party.
The auberge where he had lately lived and died, together with some of his occupants and his interesting stories involving their interaction with the artist, makes part of the movie i mentioned. Whether fictional in part or totally, as all movies, is an interesting piece of history ... and an excellent participation of Dafoe.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 05:56 PM   #11
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I will not say these theories are comprised of 'feeble elements', these are 'considerations' which must be entertained together and investigated, corroborated and evaluated, often repeatedly working toward resolution. While I looked through various references which have all carried out investigation and worked angles, this book by these two authors is by far the most thorough in my opinion.Further they have continued responding to rebuttals and often almost radical and vicious responses by parties who are protecting the enigma of Van Gogh.

It is often the case that the enigma, and tragic circumstances in many elaborate historic matters are often guarded as the very element of their mystery, which draws more interest and attention. There is a strong opposition to 'revisionist' history which is often employed in what is known as the 'art' of historical detection, where these kinds of situations are in effect forensically examined.

It is good to have our perspectives interact, as we are evaluating each pole in the case, and bringing our understanding of it closer. As always, as I have said for years here, it is not about who is right or wrong, it is bringing the most reasonable and plausible solution to the fore.

These authors have responded well to critique, and solidly continued research and 'historical detection' in more thorough support , whether for or against their case. It is essential (as I was once told) that a good author also present the positions held in opposition to their own theory, and ideally present their own rebuttal systematically and in further support accordingly.

Van Gogh did not have a gun, and one of the recurring notes in many of the accounts I have seen reflect this. There was much competition and rivalry involved in the art community, and one artist, who created much of the material for later accounts embellished and used in the long held views, negatively of Van Gogh, claimed he was 'crazy' and demeaning postures.

The doctor who attended him was also a personal acquaintance who, along with his young son, had both participated in certain of his works. Apparently after the death, the doctor scurried those paintings away, and in later years as the 'mystique' evolved, the son perpetuated same to bolster the value of the works. That is much of what the development and mystery of all this involved...and personal tragedy elevates art value proportionally of course.

It was shown that Rene Secretan was enthralled with the wild west, much as were many French youngsters of the years ahead (my reason for adding the 'apache' phenomenon which evolved in similar manner). That he took to wearing western 'costume' and acquiring a SMALL caliber revolver lends to the potential for the scenario in which Van Gogh was wounded, seems key.
As he was interiewed years later, he of course denied shooting Van Gogh, but did admit Van Gogh GOT the gun from him.

It really is irrelevant if this was a Liege product, as most were indeed made there. However most of these pocket guns. much like the 'suicide specials' similar pocket pistols used in America, they were typically unmarked.
The very similar 'suicide specials' were also cheap, known for misfires (hence the name suicide specials) and as open wearing of guns was prohibited, and these were what was typically carried for protection in saloons etc.

Turning here to Hollywood, as well as the highly embellished written works that inspired movies, virtually most elements (especially in earlier examples) used fervent license in the drama and popular notions that served well in the theatrical entertainment. In westerns, it was all about the gunfight (they were NEVER called gunfighters in those days) and the supposed 'showdown' with quick draw and fancy twirling of the gun (neither really took place).
Guns were not worn in pairs in holsters in the towns, it was unlawful. That was the very reason for the OK Corral shootout, and Wyatt Earp was NOT wearing a Colt in a holster...it was a Smith & Wesson in his coat pocket.

The point here is that embellishment and drama are what sells, and feed the public fascination. While Rene's pistol was what was available, it was hardly conducive to 'wild west' theatrics...………….how do you 'twirl' a small pocket pistol with no trigger guard?

Point well taken on the character of the letter found, which was far from 'suicidal' . Actually he was prone to what is known as hypergraphia, an incessant propensity to write in volume (perhaps my own dilemma ) and is thought to possibly relate to his medical issues. The volume of his letters etc, is immense, and in none were mention or thoughts of suicide. Artists are known to be moody, often morose, and dramatic, but despite any such elements, he seemed to have abhorred the notion of suicide.
While the self mutilation would suggest such ideas, it is unproven, in the same manner as this shooting, that he actually did this.
In fact, as it occurred close to an altercation with Gaugin, it is possible he was the one responsible, and again Van Gogh protected him.

Perhaps I have misunderstood some of the material from the book, but I think each person studying this event must thoroughly follow their own perceptions. In truth, we may never know, but I would consider this particular gun with the necessary caveats.
Whatever the case, as with many of my own investigations of historic items, it is 'of the period.....and of the type'.
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Old 23rd June 2019, 04:41 PM   #12
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It is true that Naifeh & Smith, in their biographic work, refute the suicide as being a plausible argument. However, after reading a couple synopsis about their work versus a (more) plausible story, some discrepancies claim pertinence.
It is consensual that brother René was the diabolic type (in opposition to friendly Gaston). He had a taste for harassing the weak ones, and he was a leader of a local trouble making gang. Besides his current occupations, like squirrel hunting and target shooting, he enjoyed to 'gift' Van Gogh, despite also showing some admiration proximity with the artist, with salt in his coffee, snakes in his paint box and pepper in his brushes. He also used (quote) to run up and down wearing a complete cowboy outfit, including a .38 caliber, which he got through the Inn owner, Gustave Ravoux.. Here to consider that, to whom Ravoux actually sold, or loan, or which gun, remains somehow obscure. Thinking that the (one) has belonged or was in possession of Van Gogh seems rather unlikely ... but possible, based for one, in one version that René loan it to him to scare off the crows that harassed him in the fields.
On the other hand, i don't how in hell a .38 caliber comes in the picture, an if Ravoux had more than one gun in his chest, but in such case, René had a proper gun to twirl, as if this added some sense to the true story.
Concerning the doctor's report in that the wound was made by a small caliber gun, penetrating in his superior abdomen, in an obliquous angle, that went to lodge near his vertebral column, is not consensually accepted as being result of homicide; known different opinions explain how such was feasible, in case of suicide.
Also noteworthy that Van Gogh didn't receive the shot, as it was believed, in the wheat field near a cemitery as, according to two witnesses, such happened in the so called Vila Chaponval, some 900 yards from the Inn, in an alley (Rue Boucher), precisely a spot that René often frequented. This brings the question: have they eventually met there and their differences resulted in a fatal struggle ?. Notwithstanding Madame Liberge (one of the witnesse's daughter), while attesting that the incident did not take place in front of the cemetery, stated that he truly entered a small yard in the said street, hiding behind a dunghill, having then commited the act that took him to die hours later.
Other inconsistencies in the homicide version are advanced, namely through a more analytic reading of the famous last letter, and his previous symbolic suicide act by swallowing his paint.
So it seems as both the biographers book and the auctioned pistol fall into the Caveat Emptor category .

On a different note, to conclude that the gun in discussion, being a Liege product is an irrelevant factor, as also typically unmarked, is something i am not able to digest.
Being made in Liege is not irrelevant ... at all, as i fail to agree that Liege products were not marked, even humble outputs (as per own witnessing), when we consider that Napoleon having stepped in, in the period concerned, imposed hard rules in the matter. Indeed in such period a boom of production took place, in quality of all grades, and not only unreliable cheap versions. Actually the Lefaucheux 7 m/m caliber was a secondary version. The actual model, as it first came out, was a large 12 m/m, which reached a huge success, being exported to multiple countries, namely to the USA for their Civil War, being issued to cavalry soldiers, especially in the states of Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Remember that by then, as even since 1854, this pistol was notable as being the first revolver to use self-contained metallic cartridges rather than loose powder, pistol ball, and percussion caps. It was only in after the said war (circa 1870's) that the Colt manufacturer came in the scene with the cartridge ammunition, long after father Samuel has died; in fact we can read that he was reluctant to change his pistol ignition system, on grounds that out in the prairie, the common men were able to depend only only themselves to fabricate their own ammo using self obtained lead & powder raw materials.
Concerning the (forbidden) wearing of two pistols, one must first ponder on these inventions time line. While at a later period cartridge ammo pistol reloading was so fast as in rather less than one minute, cap & ball reloading was a saga, an unfeasible procedure to take place in battle, not to say in a eventual gun fight. One can read chronicles in that the wearing of more than one (or two) pistols also happened, as inevitably what a man could do each time he spent out his 5 or 6 rounds, was to to get rid of that gun and immediately go for the next one. Although it is right that Mr. Wyatt Earp, by the time the Tombstone fight took place, equipped with a 'modern' cartridge Smith & Wesson, it is not surprising that he carried it in his coat pocket as, in fact, he was not the central (law) figure, but his brother Virgil, who was the patent local authority, one who certainly carried his gun in a belt holster. Notwithstanding that Wyatt, while in his youth, must have carried the then available cap & ball version .. maybe even a couple of them.
Exception made to the less charismatic but, by far, more effective Remington; apart from its more solid and resistant solid-frame (topstrap) feature, it had the huge advantage of being possible to remove its cylinder, in order to quickly replace it with a pre-loaded spare unit, an operation that could be repeated, depending on the number of spare cylinders one had in one's bag. But justice be made to Samuel Colt, who possessed excellent dealer abilities, always ending up wining army contracts, like also the one in Britain, against the equally solid frame Adams.
On the issue of Hollywood westerns, where it is all about exuberant gunfights where quick draw and fancy twirling of the gun are a vending factor to attract public fascination, i remember once, in a moment of candidness, John Wayne telling his young admirer: this is not about how fast you draw ... but how accurately you take your aim.

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Old 24th June 2019, 06:43 AM   #13
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Very thorough Fernando, and its great to keep our discussion going. It is a fascinating topic and actually, I had never known there was any question about Van Gogh's death. As many people, I had known only of his medical issues and the 'ear incident', so presumed that suicide was pretty expectable situation.

In searching further I found another book "Morgue:A Life in Death" by Ron Fransell, along with Dr. Vincent DiMaio, an expert in gunshot forensics. In some of the text reviewing this book, the .380 caliber gun which Mssr. Ravoux sold Rene Secretan, he claimed was 'faulty' and used just for hunting squirrels and rabbits.
Rene claimed Van Gogh stole it from his rucksack, presumably for the tricks and taunting he had endured from him. When he was interviewed many years later, he claimed that he and his brother had gone to Paris the day of the shooting, and had not heard of it until they saw it in a Paris newspaper.
There has never been evidence of such a report ever found in any paper, and the suggestion begs he question, why would the accidental shooting of an unknown and pretty much raggedy painter in a rural area bring the attention of a Paris newspaper?

Going to the gun sold at auction, described as a 7mm Lefaucheaux a broche revolver, found in 1965 in the field where Van Gogh was shot, and the bullet found in his body MATCHED?

When Van Gogh was examined after returning apparently in pain to the Inn, it was said there was very little if any blood. The discoloration around the wound was claimed to be from point blank discharge of a weapon, but forensically this is normal for any penetration wound. As mentioned, no powder evidence.
The reason Van Gogh died is that the wound became septic, as no surgeon was available, and the bullet was NOT removed. With his death, there was no reason to remove the bullet. As far as known ,it is still in the remains.

So how is the auction gun matched to the caliber that killed Van Gogh, and if the gun he allegedly stole from Rene was a .380 cal, how can the 7mm gun be the one?

That discrepancy is the issue I meant when noting the Liege mfg. relevance. If the 'death gun' was a .380, it does not matter if it was made in Liege, and of course if the auction gun is Lefaucheax, it would not be made in Liege.
Not ALL Liege guns are marked, there are cases of unmarked, despite the regulation being carried out. I have had the impression that there are many makers and shops there, and with cheap products in volume, such protocol was not necessarily faithfully observed. Rather like the blade 'blanks' produced in Solingen and stamped elsewhere.

The John Wayne quote was paraphrased from Wyatt Earp , perhaps mentioned in the largely fictional Stuart Lake 'biography' (1931) where he expresses his disdain for theatrics and speed in gun fighting. He claimed 'fast is fine, but accuracy is everything......in a gunfight you need to take your time...in a hurry!'. Earp was of course an advisor in Hollywood in the 20s for 'western' movies, and young Marion Morrison (John Wayne) me him, and was spellbound by the aged legends tales. Chances are the quote was actually from the man himself.

At the OK Corral in 1881, Wyatt, Morgan and Holliday all had pocketed guns, while Virgil had his in waistband. The 'cowboys' were wearing holstered guns...the root of the issue, among other problems between the factions.

But again we digress still fun talking about these things. As we are soon to roll the bookmobile westward, one of our first stops will be in Hico. Texas, where 'Brushy Bill' is buried. He died claiming he was the real William Bonney (aka Billy the Kid) . We also hit Ft. Sumner New Mexico where Bonney's grave is. Problem is, it is a cenotaph, his remains (?) were lost when the PecosRiver looded in 1904.
Another mystery!!!


PS, in your #4, the image showing a 'Lefaucheaux' being thrown into the river is surely one of the'big' ones of earlier you spoke of.

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Old 24th June 2019, 11:07 AM   #14
Will M
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Once something like this sells for $180,000 and has been in a museum claiming such provenance the story will stick as truth. Really not much to go on since WW1 and WW2 left plenty of firearms in the ground, rivers and swamps etc.
You would have to believe very hard to fork out $180,000. France is known for all sorts of manufactured provenance and items, you can still buy supposedly WW1 and Waterloo items though it's been cleaned out of these for some time now. I'd much rather have a Van Gogh painting.
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Old 24th June 2019, 11:35 AM   #15
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... In some of the text reviewing this book, the .380 caliber gun which Mssr. Ravoux sold Rene Secretan, he claimed was 'faulty' and used just for hunting squirrels and rabbits...

Weird. Would it then mean that, if the .38 was fully operational, he would used if for what else ? .


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... Rene claimed Van Gogh stole it from his rucksack, presumably for the tricks and taunting he had endured from him...

And René, aware of that, let him keep it ? or did he not notice that something so significant as his gun was missing ? Obscure !

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Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...When he was interviewed many years later, he claimed that he and his brother had gone to Paris the day of the shooting, and had not heard of it until they saw it in a Paris newspaper.

Obscure again, of course !


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...there was no reason to remove the bullet. As far as known ,it is still in the remains...So how is the auction gun matched to the caliber that killed Van Gogh, and if the gun he allegedly stole from Rene was a .380 cal, how can the 7mm gun be the one?...

Perhaps to raise its auction price ... just kidding .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... That discrepancy is the issue I meant when noting the Liege mfg. relevance. If the 'death gun' was a .380, it does not matter if it was made in Liege, and of course if the auction gun is Lefaucheax, it would not be made in Liege...

Instead it matters in that, being a .38 caliber, was hardly made at Liege. They used the metrics over there, as the Brits used the bore gauge. Basically a .38 would be American. How about that ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...Not ALL Liege guns are marked, there are cases of unmarked ...

Naturally there are; but of all the (say) numerous Liege pistols i have handled, the ones actually marked have a greater score.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...The John Wayne quote was paraphrased from Wyatt Earp ...

I wouldn't know; yet the quote i watched was in "The shootist" (produced in 1976).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...At the OK Corral in 1881, Wyatt, Morgan and Holliday all had pocketed guns, while Virgil had his in waistband. ...

So ... as i thought.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... As we are soon to roll the bookmobile westward, one of our first stops will be in Hico. Texas, where 'Brushy Bill' is buried...

The closest i have been from there was Waco, to visit the Rangers museum. Maybe next time i visit the USA.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...PS, in your #4, the image showing a 'Lefaucheaux' being thrown into the river is surely one of the'big' ones of earlier you spoke of...

So the movie director wanted it to be consistent with the 'volume' of one carried by a Buffalo Bill joker, as may be seen HERE.


.

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Old 24th June 2019, 12:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will M
.. I'd much rather have a Van Gogh painting...

I fully subscribe such preference, Will. Specially when considering that this tasteless piece of weaponry may only surpass the category of a piece of rusted junk, if you are being by invaded by an extreme collector viral faith ... even if it comes with a certificate of origin issued by a reliable & qualified a source.
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Old 24th June 2019, 03:25 PM   #17
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Thanks very much Fernando, I like your way of addressing key comments I note, its easier than my 'Tolstoyean' text, which even I have trouble navigating after I have written it

As I have always been an edged weapons guy, and am horrible at math and measuring things, I have a lot of trouble understanding calibers (and usually find it 'boring' …..shameless pun!). …...but aren't classifications of caliber and bore convertible? I thought .380 was just a way of expressing .38. The Liege weapons are indeed USUALLY stamped, but there seem to be some which are completely blank.

Such is the case with the diminutive .32 cal. pinfire revolver (post #6) I showed in earlier post with quarter and pen. It is regarded as French or German, but entirely unmarked. In its time c.1880s there were I believe regulations on marking and serializing guns in these countries, much as American arms were typically with serial numbers. This pinfire, probably with scores like it produced in huge volumes, was not. In America, the 'suicide specials' also had no serial numbers.

On that note, I actually got that gun in Cody, Wyoming and there was a most unusual museum there (not the gigantic Buffalo Bill one) which was called "The Dug Up Museum". In it were displays of many guns of the 'wild west' which are in relic condition and left 'as is' the way they were found in situ.
The displays are with desert and varied flora to show them in the context they were excavated or found. Many are fascinating and show just how dangerous some were, as the chambers exploded or simultaneously discharged in some cases.
In one case, an old Winchester rifle was found standing against a tree in an extremely remote region in rugged terrain in Nevada, and had been there since around 1890s. Anybodys guess at what happened to the guy who had it.
The Texas Rangers Museum is amazing, never saw so many guns!

Will, you are right, it would be great to have a 'Van Gogh' but I have settled for the copy of "Sunflowers" which has served well for decades with us, and conveys the desired effect. With relics, most have only intrinsic value, unless with stellar provenance, and in my collecting days, the rough examples were what I could afford. As a historian, they had what I wanted anyway, and I knew they hadn't been messed with.

As Fernando has noted, without profoundly witnessed and certified warranty of provenance, it is a rusty old item, and even with this documentation, caveat emptor!

"The Shootist" was a magnificent movie and was indeed his 'magnum opus' as he was of course in real life suffering from cancer as the aged 'shootist' in the movie. In this poignant film, the incredible identity and character of the true icons of the west are shown as only he could portray them. Naturally the 'Earp' doctrine would come into play.

We (I) have wandered of course again, but the topics of forensics, ballistics and the wild west are all important context of the times this event occurred in 1890s France. The indisputable influence of Cody and the 'wild west' even in France were it seems somewhat a factor in this colorfully mysterious case.
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Old 24th June 2019, 05:29 PM   #18
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Concerning caliber systems, to put it simply, this (American) system (.32 -.38 -.45) indicates the caliber in fractions (tenths) of an inch, resulting in that, if you multiply, for example, .38 by the metric measure on an inch (2,54 mm) you have precisely 9,65 millimeters, which would be the equivalent to a conventional rounded up 9 mm European caliber.
Both .38 and .380 are the same same caliber measure, only that .380 is a later manner to indicate developed ammo properties.
The Brits, as the ones that drive by the wrong side ( ) had to have their own weird system; a table where a determined caliber, so called 'bore' (or 'gauge' as for shot guns) corresponds to the number of round balls you can cast per pound of lead.
It could be my eyes or the darkness in the picture, but i don't see in the upper revolver picture in post #6 the little openings in the cylinder for the pins (broche) to point out for the "blunt" hammer to strike ... neither in the Apache also shown, one that looks visibly (?) for cartridge ammo.
But if the upper revolver is indeed pinfire, calling it a .32 cal is somehow unhorthodox, i would say; unless it is about an European production 'chambered' for an American contract.
Perhaps the examples shown in that museum said to simultaneously explode in more than one chambers are the so called pepper boxes, famous for such hazardous episodes.
Concerning the wandering that has been taking place, i don't think is such a crime, as long as the convergent subject is about antique gun business .


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