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Old 28th April 2021, 10:39 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Wild Bill Hickok and his pistols

In 1874, gold was discovered in the Black Hills in Dakota Territory, much to the dismay of the Lakota Indians, as the lands were granted to be theirs by treaty, and people poured in to seek their fortunes.
By 1876, Deadwood was little more than a mining camp, but as with typical gold rush towns, the primary buildings were devoted to 'entertainment'.
One of these was the Nuttal & Mann saloon, known as #10 (named for placer claim #10 on the location where it was built).

Wild Bill Hickok, only 39 years old, but suffering failing sight had decided to use his gambling skills, and pretty much 'put up his guns' (his reputation as a pistoleer well established with his pair of Colt M1851 Navy .36 cal. revolvers).
What better place than the bustling Deadwood?

As always, the 'lore' around 'gunfights' and 'gunfighters' is so remarkably distorted, but colorful, despite being usually far from truth. The thing we know for sure is that on that fateful day, Aug. 2, 1876, he had reluctantly taken a seat at the poker game with his back to the door, against his cardinal rule of always being back against the wall to see all activity around him.

He held what forever became known as 'the dead mans hand', aces and eights. Jack McCall cowardly shot him in the head from behind.

In collecting weapons, most of us cannot expect to find or own the 'actual' arms used by these fabled figures in history, but we can own examples 'of the type', to know and experience what the real ones were like.

As mentioned, Wild Bill (James Butler Hickok, 1837-1876) favored the M1851 Colt Navy .36 cal. and my example is actually a London Colt, but looks the same. These were made by Samuel Colt in London from 1854-1856, and by the serial # mine was produced in 1856, and has London address on the barrel.
Hickok's guns had ivory grips, but the appearance otherwise is pretty much the same in my example.

On that day in August, Bill had a Smith & Wesson #2, .32 rimfire in his coat pocket. These were produced 1861-1874, by serial # mine was made in 1863.
These were sold to Union officers heavily in the war.
Hickoks was a 6" barrel, mine is 5 1/2.

The original #10 saloon was destroyed by the fire that destroyed the town in 1879. Another 'fascimile' was built later, already beginning to capitalize on the Wild Bill attraction. We traveled through there several years ago, and of course, the entire scene centers on this. There is the 'chair' that Wild Bill was said to be sitting in (actually NOT, he was on a stool).

But these
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Old 29th April 2021, 09:50 AM   #2
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Excellent thread!
Joseph G Rosa wrote several good books about James Butler Hickok and in this one you can find very interesting information.

/Stefan
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Old 29th April 2021, 09:53 AM   #3
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Here is one of my M1851 Colt Navy .36 cal.
Sorry for a bad picture...

/Stefan
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Old 29th April 2021, 02:00 PM   #4
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Get topic Jim!
I do understand why you thought to post this in the European section since your example of this historic weapon seems t have been made in London, but the Colt M1851 is such an American weapon in terms of design and legend that i wonder if this thread should be placed elsewhere. I don't really mind either way, but Fernando might have a better idea where it belongs.
Anyone interested in a great dramatized version of the accounts of Deadwood should check out the TV series and follow-up movie. Great stuff!
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Old 29th April 2021, 03:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Get topic Jim!
I do understand why you thought to post this in the European section since your example of this historic weapon seems t have been made in London, but the Colt M1851 is such an American weapon in terms of design and legend that i wonder if this thread should be placed elsewhere. I don't really mind either way, but Fernando might have a better idea where it belongs.
Anyone interested in a great dramatized version of the accounts of Deadwood should check out the TV series and follow-up movie. Great stuff!
That is actually a very good point, in which sector should the topic of American weaponry be placed? As you well note, as my Colt is a 'London' Colt, it can easily be placed in the European armoury. I will note here that many of the 'gunfighters' of the 'Wild West' used British guns, the Adams revolver, the Greener shotguns........many, if not most of the so called 'Bowie' knives were produced in Sheffield.
The swords used in the American Revolution, as well as other weapons were largely British, as technically America was a British colony. Most of Nuemann's book on "Swords of the American Revolution" is a catalog of the many European weapons used in America by the colonists.

Just as we split off the 'European Armoury' into a separate forum despite the fact that so many ethnographic weapons were influenced by, included components from and generally associated with European arms with colonization and trade, it seemed the European field needed separate and exclusive attention. The European denominator is in a way, a pretty broad definition.

Its really hard to determine in so many cases which 'box' to put things in
there is so much combining and cross influence involved. I recall many years back trying to discuss Scottish basket hilts when it was just the ethnographic forum. The only case I could suggest was that the clans were essentially 'tribal' and of key ethnic heritage, but of course, that was pretty tenuous


Good note on the series "Deadwood" as well as several movies such as the one with Jeff Bridges. It seems that in our times, movie makers are doing more research, and presenting not only entertaining, but informative films. Naturally there are always the naysayers, and I admit I get picky too, but make allowances for a degree of license. If anything, most movies, books etc. sets me off on research but its just wanting to learn as much truth and reality as I can.

Thank you so much David,
Jim


Hombre, thank you! That is a beautiful 'Navy'!!! I like the brass fittings on the trigger guard and had not noticed mine does not have those. I wonder what determined which models or examples received that affectation?
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Old 29th April 2021, 05:42 PM   #6
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Default Is 'Western' a better definiton ?

As it has been a customary practice, more than ruling on the European concept in words, and for what this forum is concerned, things have been easy to differentiate. So we take it that, antique arms of a non ethnographic structure, be them American or provenant from the old continent, do fall within our European concept. Hence not a bow or a lance, but a musket, a pistol or a sword.

But i admit that, rather than visiting once more the well known biography of Wild Bill, i would never miss an episode of the Deadwood series .
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Old 29th April 2021, 06:22 PM   #7
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Imagine if you had to watch it in a language censored edition. There would be more bleeps than words.
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Old 29th April 2021, 06:48 PM   #8
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Imagine if you had to watch it in a language censored edition. There would be more bleeps than words.
Indeed; lucky i watched it with subtitles and that part was already sanitized .
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Old 29th April 2021, 09:53 PM   #9
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Very well said Fernando. When we created the "European Armory' the goal was to expand the scope of discussions outside the 'ethnographic' category, and quite honestly, as we figured the scope, the inclusion of American arms seemed 'given'.

It seems ironic that the most renowned biographer of Wild Bill, and the foremost expert on American gunfighters, was the late Joseph Rosa, who was British
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Old 29th April 2021, 10:10 PM   #10
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In the beginning parts were shipped to London. Survival rate of the Navy Colts seems low. The link below has interesting information.

https://coltcollectors.com/colt-mode...ndon%20factory.
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Old 29th April 2021, 10:19 PM   #11
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But i admit that, rather than visiting once more the well known biography of Wild Bill, i would never miss an episode of the Deadwood series .
Glad to hear you have enjoyed it. While i do not believe we should accept it as history per se, a great deal of it is surprising historically accurate. In all probability the language used is not, but it is "art". And the approach to the storytelling is absolutely Shakespearean. I would quote an infamous phrase from the show here, by fear i might find myself in a timeout for doing so. LOL!
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Old 30th April 2021, 03:17 AM   #12
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In the beginning parts were shipped to London. Survival rate of the Navy Colts seems low. The link below has interesting information.

https://coltcollectors.com/colt-mode...ndon%20factory.

Great link Will!! Thank you!!
I had no idea the survival rate on these was so low. I actually think I got this one from Norm about 20 years or so ago, who can remember these days!
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