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Taylor Harbin
12-12-2013, 07:51 PM
I've read the sticky about this forum, so I'm going to try and do this topic the right way.

I have a story set in the northeastern United States (fictional town, exact location as yet to be determined), the year is 1900. It's a small town, so there's no heavy industry or large shops. When trouble hits, the town council (if that's the right word for them) forms a group of volunteer expeditionaries to fix it. For their safety, the party outfits itself with weapons.

My question is two fold: what kind of firearms would be available at your average corner store at this period of time? Repeating rifles like the Krag-Jorgenson and double-action revolvers like the Colt New Service were available, but not everyone could afford them. What would the average working man buy?

-Or-

If they decided to order a shipment of arms from one of the big cities (Boston, Philly, New York, etc), how would they place that order? How would they make payment? Where would the arms come from? How long would it take to ship by rail?

Thanks!

jclarkdawe
12-12-2013, 08:39 PM
The northeast was well served by rail in 1900, and an order by telegraph could be delivered to most towns by the next day. Adams Express Company until 1917, and Railroad Express Agency (REA) afterwards provided service similar to UPS today. Less-then-carload freight was a lot of the business for railroads in those days, and could travel in the baggage car of passenger trains, as well as with freight trains.

I would assume that the general store would have a supplier through which it could order guns. Other then this order might be a bit larger then normal, I don't know of any problems to it being handled like any other commerce. In other words, order place, order shipped, payment sent.

You need to determine your location to know the type of town government. Northern New England is board of selectmen and town meeting, Southern New England is board of selectmen/town council. New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio I'm not sure how they worked.

Also your location determines the rail line. Northern New England was the B&M (Boston & Maine), Rutland, Maine Central, and a couple of others. People know who served their town, even now when the rails have been torn up for fifty years.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Trebor1415
12-12-2013, 10:50 PM
I've read the sticky about this forum, so I'm going to try and do this topic the right way.

I have a story set in the northeastern United States (fictional town, exact location as yet to be determined), the year is 1900. It's a small town, so there's no heavy industry or large shops. When trouble hits, the town council (if that's the right word for them) forms a group of volunteer expeditionaries to fix it. For their safety, the party outfits itself with weapons.

My question is two fold: what kind of firearms would be available at your average corner store at this period of time? Repeating rifles like the Krag-Jorgenson and double-action revolvers like the Colt New Service were available, but not everyone could afford them. What would the average working man buy?

-Or-

If they decided to order a shipment of arms from one of the big cities (Boston, Philly, New York, etc), how would they place that order? How would they make payment? Where would the arms come from? How long would it take to ship by rail?

Thanks!

Let me ask some questions to better understand your questions:

How many guns do they need? For any "smallish" order, up to say a dozen, it seems like the local dry goods store or hardware store or sporting goods store could equip them without special orders. It may take going to more than one store or even going to the next town over, but it likely could be done that way.

Now, if they want say, 50 rifles, all the same or at least the same caliber, then yeah, a special order would likely be needed.

How quick do they need the guns? How much time do they have from the time of order to when they need them delivered? That effects your options.

As to ordering guns, they could order from the Sears Catalog or Abecromie and Fitch or from Bannerman's Surplus in New York City.

Which one they pick depends on what they want, the money they have, and how quick they need it.

The quickest would be to go to Bannerman's in NYC and pick it up in person.

As to specific's, the Krag was a military rifle at the time. I'm not aware of it being sold to civilians or, it if was, it defintely wasn't common.

The Colt New Service would be pretty new then and pretty pricey. Not a workingman's gun by any means.

Guns are very durable. They could arm themselves with anything from old Winchester lever action rifles (still in production in 1900) to some of the early bolt-action rifles, such as the "Spanish Mauser" in 8x57. Bannerman's offered surplus Mausers captured during the Spanish American war (although I don't know if they were available by 1900 yet).

I can't help on train schedules and timetables, etc., sorry.

Here are some links that may help.

This page has links to scans from a 1900 Sears Catalog. I'm not going to post each link separately. You can follow them.

http://metaldetectingforum.com/showthread.php?t=7560

Note the prices. The Iver Johnson and H&R revolvers were more of a "working man's gun" than a Colt New Service would be at that time. (They also were lower quality, but serviceable, and much cheaper).

The "Smith and Wesson Model 1899 Military and Police Revolver" was brand new then. This is the gun that was the parent for all the S&W revolvers in the 20th Century. The Military and Police was updated over the years and later renamed the Model 10. Later variants are still made today. Note the price compared to the Iver Johnson and H&R guns.

The Marlin and Winchester lever action rifles would be a typical choice. Remember that both new production and old used guns would both be available.

This link is for a complete 1900 Sears Guns and Sporting Goods catalog you can buy if the scans aren't enough info.

http://www.gunauction.com/buy/10206742/

Here's some info on Bannerman.

http://www.cityofsmoke.com/archives/393

http://www.guns.com/2013/09/14/bannermans-legacy-ultimate-army-navy-store/

Here's a Bannerman catalog you can buy (I may get one myself)

http://www.headlesshorsemangifts.com/product_p/55.htm

http://www.cornellpubs.com/old-guns/historic-bannerman.php


Abercromie and Fitch was a more high end outfitter. Still good to know about

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Abercrombie_&_Fitch

EDIT: I just noticed this page from the Sears Catalog mentions how to order revovlers. It's a little hard to read, but if you enlarge your screen you should make it out. It looks like they prefer cash sent for payment, but would accept C.O.D. orders as well.

http://metaldetectingforum.com/catalog/harrington-richardson-revol.jpg

King Neptune
12-12-2013, 11:26 PM
I've read the sticky about this forum, so I'm going to try and do this topic the right way.

I have a story set in the northeastern United States (fictional town, exact location as yet to be determined), the year is 1900. It's a small town, so there's no heavy industry or large shops. When trouble hits, the town council (if that's the right word for them) forms a group of volunteer expeditionaries to fix it. For their safety, the party outfits itself with weapons.

My question is two fold: what kind of firearms would be available at your average corner store at this period of time? Repeating rifles like the Krag-Jorgenson and double-action revolvers like the Colt New Service were available, but not everyone could afford them. What would the average working man buy?

-Or-

If they decided to order a shipment of arms from one of the big cities (Boston, Philly, New York, etc), how would they place that order? How would they make payment? Where would the arms come from? How long would it take to ship by rail?

Thanks!

The orders would be sent by telegraph, and the hardware store probably would buy from a wholesaler. The wholesaler could be almost anywhere, but probably would be in one of the regional cities. There were more railroads then there there are major highways now, so most things would be delivered on the second day, unless the wholesaler didn't have it in stock, and it would be delivered to the station in that town.

Exactly what someone would buy would depend on how much money they wanted to spend. The hardware store probably would have a list or a catalogue for anything of quality, and there were many manufacturers. Why stock a slow mover, if you can get it in a couple of days?

sears 1903 firearms page to give an idea of the variety and prices
http://www.smithandwessonforums.com/forum/armory/2366-1903-sears-catalog-always-cool-gun-stuff-view.html

Trebor1415
12-12-2013, 11:30 PM
The orders would be sent by telegraph, and the hardware store probably would buy from a wholesaler. The wholesaler could be almost anywhere, but probably would be in one of the regional cities. There were more railroads then there there are major highways now, so most things would be delivered on the second day, unless the wholesaler didn't have it in stock, and it would be delivered to the station in that town.

Exactly what someone would buy would depend on how much money they wanted to spend. The hardware store probably would have a list or a catalogue for anything of quality, and there were many manufacturers. Why stock a slow mover, if you can get it in a couple of days?

sears 1903 firearms page to give an idea of the variety and prices
http://www.smithandwessonforums.com/forum/armory/2366-1903-sears-catalog-always-cool-gun-stuff-view.html

Dang, the Colt New Service was even more expensive in the 1903 Catalog than the S&W Military and Police was in the 1900 Catalog.

M&P $13
Coltís New Service Double Action Revolver - $15.40, Pearl Stocks, $5.50

WeaselFire
12-13-2013, 12:31 AM
In a small New England town in that era, most hardware stores/dry goods/etc. would stock a few shotguns, half dozen revolvers and some hunting rifles. They would order almost anything else, and likely have it in a day or two.

Common would be any of the Colt single action 1860 or 1873 Army/Navy pistols, everyone brought them back from the Civil War. S&W Russians were somewhat common, a Colt 1900 in 38 ACP (semi-auto and brand new) might be less common. Remington 1858 revolvers were popular in the Northeast.

For rifles, the Springfield models were also popular in the Northeast, as was the Winchester 1894. Enfield rifles, and even revolvers, were available. Henry and Sharpes rifles were less popular in the Northeast, where long range hunting wasn't as common.

But you could pick any rifle or handgun of the era and have it delivered relatively quickly. And, in general, most assembled groups would simply bring the guns they had at home. Maybe fewer had handguns, or they had smaller vest-pocket revolvers, but everybody had a squirrel gun, a deer rifle or a shotgun. Or all three.

Jeff

Taylor Harbin
12-13-2013, 01:10 AM
Thanks for your timely replies. The party is only 6 men, so I guess personally-owned arms using black powder would make more sense for the cost of ammunition, and hunting rifles would be more frequent than pistols because of their larger role as a tool for feeding people.

Trebor1415
12-13-2013, 05:40 AM
Thanks for your timely replies. The party is only 6 men, so I guess personally-owned arms using black powder would make more sense for the cost of ammunition, and hunting rifles would be more frequent than pistols because of their larger role as a tool for feeding people.

Define "black powder."

If you mean they are going to arm themselves with single shot muzzleloaders, while those were still around, they were hardly state of the art by 1900. They'd definitely be "old fashioned" and used by poorer people. If this is what you mean by "black powder" I think you are giving them weapons that were really largely phased out by that time.

Now, many cartridge revolvers and repeating rifles did use black powder propellent, but in cartridge form. The transition from cartridges loaded with black powder to cartridges loaded with smokeless powder happened over a somewhat long period of time and the two systems did serve side by side.

For example, the early versions of the .38 S&W and .38 Special cartridges were made for blackpowder. That's why the cartridge cases are so long, to hold more powder. Later both were adapted to smokeless powder loadings.

For a New England town circa 1900 I'd expect six men could come up with something better than single shot muzzle loading rifles, especially if it's supposed to be a dangerous mission.

If they need rifles, they could draw on their own personally owned hunting rifles or shotguns. These would likely be lever action rifles or double barrelled shotguns.

If they think they need handguns for their mission, and don't have anything suitable, I could see them ordering a few of those $2.00 or $3.00 H&R's or Iver Johnsons. They were popular specifically because they were cheap and used readily available ammo.

I don't see them investing in a $13 S&W M&P or $15 Colt New Service unless one of them is "well to do" and wants a nicer gun.

But, a couple handguns, and a box or two of ammo, supplmented with a few hunting rifles, wouldn't break the bank.

Taylor Harbin
12-13-2013, 05:54 AM
Yeah, Trebor. I'm talking about black powder propellant. Although, since hunting rifles could get passed down through the family lines, a muzzle-loader or single shot breech loader like the Springfield Trapdoor might also work. Each man will be different.

WeaselFire
12-13-2013, 06:09 PM
Yeah, Trebor. I'm talking about black powder propellant. Although, since hunting rifles could get passed down through the family lines, a muzzle-loader or single shot breech loader like the Springfield Trapdoor might also work. Each man will be different.
Black powder is not unbelievable, but would be really waning in popularity over a metallic cartridge. Though a Trapdoor would be an appropriate rifle for the area and likely the time period. Cap and ball revolvers were still used,rifles as well, but they'd be rather old by 1900.

Might make for a good story though, lots of possibilities.

Jeff

Taylor Harbin
12-13-2013, 07:35 PM
Black powder is not unbelievable, but would be really waning in popularity over a metallic cartridge. Though a Trapdoor would be an appropriate rifle for the area and likely the time period. Cap and ball revolvers were still used,rifles as well, but they'd be rather old by 1900.

Might make for a good story though, lots of possibilities.

Jeff

Yeah. If the setting was a large city, and the party was over twenty men, and they had the money for it, they'd be sporting all of the latest hardware. But charging up San Juan Hill they ain't.

benbenberi
12-14-2013, 05:00 AM
Just pointing out that gun manufacturing was a major industry in Connecticut in 1900, with a lot of big factories and also smaller firms making arms & ammo for sale to the public, and that the region was very well-served with railroads. So I can't see your characters having any difficulty placing an order for their weapons of choice and getting it delivered quickly.