It’s Not a Gun

As I have done once each year since my father’s passing in 2009, I republish this story on his birthday to commemorate his life in the antique firearms business.

My father was a collector of antiques. Specifically, he collected antique weaponry. It was the one continuous preoccupation in his life, and for more than 60 years he pursued this passion far and wide.

Because his pursuit was never ending, I have occasionally heard him called a “gun nut,” usually by people who are afraid of guns. More frequently he was called a “gun collector,” but he wasn’t even that.  In the wrong hands those terms conjure up images of survivalists stockpiling weapons and preparing The Compound for apocalypse. That image, in my father’s case at least, is far from the truth, although he often joked about it.

Really, he was a historian gathering artifacts. And that’s what he called them.  The artifacts he chose to collect, protect, and restore were weapons belonging to specific times and places. It was the history that intrigued him.

As a result of his passion, I grew up in a house where firearms were objects of fascination, not fear. They formed a backdrop, literally, to my youth. I consider myself fortunate to have handled and inspected so many tangible, tactile, and spectacular connections to the past. And I, like my father, view them with a perpetual sense of awe.

Now that he is gone, and his beautiful collection has been sent home with other appreciative collectors, I can share what he knew all along — It’s not a gun…

It’s Art.

Zelner Flintlock Pistols, ca. 1670

It’s Technology.

16th Century Wheel-lock by Antoni Bauman

It’s Old World.

J.P. Sauer 16 bore Double Rifle, ca. 1868

It’s New World.

Ross Target Rifle, Zanesville, Ohio, 1845

It’s Independence.

Pennsylvania Long Rifle (AKA Kentucky Rifle) ca. 1770

It’s Noble.

De Saint A Versailles, .66 cal. musket with French Royal Proofs, ca. 1760

It’s Common.

Winchester Model 62A, .22 LR

It’s Ostentatious.

Lebeda Superposed Double Rifle, .577 cal., ca. 1850

It’s Sublime.

James Purdy Best Quality double rifle, .450 x 3 1/4, 1885

It’s Iconic.

Winchester Model 1873 Saddle Ring Carbine, and Colt Single Action Army Revolver, both in 44-40 Win.

It’s Heroic.

Enfield Mk 1, No 2, Model 1934, RAF marked revolver

It’s Evocative.

S/42 Luger, Nazi era, 1937

It’s Nostalgic.

Daisy “Lightning Loader” BB Gun, 1939

It’s Foreign.

Cased Pair of Rodda, heavy-barreled target pistols

It’s Familiar.

Winchester Model 94, 30-30, 1954.

It’s Sculpture

H.G. Cordes, double rifle using Walnut, Steel, Horn, and Ivory.

It’s War.

Enfield Jungle Carbine, .303 cal, w/bayonet & scabbard, 1944

It’s Peace.

Colt Lightning rifle with San Francisco Police Dept. Serial Number, 1895

It’s Esoteric.

Matchlock Fort Rifle/Wall Gun, ca. 1550

It’s Precise.

Colt Match Target, .22 cal., with certified target

It’s Brutish.

Blunderbuss by Knubley, London, ca. 1780

It’s Delicate.

Philadelphia Deringer “Peanut” with N. Curry agent markings

It’s Unbelievable.

Webley Mk V revolver with five visible bullets in the burst barrel

It’s Exotic.

Consecutively numbered R.B. Rodda Howdah Pistols, .577 cal., ca. 1870

It’s Salvation.

Lyle Gun line-throwing canon, U.S. Coast Guard marked

It’s Uncommon.

Hudson Valley Long Fowler, 3-screw lock, ca. 1700

Sometimes It’s Not a Gun at All.

English Crossbow, Johnson & Wigan, ca. 1690

It’s Nothing to Fear.

Dutch Tinder Lighter, ca. 1650

It’s not a gun. It’s history.

Thank you, Pop, for letting me in.


Note: I have been inundated with requests for additional photos of specific pieces, but all of the firearms pictured above were sold  – reluctantly – at auction in 2010 and I no longer have access to them.

All images found here and at are protected by copyright and may not be used elsewhere. Contact me  at the link above for usage requests.

2 thoughts on “It’s Not a Gun

  1. It’s a
    Great tribute
    Thanks for sharing Keith and thanks for keeping the spirit of you Dad’s passion alive.

    When progeny perpetuates legacy, continuity of spirit lives on.

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