Thursday, June 25, 2015

A journey that lasted 127 years

A man named William Golcher, descended from English gunsmiths, left his home and his father's gun shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1855 to open his own establishment in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He was young, possibly still a teenager. After successfully running his "Sportsman's Headquarters" and making rifles worthy of being sought-after collector items today, he moved on to San Francisco, California. A man named William Burkhard took over the Saint Paul business, located at 23 East Third Street. The enterprise, under his name, lasted at least into the 1930s. What we have here is a lithograph showing the gun shop as it appeared in a Chicago publication in 1874. Pretty cool, hah ?? It was to this pioneer business that a Colt Lightning Model 1877 revolver was shipped on June 28, 1888. Now, after an absence of one hundred, twenty-seven years -- minus three days -- the Lightning is sort of home again.

Every age is the same. It is only love that makes them bearable. ---- H.G. Wells
That rifle on the wall of the labourer's cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.  ---- George Orwell
Sort of a homecoming
Part 1 of 2 or 3 segments

Sometime after June 28, 1888, a man whose name is lost to history (at least, up to this point) walked into the William R. Burkhard Sportsman's Headquarters at 23 East Third Street in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

He was looking for a revolver to purchase.

You are free to speculate as to the reason why: Possibly, he was about to travel westward, into lands where Indian raids still occurred and when outlaws still robbed trains, banks and stagecoaches.

Possibly, he was desperate for money himself and planned to rob a train or a bank or a stagecoach.

Possibly, he knew that the husband of a woman he recently had seduced had sworn to kill him and wanted a handgun with which to defend himself .... or, conversely, he was bound and determined to shoot the man who had seduced his wife.

Possibly, he simply wished to have a sidearm with him on a hunting excursion with friends into the northern woodlands of Minnesota.

You are free to speculate.

For whatever reason he wanted a handgun, when this unknown man left Burkhard's establishment, he had one. The revolver which he purchased was a Colt Lightning Model 1877, serial number 65911. It was brand new off the production line and had been shipped from the Colt factory in Hartford, Connecticut, to the Saint Paul gun shop on June 28, 1888.

For those unaware, the Colt Manufacturing Company since opening its doors for business in 1855 has maintained one of the best record-keeping systems in the industry for initial tracking of its firearms. For a fee, Colt will produce a letter providing specific details about a weapon's nomenclature, as well as the date when it left the Connecticut factory and its shipping destination.

To offer a bit of background, the Burkhard business was the continuation of William Golcher's Sportsman's Headquarters, an enterprise that had been established by gunsmith Golcher in 1855. Golcher, descended from a well-respected line of English gunsmiths, had left his father's shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to become "his own man out west."

For those unfamiliar with Minnesota, it only had become a state in 1858. Golcher was here from the beginnings of Minnesota territory and, today, his rifles are highly sought-after collectibles. I have none of his work, but I do have a shotgun made by his father in Philadelphia.

Although it is not really relevant to this story, it might be a curiosity factor to those interested in seemingly inexplicable coincidences that Golcher eventually left Saint Paul and moved on to open another gun shop in where, of all places, but San Francisco, California. (Get it? The name of this blog.) Whatever .... Golcher's departure led to Burkhard's arrival as owner of the Saint Paul business.

The Colt Lightning revolver purchased from the old Golcher / later Burkhard gun shop sometime after June 28, 1888, has returned to Minnesota within days of its original arrival one hundred and twenty-seven years ago.

I have it. I have this Colt Lightning and I have a factory letter documenting it -- serial number 65911 -- to authenticate its original provenance.

And, it is now only about ten miles from the location of the gun shop which once existed in Saint Paul and to which it was originally shipped from the Colt factory in Connecticut. That will be part two of this tale, which will appear on the anniversary of the Lightning's original shipping date -- June 28.

Time for the music

Legs, looks and lyrics .... when class was real .... pardon the expletive, but this performance is so damn much better than the often vulgar, overly tattooed, desperate-for-attention twerking stage acts of today.

I heard this song on the radio a few days ago and checked it out on YouTube. I do recall hearing it now and then in the past, but the name of the group, The Three Degrees, is not present among my memories. However, I noticed the name, James Last, in the background as the band accompanying the singers in the video. I have been in nightclubs where his band was performing, and knew he died just a few weeks ago in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he had a home.

From my perspective, these ingredients create another curiosity factor / inexplicable coincidence. The last time I had seen this well-known German bandleader was in Palm Beach Gardens, about a dozen miles from his Florida home and from where I was concluding a business transaction. Someday, I might tell the story of that transaction and that nightclub -- which might make the picture a bit more clear -- but, for now, I simply hope you like the song .... I love it.


Boris Estebitan said...

Que bella canción, tiene todos los ingredientes de una bella canción, saludos.

Fram Actual said...

Since you are very much of a ladies' man, Boris, I knew you would like these singers and their song.

Thank you, for your visit and your comment.

Smareis said...

Uma imagem bem curiosa Fram, parece aquela imagem de predio do velho oeste em filme de faroeste.
Gostei da história Fram, deve ser um rifle bem famosos que o Golcher fabrica. Deve ser um belo trabalho... Peças de colecionador é coisa sempre muito boa.

Achei muito boa a música não a conhecia.

Uma boa semana Fram!
Até breve!

Fram Actual said...

I will not attempt a technical explanation of the lithographic process, Smareis, but before photographs were practical for use in newspaper publications, lithographs were used for illustrations. This one (along with others) appeared in an 1874 publication showing places in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I was fortunate in finding one of the gun shop to which my "new" revolver was shipped to and sold from in the same general time frame -- twelve years later.

Firearms made by William Golcher and his father (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) before him and his grandfather (in England) before that are very collectible to those who enjoy and appreciate guns. They are just incidental to my brief account here of a Colt Lightning revolver. The story continues on June 28.

Yes, I enjoy listening to The Three Degrees, especially to this song.

I hope your weekend will be pleasant and beneficial, Smareis. Thank you, for being here.

A Cuban In London said...

Interesting quote by Orwell. Never come across it before. What was the larger context of the phrase? If you catch my drift? :-)

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

I think you are fully aware that the quote is disputed, CiL, and are being a bit of a smartzzz.

I will let the "Orwellian minutiae study club" sort out the scholarship, but you must agree it goes nicely with his story line.

Since you are into quotes rather than the context of posts, I will be eager to learn your thoughts about the quote from Sigmund Freud in my next post. And, please, no barrel length trivia.

It seems I am becoming a bit of a smartzzz .... thank you, for visiting me.

Something special ....