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Old August 15, 2012, 12:06 PM   #26
Mike Irwin
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Doc,

I don't think that anyone is claiming that every Tom, Dick, and Shorty carried spare cylinders for their revolvers.

To say money was scarce doesn't, however, mean the same thing as "no hard money was available and never had been so no one could afford to buy, sell, own, or possess anything."

I've always taken a pretty dim view of expressing any historical touchpoint in absolute terms.

It's also odd that you'd dismiss as historically inaccurate the scene from Pale Rider while embracing as historical truth the scene from Open Range.

Odd, but then perhaps that explains the fascination some have with zombie movies...

But, in any event, at least one period gun appears to have been offered for sale with not only a spare cylinder, but also a spare barrel.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...ch&um=1&itbs=1
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Old August 15, 2012, 12:25 PM   #27
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Posted by mykeal: Spangenberger, like many magazine writers, claims evidence exists but fails to provide a credible citation. A true historian would have provided a bibliography specifying the documentation he claims supports his thesis.
Space and word count limitations, my dear Mr. or Ms. mykeal. A fact of life. How many short magazine articles contain footnotes and bibliographies?

Quote:
By the way, one only has to read the 5 comments following his editorial (for that's all it is) to see what credibility it lacks.
First, three of the five are written by the same person. One of them states that Spangenberger cited the illustration of the fancy Remingtons as substantiation. He did not. Great picture--probably chosen by the publisher.

I haven't read the work of R.L. Wilson, Roy Marcot, or R. Bruce McDowell on the subject, nor do I recall seeing the photos, but I have seen photos of real and faked Baby Dragoon Colts with extra cylinders which, as I recall, were taken by or for John S. duMont and/or either Lucian Cary or Herb Glass.

The second refers to large caliber, heavy revolvers. They had loading levers, and anyone who could carry one could carry two--better than an extra cylinder.

The third is just an attack on Spangenberger. Says he did not provide documentation. It does not dispute his citations of Wilson, Marcot, or McDowell.

The fourth refers to literacy stats. I'm not a student of the subject, but I have to question the census report of 95% literacy in a nation of new immigrants. Fact is, many cavalry recruits were illiterate. Might there not have been others?

The fifth cites instructions that reportedly came with 1849 Pocket revolvers and 1851 Navy revolvers and that state “The cylinder is not to be taken off when loaded.” Duh! They had loading levers that cannot be used with the cylinder removed. Doesn't say you cannot remove a loaded cylinder.

The early Patersons, Wells Fargo models, and most Baby Dragoons did not have loading levers. The cylinders were loaded when removed from the firearm.

Uberti and Beretta literature for their replicas state that the Pony Express riders preferred Baby Dragoons.

I read the same thing in 1950.

And then there's Pony Bob's account....

It does make sense that someone who had to weigh less than 120 pounds and who rode fast on a horse carrying mail that bought in revenues of more than a dollar per half ounce in a bag containing a maximum of twenty pounds would choose a very light revolver, and most probably only one, and that an extra cylinder would be desirable.

I personally doubt that carrying extra cylinders was very common among others, but trying to prove a negative is a losing poposition.
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Old August 15, 2012, 12:30 PM   #28
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Quote:
It's also odd that you'd dismiss as historically inaccurate the scene from Pale Rider while embracing as historical truth the scene from Open Range.
Mike, maybe you should read Doc's whole post. His next sentence was...
Quote:
That comment does not indicate anything in the way of historical fact in and of itself. It is from a movie (fiction)
Doc said he was reminded of that comment. Also in my earlier post I mentioned that most cased revolvers I have seen with extra cylinders were Colt Patersons. They seem to be the one revolver I have seen that spare cylinders were fairly common with.

Last edited by MJN77; August 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM.
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Old August 15, 2012, 12:52 PM   #29
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One Other Reference

This is from the Utah State History website:

Quote:
The Pony Express started with 80 experienced riders, 500 horses, and 190 stations that were 10 to 12 miles apart. Many of the riders were skillful guides or seasoned scouts. All were, by necessity, good horseman and were noted for their small, wiry stature. For risking their lives daily, they received $25.00 per week, two revolvers, a rifle, a bowie knife, and a gold-imprinted bible. The heavy armaments proved to be too much luggage and later on they settled on a single pistol and an extra leaded cylinder.
Loaded, of course.
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Old August 15, 2012, 01:04 PM   #30
Mike Irwin
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Nah not enough time to read his whole post. I have just enough time to pass judgement and move on.

The problem is, even though it is dismissed as fiction, it is still used as an example to support Doc's underlying conclusion, that money was scarce so anyone having an extra cylinder for their gun is impossible.

My point stands.
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Old August 15, 2012, 01:19 PM   #31
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Mike, I think you missed Doc's point. The way I read it, at least, is that he used that movie line to point out that not everyone could afford to buy a brand new gun. That in some cases other means of procurement were involved.
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Old August 15, 2012, 01:20 PM   #32
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Regarding literacy rates. That figure seems to mesh up with wwhat I have founf online for the literacy rate at the time.

Remember in the pre civil war period immigration was a relative trickle compared to what it would become and most of those immigrants were from western european nations where there were school systems generally in place.

I also suspect that not just English literacy would have been counted. At the time most non English speaking immigrants were German, and if historical documentation is accurate, literacy in that part of society was virtually 100 percent.

Literacy rates in the South are FAR lower, largely I suspect due to the large black populations. That remained an issue in the South for over 100 years.
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Old August 15, 2012, 01:25 PM   #33
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No I fully got Doc's point. The claim and the summary statement from the movie served to reinforce his contention that hard money was scarce so in real life no one could ever have afforded a spare cylinder.

No offense Doc, but not well illustrated.
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Old August 15, 2012, 01:36 PM   #34
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And More

On the Baby Dragoon: read the top of page 47, "customarily reloaded by changing cylinders".

On Patersons:

Quote:
...rare cased Model No. 2 Paterson Belt Revolver, considered one of the finest cased belt models known, comes complete with accessories and a spare cylinder and is estimated at $125,000-175,000. A rare Colt Model C Pocket No. 1 Baby Paterson revolver, also cased with a spare cylinder and embellished with numerous silver bands carries a presale estimate of $100,000-150,000.
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Old August 15, 2012, 02:09 PM   #35
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Here's an interesting link, The Guns of Pale Rider, that may answer a lot of your questions.
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Old August 15, 2012, 02:48 PM   #36
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For the person who felt the need to acquire and carry a revolver of any consequence, where did he (or she) get it?

Trade for it? Handed down from dad or grand dad? buy it from a private individual? Buy it from a store or shop?

And when he did, how much control did he have over what he got? Did the individual have to be satisfied with some slim pickens, or were there enough revolvers available that he could pick and choose?
Most hardware stores carried guns. I suppose it was a lot like today. Some bought them new, some traded, some bought from individuals. A lot of cowboy guns were not what we consider cowboy guns, especially later in the century but were the cheap Iver Johnson, Allen & Thurber type guns. Colt was the weapon of choice if you could afford to pay 13.00 for one. The cheap stuff ran around 4.00 and really no more than they were actually used did a pretty decent job. I would think and this is JMO that most hardware stores carried a decent selection. I remember when I was young going to the local hardware store and looking at guns in the mid 60's and they had a good selection of rifles, most used and were willing to trade. The pistol selection wasn't quite as good but still adequate for a small town. They also still sold horse shoes and mule pulled plows etc. so I doubt things were much different then than 80 or 90 years before.
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Old August 15, 2012, 04:30 PM   #37
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Mike's post is pertinent

I think Mike is right (although I can't cite any evidence, only what I know of human nature and the humanist approach to econimics) about a lot of folks carrying extra cylinders. I said only that only that it was possible to do so.

I also think, (again with not even a shread of evidence) that not every male who lived in what was then the Wild West felt it necessary to carry a firearm. Remember that in some cases, the firearm absorbed resources which might have been directed at what the individual saw as more pressing needs.

We might have a fairly decent idea of how many revolvers were available because we know in general terms how many were manufactured or perhaps imported. While this does not enlighten us as to practical numbers at least it tells us roughly what the maximum number would be. We also have records of the fixed population of the various states or territories from the years between say 1870 and 1890 or so, not counting transients who might not have been included in the official population.


From those numbers we could do an extrapolation. If there were for example 3 million revolvers available of all descriptions, and 21 million inhabitants, then there was 1 revolver for each seventh person. Obviously those numbers are only examples.

I also agree in principle (principle only because I can't cite any evidence) that it was very likely that a person who happened to sell firearms also sold dry goods or other stuff. I bought my first rifle from a hardware store in about 1962 in a small Pennsylvania town. The gun (Thats right, you caught me using the term "gun" applied to what is more correctly small arms ;o) .) rack was right across from the nail bins.

I wonder about such questions as, "How large did a town have to be to support a general store which sold firearms as well?"

or

"How much larger was the town that could support a merchant who sold only hardware and firearms?"
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Old August 15, 2012, 05:20 PM   #38
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"I also think, (again with not even a shread of evidence) that not every male who lived in what was then the Wild West felt it necessary to carry a firearm."

PSHAW!

We know from the historical records (name the movie I reference with that and win... nothing!) that cowboys, cowgirls, cowkids, etc., all positively DRIPPED guns in the old west!

And every one of them carted around a brace of nickel plated, gold filagreed Colt .45s in low-ride Mexican draw holsters!

And 75% of them had "Slim" in their name, while 40% of them had "Kid" in their name.

And an amazing 56.72% of them had BOTH Slim and Kid in their name!

Hum.... excuse me while I refresh this whisky... I'm drinking it, authentically, from a dirty glass!

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Old August 15, 2012, 05:24 PM   #39
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Any town would have a hardware store. Hardware stores sold tools, guns were tools. How good a really small towns selection would be is anybody's guess. I'm sure somewhere there are records that could be accessed to get an idea. A town would have to be pretty big, more like a small city to support a gunshop that only dealt in guns and accessories.
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Old August 15, 2012, 05:27 PM   #40
Mike Irwin
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"How large did a town have to be to support a general store which sold firearms as well"

Well, from some of the things I've seen over the years, apparently not all that big. Where ever a group of people clustered for some economic reason, it usually drew people who were willing to try to make a buck off those people.

Some of the lumber towns in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the last century are good examples. Isolated, small, but still had their store and saloon...

What a lot of people also don't realize about these small stores is that they often were much more than simply a store. They were often a restaurant, a post office, an informal bank, the railroad office/telegraph office (if they were located on or near a line) and, in the age of mail order for things that often weren't carried in stores outside the big cities, the order and package acceptance service.

If a town got bigger, sometimes those things would be branched out to other dedicated stores, but you'll still occasionally see places like that in really rural areas -- General store/filling station/post office etc.
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Old August 15, 2012, 05:54 PM   #41
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What a lot of people also don't realize about these small stores is that they often were much more than simply a store. They were often a restaurant, a post office, an informal bank, the railroad office/telegraph office (if they were located on or near a line) and, in the age of mail order for things that often weren't carried in stores outside the big cities, the order and package acceptance service.
Some of them are still standing in Rural Ms. I've bought stuff out of a couple of them back in younger days.
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Old August 16, 2012, 09:34 AM   #42
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I found one of those old stores still in business many years ago waay down in southern Arkansas ....walked around in there for hours....
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Old August 16, 2012, 10:49 AM   #43
Mike Irwin
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As I said, you'll still see stores like that in rural areas.
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Old August 16, 2012, 11:40 AM   #44
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As I said, you'll still see stores like that in rural areas.
You did sed that dincha?
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