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Old December 14, 2021, 07:18 PM   #1
Triggernometry Jr.
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Join Date: May 30, 2017
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Forehand & Wadsworth "Old Model Army" Question

HI! I seem to be in a "needle in a haystack" research project. These single action wheel guns were produced in 44 Russian in the 1870s. According to Flayderman, about 1000 made. Some were stamped with a bear on the left side of the frame, under the cylinder. It seems to be no more than "hear-say" that the bear is associated with California Militia. Others suggest a California dealer or even that it's because of the 44 Russian caliber, thus, the Russian bear. I've invested 2 days with Google, using "California militia", scanning online museum records & newspaper articles from 1870 up, scanning for Forehand & Wadsworth, to no avail. Of course, if any factory records exist, I've seen nothing on that either. Has anyone out there seen anything verifiable in print regarding the reason for the "bear" stamping? I know "lots a luck". Thanks!!
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Old January 1, 2022, 01:35 AM   #2
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Out of pure curiosity, I spent a while looking into this. While I found no evidence to really prove anything, my intuition says that the bear stamp is associated with the California militia.

I found a sale listing for a Forehand and Wadsworth Old Model Army in .44 russian, but without the bear stamp. In my mind, that ruled out the "Russian Bear" idea. Plus, the shape of the stamp seems similar to the bear on the California flag.

Its definitely a nice piece of history, and I wish you luck in finding out more.
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Old January 1, 2022, 06:16 PM   #3
Triggernometry Jr.
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Google showed 24 listings sold over about 15 years. Serial #s from #80 to #1331. From #80 to #752 (9 of the sample), NONE had the bear. From #865 through # 1331, ALL had the bear (15 in the sample) , with 3 exceptions. My belief is that nearly all of the late production (nearly 500) had the bear. Seems too many for one dealer in 1870s. As to the "Russian bear" as a caliber designation, I don't buy that either. State-wide militia seems more likely ....but....still hearsay.
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