Heritage, 2009, Volume 2 Page: 29
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The Texas Gun Trade: 1780-1899
54 East School Street
Woonstock, RI 02895
For the student of firearms made, marketed,
and mended in Texas from the early years to
the end of the 19th century, Chris Hirsch has Th
authored a reference work that is as entertain-
ing as it is historically factual.
At first glance this volume, which styles it-
self as a guide to the guns made or sold in the a
Lone Star State, 1780-1899, may appear to be I
little more than a directory of gunsmiths and
firearms distributors, but a closer study of the
pages debunks this supposition very quickly. A
Houston area gunsmith of some note himself,
the author has accumulated a wealth of infor-
mation and facts during many years of study
and research in connection with his profes- r Sde totheGun
sion, and it is all presented in a most readable Lone Star State.
fashion. Collectors of antique firearms often-
times become history detectives, establishing
the story and history of their treasured pieces and
long-departed owners. This guide offers readers the ability to deter-
mine whether their Texas guns were manufactured in the state or were
imported and later marked with a local distributor's name. Sufficient
direction is also offered to anyone wishing to carry out their own re-
search on any of the myriad individuals and companies named.
Given the profundity of photographs, bill heads, advertisements,
and other illustrations reproduced within the pages, there is much
in The Texas Gun Trade to please the eye, and one almost feels that
this is more an art book than it is a directory. From the transcrip-
tions of letters, invoices, and personal advertisements, among oth-
er items discovered by the author, the reader learns much of the
nature of the firearms retail and repair business in Texas; many
dealers and gunsmiths, it turns out, were themselves ironmongers,
hardware merchants, general stores traders, and blacksmiths. The
reader will also learn something of the trade in firearms with the
Indian tribes and the gunsmiths engaged in the repair of Indian
guns. One entry extracted from Texas Indian Papers shows a com-
plete list of shipped tools, from chisels to
braces and bits, files, pliers, and other im-
4 plements-a load weighing 162 pounds
and purchased in Houston in 1845 for
the grand sum of $58.43.
Gun Trade With the commencement of the War
Between the States, the importation of
firearms into the Confederacy was se-
verely hindered, and a new industry was
born in the Southern states. In Texas,
J.H. Dance & Bros. of East Columbia
and (later) Anderson, makers of agricul-
tural machinery, produced dragoon and
Navy-sized revolvers, and Hirsch devotes
several highly illustrated pages to these
Chris collectible weapons. Similarly, entries will
be found for Tucker, Sherrard and Com-
pany of Lancaster, though not in such great
detail-probably due to the minimal produc-
tion during the war years and poor record keeping.
In all, there are more than 1,200 entries in this reference work
varying from just a line or two, such as for J.R. Coghlam, listed
in an 1890 directory as the owner of a shooting gallery, to several
pages dedicated to the revolvers of Clark, Sherrard & Co.
This book is a valuable and timely resource for the gun collector
and the Texas historian, offering much fresh data from which a
picture of frontier life in the Texas of the 18th and 19th centuries
may be drawn. That it is presented in an easy and somewhat infor-
mal format is, to this reviewer at least, somewhat of a bonus. With
its colorfully illustrated hardback cover clearly aimed at rack sales
at gun shows and gun shops as well as book stores, this book will
appeal to and be appreciated by the collector wishing to learn of
the story behind old Texas guns.
Richard Overall, of Houston, is president of the Texas Gun Collectors
HERITAGE Volume 2 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 2, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254213/m1/29/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.