Not long ago I went to my very first Gun & Knife Show. I’m a sport shooter–I only aim at things that don’t bleed–but I must admit, I was curious.
Mostly I found what I expected, guns and knives of all shapes, kinds and makes. Surprisingly, though, there was also an amazing array of history there. I studied replica Colt revolvers, Navy revolvers, and dragoons. Derringers were in abundance, too.
What excited me the most were the originals! Colt, Winchester, Smith & Wesson, Walker. Black powder percussion cartridge, Civil War era and the guns that “won the West.” All the pistols and revolvers I’ve researched for my western historical novels were right there in front of me. Pearl handles, hand-rubbed walnut grips, elaborate engravings. Totally amazing.
At shows like the one I attended, you will find everyone from the curious to the expert. There was the man who displayed an amazing collection of knives. He had Bowie knives from several different decades and parts of the country; also a Civil War-era personal knife that you might find in the kitchen of any household in 1850. Some had rough-hewn handles, others fancy silver scrollwork. There was even an abalone-inlaid beauty that could bring more than $10k in a collector’s auction. None of the collection was for sale, of course–he just brought it because he loves collecting and wanted to share his many treasures with others.
Besides weapons, there was all kinds of Americana, like old photographs and books, a Harper’s Weekly from 1889, even advertisement cards that prove using scantily clad women to sell your products is not an invention of 20th century ad agencies.
My favorite item? Brass tokens the size of 50 cent pieces, stamped on one side with “Cat House Tokens – good for a bath, a screw and beans.”
I found battlefield souvenirs, from shell casings to buttons to the decorated leather holder for a cannon tamper, period clothing and gear, belts, spurs… I could go on and on, but it would be easier if you just saw it all for yourself.
So the next time there’s a gun and knife show in your area, go. You won’t be sorry.
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