Author Topic: Great Gunmakers for the Early West  (Read 6648 times)

Offline Herb

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Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« on: August 22, 2008, 05:47:49 AM »
Our library here bought this set of three books by James D. Gordon.  The books are about 11 1/4 by 14 1/4 inches with 509 pages.  All color photos and good descriptions of gun makers and indivdual rifles.  Volume I is "English" and volume II is "Eastern U.S." 

Vol. III covers gunmakers from the Mississippi to the Rockies.  There are photos of 37 Hawken rifles, usually a full length lock side, left side to the entry pipe, barrel markings, lock, muzzle, and tang line and toe line photos.  I am currently building a couple of Hawkens and these photos have widened my knowledge of how the Hawkens shaped their rifles.  There are five marked "J&S Hawken", 23 marked S. Hawken, two marked Wm. Hawken, and seven either illegible or marked only "Hawken".  There are also pistols and shotguns.

All 37 seemed to be of maple, and 24 I judged were grade 1 (little or no figure), seven grade 2, and six grade 3, figured full length.  I like to build plain ones, you don't need a lot of figure for those graceful lines.  One had a checkered pistol grip with a base for a tang mounted peep sight.  One seemed to have a "closed buckhorn" sight, like one I saw in the Arches Ntnl. Monument (or whatever its name is) National Park Service museum in St Louis that I saw maybe 10 years ago and photographed, but I can't find my photos.

There is a lot of variation in the nose of the comb and the cheek piece, and the lock panels.  The Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, Mariano Modena and Liver Eating Johnson rifles are pictured.  There are six full stock rifles.  Most keys are inserted from the left.  Some rifles are brass mounted, some have long patch boxes, a couple have "cap boxes".

So if you thought you knew what a Hawken rifle looks like, these photos cure you of that idea.  I knew there was much variability, but not this much!  There is enough detail shown for most rifles that I could build a close copy of any of them, leaving out the wear, damage and repairs.  These books are like none you have ever seen before.  I called Jim Gordon tonight to order my set.  He said it was OK to post his phone numer.  It is 505-982-9667 and the set of three books is $295 postpaid to the continental U.S.  He owns some of the rifles pictured and has them in a private museum in Sante Fe, NM, open to view upon his availabilty.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2008, 05:51:27 AM by Herb »
Herb

Offline Herb

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2008, 04:48:38 PM »
What I thought was a shotgun is really a double barreled rifle by Hoffman and Campbell.  Author Gordon clearly states 'While there is occasional mention in Hawken promotional material of shotguns, we actually know of no examples surviving to date.'  But there are four Hawken pistols.

He privately printed this book, there is no ISBN number, so he is the only source for it.  Forget Amazon.com, et al.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2008, 04:50:59 PM by Herb »
Herb

halfcocked

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2008, 05:07:55 AM »
This is a little late, but the Modena rifle is stocked in Walnut.

Sean

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2008, 06:04:29 AM »
I believe I have a set of Jim's books wrapped under the xmas tree and I'm really excited about it.  I saw his collection a few years ago and it was !@*%&@ impressive.

Sean

Offline B Shipman

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2008, 08:23:21 AM »
I'd like to see a colaboration with Don Stith who also has a fine collection and strong rational opinions supported by experience.

Sean

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2008, 04:31:44 PM »
I miss having Don Stith on the board.  Maybe we should all call him and try to get him to come back.  Think that would work?

Sean

Offline Dale Halterman

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2008, 12:01:03 AM »
I have been swapping emails with Don off and on. He has offered to answer specific questions if you want to email him, but I don't think he can be persuaded to come back.

Dale H

Offline fm tim

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2008, 04:51:08 PM »
Herb,

Any more info on the publisher of those books?

I can not find them in Amazon.com

Thanks

Offline JTR

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2008, 07:40:45 PM »
fm tim,
Re-read the first 2 posts by Herb, and you'll have your answer.   ;)

John
John Robbins

Offline fm tim

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2008, 04:49:55 PM »
JTR,

Sorry for not being thorough.

halfcocked

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2008, 02:24:39 AM »
Any one serious about their gun making, owes it to themselves to contact Jim Gordon mentioned above, and make a trip at his invitation to Santa Fe. You will not regret the expense. He is a wonderful person, a genuine gentleman and will allow you to handle, measure and photograph the items in his collection.
Afterwards you will be amused when you see postings from the "experts" on certain makers and authentic features.

I've been fortunate to know Jim for many years now and after a couple of dozen visits, I'm still awestruck everytime I walk in the door of his museum.

Sean

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2008, 11:48:41 PM »
Got my copy today...  Wow.  Weighs 17.5 pounds on my bathroom scale.  Great stuff.

Sean

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Re: Great Gunmakers for the Early West
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2018, 03:14:56 PM »
March 2018 - after seeing references to Mr. Gordon's pictures of Hawken Rifles in the Feb. 2018 issue of Muzzle Blasts, I was able to contact him and order a copy of his 3 volume book "Great Gunmakers" - Mr. Gordon's telephone number & the price are shown above.  I have only had a week to review this book, but it is impressive.  500+ pages of very good pictures of a wide variety of firearms.  As also noted above, the pictures of the Hawken Rifles would be very helpful to anyone interested in building a replica - much better pictures than the ones in Baird's books.