The North American Frontiersmen

1750-1843

 
 

"Now that most of the big items are gone life is much easier knowing I'm getting over the smell of bore cleaners and gun oils that will fill every pore you have in time and ruin you taste and smell senses".

Buck      

 

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Early American Used Edged Arms.

The French & Indian Wars, American Revolution, War of 1812 & the early American Westward Movement had many styles of edged arms. Many of the found original edged weapons of the American forces are referred to as "put-togethers", ones assembled from parts of a discarded or broken hangars. The blades in many examples where made up by local blacksmiths turning the original hangar into a sword. Usually the scabbard and brass mounts are a cut above the work of the blacksmith, but they were available and did the job. 

You'll find such names as: 

  • The Officer Sword: Officers on both sides wore it during the F& I War, Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

  • Hunting Sword: This sword appeared in France about 1657.  It was used to dispatch wounded game. The military, attracted by its interesting style. Adopted on both sides found in the F&I War, the Revolutionary War and as late as the War of 1812.

  • British Hanger: This was an issued sidearm of the dreaded British Grenadier adopted the American forces in the F&I War and the Revolutionary War.

  • Musician's Sword: Carried by British fifers and drummers, but little knowledge of their use by American musicians.

  • Dragoon Sabre: Used by the Light Dragoons circa 1773. Grip were black hardwood, the hilt and heavy leather and the scabbard mounts are steel.

The only reason I mentioned the these terms is to inform you that when looking at these weapons in your museum, arms show or a private collection your are aware of what is stated on signs or by another viewing these wonderful historical pieces.

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American Fur Trade Edged Arms.

Some of these edged weapons from the Wars mentioned made their way into the American Fur Trade as well as the beginning of the Westward Movement. Some of these pieces found you will recognized parts of an earlier period modified in shape for a special use or purpose. This later period in our history saw many such changes not only in the equipment being used but also found from the clothing to cookware. Shown here are a few examples of some of the edged arms that we have had and sold over the years.

The purpose of rendezvous was to trade beaver pelts for goods that were needed in the mountains by both the trappers and the local natives.

Blankets, guns, knives, powder and lead, knives, kettles and pots, cloth, food and spices, whiskey and such items were brought out to trade.

Highly inflated prices known as "mountain prices". Markups as high as 1000% were common. The real money in the fur trade was in the supply business. Many items were brought out specifically for trade with the Indians. It was normal for there to be more Native People at rendezvous than trappers. Beads, brass rings and bracelets, vermillion, bells, ribbons, and cloth were highly sought after by the Indian women.

Rendezvous were normally held in early July, and may last from days to several weeks. One of the few times that the mountain men didn't work. The men eagerly awaited for news from the states, visited with friends, discussed affairs of the mountains, drank, played, fought and generally had a good time.

Next to their rifle was always a knife, used for skinning, a tools, a weapon and friend. Most carried several with them and usually had a cache of several more, used for trade or replacements.

 

 

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Early American Used Small Arms.

Here's a few of the more desirable arms (NRA excellent to fine condition) collected & sold.

 

French & Indian Wars and the American Revolution.

British and French manufactured small arms, most are similar in shape, weight and design of working parts (will very from one maker to the other).

Small arms such as these were usually carried my officers. Many times the  pistols were personal purchases and not issued weapons.

  • "Good arms are better than money in the bank" per my father. Shown are just a few that we have sold, they were all in NRA very good to excellent condition. The majority were purchased before 1930 at pennies on today's dollar. An example of this is; the * third pistol down was purchased for $1.20 in 1928 and sold in 2002 for $2,575.00 - pennies to dollars right.

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War of 1812 Small Arms.

 

 

 

These are only a few of this period arm shown that we have sold, records show there was a combination of weapons used in this war. 

Impressment of American Sailors

One issue precipitating the War of 1812 was the British disregard of American shipping rights. British ships frequently stopped American ships, confiscated their cargo, and impressed (captured) crew members, claiming they were deserters from Britainís Royal Navy.

A need for small arms such as these shown were usually carried my officers as well as enlisted men. Many times the pistols were personal purchases and not issued weapons.

Shown are just a few that we have sold within the last few years, they were all in NRA very good to excellent condition.

Dating can be a real problem for what was used from the American Revolution to this period, as weapons were weapons and crossed over between the periods.

American Fur Trade Small Arms.

These pistols came from the different wars as mentioned as well as from the European market just like the long arms of the time. We all know many of our forefather refused to change from flintlock to the new percussion system, they could always find flint and caps where not always available.

Pistols were common with the Mountain Man as a close in, last effort at survival. Commonly carried on the saddle in "pommel holsters", these pistols provided extra comfort in a tight spot. Mountain Man Osborne Russell describes holding off a determined attack by the Blackfeet with his "horse pistol". Available in both flintlock and percussion ignition systems, these pistols were widely found in the American fur trade.

When found it is always a questions as to the period a pistol would fit, as for the fur trade there is a larger window than most would think because of supply and demand. If a arm used in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 still functioned there was a good chance it may find its way with a trader to the next rendezvous.

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Early American Long Arms.

Here's a few of the more desirable arms (NRA excellent to fine condition) collected & sold.

French & Indian War and American Revolution Long Arms.

British as well as American manufactured long arms are similar in shape, weight and design of working parts (will very from from maker to the other).

Long arms such as these varied in manufacturer for the Colonies, standardization had not reached the New World as it had in the European Armies.

Shown are just a few that we have sold within the last few years, they were all in NRA very good to excellent condition. The majority were purchased before 1930 at pennies on today's dollar. An example of this statement is; the third pistol down was purchased for $1.20 in 1928 and sold in 2002 for $1575.00 - pennies to dollars right.

 

War of 1812 Long Arms.

 

One issue precipitating the War of 1812 was the British disregard of American's rights for freedom. British troops frequently stopped Americans, confiscated their personal items, removing their live stock or burning their farms and houses.

Shown are just a few of a large number that we did have, these were the more common looking of the variety available. Several dozen of this period weapon was sold within the last few years, they were all in NRA very good to excellent condition.

Dating can be a real problem for the period, as we have found they  crossed over between the periods.

American Fur Trade Long Arms.

 

Rifles were common with the Mountain Man and according to Charles E. Hanson, Jr. the military musket was used more than most realize. When a man had finished his enlistment he was issued his arm and remaining salary (which was enough to buy a few supplies), the only chance for a better life in many cases was go west into the   American fur trade. Mr. Hanson thoughts were you took what you had at the time, your issued musket.

When found it is always a questions as to the period of a pistol or rifle and it would fit, the fur trade, remember there's larger window than most would think because of supply and demand issues. If a arm used from an earlier period still functioned there was a good chance it may find its way with a trader to the next rendezvous.

The Northwest Gun was becoming very popular with the trappers as was it with the local natives. This arm is probably one of the more successful items traded in the North American fur trade.

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In the next issue we can talk about "accouterments" and related wares needed to survive in these hard times on the American Frontier.

                                                               Later

Buck Conner      

 

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