This reference work discusses the origins and development of arms makers of Connecticut from earliest times until the industrialization of the industry in the late 19th and early 20th century. The arms makers and their arms are linked to changes that occurred with rapidity as Connecticut became a major centre for weaponry from the Civil War to contemporary times. The focus of the research are the earlier and smaller makers rather than the large industrial companies (like Colt) that flourished during the middle of the 19th century. Guns made in pre-Revolutionary war Connecticut generally fall into one of three categories: fowling pieces, the old name for single barrel shotguns; rifles, which are distinguished by heavier octagonal barrels with spiral rifling hand-cut inside; and single-shot handguns or pistols. Rifles were attractive when there was larger game, such as deer, moose, elk or bear, to be hunted. Fowling pieces served as arms for taking water fowl and small game. Handguns, used mostly to back up long arms, were minimally useful for sporting or hunting and are seen far less often than are shoulder arms.There are probably more New England fowlers known than any other type of American made single barrel shotgun. New England guns vary in design because they were produced by a great number of gun makers over a longer time period within a larger geographical area. There were fowling pieces made late in the eighteenth century with post-Revolutionary War era British Brown Bess flintlocks as well as an occasional very late club butt fowler originally manufactured with a percussion lock.Connecticut arms had a surprisingly global distribution as early as the late 17th and early 18th century. They were found on pirate ships in the Caribbean, in compounds of African chiefs, on slavers boats, and among Mohawk and Algonquin raiding parties deep in the frontier; they also were used by pioneer farmers and their families for hunting, defence and sport. Connecticut s abundant iron deposits, waterways and forests as well as the colony s practical mindedness all contributed to launching an early and successful small town and village industry. Connecticut artisans, Professor Whisker and Spiker point out, were canny and agile in incorporating features from French, French Canadian and Dutch gunsmiths and in time developed their own special design features both in shotgun, rifle, handgun and musket manufacturing.
About the Author
Dr James B. Whisker is the author of Arms Makers of Colonial America and several other specialist studies.Professor Kevin Spiker is an active researcher at Ohio University- Eastern Campus, USA.
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