I have examined gun advertising more than most (e.g., my work on The American Rifleman), and so it is always fun and educational when I come across ads that I have not seen before.
Early in my work, for example, I was surprised to see an ad from 1937 for Peters (a division of Remington Arms) .38 special “target” wad-cutter ammo, used by Mrs. Esther Sichler to win the Championship Cup at the Southern California Revolver League Matches. It was a good reminder that advertising has targeted women for some time (and often indirectly through their men).
Wandering around the Roy Marcot Firearms Advertisement Collection (housed at the McCracken Research Library of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming) online recently, I came across something I had not seen before: the bicycle gun.
Specifically, the Harrington & Richardson Arms Co. “Bicycle Hammerless Revolver,” advertised in Recreation magazine in 1902.
I had previously posted about Colt’s ads encouraging people to “add a Colt to your motoring equipment.” So I am not sure why it didn’t occur to me that gun manufacturers would sell products to people using other common forms of transportation. Perhaps because I don’t recall ever seeing a contemporary gun advertisement directed at cyclists. To be sure, there are any number of concealed carry gun ads showing people walking and jogging (and driving, still). But bicycle guns?
Like the Smith & Wesson Safety Bicycle Revolver, advertised in Forest and Stream magazine in 1898.
Of course, those who prefer long guns are not left out in the cold here. In Recreation magazine in 1898 they would find the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. “Favorite Bicycle Rifle,” $6.00, with the optional leather bound canvas case for an additional $1.50.
Sometimes what is noticeable in old advertisements is not the different products but the changes in social norms portrayed. Even if the bicycle gun makes a comeback (I hope it does), I doubt we will ever see an ad like the one Forehand Arms Co. of Worcester, Mass. placed in Recreation magazine in 1899.