As we are preparing for the Winchester Gun Show, I have been learning more and more about looking up records and how to read the information from the ledgers. So far I have really enjoyed learning new things about the records that the museum has. One thing that has been new for me to learn is the shorthand that the manufactures used in their records. For example, ‘CSPG’ would be checkered stock, pistol grip or ‘B’ would mean Beavertail forend. In addition to the shorthand, the handwriting can be a bit tricky to read and the cursive sometimes runs into other lines, which can also make the writing difficult to make out. Going through the records and learning how to read them has been a really interesting next step in my internship.
The Model 21 records are still the big project that I am working on this summer. This past week, during some time that I spent working on those, I ran across a couple of records that grabbed my attention again. One order particularly was to be shipped to Washington, D.C. An order of a custom built Model 21 20 gauge shotgun was paid for by the Olin Corporation and sent to “Mr. L G Hall Chairman, National Republican Committee” in Washington, D.C. in December of 1956. The shotgun was made with a gold bead front sight, custom interchangeable barrels, gold plated trigger, and has an engraved “elephant with its trunk raised in triumph, the elephant to be inlaid in gold”. Leonard Hall was a United States Representative from New York and was Chairman of the National Republican Committee from 1953 to 1957. The most fascinating part to me is wondering whose hands it passed through to get to Hall. Yet, with the records that we have we can see how the gun was manufactured and in this case who it was made for.
Another order sheet read, “Hon. F.M. Alger – Ambassador to Belgium”. The Model 21 order was dated for June 1953. It was a custom built 12 gauge with a French walnut stock and forearm that had an added gold oval name plate engraved with his initials. Frederick M. Alger. Jr was from a prominent family and was the Ambassador to Belgium from 1953-1957. Furthermore, with these records we can learn so much about the original design of the firearm and find out more about people or companies that are attached to the guns in some way. These records connect us to history. In this case, we revisit history through politicians in various branches and distinctly designed firearms.