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Remington Single Shot Cane Gun
Fitted with a carved ivory handle, this metallic cartridge cane gun is one of about 1,800 produced by Remington.
The Remington single-shot "Cane Gun" is unique in several
respects, including its status as the first long arm produced by
Remington. In addition, the Ilion arms makers were the only major
U.S. firearms firm to produce such a gun. Manufactured in both
percussion and metallic cartridge versions, the Remington Cane Gun
was produced over a thirty-year span beginning in 1858.
Quite practical at the time of their manufacture, dapper gentlemen of the time could combine a de rigueur fashion accessory with a personal defense firearm. Many villains, thieves, and scoundrels of the time would perhaps be none the wiser with regard to their intended victim's ability to defend himself. J. F. Thomas, Remington's master mechanic, patented the device in 1858, and he received a patent extension in 1872. Both patents shared the same number, and the patent applications were written without specification as to ignition type. In fact, the same design could be used with either percussion or metallic cartridge, and this feature ensured Remington's exclusive rights to U.S. manufacture of cane guns.
Approximately 2,300 of these guns were manufactured, 1,800 of which were of the .22 or .32 rimfire caliber metallic cartridge design. Percussion cane guns were offered in .31 and .44 calibers. Gutta percha handles commonly were of a dog's head, claw-and-ball, golf club, or plain curved-L variety, and ivory handles were also available. The Remington patent and serial number stampings were included on the gutta percha handle. A German silver ferrule ring adorned the handles of these arms, and the Cane Gun's tip was typically made from steel.
As originally designed, Thomas's invention consisted of two parts: a lower, or barrel section, complete with percussion cone; and an upper, or case section with attached cane head, which fitted over the cone and contained the gun's action. The internal hammer and inconspicuous button trigger aided in the disguise of this walking-stick-turned-personal-defense-arm. Capable of firing either round ball or shot, percussion model Cane Guns were 32 ? inches in length. A black powder charge and a solid ball or shot were loaded through the muzzle. Total weight of these Cane Guns was between 20 and 24 ounces. Cocking the gun was accomplished by pulling back on the handle. This exposed the percussion cone for capping, while also extending a catch spring that served to keep the action from being closed inadvertently. If desired, the case could be closed without firing by depressing the catch spring and pushing the handle forward. The gun could not be fired with the handle closed, which acted as a safety feature for its gentlemen user.
The action of the Cane Gun consisted of a flat-disk hammer that was connected to a spring-loaded rod. This rod possessed a groove which engaged the sear when the gun was cocked. When the button trigger was depressed, the sear disengaged from the rod, and the hammer was driven against the percussion cap by the mainspring, thus firing the gun. The rifled barrel featured six lands and grooves, and the interior diameter of the cane shaft was larger than that of the barrel so that the projectile would not make contact with this section. A small piece of cork could be inserted into the tip to keep dirt from obstructing the barrel. In metallic cartridge versions, the percussion cone was replaced with a firing pin which was housed in the bottom portion of the action, and the breech end of the barrel accommodated a chamber for a single metallic cartridge.
To load, the head/action was unscrewed from the barrel, and a cartridge was inserted. Lacking an ejector or extractor, spent cartridges were unloaded by once again unscrewing the action and poking the empty case with a rod. The hammer, which was initially a carry-over from the percussion model, was later replaced by an extended rod that functioned as a firing pin extension. Other modifications included a redesigned chamber which was located at the end of the barrel, and a barrel that screwed into rather than onto the action. Remington's earliest metallic cartridge model was the No. 1 Cane, a 35 ?- inch long, 16-ounce model chambered for a .22 rimfire caliber cartridge. The later .32 caliber No. 2 Cane was one inch longer than the No. 1 and weighed in at 24 ounces.
An 1877 ad listed prices for these guns at $10 for versions featuring gutta percha heads; the more elegant and expensive ivory heads added $5 to the cost. A box of 1000 cartridges could be purchased for prices ranging between $6 and $17, depending on the caliber, case length (short or long), and projectile type (bullet versus shot). The .22 short cartridge was loaded with a 30 grain ball and a 3 grain powder charge; the .22 long used the same bullet weight with a 5-grain charge. The .32 caliber short and long cartridges were loaded with a ball of 82- and 90-grains; and a charge of 9 or 13 grains respectively.
The Remington Cane Guns are quite popular among collectors of 19th century firearms, curios, and oddities. Although Remington was not the only firm to produce such items, their product most certainly represents the ultimate step of the evolutionary process for firearms of this type. Superior in design and function to pneumatic, percussion, and other metallic cartridge models, Remington's Cane Gun is a noteworthy addition to any firearms collection.
Eliphalet Remington II was born in Suffield, Connecticut on
October 28, 1793. His father, Eliphalet Remington, moved his family
from Connecticut to the Mohawk River Valley in 1800, where he
cleared enough land for a small farm, built a two-room cabin that
was later replaced by a larger home, and, along with others who had
also moved to the region from Connecticut, established the town of
Litchfield. Eliphalet Remington Sr. also owned an iron forge. Here
he both fabricated and repaired tools, equipment, and hardware, and
Lite, as Eliphalet II was nicknamed, worked alongside him and
learned the trade as well.
The younger Remington had the opportunity to examine various long arms that were owned by local residents, and in 1816, he decided that he was capable of manufacturing a good rifle barrel. This he proceeded to do, and he took the finished product to a local gunsmith for boring and rifling. Lite then fitted a lock, stock, and furniture, and upon completion, he found that it shot well. After showing his new gun to area residents, he soon had a large number of orders for gun barrels. These were octagonal in shape, and as with his initial effort, boring and rifling was done by a gunsmith in nearby Utica.
The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the establishment of railroads soon thereafter provided an economic boost to the region. Remington's rifle barrel works expanded as well. By 1828, he had established his own forge in Ilion, and he soon came to dominate the local trade, producing over 8,000 barrels per year for gunsmiths who would do final rifling and fitting.
In 1844, Remington's oldest son, Philo, joined him in his business. This was reflected in the firm's name, which became E. Remington and Son. By the mid-1850s, his two other sons, Samuel and Eliphalet III, had also joined the company, and the name changed yet again. In addition to gun barrels, E. Remington and Sons also manufactured plows, mowing machines, cotton gins, and firefighting equipment. In later years, their product line expanded to include bicycles, sewing machines, and typewriters.
Remington's involvement in the manufacture of completed firearms came in 1848, when the company received a contract for the completion of 1,000 Jenks breechloading carbines for the U.S. Navy. In addition, Remington took over a defaulted contract from another manufacturer for the production of 5,000 U.S. Model 1841 "Mississippi" rifles. The business expanded through the 1850s, and handgun production began in 1857 with the introduction of the Remington-Beals pocket revolver.
The coming of the Civil War naturally brought about a dramatic increase in the demand for firearms, and Remington's production also increased to keep pace. During this period, the company manufactured both .36 and .44 caliber revolvers, as well as Model 1863 Percussion Contract Rifle, popularly known as the "Zouave" rifle.
The post-war years brought smaller pocket pistols and deringers, the Remington-Smoot metallic cartridge pistols, Remington Single Action Army revolvers, rolling block rifles and pistols, slide, autoloading, and hammerless shotguns, and the Remington-Hepburn falling block rifles. During the 20th century, Remington has established itself as a manufacturer of high quality sporting arms, especially with upland game and bird hunters. The company also did its part during two World Wars as a manufacturer of military arms and munitions.
In addition to the M1911 semi-automatic pistol, the Browning Model 1917 heavy machine gun, and the Model 1917 bolt-action rifle, Remington also manufactured the Pedersen device. This was an early attempt to increase the firepower of individual infantry troops armed with the Springfield Model 1903 rifle. These rifles were modified by cutting the receiver wall to accommodate an ejection port, and the replacement of the bolt with a semi-automatic assembly that accepted a 40-round stick magazine loaded with the .30 caliber Pedersen, a pistol-class cartridge. Over 65,000 Pedersen devices were manufactured, but most were scrapped after the war.
During the Second World War, Remington manufactured the M1903 (Modified) rifle, a transitional long arm in which stamped parts replaced some that had been milled in the earlier model, while other parts were dispensed with altogether in the interests of reducing production time. The company also manufactured the redesigned M1903A3 battle rifle and M1903A4 sniper rifle.
Eliphalet Remington II died in 1861, at which time Philo took over management of the company. Samuel died in 1882, and Philo purchased his share in the company. By 1886, E. Remington & Sons had experienced serious downturns, and the company went into receivership. In 1888, Marcellus Hartley, a partner in the New York sporting and military goods firm of Schuyler, Hartley, and Graham, as well as the founder and owner of the Union Metallic Cartridge Company, went together with Winchester Repeating Arms Company to purchase Remington. Each partner had an equal share of the firm, which was renamed Remington Arms Co., with Hartley serving as president and Thomas Bennett of Winchester assuming the role of vice president.
In 1896, Winchester sold its stake in Remington to Hartley. Marcellus Hartley died in 1902, and leadership of the company passed to Marcellus Hartley Dodge. In 1910, Remington Arms and Union Metallic Cartridge were merged into a single company, known as Remington-UMC. In 1934, both company's name and ownership changed as Remington-U.M.C. was purchased by DuPont and reorganized as the Remington Arms Co., Inc. The Ilion armsmaker remained a part of the DuPont organization until 1993, when Remington was purchased by the investment group of Clayton Dubilier Rice.