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GUNS Magazine June 2010 - Page 24

MONTANA MUSINGS • MIKE “DUKE” VENTURINO • PHOTOS: YVONNE VENTURINO GUN BOxES A subtle collectible. A s a young fellow, when I bought a new gun its box was (figuratively) thrown over my shoulder and forgotten. That was a mistake. I’ve since learned having the original box when selling a gun is a definite plus. Furthermore, some of the older boxes have a bit of value unto themselves. For example, for many years I had an old Smith & Wesson “gold box” sitting around here. It was a simple cardboard type with those little metal corner brackets so familiar back in the ’50s and ’60s. It contained no paperwork and the gun it was labeled for had been disposed of long ago. Recently on a whim I put it on an Internet firearms auction site and to my utter surprise and pleasure it sold for a sum that will go a long way towards another gun purchase. SamColtsoldmanyofhiscap&ballrevolversofthemid-1800sinwoodenpresentationboxeswith compartmentsfortheneededaccessories.ThissetupofDuke’sis“secondgeneration”fromthe 1970s. AlthoughDukehassoldthisColtSAA.357Magnum(below)twiceandboughtitthreetimes, throughout40yearsnow,hehaskepttheoriginalColt“stagecoach”box. Selling guns, especially handguns, in individual boxes isn’t a new thing. Sam Colt put many of his various types of cap-and-ball revolvers in wooden presentation boxes. They were nifty things with separate compartments for items like caps, powder flask, balls, and even bullet moulds. What sort of container the everyday handgun was shipped in, I don’t know. Cardboard wasn’t all that common in the 1800s and shipping was via train or wagon. Both modes probably subjected guns to more rigors than today’s modes of transfer but knowing that modern shippers do manage to wreck many guns the matter could be debated. For sure in the 1870s orders for multiple guns were shipped in wooden crates because I once owned a Sharps .45-70 rifle and its factory letter said it was one of a case of 10 identical rifles sent to a store in Dodge City, Kansas. Also, photos exist of wooden shipping crates in which Colt SAA and Smith & Wesson “Schofield” revolvers were shipped from their factories to US Government arsenals. Doing research on World War II firearms I came across the fact that in January 1944, the government-owned Springfield Armory produced 122,001 M1 Garand rifles. That was a prodigious feat in itself but my trivia oriented mind would like to know just how that vast quantity of rifles were shipped off to our military forces. Were they packed in wooden crates—say 10 to a box? If so think about how much wood that must have required just for shipping boxes! Then did they leave by truck or train boxcar? When Colt began reproducing their US Model 1911A1 just after the turn of the last century, they saw fit to ship them in three boxes. The outer one is a simple, thin cardboard envelope, the inner one is fancier, heavy blue cardboard lined with foam and embossed with the Colt logo. In it is a section for the obligatory safety lock and instruction booklet. But also inside it was a very nice touch. The .45s were packed in recreation boxes collectors have termed “cheese boxes.” 24 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JUNE 2010

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