Most gun collectors have a few knives in their collection. This collector is no exception.
Randall Knives should need no introduction. As the story goes, Bo Randall was inspired by a Bill Scagel knife he bought, and he eventually became a student of Scagel and learned the art of making truly exceptional knives from one of the world's best. Scagel knives sell for tens of thousands of dollars now, and original Bo Randall knives aren't far behind.
The third generation of the Randall family continues the knife making legacy, and the cult allure is such that there's a 5 year waiting list for a Randall knife. In September of 2013, on a whim, I put a $50 deposit down on a Randall knife, knowing that it would be at least three years before I'd hold one of these vaunted blades in my hand. True to form, three years stretched out to five years, and I had long forgotten about my deposit when I received a bill in the mail for the balance owing on my soon-to-be-finished Randall.
Today, it arrived.
The August 18, 1945 issue of The Ottawa Journal newspaper lamented that good quality fishing gear “is practically non-existent,” and that “the war, of course, caused it all. Sport fishing might be very dear to the hearts of many but it was not an essential industry and its workers left and materials for manufacture of equipment was denied it when war came.”1 Later, the article made reference to “one major company (John Inglis),” who would commence the manufacture of fishing reels designed by the Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Shakespeare Company.
Most Canadians know the Inglis name, but not for its fishing reels—and certainly not for the high quality guns it made during World War II. The venerable Canadian manufacturer is best known for its appliances, which washed Canadians’ dirty dishes and Stanfields for decades (and which continues to do so, albeit now as a brand name under Whirlpool). But what of Inglis’ time as a gun manufacturer?
The guns of Lucius Willson Pond pop up on the market from time to time, and they receive some attention because of Pond’s affiliation to Smith & Wesson (specifically, through his violation of Rollin White’s patent). Throughout my research I realized that there is no really good biography of Lucius. Here’s a summary of my research on this interesting man.
For most people, thinking about the venerable (and now defunct) Chicago retailer Montgomery Ward doesn’t conjure up images of guns. Over the years they sold plenty of branded guns (like this rebranded Stevens rifle), but the gun I’m writing about today is actually a Smith & Wesson .44 Double Action, First Model, that was shipped to the Chicago firm on July 15, 1892.
An inevitable question that every gun collector asks is, “who owned this gun?” It’s a question whose answer is usually lost to history, since the idea of keeping records about who bought what gun is, in the United States, a relatively modern phenomenon, and an incomplete one at that. But a gun occasionally tantalizes the interested historian with clues about its first owner, as this particular gun demonstrates.