Sunday, November 06, 2016

Free Pistol with San Francisco Newspaper Subscription (1887)

Using guns as a marketing bonus has a long history in the United States.  Guns have always been valued.  A free firearm with a car or to open a bank account has been fairly common in the last few years.

The usual system, in our over regulated age, is to give a coupon to be redeemed at a gun shop, which has made a deal with the car dealership or the bank.

But things were simpler in 1887, when the San Francisco Chronicle a weekly, offered a pistol along with a years subscription, for $3.90.  That did not include mailing the paper.  If you lived where the paper was delivered, you could pay the delivery charges separately.  To have the paper mailed was another $5 a year, or about 10 cents a week.

When you use constant dollars to correct for inflation, $3.90 in 1887 would be $96 today.  If you use gold as as the standard, $3.90 was .195 ounces in 1887, or $253 at today's price of $1300 an ounce. It is still cheap for an inexpensive pistol and year of weekly newspapers in a major city.

The .38 S&W cartridge is still loaded.  The  H&R American Double Action advertised has a solid frame. It was stronger than many of the top break designs in common usage at the time. It is a pull pin design.  To load it, pull the cylinder pin and remove the cylinder.  Fill the chambers with cartridges, then replace the cylinder and the cylinder pin. Here is a picture of one in decent condition, chambered in .32 S&W long.

It is a simple, solid, design.  Old ones often have spring breakage, but parts can be found, and a gunsmith can make a replacement spring.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

From its founding, about to the 20th Century, liquor, tobacco, firearms and ammunition, many commodities, etc., acted much like currency. Even more so when currency itself was less than reliable, such as bank issued currencies, and through the Civil War. During the 1848 gold rush, both gold and currency lost a lot of value compared to merchandise and service.

Of course, if you really wanted to find trouble, such as in the Barbary Coast district, being armed was essential.

Anonymous said...

I was offered a .455 pistol recently. maybe I should have bought it. finding ammo would have been a real problem. but I am sure it was from the same period as the one in the picture.

Wireless.Phil said...

I remember when the Chevy Beretta came out, they were going to offer a Beretta pistol in the glove box with every Chevy Beretta sold, but the anti-gun idiots had a fit.