2015 Findlay airgun show: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

  • You won’t believe it!
  • At my table
  • Old stuff
  • And toys
  • And on and on…

You won’t believe it!

I was walking the aisles, looking at all the guns and trying to see everything. On the floor at one table there was a standing rack with what appeared to be a Bugelspanner. I showed you a Bugelspanner several years ago. I’ve seen hundreds of Bugelspanners over the past couple decades I’ve been going to airgun shows, but this one looked a little different. So, I inquired about it — and got the best story of the whole show.

For starters, it wasn’t a Bugelspanner (triggerguard-cocker) at all. It was a Heblespanner (side-winding crank-cocker), similar in function to my David Lurch gallery dart gun, though quite unlike it at the same time. Let’s take a look.

dart gun
This dart gun is special!

This gun is cocked with a crank; but instead of a geared mechanism, there’s a square plug for the crank to engage. And double-set triggers add to the beauty and functionality of the gun.

crank hub

What really sets this airgun apart, though, is the inscription engraved on the receiver: “Elijah Van Syckel to his son Emmet May 1st 52”

inscription 1

inscription 2

That has to be 1852, which is almost the dawn of this type of gallery airgun. We currently think it’s American-made, but by whom we have no clue.

The barrel is not solid. It’s a hollow tube that’s shaped into an octagon and finished with what both the owner and I agree is a faux Damascus pattern. It’s very even and gorgeous! Whoever made this gun was a master craftsman. The actual barrel is a thin brass tube held in a plug at the muzzle and breech.

The “barrel” is a hollow tube shaped into an octagon and finished to look like Damascus.

The inner brass barrel is held in a plug at the muzzle and breech.

The gun is a breech loader, which was very uncommon for 1852! To load, you unlatch the barrel and swing it to the side.

barrel latch
The barrel is held shut by a latch on the right side of the gun. Push it down…

breech open
…and the barrel swings to the side to access the breech for loading.

This dart gun is between .25 and .28 caliber, but the darts were all made by hand so it really didn’t matter. There were probably a supply of them that came with the gun.

As you can see, the gun has double-set triggers — another custom touch that’s unnecessary on a dart gun, but which the finer ones had.

The gun’s owner has started researching the owner and his father who made the presentation. This will make a wonderful story when he gets more information.

At my table

Sometimes, I will be at my table minding my own business when someone brings something by to show me. That happened several times at this show. The first time was one of our blog readers named John, who brought 2 different lead bullets by for me to use in my test of the Benjamin Bulldog. They’re shaped differently, and he thought they might do well in the rifle. I gave them to Dennis Quackenbush to take to the Malvern, Arkansas airgun show for me, because I was flying. I’ll pick them up in 2 weeks and give you all the details when I receive the bullets, again.

The second person who stopped by my table was Jerry from Pittsburgh, who brought me a handy tool for loading pellets in tight places. Let me let him tell you his idea.

A pair of angled tweezers for loading pellets into tight places as well as rotary breeches, sidelevers and underlevers.

Old stuff

This show didn’t just have airguns. There was a Quackenbush (H.M. Quackenbush — not Dennis) bell target from the 19th century on Kevin Hull’s table. These were very popular when gallery shooting was at its high point in the 1880s and ’90s.

A rare H.M. Quackenbush bell target.

And toys

Lest I forget, the Findlay show’s full name is — Toys That Shoot. There are more than just airguns at this show — there are shooting toys, too. In fact, a portion of the dealers and the crowd come just for the cap guns and other stuff, not for the airguns.

rocket pistol
This genuine Buck Rogers Rocket Pistol was listed at $200. Not bad for a half-dollar toy from the Great Depression!

disintegrator pistol
Across the aisle was this fully restored Buck Rogers Disintegrator Pistol. Even the box looks like new!

And on, and on…

The Findlay show was so much larger than even these 2 reports have been able to capture. If you’re an airgunner, there was something there of interest for you. I hope this brief report has stimulated some of you to attend an airgun show some time. If you do, you’ll find that the shallow words of this blog will suddenly spring into gorgeous full-color view.

27 thoughts on “2015 Findlay airgun show: Part 2”

  1. BB,

    Awesome dart gun! I saw a bugelspanner for sale the other day that the seller said was .177 caliber. That was very tempting.

    If you are into airguns, it is a must for you to attend a show. The history that is laid before you is incredible. Also, sometimes the deals you can find are just as incredible.

  2. Why would that be “faux” damascus? First of all I see no evidence of twisting so it is not any damascus pattern at all. Second, back then drilling a solid bar and making it look like a welded barrel would have made no sense at all! In those days all tubes were welded, either as a straight seam along the length of the barrel (tube) or as in this case around the circumference in a spiral fashion.

    Is there any evidence of it being welded along its length?

    • _Axel_,

      We believe it is faux because real Damascus steel isn’t cheap. To make a rod and then bore it out seems like a waste of money.

      Second, the pattern doesn’t reveal any grain. Damascus was the most popular steel in that time and it was often faked that way — similar to burning rope on wood to make a simulated curly maple-finished stock.


      • When you say “grain” do you mean roses in a damascus pattern? Like I said there is no evidence of this being a damascus barrel, it is a spiral welded tube (skelp); the second cheapest way of making a tube at that time.

        • _Axel_,

          Indeed, it probably is a skelp. I just said it was a faux Damascus, because of the spiral pattern on the steel. The word “faux” means false, or pretend. This barrel is pretending to be Damascus in the same way that the wood grain on the dashbord of a minivan pretends to be wood, when it’s really plastic or contact paper.

          You sound like you understand how the guns of this ear were made. Are you not familiar with faux Damascus? Mid-priced guns often used it, just as their stocks were made from apple or cherry with a spiral pattern burned into them to resemble curly maple.


          • I know how guns are made, had a gunsmith career for a short while.

            I do not think this “shroud” purports to be anything it is not. It looks (to me) like a skelp welded tube, that has been etched and browned. Nothing to be ashamed of. Had it been welded lengthwise I would have expected there was a rib to hide the seam.

  3. Kevin,
    Are you selling the bell target?
    I don’t have any idea of what it is worth or if I could afford it but I am interested. If you still have it for sale , please contact me.
    David Enoch

  4. The back history that goes with the Heblespanner makes it that much more interesting! The level of craftsmanship is almost unbelievable for that time period. I would love to attend an air gun show, are there any that get close to NJ?

  5. Thank you Edith, I appreciate the info, unfortunately that’s a hike for me, I used to drive trucks for a living and have delivered to Baldwinsville area, definitely not a day trip.
    There are a few gun shows closer to me, I may try my luck at one of them coming up, although my luck has been pretty good finding a few beginner pieces just talking to friends and family.

  6. BB,

    I’ve never seen an airgun show advertised here in Salt Lake City. There are gun shows here frequently. In fact, there was a gun show this past weekend at the Southtown Expo Center.

    I’ve never personally been to a gun show. Are there ever any airguns at regular gun shows? I would be very interested to go if there were airguns.

    Thanks for always surprising us with very interesting reads.

  7. Since we are on air guns for resale (Findlay Show), I would be interested on anyone’s experiences with running an ad in the “local paper”, (or), even auctions, and any luck they have had turning up “treasures”.

    I have been thinking of doing an ad, but can’t do auctions much, because of working.

    Thanks, Chris

  8. Sal–Can you get to the Middletown gun show? ( May 2-3) Kevin Hull usually takes several tables. If you call him and give him your wish list, he might have what you are looking for. Middletown N.Y. is probably closer to you than Baldwinsville. Ed

    • Yes it is, thanks for the info I’ll definitely check it out. I’m not looking for anything in particular, although I’m considering putting together a Red Ryder collection that covers all years of production…I love those little rifles! I’m also looking for something older high end that is a sweet shooter.

  9. Airguns I have bought at regular gun shows.
    1 Daisy 1938 B rifle lever $20. 2 Daisy 880 pump works good with BB’s, not pellets $ 4. 3 B3-1 Chinyese bought new waste of money and dangerous as no anti beartrap $24 + $9 for a rebuild kit. 4 Crosman 2100 works OK $15. 5 Daisy 851 single pump wood stock orig. box seems low on velocity $15. 6 BSF model S60 break barrel works OK $40.
    Ever since you know who got in gun shows in southern Calif have become endurance contests so my friend and I haven’t been in a long time.
    I’d love if there was a airgun show around here although I’m not knowlegable about many older airguns.

    • V8vega,

      Start an airgun show of your own. It isn’t hard and the show doesn’t have to be formal. Here in Texas, a bunch of guys meet at a gun range regularly to try out other guns and occasionally sell, buy and swap. You can do the same thing.

      Start with the people you know, then expand and before you know it, the thing has grown.


  10. Great airgun show for the Carolinas and surrounding area is the N.C. Airgun Show in Hickory, N.C. The show doubled in size from the 1s to 2nd and is outstanding for anyone interested in airguns. Easy search on web for information.


  11. I would love to get an airgun show or swap meet started here in Jersey, but the rules surrounding the purchase of airguns follows the same path as powder burners, you need an firearms purchasing permit AND if you purchase an air pistol you need a pistol purchasing permit as well as your regular buyers permit. The only thing I can buy with no permit is pellets, BBs and 12g CO2. I can’t imagine the paperwork and red tape involved hosting an air gun show….they won’t even let you check the guns out at the store without producing an permit, and nobody here even carries air pistols because its too much hassle. I can’t even get them shipped to my house thru the mail. I usually drive to either PA or DE and buy what I want with no hassle but as soon as I cross back into Jersey I become a “outlaw”…its rediculous….

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