A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 3

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The Francis Bannerman History

You can find a very complete but concise history of the Bannerman family and information relating to Bannerman Island by clicking here. Most of the later Bannerman catalogs had a one page history called “Blowing Our Own Horn”, that is a good example of his promotional ability. His catalogs were widely advertised in pulp and sporting goods magazines. Bannerman Catalogs have been of great interest to gun collectors and sportsman for the past 125 years.

The following 1888 Bannerman catalog is representative of their early catalogs. This is a small (4 x 5 1/2″) 12 page booklet that has a brief description of a few military items and a blank space to write in the price of each item. These early catalogs had no illustrations. The lack of a printed price allowed for a price change without reprinting the catalog. This also indicates that this catalog format was probably used between 1865 and 1888. It is uncertain when the first catalog was printed, but it was very likely soon after he started business in 1865.

1888 Bannerman Catalog Cover

The first illustrated catalog was produced in 1889. This catalog had 25 pages that were 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ in size.

1889 Bannerman Catalog Cover

In 1907 the catalog was 7 x 10″ in size and had grown to 259 pages.

1907 Bannerman Catalog Cover

In 1910 they produced the first full size catalog which was 9 x 11 1/2″. All of the catalogs are dated but only a few are numbered. There is little information available relating to the years a catalog was produced. I have verified that the following catalogs exist.

1888 1927
1889 1933
1900 1936
1903 1940 #25 , 75th anniversary
1904 1945
1907 1946
1910 first large catalog 1947
1913 1949
1917 1954 #28
1923 1955
1925 1966 100th anniversary

For 1940 to be catalog #25 there are 14 years missing. Since we do not know when they produced the first catalog it is uncertain where the missing years fall. Although no 1915 catalog has been found, I feel that it is highly probable that one exists because it would have been their 50th anniversary. Because of the spacing, it seems probable that about half of the missing years fall between 1917 and 1940. I believe that all of the catalogs following 1940 are accounted for.

In the 1888 catalog there are two drill or training rifles that are identified as “Cadet Rifles”. There is little information relating to these rifles but by looking at the same rifles in the 1889 catalog it is certain that they were designed for Military School or Boys Brigade use. There is a more detailed description of the cadet rifles in the 1889 catalog.

1888 &1889 Cadet Rifle Advertisements

The following illustrations are from pages 41 and 42 of the 1907 Bannerman catalog. This catalog has the most information I have found relating to the types of drill and training rifle that this firm produced. The illustration of a percussion drill rifle was taken from a 1925 catalog and is the only drill rifle identified in the catalog of that year. You will note that it is the same as the first rifle shown on page 41 of the 1907 catalog. The following text was taken from the 1933 catalog. This was the only information relating to drill rifles in that catalog. None of the later catalogs have any specific drill rifle information in them. It seems probable that Bannerman continued to offer some form of drill rifles until the late 1930’s.

The next installment: The Boys Brigade (Dummy Rifles)

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

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