IN-VU WOOD RIFLE
In an advertisement from 1918 the In-Vu Mfg. Co. address is listed as 8 Lehigh Ave. Geneva, N.Y. It should be noted that Lehigh Ave. was renamed Lehigh Street in the 1930’s to be consistent with the orientation of streets and avenues in Geneva. During WWI this area was on the northern edge of the City of Geneva and was comprised of warehouse type buildings. None of the Business Directories for that period list the In-Vu Mfg. Co. This would indicate that they were being manufactured by some other company. The Assessor’s Office in Geneva has indicated that in the early 1920’s the property at 8 Lehigh Ave was owned by the Torrey Park Lumber Company. This company is listed in the Geneva Business Directory from 1901 through 1910. In 1901 they are listed as ”Dealers in Lumber, Lath, Shingles, Sash, Doors, Blinds, Wall Plaster”. This would be an indication that they must have had a production facility as well as a lumber yard. The 1905-6 directory lists the Torrey Park Lumber Yard address as “North Genesee Street near the L V R crossing”. The letters stand for the Leigh Valley Railroad. The rail line crossed North Genesee Street just south of Avenue D, which places the Torrey Park Lumber Yard less than a block away from 8 Lehigh Ave. The 1907-8 directory also lists the Torrey Park Lumber Co. at this location. In 1909-10 Torrey Park Lumber Co. had no special advertisement but were listed as one of three lumber yards in the area. It is interesting to note that a Eugene Cuddeback is listed as manager of both the Torrey Park and Rogers Lumber Companies at this time. They were not listed in the Geneva Business directory between 1910 and the early 1920’s, but there is evidence that they remained in business during this period.
Although there is no positive documentation, it seems highly probable that the Torrey Park Lumber Company was associated with the In-Vu Manufacturing Co. Due to the proximity of the two locations it is possible that the In-Vu name was derived from the fact that the two buildings were in view of each other. I suspect that the Torrey Park Lumber Co. supplied the lumber for the wood rifles and that they were produced in their warehouse facility at 8 Lehigh Ave.
In a 1918 advertisement they indicate that 60,000 of their Drill Rifles were in use. They advertised widely during 1917-18 and this combined with their low cost makes the 60,000 figure seem reasonable. There is no evidence that they had any military contracts for these wooden rifles, although their advertisements do imply that the Ordnance Chief of the US War Department endorsed them. There are no markings on these drill rifles to indicate the manufacturer or the number produced and they have no moving parts. I find their description of their training rifles to be an exaggeration at best. They have the same general profile of the 1903 Springfield but are Non-Firing Drill & much thinner and lighter in weight. They are considerably short of being an exact copy of the 1903 Springfield, as stated in their advertisements. Their primary assets were that they were durable and very inexpensive. With WWI ending, I suspect that demand dropped to the point that it was no longer profitable to produce these drill rifles. They probably stopped production by 1920 but they may have continued to sell their remaining stock until the supply was depleted.
The earliest advertisement that has been located was in the June 30 issue of the Literary Digest. In this advertisement the list 5 different styles. The No. 100, 75, and 50 styles were all of the 1903 pattern. The No. 25 Boy Scout and the No. 10 Young American basically simplified toys. It should be noted that later in 1917 their advertisements did not list these “toys”. I suspect that there was not sufficient demand for these items to warrant the cost of their production. Later in 1917 they introduced a different No. 25 style that was a shortened version of the 1903 Springfield pattern. The full size No. 100 was 43″ long while the new No 25 “Rookie” was only 38″ long. The Rookie style had a similar stock profile to the No. 100 but had no round wooden dowel for a barrel. The No. 75 and No. 50 were the same size and shape as the No. 100 but had fewer accessories. The Lee Enfield pattern was not listed in their advertisements prior to 1918. Therefore, the majority of their production would have been of the 1903 Springfield pattern. The stocks appear to have been made from a soft wood and stained to look like walnut. The wood was probably harvested locally. All of the models had a similar profile and thickness. The No. 150, 100, 75, and 50 had a short wooden dowel that was inserted into the front of the forarm for a barrel. The No. 25 “Rookie” was the lowest grade and had no barrel or swivels.
The following advertisement was found in the Literary Digest dated June 30, 1917.
The following advertisement is undated but was found in a 1918 periodical.
From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson
The next installment: Carson Long Military Institute
I found a IN-VU Model # 100 made in Rochester NY. It is just like the one in your info. It is in good shape and is all original. Has period sling and barrel and sight. Also has original tag on top. Also has initials MG in ink or pencil on sling. Would like to know fair value of it. I would be interested in selling it or trading it for something of equal value.
Hello Mr. Roberts,
What a great find! I gave only provided Malcolm MacPherson’s work here in a multi-part series of articles for a wider audience. You would have to contact him as he is the history expert.
Thanks for the info and your service to our country. We just buried my 97 yr. old uncle with full military honors. He was at Omaha Beach at Normandy. He was a machine gun platoon Sergeant. He was wounded twice and received 2 Purple Hearts and Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster. He was my true to life Hero and will be sorely missed.
Thank you sir, and thank you to your family.