Shawk & McLanahan – A Would-Be St Louis Revolver Company

The Shawk & McLanahan revolvers are a lesser-known example of a very low production Civil War era revolver not made in the Confederacy. Abel Shawk was manufacturing entrepreneur in St Louis making fire engines when he decided to take up arms manufacturing instead. He partnered with J.K. McLanahan who acted as a financier for the project, and with a young German immigrant gunsmith named William (Anglicized from Wilhelm) Tegethoff.

Shawk apparently built his own rifling machine, and sourced many of his other tools form an acquaintance named Charles Rigdon. Ridgon would go on to move to the South and work on several revolver making enterprises for the Confederacy during the Civil War. This led to an assumption that the Shawk & McLanahan guns were also affiliated with the CSA, although they were actually not.

Only about 45 or 50 guns were made before the business venture fell apart, and the surviving examples are all slightly different, suggesting that a final production model was never perfected. The workmanship is quite good, though. The example we have today was actually plated and presented to a Confederate officer by his men, along with a very fancy metal holster.

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Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons comm I’m Ian McCallum and I’m here today at the James Giulia auction house up in Maine taking A look at some of the guns that they’re Going to be selling in their upcoming Fall of 2017 firearms auction and we’ve Got a magnificent silver plated civil War-era revolver here today specifically This is a shock and mcclanahan revolver Which you may have never heard of Because well virtually nobody has ever Heard of these they were actually Interestingly misidentified as Confederate revolvers for quite a while Before some researchers were able to Determine that the true complete story To where these things actually came from Now the story was difficult to get Because it’s estimated that they only Made 45 to 50 of them in the first place And only eight are known to exist and This is one of those eight to complicate Things While this actually had no connection to The Confederacy or at least shock and McClanahan didn’t this gun was actually Given as a presentation to a Confederate Brigadier General by some of his troops Late in the Civil War so they bought it And thought it was a really nice Revolver and gave it to the general but The gun wasn’t actually made for the Confederacy this was manufactured in a

Town called Carondelet Missouri which is Now a suburb of st. Louis at the time it Was on the outskirts or just outside st. Louis and it was the product of three Different guys the first was able shock SH aw K uh-huh And he was sort of an engineering Manufacturing entrepreneurial sort of Guy the business that brought him to st. Louis in 1853 was actually manufacturing Fire engines and he did that for a while And then decided to set up a shop making Firearms to do that he enlisted the help Of JK McClanahan who we know very little About McClanahan appears to have just Been a financier and then the third guy Involved was a German immigrant by the Name of William well his name was Wilhelm and he anglicized it here in the United States to William Taggart off and Taggart off appears to have been either He was gun smith when he arrived or he Picked up the trade pretty quick And what’s interesting is the the first Two known examples of these revolvers Are actually marked William [ __ ] etaf And this is one of them this is actually Serial number one serial number two also Survives and it’s at eget off gun all The rest are either completely unmarked Or they’re marked shocked and mcclanahan So the circumstances surrounding this is Basically st. Louis was kind of the last Major point of civilization on the trail

Westward into the United States so it Was a good place to be marketing Supplies and say firearms there are a Lot of gunsmiths that were set up in st. Louis and shock apparently thought that This would be a decent place to make a Nice percussion revolver the patents That Colt had on revolver mechanisms Were expiring and so the market was kind Of opening up to entrepreneurs who Wanted to make their own basically Mechanical copies of the Colt mechanism And what shock made here a shocked and Mcclanahan and ticket off is actually a Really good quality revolver but Something happened that caused a problem We know in 1861 there was a court case Between Jacques and McClanahan and That’s never a good sign for a business Partnership apparently McClanahan ended Up winning money from shock By this point as far as I can tell all Of the guns had already been Manufactured what they were gonna make They already had of the eight surviving Examples none of them are actually alike Or none of them are identical they never Got to the point of having standard mass Production guns so it’s easy to Speculate how such a venture might have Fallen apart all sorts of supply issues Or just financing issues anything what’s Interesting though is it wasn’t the Quality of the guns guns appeared to be

Actually quite nice in fact this one was Nice enough that it was dolled up Silver-plated and given this nice metal Really fancy engraved holster to a General level officer so it wasn’t a Problem with the guns the other Interesting twist to this story relates To how these were originally confused With being Confederate guns and that is When shock came to Saint Louis one of The guys that he met up with and it Actually became friends with Was a guy named Charles Rigdon well Rigden would go on to make firearms for The Confederacy under the names well Written in Ansley leech & Rigdon there Were a couple of ventures that he was Involved in and there was a lot of Speculation that he had something to do With this revolver or because Jacques Was associated with him Jacques had been A Confederate sympathizer as well that Actually appears to really not be the Case the tooling for these existed first It might have been the purchase of the Original tooling might have been Brokered through Rigden who ran a Machine shop in st. Louis at the time And it seems it sounds like when Jacques And McClanahan when their venture fell Apart the machine tools were actually Sold back to Rigden and they may well Have been the same machine tools that Were used to make rigged UNS Confederate

Revolvers no it wasn’t the same tooling And there’s an important difference There what was probably sold were just Machines lathes grinders that sort of Thing and a rifling machine one of the Specific things we know about Jacques is He designed a rifling machine in fact if You look at his guns number one and two The ones that are marked [ __ ] etaf have Four lands and grooves in the rifling Probably made from barrels purchased Elsewhere the ones that are marked Shocked and mcclanahan have seven Landing groove rifling which are Probably made on the machine designed by Jacques and he probably sold that Machine to charles Rigden when the Business fell apart what he did not do Was sell tooling to actually manufacture This specific gun the jigs and the Fixtures and the things that you would Use on the machines to make parts and That we know that because this gun is Mechanically completely different from The rigdon and anslee guns or the leech & Rigdon guns those had for example a Three-part frame this has a one-piece Frame of a really a substantially Different shape so if Rigden got the Tooling for these he didn’t actually use It being one of the very first of these Guns this is one of the [ __ ] etaf marked Ones and that marking is here on the Cylinder and also on top of the barrel

And it’s really small that is as close As I can get the camera to focus in on It but you can see WM take it off and Repeated right up here on the Now the barrel one is kind of under some Other marring so it’s a little bit Harder to read shock and McClanahan’s Revolver here is used as a brass frame Although this particular one was Silver-plated for presentation and even Though the finish is wearing you know This is a hundred and fifty plus year Old gun you can kind of tell that this Was a high quality gun to begin with You really don’t see the imperfections And the machine marks and just the General kind of shoddy workmanship that Is often present on Confederate Specifically Confederate production Revolvers this was a really nice gun and In many ways maybe it’s too bad that Their business venture wasn’t able to do Better because it seems like they had a Nice product if you look at the frame This is all a single piece typically on A Colt or a cold copy the the rear tang Here is a separate piece and then the Front that with a part that the barrel Attaches into is also usually a separate Piece on a Colt the the whole barrel Assembly was removable you can’t do that On a shock in mcclanahan because well The frame is all one piece and that Makes for a nice strong revolver it’s

Interesting to note that the loading Lever is retained by a spring-loaded Detent which is in really good shape Today really kind of remarkable for as Old as the gun is and then it has a nice Smooth lever linkage there and just Overall really nice lines at least to me You know of all of the Civil War era Revolvers if I wasn’t gonna get a cold This would be a pretty darn good one as A customer in the 1850s clearly I’m not The only one who was thinking that way Because in 1865 the members of the South Carolina reserve force saw fit to Commission this very fancy engraved Metal holster for that exact shock and Mcclanahan pistol and present it to Brigadier General James chestnut here we Can see the engraving on the back we’ve Got some latin up there and then from Fellow officers of the South Carolina Reserve Force January 3rd 1865 To a fine man and officer Brigadier General James chestnut Confederate States someone really put quite a lot of Work into this holster and with that Amount of work it’s in some ways Surprising that they didn’t use a Colt Revolver although they may not have had Access to one easily at the time that’s Gonna fit right in there usually if We’re looking at Civil War era revolvers Where they only made a couple dozen and It’s legitimately usually a Confederate

Gun because that’s usually all the Confederate manufacturers were able to Put out in this case this is actually a Civil War you’re a gun that doesn’t have Any direct connection to either side in The war because these were these were Manufactured in between 1858 and late 59 Or early 1860s so they really weren’t Actually made for the war there’s an Interesting story to this one about the Holster the holster is being sold Separately now we know these two go Together because well they were Documented out of the war that way and What actually happened was the owner of The pair had the gun stolen and the Thief didn’t get the holster but took The gun so the owner got an insurance Payout for it and then later the gun Surfaced when the thief tried to steal It it was confiscated I don’t know Exactly what happened to the thief but Presumably he was convicted the gun Actually then became the property of the Insurance company and the insurance Company decided to sell it here at James Julia well the guys at Julia happen to Know who had owned it before that guy Still had the holster and so the Original owner is consigning the holster To sell it and they’re of course hoping That one person buys both and puts them Back together but because they are Currently owned by two different

Entities this blowing to the guy and This belonging to an insurance company They can’t sell them as a single lot Anyway if you’re interested in these Take a look at the description text Below there’s a link there to the two Catalog pages one for the gun and one For the holster and you can see their Pictures and provenance there’s a bunch Of documentation a really good article On these guns that you can see through The catalogue anyway and if you’re Interested you can place a bid on one or Both hopefully both through the website Over the phone or live here in person at The auction thanks for watching

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