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Free Pistol with San Francisco Newspaper Subscription (1887)

Saturday, November 5, 2016 19:09
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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 bin 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.
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