Could tell me what this gun is, please? It belonged to my father and has been stuck in my cupboard for years. I would love to know what it is, and what to do with it.
John Milewski answers:
This is a Gem-style airgun from c.1900. These were made in their thousands by continental makers, and were based on 19th century designs that originated in America. Most were smoothbore, the advantage being that darts could be reused if they were fired into something soft, like a dartboard. The ‘cylinder in the wrist’ format results in a short overall design and what could be described as the first ‘bullpup’ airgun, where the trigger group is situated ahead of the air chamber.
It is hard to identify the original maker without close study, so it might be worth looking at the rear section of the barrel to see if that gives a clue. For example, the initials ‘FLZ’ would tell us that Fredrich Langenhan made the airgun, but not all were marked with the maker’s name with some simply stating ‘made abroad’.
Pauline’s Gem was actually one of the very first bullpups!