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Muzzle-loading miscellany.

Hey! Good news! Here's a company that makes truly authentic 19th century boots. I'll bet I get more letters asking about where to find authentic boots than any other single item. Well, the Mason Dixon Boot Co., P.O. Box 20695, Brdwy. Stn., Seattle, WA 98102, offers the finest and most extensive selection of mid-19th century high-topped boots I've seen to date.

Mason Dixon's boots are based on those in the collection of the firm's master bootmaker, and on those found in museums and private collections. They are made with the wide square toes and single-piece leg and toe contruction. Oak Tanned Kipleather is used in the construction of these boots as well as leather soles and inner soles. Most of the stitching is done by hand, and linen thread is used. Unless otherwise specified by the customer, the side seams of cavalry boots are machine sewn. All pegging is done by hand. If you desire 1870s-style cavalry boots, Mason Dixon will attach the soles with brass screws as per the original ordnance specs.

When I heard about this company, I immediately wrote them and purchased a pair of their #1 style knee-high cavalry boots. I can honestly say that I have never been so impressed with the authenticity and workmanship as I was with Mason Dixon's. Every inch of them looks like the originals I have in my own collection, and the fit is great. They didn't even require a "break-in" period. Of course each person's feet are different, so someone else may require a little wearing before that perfect, snug fit is achieved. Nonetheless, I feel that I can say with perfect confidence that if you want truly authentic 19th century boots, Mason Dixon can satisfy you.

Besides the details I have already mentioned, Maxon Dixon Boot Co. makes their boots with the smooth side of the boot on the inside, and the rough side on the outer surface. The rough outside is then finished in such a way as to resemble the smooth-out appearance of the originals. This finishing process serves many purposes. Along with the authentic appearance, this 19th century-type of finish aids in waterproofing the boots and helps prevent cracking.

Mason Dixon's illustrated catalog shows ten different styles of boots and two pairs of Jefferson shows (Federal and Confederate styles). Prices range from around $60 per pair for the Jefferson shoes and $90 through $250 per pair for the high-tipped boots. Most styles run around $155 per pair. If you've ever priced good boots, not to mention historically accurate reproductions, you will recognize these prices as being quite reasonable. As far as I'm concerned, Mason Dixon's boots are of the finest museum quality and will stand the scrutiny of the most critical purists. Because these boots are handmade, you should allow about 30-60 days for delivery under normal circumstances.

Mason Dixon also offers several other services of value to living history enthusiasts. They can repair their own boots in an authentic manner, and can restore original Civil War period boots. On a special-order basis, Mason Dixon can copy your originals for you; in fact, they offer a discount to anyone who can provide them with detailed photos and information on boots in their own collection. Incidentally, the Mason Dixon folks are interested in trading or purchasing original boots and boot lasts from the 1840-1880 period.

If you're one of those readers who has written to me in the past regarding old-timey boots, don't waste time, contact the Mason Dixon Boot Co. right away. I bought a pair and am I ever glad that I did. In fact, I'm now saving for a second pair! K-W CAP AND BALL HORNS

During my visit to the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association's (NMLRA) Fall National Matches in Friendship, Indiana, I met a gentleman who hand-crafts powder horns and other traditional black powder implements made from cowhorns. Karl Wilburn, who owns and operates K-W Cap and Ball Horns, offers what I consider some of the finest semi-production powder horns available. For shooters who are depicting a typical rifleman of the muzzle-loading era in America, K-W's horns add just the right touch to one's outfit. As crafted by K-W, these horns are simple, yet traditionally styled and have such authentic features as maple, walnut or cherry wood horn plugs; wood or metal pins, and iron staples. K-W offers finished horns as well as horn kits. Prices are reasonable and the workmanship reflects the knowledge and care of Karl Wilburn, who is an avid muzzle-loader himself.

K-W's Standard Powder Horn Kit with their grade #1 horn retails for just $14. Their priming horn kit, which has been drilled, squared, the horn fitted to the plug, and includes a stopper, is priced at just $8. If you are interested in doing scrimshaw work on your horn, Karl can offer you a variety of sizes and qualities of horns suitable for engraving, ranging from $15 on up to $25 per kit. Of course, K-W also does quality scrimshaw work. I noticed several handsome examples at Karl Wilburn's booth at Friendship, however since this is strictly a personalized, custom service, you had best write to him for details.

While at the NMLRA shoot last August, I took the opportunity to order a priming horn, sans any decoration, but with an attractive, mellow antique finish. Karl and I discussed how the horn should look and left him with the order. Shortly after returning to California, I received my horn, and it was exactly as I had wanted it! It is now part of my standard flintlock shooting kit, and I am considering having K-W build a standard-sized powder horn for use with my smokepoles. I've shown the little primer to several black powder friends and it has been received with much approval.

Besides horns, K-W also hand-makes horn measures (which can be made to your specified powder charge and granulation, from 30 through 150 grains), salt horns, flintlock pick and brush sets, horn funnels, horn whistles and more. I have a selection of these items in my shooting bag and am quite pleased with their authentic appearance as well as their functional value.

If you are looking for a typical-styled hunting or priming powder horn, or any traditional horn-type accessory, I heartily recommend Karl Wilburn of K-W Cap and Ball Horns. He's one of the "good guys" and his craft works are something you'll be proud to show off as part of your shooting outfit. For a detailed brochure and price list, send 25 cents to: K-W Cap and Ball Horns, 5073 Townsley Road, Cedarville, OH 45314. HISTORY FOR HIRE

History For Hire, 437 South Cloverdale, #3, Los Angeles, CA 90036, is a firm that should prove interesting to many black powder military buffs. Owned and operated by Jim Elyea, who incidentally appears in this issue as G&A's infantryman in my article, "Dixie's Yankee Rifle," this unique company specializes in reproducing the unusual, or hard-to-find cloth caps and early American clothing. Jim has produced such unusual items for the living history buff as the 1825 Infantry Forage cap, the 1839 Forage cap, Type I, and numerous World War I European soft caps. Jim is wearing a greatcoat and bummers cap of his own making in the Dixie article.

I've known Jim for several years, and have always been impressed with his attention to detail in any historical recreation task he undertakes. I've seen several of his handmake clothing and headgear items and can comment favorably on their authenticity. Because History For Hire specializes in the unusual, all items are made on an "as-ordered" basis and the company does not stock any inventory. However, if you are looking for an otherwise hard-to-find clothing item, you would do well to get in touch with Jim Elyea's History For Hire. Of special delight to the purist is that with any government-contract type uniforming, it is guaranteed to be "no better than the originals," which means of course that the primitive look so often found in early American items can be found with Jim Elyea's reproductions, yet they are quite durable.

If you belong to a living history unit, or are doing your own historical impression, contact History For Hire. For details, send them a self-addressed stamped envelope with your particular need. It's likely they can help you where no one else can. SHILOH SHARPS MOVES

Shiloh Products, Inc. and the C. Sharps Arms Co. have announced that they have moved all of their operations to a new, specially constructed facility in Big Timber, Montana, which has been the home of the C. Sharps Arms Co. for the past few years. This move has also resulted in a new name, the Shiloh Rifle Mfg. Co., and is now located in a modern factory which boasts around 18,000 square feet of manufacturing and testing facilities. Because of this move, production of their single-shot Sharps replica rifles, and Sharps-type accessories, had ceased for a couple of months. However, the firm is now back in full production and has been filling orders.

The Shiloh Rifle Mfg. Co.'s new address is 100 Centennial Blvd., Big Timber, MT 59011. Incidentally, the C. Sharps Arms Co. is still the distributor for Shiloh along with producing their custom, special order Sharps rifles.

Shiloh Rifle Mfg. Co.'s arms are 100 percent American-made and are of the finest quality. I've had the opportunity to shoot and hunt with several of their standard, as well as their custom guns, and in my opinion, they are among the finest arms being produced today--anywhere! If you've been wanting a top quality single-shot cartridge gun that will handle both black powder and smokeless loads, contact the Shiloh Rifle Mfg. Co. For their fully illustrated brochure, send $2 and get all the details concerning these fascinating hunting, target and military replicas of the gun the frontiersmen dubbed "Old Reliable." TENN. VALLEY MFG.

Tenn. Valley Mfg., P.O. Box 1125, Corinth, MS 38834, is a firm you should know about regardless of whether your taste runs to rifle building, buckskinning, pleasure shooting, or whatever. Tenn. Valley offers a wide variety of gun parts, shooting accessoris and their custom Tennessee Rifles.

For the gunmaker, you'll find stock blanks, sights, locks, a wide assortment of traditional patchboxes, triggerguards, buttplates and more. Their array of shooting accessories includes handcrafted hunting pouches, hand-forged vent picks for flintlocks, powder measures, jags, bullet pullers and fouling scrapers.

Among Tenn. Valley's selection of buckskinning supplies is a unique camp set made of hand-forged iron. Briefly, it consists of three legs which measure 32 inches in length and a pair of 7-1/2-inch handles. These legs form a triangular cooking outfit that would fit into any primitive campsite. This durable and authentic looking setup retails for $19.95.

Tenn. Valley Mfg. has lots of items of interest to muzzle-loaders, so why not send them 75 cents for their illustrated brochure, or call them at (601) 286-5014. The Tenn. Valley Mfg. folks are active in the black powder sport, so they know what we like and need. Give 'em a try. C&H TRADERS

Here's something for living history buffs. C&H Traders, Route #1, Box 55, Old Colony Road, Defiance, MO 63341, is offering a couple of handsome, authentically styled hats that are representative of the fur trade era. The hats are available in two styles; The Rocky Mountain Hat, which is made with a four-inch flat top crown and a four-inch-wide flat brim; the Taos Trapper's Hat also sports a four-inch-wide flat brim, but features a lower, 3-1/2-inch round crown. Both styles come with a matching silken ribbon band around the crown as found on most period felt hats.

C&H Traders hats come in three colors; black, tan, and coffee brown, and are available in 100 percent virgin wool felt, or 10X beaver quality fur felt. Both of these hats are of the styles commonly seen in the famous works of such artists as Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. I have adopted one of the Taos Trapper's hats for use with an early California vacquero outfit I wear when performing lance work on horseback. The hat is typical of the period, and when worn with a kerchief over my head in the early Southwestern Spanish fashion, the hat adds the finishing touch to the overall look and feel of an authentic "Lancero."

These hats are custom made, yet are reasonably priced at $29.95 for the wool felt versions, and $49.95 for the fur felt models. For further information, contact C&H Traders. They'll be glad to hear from you, and tell 'em that Phil sent ya! NEW FROM RED RIVER

Old West hobbyists will be pleased to learn that Red River, the Frontier Outfitters, has recently published a supplementary list which will be included with their latest catalog. This extensive, fully illustrated list includes many interesting frontier items such as holsters for the Colt Paterson and Walker revolvers, an 1870s-style double-loop holster for the Ruger Blackhawk, buffalo hunter Sharps rifle cartridge belts, new designs in old-time spur leathers and cowboy headstalls, 1880s-style vests (with the old-timey lapels), high-waisted frontier trousers, cavalry saber wrist knots and more. One of the featured items in this new listing is the hardcover reprint of Guns and the Gunfighters, originally edited by the Guns & Ammo staff. For those of you not familiar with this work, it is considered by many as a modern-day classic. It was authored by several of today's top gun and western writers, including Elmer Keith, Lee Silva, H. Gordon Frost, Garry James, Jim Woods, E.B. Mann and many more. I am proud to have been able to contribute several stories to this volume, and consider this one of the most enjoyable books I have ever worked on.

Briefly, it contains a wealth of information about the good and bad hombres, who made their names with a gun, during the frontier years and into the early 20th century, along with serious tests of original and reproduction firearms of the types used by these shootists. You'll read about Jesse and Frank James, John Wesley Hardin, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Belle Starr, John Dillinger, and Wild Bill Hickok, just to name a few. The guns featured in the tests and stories include the Colt Single Action Army, the 1851 Navy Colt, Remington's 1875 Army revolver, the 1866 and 1873 Winchesters, the 1874 Sharps, the Mississippi rifle, Model 1911 Colt .45 ACP and many more.

Hardly a week goes by that I don't get a request from G&A readers for this exciting book. It's full of great reading, photographs and illustrations. If you are interested in a copy, you can purchase it from Red River for $17.95 postpaid (California residents must add current state tax). So, if you're interested in high quality reproduction frontier-era clothing, gunleather and accessories, send $3 for Red River's catalog and supplemental list. If you already have a current catalog, send just $1.50 and they'll forward their new supplemental brochure. Their mailing address is: Red River, 8348 Foothill Blvd., Sunland, CA 91040.
COPYRIGHT 1984 InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Spangenberger, Phil
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:column
Date:May 1, 1984
Words:2525
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