Antique and Vintage Cap Guns
The first cap guns were made of cast iron and were created by firearm manufacturers looking for a way to stay in business at the end of the Civil War. Many of these antique cast-iron cap guns were novelty items and did not resemble real guns. Later, many cap guns were collectibles tied in with Old West personalities and western movie stars.
What western movie stars are featured among these cap guns?
- Gene Autry was a movie star from the 1920s to the 1950s and was known as "The Singing Cowboy." Gene Autry cap guns were made by Kenton (Ohio) Hardware, Leslie-Henry, and Marx.
- Roy Rogers was a western movie and television star and was known as the "King of the Cowboys." Roy Rogers toy pistols were manufactured by George Schmidt and Kilgore Manufacturing Company. There are also holsters available.
- Hopalong Cassidy was a character created by author Clarence E. Mulford for his short stories and novels. The character was played by William Boyd in sixty-six films and on television. Hopalong Cassidy cap guns were produced by George Schmidt. There are single and double guns. Some of them come with holsters. You can also find one with a replica of Cassidy's horse Topper made of Castile soap.
What manufacturers are among these antique and vintage cap guns?
- Hubley, founded in 1894, manufactured a lot of cap guns from 1920 to 1965. Their Texan and Cowboy guns were very popular. They also created a replica of the rifle from the television show The Rifleman with a quick-firing hammer.
- Marx, founded in 1919, sold a lot of toy cap guns between the 1940s and the 1960s. They are known for their miniature guns and their sets.
- Mattel started making the fully automatic "Burp" toy cap gun in 1955 and advertised it directly to children on The Mickey Mouse Club television show. This new idea of direct advertising campaigns geared toward children was a success. In 1958, Mattel introduced the "Fanner" that allowed rapid firing by hitting the hammer rather than using the trigger. This vintage toy gun came with a leather holster.
- The Kilgore Manufacturing Company was founded in 1917 in Homestead, Pennsylvania, and moved to Westerville, Ohio, in 1919. They grew to making 25,000 cap guns and 100,000 rolls of caps daily by the 1930s. The best known Kilgore cast-iron pistols are the Big Bill, the Machine Gun, the Buck, the Grizzly, the Border Patrol, and the G-Man.