Todays blog comes to you from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. I have officially started to blog about some of the things that I do at work. Historic Scientific Instruments (HSI) is one of the 11 division in the museum and where I currently spend some of my time. We are in the middle of emptying out the space where the HSI collection is being housed and moving it to a temporary space.
There have been many, many objects that I’ve lamented about not blogging about so far in our unpacking phase but what has triggered the blog…. a gun.
This is a short-ranged air rifle probably from the early 1800′s produced by G. Wallis as etched on the gun. This gun was donated from the Physics department and was used for demonstrations in classrooms (doing what, I don’t know). The little bit of info I’ve been able to glean from the web indicates that George Wallis was a gunsmith from Hull England and died around 1803 although his gunsmith shop seems to have been sold after his death. Being a bit of a gadgety person I needed to find out how exactly these guns operated.
A small canister is pumped full of compressed air by a manual pump. This particular gun has a ball reservoir that attaches to the bottom of the gun (it’s in the collection but we haven’t unpacked it yet.) This air rifle is a muzzle loaded air rifle meaning that only a single bullet could be loaded into the barrel of the gun. You can see the rod attached under the barrel that is used to push the bullet in. Pull the trigger, compressed air releases and the bullet comes flying back out, with close to the same amount of force as a modern 9mm pistol.
I can’t wait to see what’s packed away in the next box.