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Remembering Perth

HMAS Perth 1941

Commissioned 29 June 1933, HMS Amphion was a Leander-class light cruiser in the Royal Navy. In 1939, she was reborn in a sense and her name was changed to HMAS Perth (D29) on the occasion of her transfer to the Royal Australian Navy.

Her RAN career was tragically short. After much sharp service in the Med during the whole Crete debacle, she was sent back home to assist in the defense of Australia.

After surviving the hell of the Battle of the Java Sea, she picked up four Japanese torpedoes in the space of a few minutes at the midnight pitch-black engagement at Sunda Strait on 1 March 1942.

Of her 681 souls aboard, 353 were killed in battle. Her survivors may have been spared from Posideon’s grasp but had to endure three years as Japanese POWs, with nearly half never seeing home again.

Even her hulk, stripped over the years by unlicenced Indonesian marine salvagers who used explosives to break her apart on the seafloor, was desecrated.

However, her 1939 bell, cast to commemorate her new life in the RAN, was located in Indonesia by Australian wreck diver David Burchell and returned through the auspices of the government in 1978.

The Australian War Memorial on Friday, on the 77th anniversary of her loss, held a special Last Post Ceremony in honor of HMAS Perth, including the striking of the ship’s bell.

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019: Manuel’s least favorite cruiser

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019: Manuel’s least favorite cruiser

Université de Caen Basse-Normandie from Caen, France (15225939616)

Here we see the unique third-class protected cruiser Adamastor of the (sometimes Royal) Portuguese Navy. A tiny ship for her type, she put in a lot of unsung service over a four-decade career.

While Portugal had one of the world’s best navies in the days of Afonso de Albuquerque and Vasco De Gama, by the late 1890s, the empire was in steep decline. With only about 300 merchant ships carrying the country’s flag– mostly sailing vessels– Portugal did not have a big civilian fleet to protect. What Lisbon did have were lots of overseas possessions such as the Cape Verde Islands in the Atlantic, African colonies in Guinea, Angola and Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique); Goa in the Indian Ocean, Timor in the East Indies, and the Chinese enclave of Macau.

To protect this far-flung collection of pearls, Portugal had only a number of wooden-hulled vessels and the 3,300-ton British-built ironclad Vasco Da Gama (go figure), which was built in the 1870s.

In the mid-1890s, five modern warships– largely paid for by public subscription– were ordered to give VDG some backup. These ships, all smallish cruisers with long legs, included the Rainha Dona Amélia (1683-tons, 4×6-inch guns, built domestically), Dom Carlos I (4250-tons, 4×6-inch, ordered from Armstrong Elswick), São Gabriel and São Rafael (1771-tons, 2×6-inch guns, ordered from Normand Le Havre), and our subject, Adamastor. In 1902, even the old VDG was taken to Orlando and completely rebuilt in a move that saw her cut in half and lengthened by 32-feet, fitted with new engines, guns and machinery. The effect was that, in a decade, Portugal had gone from one elderly ironclad to six relatively effective, if light, cruisers.

“Navios da Marinha de Guerra Portugueza no alto “Mar 1903 by Alfredo Roque Gamerio, showing the revamped fleet with the “cruzadors” Vasco da Gama, Don Carlos I, São Rafael, Amelia and Adamastor to the far right. Note the black hulls and buff stacks/masts. The fact that these ships were all ordered from British, French and Italian yards at the same time had to have made for some awkward fleet operations, not to mention logistics and training issues.

The name Adamastor is unique to Portugal and is drawn from a mythical water giant created by Portuguese poet Luís de Camões– Portugal’s Shakespeare– in his epic poem Os Lusíadas as a symbol of the forces of nature encountered by navigators on the high seas.

This guy:

The cruiser Adamastor’s figurehead, now in the Portuguese naval museum, the Museu de Marinha.

Ordered from Orlando, Livorno, Italy in 1895, Adamastor was commissioned just two years later and joined the fleet.

Cerimónia de lançamento à água do cruzador Adamastor, em Livorno, Itália, 12/07/1896

O cruzador Adamastor, em Livorno, 1897, in all of her pristine newness.

At just 1,700-tons, the 235-foot long “cruiser” carried a pair of 6-inch (150mm) Krupp guns in single mounts fore and aft as well as four 4.7-inch (105mm) Krupp secondaries in broadside. Two 37mm Hotchkiss 6-pdrs were on the bridge wing while a pair of Nordenfeldt 6.5mm machine guns were in the fighting top. Her most formidable weapons were likely the three torpedo tubes for Whitehead pattern fish she carried on deck.

Sailors of the cruiser Adamastor, in maneuvering exercise, in 1905 by one of the ship’s 4.7-inch guns. Note their uniforms and landing force gear. Via Museum de Marinha.

Her armor? Just 30mm on deck over her machinery and 65mm on the sides of the conning tower, as noted by Ivan Gogin, who characterized Adamastor as “Actually large gunboat with armored deck.”

She was divided into 23 watertight compartments and was electrically lit by 190 lamps.

Capable of 18-knots, she was fast for a gunboat, slow for a cruiser, but could make an impressive 8,896 nm at 10 knots on 419 tons of coal, which gave her enough range for colonial service, her intended tasking.

Speaking of which, the 1898 edition of The Engineer has an excellent write up on her machinery.

Adamastor engines and boilers via The Engineer 1898

Adamastor profile via Scientific American Vol 45

Between joining the fleet in 1898 and the mid-1930s, Adamastor spent most of her time in the Pacific, hanging out in Macau, rotating back to Europe for refits every few years with stopovers at other Portuguese colonies along the way. Of note, she reportedly fought pirates in the region of both the Rif off Morocco and the East Indies.

Cruzador Adamastor fundeado em Hong Kong, 1905. Via Museu de Marinha. Note her now black hull, 6-inch Krupp mount forward, and the carved figurehead. She carried six boats.

In Angola

At Shangai, 5/10/1927 dressed for the occasion, now back to a white hull, which was undoubtedly welcome in the Far East. Via Museu de Marinha

When the centuries-old Portuguese monarchy was overthrown in 1910 and the country became a republic, most of the Portuguese fleet was renamed– for instance, Rainha Dona Amélia became Republica and Dom Carlos I became Almirante Reis— while Adamastor was able to keep her moniker. Everyone likes sea giants, right?

A better explanation was that during the revolution, while at anchor in the Tagus, she hoisted the red and green flag of the Republicans and bombarded Necessidades Palace with three shells, sending King Manuel II to exile. In short, she was the cruiser Aurora of the Portuguese Revolution. Further, it should be noted that, while Aurora was alone in the Neva in 1917, Adamastor had most of the fleet anchored next to her, including ships still loyal to the Royalist government, which meant she was taking a big risk in what was effectively a mutiny.

Our cruiser getting her shots in at the palace. Published in “Illustração Portugueza, nº 243, de 17 de Outubro de 1910.” Via Museu Marinha LG184

The 1910 republican flag flown from Adamastor (Bandeira içada a bordo do “Adamastor” na noite de 3 para 4 de Outubro de 1910.) Now in the naval museum.

In 1913, while poking around the Far East, she went aground at Dumbell Island and the British C-class destroyer HMS Otter came to her assistance. A gregarious naval officer by the name of João de Canto e Castro, who was later to become the 5th President of the Republic in 1918, was appointed Adamastor‘s skipper after the incident.

When the Great War came, Adamastor found herself in Mozambique and in May 1916 supported a force of 400 Portuguese colonial soldiers in an ill-fated attempt to cross north of the Rovuma River into German East Africa. Lettow-Vorbeck got the better end of that deal.

In 1933, after providing a lot of solid service, the well-traveled Adamastor was sold for her value in scrap.

ADAMASTOR Portuguese Cruiser, At Hankow, China, circa 1931-33, late in her career. Note the extensive awnings. Collection of Lieutenant Oscar W. Levy, USN SC ret. NH 94176

For what’s its worth, she by far outlived the other four cruisers ordered alongside her: São Rafael wrecked in 1911, while São Gabriel, Dom Carlos I/Almirante Reis, and Rainha Dona Amélia/República were scrapped in 1924.

The Museu de Marinha in Belém near Lisbon has an excellent model of Adamastor on display, as well as other artifacts already discussed.

The Spanish government issued a series of naval postage stamps that included our subject.

And she is, of course, remembered through maritime art as well.

Cruiser Adamastor watercolor on paper issued on the centenaries of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões by artist P. Cazenave and dated 1897

Specs:

From the 1914 Janes Fighting Ships

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

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Brace yourself

“Trompe l’Oeil with Pistols” by Flemish painter Cornelius Norbertus Gijsbrechts, c.1672, via the National Gallery of Denmark.

Today, such a concept is just referred to as the New York Reload.

Tonkas over Scotland for the last time

With the final flights of the Tornado strike fighter by the RAF expected next month, the beautiful image below popped up on the MoD’s feed showing the final sortie of three days of flypasts over Scotland’s RAF Lossiemouth and Leuchars Station marking the jet’s imminent retirement.

Date: 20 February 2019. Crown Copyright

The formation was led by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC ADC, a Tornado pilot and former Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth, who was flying the type for the last time.

As a sidebar, actor Ewan McGregor’s brother, Colin, used to fly Tornado GR4’s out of Lossiemouth and Leuchars. His callsign was Obi Two.

Young battlewagons at play

Here we see, on the cusp of the Great War, a most excellent color-tinted postcard published by the Valentine Souvenir Co., New York from a photograph by Enrique Muller, showing brand-new early dreadnoughts of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet steaming in line ahead, circa summer, 1914.

The card came from the collection of Valentine cards amassed by CDR Donald J. Robinson, USN (Ret), in 1983. Catalog #: NH 101221-KN

The NHHC has identified these as USS North Dakota (BB-29) and her only sister, USS Delaware (BB-28), astern. The two-ship Delaware-class were only 518-feet oal and some 22,000-tons but mounted a full battery of ten 12″/45 caliber Mark 5 guns in five double turrets, which are seen in the above image. The 12″/45 armed a total of 14 battlewagons, and as such was the most prolific main gun in American battleship history.

Sadly, victims of the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922, both the Delawares (as well as just about every other ship carrying the 12″/45) were broken up soon after as a general, yet ephemeral, sense of lasting peace had broken out. The mighty warships were less than 13 years old when they went to the breakers.

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019: Nimitz’s first Ranger, or, the wandering ghost of the Nantucket coast

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019: Nimitz’s first Ranger, or, the wandering ghost of the Nantucket coast

Collection of Francis Holmes Hallett via NHHC NH 93484

Here we see “Sunset on the Pacific,” a colored postcard circulated around 1910 showing the Alert-class gunboat USS Ranger (PG-23) at anchor looking West. The bark-rigged iron-hulled steamer would have an exceptionally long life that would see her serve multiple generations of bluejackets of all stripes.

One of the narrow few new naval ships built after the Civil War, the three-ship class was constructed with funding authorized by the 42nd Congress and listed at the time as being a Sloop of War. Powered by both sail and steam, they were 175 feet long, displaced 541 tons and were designed to carry up to a half-dozen era 9-inch guns split between broadsides. The trio were the last iron warships to be built for the U.S. Navy, with follow-on designs moving to steel.

While under construction, the armament scheme was converted to a single 11-inch smoothbore Dahlgren rifle, two 9-inch Dahlgrens, one 60-pounder Parrott, a single 12-pounder “boat” howitzer that weighed only 300-pounds in its carriage, and one Gatling gun– the latter two of which could be sent ashore by a naval landing party to conduct business with the locals as needed. Speaking of which, she could afford to send her small Marine detachment as well as up to 40 rifle-armed sailors away as needed to make friends and influence people.

Alert, Huron, and Ranger were all completed at the same time, with the middle ship lost tragically on her first overseas deployment off the coast of North Carolina 24 November 1877 near Nag’s Head.

Ranger was constructed at Harlan & Hollingsworth, and, commissioned 27 November 1876, was the 4th such vessel to carry the name.

The preceding two Rangers saw service in the War of 1812 while the original was the 18-gun ship sloop built in 1777 and commanded by no less a figure than John Paul Jones for the Continental Navy. Famously, on 14 February 1778, that inaugural Ranger received a salute to the new American flag given by the French fleet at Quiberon Bay.

Poster calling for volunteers for the crew of USS RANGER, Captain John Paul Jones, then fitting at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for her cruise into European waters. It quotes the resolution of Congress of 29 March 1777 establishing pay advances for newly recruited seamen. Description: Courtesy of Essex Institute Salem, Mass., owners of the original poster. NH 52162

Once our new, 4th, Ranger was commissioned, she was assigned to the Atlantic Station briefly before setting sail for the Far East where she would join the Asiatic Station, leaving New York for the three-month voyage to Hong Kong on 21 May 1877 via the Suez.

USS RANGER photographed before 1896. From Bennett, “Steam Navy of the U.S.” NH 44604

The crew of USS RANGER. Historical Collection, Union Title Insurance Company, San Diego NH 108286

Returning to the states in 1880, she was converted for survey work at Mare Island and spent the two decades slow-poking from Central America to the Northern Pacific and back while engaged in hydrographic duties. A ready ship in an area where no other U.S. flags were on the horizon during that period, she often waved the Stars and Stripes as needed in backwater Latin American ports while alternating between getting muscular with trespassers in the Bearing Strait and Alaskan waters.

While laid up between 1895 and 1899, the 20-year-old gunboat was modernized and landed her Civil War-era black powder shell guns and Gatling for a much more up-to-date battery of six 4-inch breechloaders and an M1895 Colt “potato-digger” machine gun.

USS RANGER, now with a gleaming white hull, photographed after she received 6 4-inch breech-loading rifles in 1897. After this refit, she could be distinguished from her sister ALERT by her funnel casin NH 44605

USS RANGER off the Mare Island Navy Yard, circa 1898, with her cutters in the water. NH 71743

USS Ranger Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, circa 1900. CDR Wells L. Field was her skipper at the time. The original print is color tinted, lightly. NH 73386

By 1905, with the Russians and Japanese getting all rowdy in the Yellow Sea and adjacent areas– with resulting battered Russian ships increasingly hiding out in the U.S.-controlled Philippines– Ranger received a refit at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and set sail for Cavite for her second stint on the Asiatic Station. However, a cranky propulsion plant kept her largely in ordinary until she was sent back to the U.S. in 1908, arriving in Boston on 12 December via the Suez Canal. She was decommissioned the same day and laid up in Charlestown.

With a perfectly good 30-year-old three-master in the harbor and little regular work she could accomplish, the Navy turned Ranger over to the state of Massachusetts for use as the pier side training ship for the Massachusetts Nautical Training School in Boston on 26 April 1909, a role she would maintain until the Great War.

When the U.S. entered the international beef with the Kaiser in April 1917, Uncle eventually remembered he had the ole Ranger on the Navy List and called her back to active service as a gunboat along the New England coast, renaming her USS Rockport in October. This changed again just four months later to USS Nantucket.

USS Nantucket (PG-23, ex-Ranger) anchored off Naval Air Station Anacostia, District of Columbia, on 7 July 1920. Note her wind sail ventilators. 80-G-424466

In July 1921, she was reclassified from a gunboat to an auxiliary with the hull number IX-18 and loaned back to the Massachusetts Nautical School. Over the next 19 years, she became a regular fixture around Boston and the waters up and down the Eastern seaboard.

USS NANTUCKET (PG-23) then loaned to the State of Massachusetts for use at Massachusetts Nautical School, 1933 Description: Courtesy of Mr. Gershone Bradford Catalog #: NH 500

Leslie Jones the renowned photographer with the Boston Herald-Traveler, must have been taken with the Ranger/Rockport/Nantucket during his tenure with the paper and he captured her on dozens of occasions in the 1920s and 30s.

USS Ranger, later USS Rockport and USS Nantucket (PG-23 IX-18), was a gunboat of the United States Navy seen at Charleston Navy Yard. Photo by Leslie Jones Boston Public Library

Training ship Nantucket with the wind in her sails. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket 1923, firing a salute. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket leaving Boston Harbor for a cruise around the world 1923-05-17 Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Mass. nautical training ship Nantucket preparing for around the world trip at Charlestown Navy Yard 4.29.1928. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Secretary of the Navy Curtis Dwight Wilbur aboard training ship Nantucket in the late 1920s. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket 1928 at berth at North End waterfront note battleship in the background. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Cadets hauling line on the deck of the training ship Nantucket off Provincetown. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Bow view of the training ship Nantucket in drydock at Navy Yard. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket: landing force drill with bayonets. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket in Provincetown Harbor Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket in Charlestown Navy Yard 1930. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Sailors in the rigging of the training ship Nantucket at the Navy Yard, Jan 1931. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

USS Nantucket, Mass. Training ship, at Navy Yard Jan 1932. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket being reconditioned from a barkentine to a bark at Charlestown Navy Yard April 1932. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Cadets working with sextants on the deck of the training ship Nantucket while off Provincetown. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

When the clouds of war came again in 1940, Nantucket was taken back over by the Maritime Commission on 11 November 1940 for as a school ship at the new Merchant Marine Academy established at Kings Point, NY, after which her name was removed from the Navy Register for good.

Renamed T/V Emery Rice in 1942, the high-mileage bark gave all she could until she was damaged by the unnamed hurricane of September 1944, and after that was relegated to use as a floating museum ship.

At age 82, Ranger/Rockport/Nantucket/Rice was stripped and sold for scrap in 1958 to the Boston Metals Co. of Baltimore.

During her time in the Navy, she had nearly a dozen commanders (four of which would go on to wear stars) in addition to training legions of sailors and young officers for maritime service for two different schools. One of the most significant to do his time on the old girl was none other than later Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, who served on the ship as a newly-minted ensign from 12 August to 12 December 1908, on her trip home from the PI to Boston, before young Chester began instruction in the budding First Submarine Flotilla.

Besides her records maintained in the National Archives Ranger‘s original engine — the only example of its type known to be still in existence—was saved from destruction and is on display at the American Merchant Marine Museum in Kings Point as a national landmark.

As noted by the As noted by the AMSE

The horizontal compound engine of the Emery Rice is a unique survivor typical of the period 1840 to 1880. The 61-ton back-acting engine has an unconventional configuration in that its two cranks lie close to their cylinders and two off-center piston rods straddle the crank-shaft in a cramped, but efficient, arrangement.

The cylinder bores are 28.5 and 42.5 inches. The stroke is 42 inches. With saturated steam at 80 pounds per square inch gauge and a condenser having 26-inch mercury vacuum, 560 indicated horsepower were produced at 64 revolutions per minute. The engine was designed by the bureau of steam engineering of the U.S. Navy and built by John Roach & Sons of Chester, Pennsylvania, for the U.S.S. Ranger, as the iron-hulled ship was first known.

Dr. Joshua M. Smith, Ph.D., director of the museum, kindly provided the below for use with this post.

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Interestingly, two subsequent USS Rangers, coastal escorts SP-237 and SP-369, would be in service at the same time during the Great War–while our Ranger was serving as Rockport/Nantucket! The next Ranger was one of the ill-fated Lexington-class battlecruisers and never made it to commission. Finally, her name was recycled for not one but two famous aircraft carriers, CV-4 (1934-47) and CV-61 (1957-2004), the latter of which was only scrapped in 2017. Hopefully, there will be another soon.

As for her sisters, 60 sailors from the wreck of the Huron are buried together in Section Five of the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in well cared for lots while the ship herself is protected by federal mandate in her watery grave. A highway marker near Nag’s Head mentions her loss.

Alert continued to serve in the Navy as a submarine tender until she was decommissioned 9 March 1922 after a very respectable 47 years of service. She was sold three months later for scrap and I can find no trace of her today. During her time in service, Alert had 23 official captains, including future RADM. William Thomas Sampson, known for his later victory in the Battle of Santiago. Our subject outlived her by more than three decades.

As for King’s Point, the institution is still in cranking out USMM officers today and Ranger‘s original school, the Massachusetts Nautical School, is now the Massachusetts Maritime Massachusetts Maritime Academy located in Buzzards Bay on Cape Cod– Ranger‘s old stomping ground.

Specs:
Displacement: 1,202 long tons
Length: 175 ft. (53 m)
Beam: 32 ft. (9.8 m)
Depth of hold: 15 ft. (4.6 m)
Draft: 13 ft. (mean)
Installed power: Five boilers driving 1 × 560 ihp, 64 rpm compound back-acting steam engine
Propulsion: 1 × 12 ft. diameter × 17.5 ft. pitch propeller, auxiliary sails
Speed: 10 knots under steam
Complement: 138 officers and enlisted (typically including a 15 man Marine detachment until 1898).
Armament:
(1875)
1x 11 in (280 mm) Dahlgren gun
2 x 9 in (230 mm) Dahlgren guns
1x 60 pdr (27 kg) Parrott rifle
1x 12 pdr (5.4 kg) boat howitzer
1x Gatling gun for landing party
spar torpedoes for her steam launch (provision deleted after 1889)
(1897)
6x 4-inch breech-loading rifles
4x 6-pounder 57mm guns
1x Colt M1895 potato-digger type machine guns for landing party
(1921)
4x 4″/50 mounts

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Finding the soul in steel

As I poke around various trade shows and events in the gun world, I like to find interesting people who tell a story. A special class of skilled craftsmen often catch my eye– master engravers. I profiled such a craftsman a couple of years ago– a hardworking artisan some 74-years young who started hand-building rifles back when Eisenhower was in office.

Recently I met a similar gentleman at SHOT Show.

Busy over his workspace, his brushy mustache flared, Springfield, Missouri’s Jim Downing was meticulous in his craft.

Mr. Downing (Chris Eger)

You see, back in the golden days of steel-and-wood firearms manufacturers, gun makers kept engravers on staff for regular work. Those days are long gone and the occasional scrollwork and filigree you see from the factory today usually come from a computer-controlled laser. Just upload the design and press a button and you get the same, exact, thing every time. In short, it is just a copy of a copy of a copy. The same technology allows you to go and get some personalized dog tags for your cocker spaniel at a machine by the check out registers of your local big box pet store for pocket change.

When asked about laser engraving, Downing said the newer practice “has no soul,” and, while it is push-of-a-button convenient, “doesn’t produce an item that has artistic value.”

I agree.

One of Downing’s pieces, a Colt 1908. (Photo: Jim Downing)

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