Shopping Spree: Bannerman (1927)

Few are the sights that Gotham has to offer

Of greater interest and instructive aid,

Than the rare contents of this famous coffer

From all the earth’s ransacked corners here displayed.

Francis Bannerman Sons Military Goods Catalogue (1927)


Between 1865 and 1959, Francis Bannerman Military Goods ‒ from 1918, Francis Bannerman Sons Military Goods ‒ was probably the largest and certainly the most important military surplus store in the entire USA. From 1905, it had its primary outlet at 501 Broadway in New York, New York (GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, p. 5; GURPS High-Tech: Pulp Guns 2, p. 24; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 25).


In addition to the massive store and showrooms in Manhattan, Francis Bannerman VI had bought Pollepel Island in the Hudson River in 1900, some 80 km north of New York. The small island featured, in addition to the family residence, three massive, interlocking warehouses, the entire castle-like complex being called Bannerman’s Island Arsenal. It was here that the company stored most of its heavy artillery as well as hundreds of tonnes of ammunition. The island was only approachable by boat and was protected by armed guards and roaming watchdogs.

The sales catalogues were massive tomes of military wares, especially after David Bannerman took over the production in 1918 and included historical articles and essays on various related topics. The Military Goods Catalogue from 1927 has 372 pages and shows a marvellous selection of kit useful to the investigator. It is subtitled War Weapons, Antique and Modern ‒ Cannon, Pistols, Muskets, Rifles, Saddles, Uniforms, Cartridges.

Bannerman outfitted entire armies with kit, supplying the Japanese forces during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 as well as those of the Dominican Islands and Haiti, but also adventurers like the Arctic explorers Frederick Cook and Robert Peary, and the Antarctic explorer Richard Byrd. Many individuals also outfitted themselves in Bannerman’s store, for example mercenary Lee Christmas or some of the men who joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Consequently, Bannerman often also carried relics from expeditions and famous persons; the 1927 catalogue lists, among others, a Sandwich Islands throwing club brought back from the Third Voyage by Captain James Cook in 1779, two Hawkins flintlock pistols owned by General George Washington around 1804, and a sledge and icesaw used by Lieutenant Robert Peary on his contested trip to the North Pole in 1909.

Bannerman was much more scrupelous about its customers than others at the time. The company had ceased selling concealed sword canes other than to museums already in 1920. While it could supply an obsolete Gatling Gun ‒ more than 250 were on stock ‒, a modern machine gun, or an entire six-gun battery of German field artillery captured during the Great War at a moment’s notice, such items were sold to “responsible parties only.” Investigators might need to do some convincing …

Let’s see what was on offer in 1927:


Page 42, Springfield M1861

The Springfield M1861 muzzleloading caplock musket rifle in .58-calibre (GURPS High-Tech: Adventure Guns, p. 27) was the main infantry weapon used in the American Civil War. Bannerman had originally acquired 200,000 (!) of these; by 1927, at least 3,300 Springfields remained on stock. They were sold for $3.50 to $5 each including M1855 socket bayonet; customers buying a whole case of 20 rifles paid only 2/3 the price. Paper cartridges for these were $0.10 each, but probably of dubious reliability since they had been loaded in the 1860s …


Page 54, Krag-Jørgensen M1898

The Krag-Jørgensen M1898 bolt-action rifle in .30-40 Krag (7.62×59mmR) (High-Tech: Adventure Guns, p. 34) had been the standard US Army rifle of the Spanish-American War. Bannerman offered surplus rifles for $12.50 each, plus $3.50 for an M1892 sword bayonet. Ammunition was $6 for 100 cartridges. This would be a suitable armament for Henry Akely in Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in Darkness.


Page 54, Springfield M1903

Unlike almost all of his competitors, Bannerman was in a position to offer the M1903 bolt-action rifle in .30-06 Springfield (7.62×63mm) (GURPS High-Tech, p. 112; High-Tech: Pulp Guns 2, p. 8; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 72). The M1903 was the standard rifle of the US Army in 1927, and otherwise not available other than to members of the NRA. The Bannerman rifles were cobbled together from parts, many of them from the obsolete Springfield M1901, and thus a bit dubious, but would probably serve the needs of an investigator; they might be less reliable. $19.50 each. Ammunition was $3.50 for 100 cartridges, or $25 for 1,000. Interestingly, Bannerman also offered M1917 Armour-Piercing cartridges to go with these (see below).


Page 55, Mosin-Nagant M1891

Made by Remington for Russia during the Great War but never delivered, these Mosin-Nagant M1891 bolt-action rifles (High-Tech, p. 111) were rechambered by Bannerman for the .30-06 Springfield cartridge and offered for $14 each. Ammunition was $3.50 for 100 cartridges. This is the kind of rifle used by Henry Akely in the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society film The Whisperer in Darkness (2011). Bannerman also offered a restocked sporting version with a half stock and new 55-cm (22”) barrel. $10.45 each.


Page 55, Enfield M1917

The excellent Enfield-designed, Winchester-made M1917 bolt-action rifle in .30-06 Springfield (High-Tech: Pulp Guns 2, pp. 10-11) was out of stock in 1927.


Page 65, Sharps M1867

The Sharps M1867 single-shot carbine in .50-70 Springfield (13×44mmR) (High-Tech: Adventure Guns, p. 27) was a conversion of the original muzzleloader in .52-calibre. This was claimed to be very rare but sold for $12 each. Ammunition was $2.50 for 100 cartridges. It is quite possible that Lovecraft’s own Sharps M1867 ultimately came from Bannerman’s.


Page 105, Webley Mk VI

The current sidearm of the British military and difficult to find in the USA, the Webley Mk VI double-action revolver in .455 Webley (11.5×19mmR) (High-Tech, p. 96; High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, p. 12; Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 58-59) cost $20 each from Bannerman.


Page 106, Flintlock Pistols

Bannerman had large numbers of flintlock pistols from all over the world on stock; a North M1808 muzzleloading flintlock pistol in .52-calibre cost $35 each in decent condition, $85 in excellent condition.


Page 118, Le Mat

In 1927, Bannerman had a single Le Mat revolver in 12×16mm Lefacheux (High-Tech: Adventure Guns, p.11) on stock. $50.


Page 133, Gatling M1883

In 1927, Bannerman had 20 10-barrelled Gatling M1883 mechanical machine guns in .45-70 Springfield (11.43×53mmR) (High-Tech, p. 127; High-Tech: Adventure Guns, p. 37) and more than 10 million rounds of ammunition for these on stock. In 1945, Melvin Johnson bought one of these from Bannerman for the US Army Air Forces to try out the concept of an externally-powered machine gun by hitching it first to a lorry engine and then to an electric motor. While Richard Gatling himself had proven the concept already in 1895, the military needed new data to develop what would become the GE M61 Vulcan rotary cannon and eventually the GE M134 Minigun.


Page 137, Krupp F.K.96 n.A.

After the Great War, Bannerman had acquired 18 almost-new Krupp F.K.96 n.A. light artillery pieces in 77×227mmR, complete with limbers and all ancilliaries. These along with some 2,000 HE shells (High-Tech, p. 169) and 2,400 canister rounds (High-Tech, p. 172-173) were stored on Bannerman’s Island Arsenal.


Page 142, Vickers M1915

Bannerman offered Colt-Vickers M1915 water-cooled medium machine guns in .30-06 Springfield (High-Tech, p. 131; High-Tech: Pulp Guns 2, p. 17). These could also use the M1917 Armour-Piercing cartridges (see below).


Page 142, Colt M1914

Bannerman offered Colt Automatic Gun M1914 air-cooled medium machine guns in .30-06 Springfield (High-Tech, p. 130; High-Tech: Adventure Guns, p. 42, High-Tech: Pulp Guns 2, p. 18). These were probably the most modern machine guns available from Bannerman in 1927. These could also use the M1917 Armour-Piercing cartridges (see below).


Page 144, Gatling M1866

Bannerman offered 25 6-barrelled Gatling M1866 mechanical machine guns in 1” (25.5×97mmR) (High-Tech, p. 127; High-Tech: Adventure Guns, p. 37)


Page 152, Gatling M1900

Bannerman offered six 10-barrelled Gatling M1900 mechanical machine guns in .30-40 Krag. These are possibly especially interesting to investigators due to the modern smokeless rounds also used in the Krag-Jørgensen M1898 bolt-action rifle (see above); more than 50,000 rounds of ammunition for these were on stock.


Page 178, Sword Canes

Bannerman always had a selection of second-hand sword canes (High-Tech, p. 197; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 104) on hand, costing between $6 and $10. These are sold only to “museums and licensed persons.”


Page 184, M1905 Sword Bayonet

This was the M1905 sword bayonet (High-Tech, p. 197; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 72) that went with the Springfield M1903 rifle (above) and could be used with the M1917 trench mirror (below). $0.85 each.


Pages 192, 200, 207, Kukri Knives

Bannerman huge numbers of various native weapons on stock, including Nepalese kukri knives from $10.


Pages 227, 365, Light Body Armour

Touted by Bannerman as official US Army body armour issued to machine gunners, these breastplates made in 1918 were actually only experimental and saw only limited use during the Great War. Three linked steel plates up to 10-mm thick protect the front of the torso against handgun bullets, fragments, and rifle rounds at very long range (High-Tech, p. 66). The breastplate can be worn under clothing. Rubberpadded, each breastplate weighs 2.4 kg. $4.50 each!


Page 299, Holster and Magazine Pouch

The complete assembly for carrying a Colt M1911 semiautomatic pistol consisted of a new M1912 pistol belt, used M1912 leather flap holster (High-Tech, p. 154; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 103), and used M1918 two-cell pouch for two 7-round magazines (High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, p. 33; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 103). $3.20 each.


Page 300, Shotgun Shell Belt

A used US Army Signal Corps Mills M1917 cartridge belt, capable of holding 32 10-gauge shells (High-Tech: Adventure Guns, p. 46; High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, p. 33; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 103). $0.65 each.


Page 300, Rifle Cartridge Belt

A used US Army Mills M1894 cartridge belt, capable of holding 100 .30-40 Krag cartridges (High-Tech: Adventure Guns, p. 46; High-Tech: Pulp Guns 1, p. 33; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 103). $0.60 each. The optional first aid pouch for a bandage is highly recommended … $0.25 each.


Page 301, Cartridge Wristlet

A Mills M1900 canvas wristlet to hold 20 .30-40 Krag cartridges on the wrist of the off-hand (GURPS Tactical Shooting, p. 74). $0.38 each.


Page 364, M1917 Armour-Piercing Rounds

The M1917 AP round was originally designed for fighter aircraft and penetrated 6.35-mm of steel at 450 m (High-Tech, p. 167; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 102). It had an exposed lead bullet tip that was feared to fall under the Hague Convention and was therefore quickly removed from service. Rules-wise, it acts as an AP round against armoured targets, but as an HP against unarmoured targets. It cost $6 for 100 cartridges.


Page 365, Brodie M1917 Helmet

The Brodie M1917 (High-Tech, p. 70; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 16) was the flat light steel helmet issued by the US Army in the Great War and until 1942. As new for $0.85 each.


Page 365, Disston M1917 Trench Knife and AEF MK 1 Trench Knife

The M1917 has a thin stiletto blade, the MK 1 a broader two-edged blade (High-Tech, p. 198; Investigator Weapons 1, p. 104). Both have integral brass knuckles. The M1917 sells for $4.50 each, the MK 1 for $5.


Page 365, M1917 Trench Mirror

A small mirror that attaches to the tip of the M1905 sword bayonet (above). It can be used to peer around corners or over the crest of a trench. $0.25 each.


Page 365, DWM-Maxim M.G.08/15

In 1927, Bannerman had one DWM-Maxim M.G.08/15 water-cooled light machine gun with bipod in 7.92×57mm Mauser (High-Tech, p. 130; High-Tech: Pulp Guns 2, p. 16) on stock. $100.