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).

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Ultra-Tech: Armat M41A

OK, I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine: This is an M41A pulse rifle, 10mm, with an over-and-under 30mm pump-action grenade launcher.

‒ CPL Dwayne Hicks, 1st Platoon, A Company, 2/9 USCM, in Aliens (1986)

The Armat M41A is the famous weapon arming the US Colonial Marines in Aliens (1986) and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation security forces in Alien 3 (1992) ‒ also, for some obscure reasons, the bank robbers in The Simpsons #13.12 (2002) … It accounts for a lot of the pseudo-realistic setting of Aliens, giving the main characters a mean-looking yet functional weapon to combat the dangerous Xenomorph XX121. Ultimately, the powerful, effective carbine ‒ and all the other ultra-tech gear of the year 2179, from nukes to sharp sticks ‒ does not mean much against the swarm intelligence, evolutionary perfection, and insidious breeding habits of Internecivus raptus, giving the Alien saga a distinct, rather desperate Lovecraft-esque vibe.

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Book Review: The Cthulhu Wars

Kenneth Hite & Kennon Bauman, Osprey Publishing, 2016

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The Cthulhu Wars ‒ The United States’ Battles Against the Mythos is an awesome book by H.P. Lovecraft grognard Kenneth Hite, author of relevant works like GURPS Horror (2011), GURPS WWII: Weird War II (2003), and Trail of Cthulhu (2007), and his co-author Kennon Bauman. This is not a game supplement, however, but an alternate history book in Osprey’s Dark History series. Following Hite’s earlier effort in that line, The Nazi Occult (2013), the book is written as if its subject matter were real and both authors were actual Mythos investigators; in a clear Lovecraft spoof, Hite is even presumed dead after a fire gutted his library … Read More

Lovecraft’s “The Electric Executioner”

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

(set in 1889, written in 1893, revised in 1929, published in 1930)

Of course I had my revolver in my coat pocket, but any motion of mine to reach and draw it would be instantly obvious.

 

Written by Adolphe de Castro and completely revised by H.P. Lovecraft, this story is set in the Gaslight era, or more exactly in the Old West. That the unnamed investigator carried his revolver in a pocket does not necessarily indicate a small pocket revolver, as many people at the time carried even rather large weapons in pockets, although often fitted with short barrels. A Colt Single Action Army revolver in the so-called Sheriff’s configuration in .45 Long Colt (11.43×33mmR) (Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, pp. 42-43) would be quite likely. A pocket weapon like the S&W Safety Hammerless revolver in .32 S&W (7.9×15mmR) or .38 S&W (9×20mmR) (Investigator Weapons 1, p. 57) would also be possible.

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Lovecraft’s “The Last Test”

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

(set in 1899, written in 1927, published in 1928)

“Shut up, you fool! Do you suppose your grotesque nonsense has any weight with me? Words and formulae – words and formulae – what do they all mean to one who has the substance behind them? We’re in a material sphere now, and subject to material laws. You have your fever; I have my revolver. You’ll get no specimens, and I’ll get no fever so long as I have you in front of me with this gun between!”

 

Written by Adolphe de Castro and H.P. Lovecraft, the Bad Guy in this Gaslight story is clinic-man Surama, a man of dubious extraction and allegiance.

Surama used a revolver of unspecified make and model. We can assume that he acquired it in America rather than brought it from North Africa. A suitable choice would be a Colt New Army & Navy revolver in .38 Long Colt (9×26mmR) or a S&W Safety Hammerless revolver (Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, p. 57) in .32 S&W (7.9×15mmR) or .38 S&W (9×20mmR).

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Lovecraft’s “The Lurking Fear”

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

(set in 1922?, written in 1922, published in 1923)

Then, in spite of my daze of fright and disgust, my morbid curiosity triumphed; and as the last of the monstrosities oozed up alone from that nether world of unknown nightmare, I drew my automatic pistol and shot it under cover of the thunder.

 

The only thing we immediately learn is that the weapon was an “automatic pistol.” To an American in 1922, the eminent automatic pistol was probably the Colt Government in .45 ACP, adopted by the US military as the M1911 (Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, pp. 37-38). We do know that the anonymous narrator was a seasoned investigator of “strange horrors” and a veteran of many “ghastly explorations.” This suggests he probably carried a serviceable weapon rather than one of the many .25-calibre vest pocket pistols that were so popular with contemporary civilians, but offer so little real power.

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Lovecraft’s “The Mound”

(set partly in 1928, written in 1930, published in 1940)

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

When they saw they could not deter me from my trip, the Binger citizens sadly did what they could to aid my outfitting. Having known before my arrival the sort of work to be done, I had most of my supplies already with me ‒ machete and trench-knife for shrub-clearing and excavating, electric torches for any underground phase which might develop, rope, field-glasses, tape-measure, microscope, and incidentals for emergencies ‒ as much, in fact, as might be comfortably stowed in a convenient handbag. To this equipment I added only the heavy revolver which the sheriff forced upon me, and the pick and shovel which I thought might expedite my work.

 

This is another story written by H.P. Lovecraft for Zealia Bishop. The anonymous narrator, an ethnologist, is outfitted not unlike archaeologist Dr “Indiana” Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (set in 1936). The “heavy revolver” could be one of several types then popular with American rural law enforcement, including the Colt New Service (Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, pp. 39-40) in .45 Long Colt or .45 ACP. The old Colt Single Action Army (Investigator Weapons 1, pp. 42-43) in .45 Long Colt was also still widely used the West in 1928. The most modern type would be the S&W Hand Ejector in .44 Special or .45 ACP. In .44-calibre, it was preferred by legendary gun fighter “Jelly” Bryce, then a detective with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

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Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

(set in 1927-1928, written in 1931, published in 1936)

During the winter of 1927-28 officials of the Federal government made a strange and secret investigation of certain conditions in the ancient Massachusetts seaport of Innsmouth. The public first learned of it in February, when a vast series of raids and arrests occurred, followed by the deliberate burning and dynamiting – under suitable precautions – of an enormous number of crumbling, worm-eaten, and supposedly empty houses along the abandoned waterfront … Only one paper – a tabloid always discounted because of its wild policy – mentioned the deep diving submarine that discharged torpedoes downward in the marine abyss just beyond Devil Reef.

 

While college student Robert Olmstead was not armed, he had a “handy three-in-one device including a screwdriver” on his key-ring. Lovecraft probably meant a flat combination tool that primarily serves as a bottle opener/cap lifter, but also has a flat screwdriver blade. These were common at the time. Alternatively he could mean a miniature pocket knife that would attach to a key-ring. Contemporary patterns usually had three blades; a bottle opener, a flat screwdriver, and a pen knife. The latter had a very short blade around 2.5-cm (1”) long that was intended for sharpening pencils and would be completely useless as a weapon.

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Lovecraft’s “The Hound”

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

(set in 1922?, written in 1922, published in 1923)

Now, as the baying of that dead fleshless monstrosity grows louder and louder, and the stealthy whirring and flapping of those accursed web-wings closer and closer, I shall seek with my revolver the oblivion which is my only refuge from the unnamed and unnameable.

 

The unnamed investigator carried his revolver while travelling from England to Holland. This suggests an easily concealed pocket revolver rather than a big army weapon. In the 1920s, owning a handgun in Great Britain already required a firearm certificate (Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, pp. 21-22). All major foreign makes and many minor ones were imported and sold in British gun shops. However, a British-made revolver would perhaps be more likely. Possibilities include the Webley No.2 in .320 Centrefire (7.95×15mmR), the Webley Mk III in .320 Centrefire, the Webley WP in .380 Centrefire (9.1×18mmR), or even the Webley No.2 British Bull Dog in .450 Adams (11.5×17mmR).

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Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror”

Part of Lovecraft’s Investigators and Their Guns.

(set in 1928, written in 1928, published in 1929)

The thing that lay half-bent on its side in a foetid pool of greenish-yellow ichor and tarry stickiness was almost nine feet tall, and the dog had torn off all the clothing and some of the skin. It was not quite dead, but twitched silently and spasmodically while its chest heaved in monstrous unison with the mad piping of the expectant whippoorwills outside. Bits of shoe-leather and fragments of apparel were scattered about the room, and just inside the window an empty canvas sack lay where it had evidently been thrown. Near the central desk a revolver had fallen, a dented but undischarged cartridge later explaining why it had not been fired.

 

Wilbur Whateley was prominently armed with a revolver. Game author Keith Herber states it was a .38-calibre (H.P. Lovecraft’s Dunwich, p. 34), and while that is not an unreasonable deduction, there are certainly other options as well. It could be of any number of makes and models. However, we do have a few further clues. Wilbur Whateley first acquired a “pistol” in 1915, to protect himself against the dogs of his neighbours. At the time, the terms “pistol” and “revolver” were used almost interchangeably, so the earlier weapon was probably also a revolver.

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