Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gilded lillies.

Did you know that the ancient Romans painted their statues? That's right; those plain white classical marble statues you know so well were originally dolled up in technicolor like a Third World Jitney cab.

This is a roundabout way of explaining why I've never been a big fan of engraved guns. Once I'd got to the point where I understood what went into getting the steel and the wood just right, with flat flats, round rounds, even joins, and clean corners, it seemed to me that engraving just got in the way of appreciating the craftsmanship of the actual gun itself.

Up to now, the only engraved firearm I've ever looked at with lust in my heart was a deeply engraved Broomhandle Mauser I saw at a gun show in Lawrenceville, GA some 15-odd years ago. That was before Breda posted pictures of this funky side-by-side fowling piece the other day...


2yellowdogs said...

Who knew Picasso was so talented?

jimbob86 said...

Garish? Romans? The Romans of the Orgy and The Games?

I always thought that was the Roman Style: Take a simple, effective idea, and do it "To the Death".....

Anonymous said...

First gunshop I worked at, at the tender age of 23, in the commems case was the boxed set of Renaissance Brownings. Nice, but not really guns anymore, since only a fool would fire them and cut their value in half.

I didn't get it then, and wrote it off to youth, innocence, and ignorance. But a blur of three-plus decades later, no longer youthful or innocent, I still don't. The ignorance is a constant, so I guess that's it.

Which would also explain my "whatever" attitude towards most all of PP's work...and most other art for art's sake for that matter. I don't belittle my high-minded betters for their art forms just because I don't understand them, but for cryin' out loud, slap it on some hitherto valueless media, like paint on canvas or chisels on stone or words on paper.

Those Brownings were my kind of art-form before that engraver ever looked at them with a twinkle in his eye. Leave them be.


John said...

Try doublegunshop.com occasionally. Some first class engravers & shottygun 'smiths hang out there, mostly unobtrusively. The usual mix of real scholars, knowledgeable users, OCD posters, and the occasional cyber-vermin extinctus. Dave runs the ship with a loose hand on the helm, but is decidedly the boss, when need be.

In the past, viewers have been treated to Ye Finest Yhenglishe Scroll, Continental Classics, German Excess Grotesque, Russia Not of the West, and widely assorted take-offs from the Art World & Famous scenes.

The Italians are in a class of their own, and render with anatomical correctness whatever interactive human activities about which one wishes to either memorialize or fantasize.

There is one set of guns made for a wealthy American pigeon shooter, memorializing his mistress engaged with multiple subjects, that must have truly tried the concentration of his competitors.

Happy for you that finally, at long last, you found some metal scratching that trips y'r eye-trigger. Prob'ly at some point you may run across the massive coffee-table-sized book tours of the engraving world. At least two Italian titles out there, worth a flip or two. Roman excess, indeed.

If one must languish in dreamy contemplation of artistry, there are considerable worse ways to glaze one's eyes.

perlhaqr said...

I saw a really beautifully engraved set of pistols (with interchangeable barrels) at the NY MET a few years back, in the weapons room. I really wished I had a camera with me at that point.

John said...

Ah, the MET, where I first met Japanese blades face to showcase. There were four or five, unmounted, and I had never experienced the sensation of 'seeing' razor sharpness. Literally, the sense of edge emanating from them was palpable right thru the glass enclosure.

Arms and Armor is always one of my fave stops in any good sized Museum. Chicago has a few 'art engraved' modern weapons, to go with the 1/2 acre of so of antique armor and edges.

Also,regarding the use of modern highly decorated sporting arms: use them, and use them a lot. Yes, the A-retentive collectors will snivel over their eroding heap of dollars and bemoan the loss of pristine value. And, it IS a real monetary hit, that can amount to the price of new luxury car..

OTOH, if you can afford the guns, but can't afford to use them...well, the similes and comparisons that come to mind for such a mindset, parallel the emptiness of certain other solo pleasurements.

Heck, there was a fellow who invited couples to duck hunt for the season with him as guests. He'd send them to England to be fitted for Purdeys, and then award them to the arriving hunters -- which said guns became theirs.

And trust me, I'd take a genteely-worn Purdey 'in spec' condition, over any of that fantasy-never-touch-it stuff that seems to buff up the ego of a mere possessor. Such items are, in their own way, befitting of the dudes who flash them.

Anonymous said...

John: Yeah, that's pretty much what I meant when I said I didn't, and don't, get it as to such possessions.

The same mentality extends to other things I love too; 60's Detroit iron comes to mind...the buyer at Barrett's may take title to that better-than-new Z-28 100K resto trailer queen, but if he can't blast through the night with cutouts opened and windows down, burping the tires in all four gears...does he really own it?

My involvement in my son's custom jewelry biz revolves mostly around buying/selling precious metals and estate jewelry; some of the 1800's pieces of amazing platinum filigree work have been worn daily for more than a century and are as beautiful and functional as they ever were; that's my kind of art.

Then you've got people like the local guy who during the RE boom couldn't spend his dough fast enough. One of his acquisitions in '06 was a Corum wristwatch made from a 1904 Double Eagle $20 gold coin. Yes, amazing in its craftsmanship, but the 22K gold is soft enough that significant wearing would result in defacing and devaluing it. It lists for $13K, he got a "deal" at 9. His circumstances have, shall we say, changed, and I bought it Monday for 2500 w/box, papers, etc.; he never even had it on his wrist.

Sometimes "value" is illusory; "kept" articles, as one might "keep" an exotic animal; have no practical or functional purpose, and are entirely dependent on others who want it, creating demand and setting the price. And in a down economy? Illusory value indeed.

A fine car that can't be driven for its evocative flashback effects? A 10K watch that can't be worn? A Hi-Power that I can't shoot to feel and enjoy its intended function? Fuck that; I don't get it and doubt I ever will. But I'm happy to broker them to the next high-minded high-roller that, at least temporarily, does. Profit! Now there's a concept I can get into.