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A Formidable Weapon
by [?]

In the summer and fall of 1875 circulars were scattered broadcast over the country, and advertisements appeared in the weekly editions of several leading papers of New York City and other large towns, setting forth the rare merits of a weapon of destruction called “Allan’s New Low-Priced Seven-Shooter.” As a specimen of ingenious description, the more salient parts of the circular are herewith reproduced:–

“In introducing this triumph of mechanical genius to the American public, it is proper to say that it is not an entirely new article, but that it has lately been improved in appearance, simplicity of construction, and accuracy, having new points of excellence, making it superior in many respects to those first made. The manufacturers having improved facilities for making them cheaply and rapidly, have reduced the price to one dollar and fifty cents; and while the profits on a single one are necessarily small, this price places them within the reach of all.

“We wish it distinctly understood that this is no cheap, good-for- nothing ‘pop-gun’; and while none can expect it to be ‘silver- mounted’ for $1.50, they have a right to expect the worth of their money, and in this new improved seven-shooter a want is supplied.

“Great care is taken in the adjustment of EACH, so that ALL are equally good and reliable. In their production no trouble or expense has been spared. An elaborate and complete set of machinery and gauges has been made, by means of which all the parts are produced exactly alike, thus insuring great uniformity in the character of the work produced.”

This remarkable implement, equally useful for peace or war, is offered to an eager public at the low price of $1.50 each, or $13 per dozen. On the score of cheapness, the inventor greatly prefers the mails to the express as a vehicle for the transport of his wares. In fact, he declines to patronize the express companies at all, unless a prepayment of twenty-five per cent, accompanies each order as a guaranty of the “purchaser’s good faith.”

At first the enterprise succeeded even beyond the most sanguine expectations of its projector, letters with the cash inclosed pouring in by the hundred. For several months, however, after the first publication of the advertisement, “this triumph of mechanical genius,” though “not an entirely new article,” existed only in the comprehensive brain of the gentleman who had the greatness to discern in the imperfect work of predecessors the germs of ideal perfection. Having no seven-shooters to send, he was compelled to dishonor the requisitions of the expectant “traveler, sailor, hunter, fisherman, etc.” While careful to lay aside the inclosures, he entirely forgot even to so far remember his patrons as to make a record of their names.

In due time, however, the “factory” went into operation, and the seven-shooters were actually produced. The mechanical “triumph,” rudely made of a cheap metal composition, is a duplicate of a toy long used by boys to the delight of each other, and to the annoyance of their elders. The propulsive power resides in a steel spring, which has force enough to send a bird-shot across a good- sized room. The outfit would cost perhaps six or eight cents to the manufacturer. A portion of the orders were now filled, the greater part being still thrown unhonored into the waste-basket as before.

Curses both loud and deep began to be showered on the head of the swindler. Complaints having reached the department, special agent C. E. Henry started to hunt for “Wilcox & Co.,” of Windsor, Ohio, for such was the direction in the advertisements and on the circular. Proceeding several miles from the nearest railroad, he found the rural settlement where the factory was supposed to be located.

Guided by various inquiries, he finally drove up to the small farm- house where the parents of Wilcox & Co. resided. On entering, the officer said, “I am in search of Mr. Wilcox, of the firm of Wilcox & Co.”