By Dan Shea –
Collectors picked them, every one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Apologies to Pete Seeger for that, but this 1926 Stokes catalog was too cool to not share with all you Rafficarians out there.
In W. Stokes Kirk’s 1926 catalog of military equipment, they’re offering 1915 Colt Vickers machine guns, operational on tripods, for $150-; a princely sum at the time, in 2022 dollars that’s about $2,500. Don’t bother getting your checkbooks out, there’s no time machines available.
We tend to think of Frances Bannerman & Sons as the only prominent military surplus seller in the post- American Civil War period through WWI, but Kirk’s started in the late 1870s and was prominent on the American West Coast all through the period. This was their 18th catalog.
Please note how the guns were live for 30-06 ball, or blank use, and Kirk’s made a special black powder cartridge that produced “Lots of fire and smoke for motion pictures and plenty of noise for celebrations.”
Kirk’s was the source for many of the Colt Model of 1915 Vickers machine guns on the West Coast and certainly in the movie industry. I had 30 1934 registered fully transferable Colt Vickers guns out of California over the years, mostly from Hollywood.
Note: Back in the good old days of Class 3, I wrote columns about machine guns, the most prominent being “Raffica” in Machine Gun News. “Raffica” was the full auto or burst-fire marking on my beloved Beretta Modello 12 9x19mm submachine gun. So, I adopted the moniker for the column name, and a disturbing number of readers began referring to themselves as “Rafficarians.” I took to awarding them Certificates of RKI; the Reasonably Knowledgeable Individual. Heady days, with relatively cheap machine guns and piles of cheap parts and beaucoup surplus ammo. Piling up the brass was the competition, and as you can see from this 1926 catalog, it’s a long-time American tradition!