Pistol Packin’ Politician: Blast from the Past

Savage-Pistol-April-1914

The text of this ad which appeared in the April 1914 edition of National Geographic is kind of blurry in the image.

Savage Pistol April 1914

It’s worth reading, so here it is in its entirety:

Al. Jennings, former train robber, candidate for Governor of Oklahoma and author of “Beating Back.”

This is Al. Jennings

He says: “Jiminy! It’s the Hottest, Fastest Gun I ever saw!”

“Gentlemen”

    “I am a candidate for Governor of Oklahoma and no longer an outlaw. I am, therefore, returning your Savage Automatic Pistol, as I shall never need such instruments any more.

    “I could not resist the temptation of trying the vicious little thing and Jiminy! It’s the hottest, fastest gun I ever saw.

    “I have never used anything but a forty-five. In the wild days of the past, I have kept a tin can rolling until there was nothing left.

    “I rather hate to confess that this little devil has got the poor old forty-five skinned a hundred ways. It sure is some gun. My wife wanted to keep it to guard our home, she having shot the little gun with the same accuracy as myself.

    “I thank you for your good intention just the same.”

            Al. Jennings.

No burglar attacks him. But you may tonight have a clash with a burglar in the dark hall or in the dining room. Will you get a Savage Automatic today and have Savage “life insurance” from now on?

No practice needed to be a crack shot. Aim just as you would point your finger. The Savage bullets hit as fast as you pull the trigger — 10 pulls, 10 shots. You always know buy the Indicator if the Savage is loaded — a touch or a glance tells, 32 cal. and 380 cal.

Send for a Booklet about what to do if you hear a burglar. Advice by the greatest burglar detective New York City every had. Free.

Phone your dealer now to send you up a Savage on trial.

Savage Arms Co., 384 Savage Ave., Utica, N.Y.,

Makers of the famous Savage rifles.

SAVAGE AUTOMATIC PISTOL

“Aims Easy As Pointing Your Finger”

Alphonso “Al” Jennings was a colorful individual to say the least. He was, at different times in his life, a prosecuting attorney, lawyer, ranch hand, and a not very successful train robber. In 1899 he was convicted for several robberies (most of which netted very little), but his life sentence was reduced to five years before he was freed on technicalities. In 1904 he received a presidential pardon from Teddy Roosevelt.

After his brief stint in prison he became friends with William Sydney Porter (better known as O. Henry) and published short stories and the book Beating Back. He acted in silent movies and then in 1911 became active in Oklahoma politics. After several failed attempts at election (including the gubernatorial run mentioned in the ad) he starred in a film adaption of Beating Back and worked in the motion picture industry as a technical advisor on westerns. Dan Duryea starred in Al Jennings of Oklahoma, a film biography of Jennings in 1951. In later life Jennings worked as a traveling evangelist and died in 1961 at age 98.

The Savage pistol with which Jennings was so enamored was the Model 1907. It actually started out as Savage’s .45 caliber entry in the competition for the Army’s next service pistol in 1907, but it lost to the Colt Model 1911. Savage then produced a smaller civilian version that used a 10-round double-stack magazine in .32 caliber from 1907 – 1920 and in .380 ACP from 1913 – 1920.  It is striker-fired and what looks like a hammer is actually a cocking lever. The entire gun snaps together, making it easy to strip. Although the ad refers to the pistol as “automatic” in reality it’s a semi-automatic.

Savage ads for this pistol emphasized speed of firing, accuracy, and how easily a woman could use the pistol. We have other examples of their ads which we’ll take a look at in the future.

comments

  1. avatar jwm says:

    If memory serves I saw one of the ads where joe everyman was defending against an alligator.

    1. avatar mark s. says:

      Are you freaking kidding me !
      This is a picture of Lance Henriksen who played the android on Alien and Aliens and Jesse on Near Dark , and the father on Pumpkin Head and countless other great movies .
      Google search it and tell me they are not one and the same .
      FREAKY .

      1. avatar Martin B. says:

        Naw, I saw him in Dexter. He was Dexter’s brother, Bryan. Doing well for 140 plus years old.

  2. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    I have 2 they are interesting pieces of history that saw service in the great war.

  3. avatar formerwaterwalker says:

    Jiminy that’s a spiffy automatic… did they work very well in old- timey ‘Murica?

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      They have a history of military service with the French and I believe the Portuguese.

      In terms of carry I would be reluctant today as the safety on my early guns is flat out dangerous (they were improved later) and they are not drop safe. Natural pointers in shooting however as advertised.

      I want to make a 32ish round Glock stick equivalent for mine.

  4. avatar Cliff H says:

    I especially like the part about “Phone your dealer now to send you up a Savage on trial.”

  5. avatar Vhyrus says:

    A lawyer turned train robber attempted to get elected Governor before turning to show business. I’m not sure if our country has changed a lot or if It’s changed at all at this point.

    1. avatar Steven F Clark says:

      Just goes to show you, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

  6. avatar Specialist38 says:

    These were neat pistols. I had a 380 version. Hard as hell to rack.

    My father had a 32 which was much easier to rack.

    10 shots, double stack mag. Ahead of its time. Savage ads from the time we’re very creative on the self/home/auto defense message.

    Bat Masterson did one called “the Tenderfoot’s Turn”

    TheRe is not much new under the sun.

  7. avatar LHW says:

    Now, the politicians hate guns but should still end up in jail.

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