Using guns as a marketing bonus has a long history in the United States. A free firearm with a car or to open a bank account has been fairly common in the last few years. The usual system, in our over-regulated age, is to give a coupon to be redeemed at a gun shop, which has made a deal with the car dealership or the bank.
But things were simpler in 1887, when the San Francisco Chronicle offered a pistol along with a year’s subscription, for $3.90. That did not include mailing the paper. If you lived where the paper was delivered, you could pay the delivery charges separately. To have the paper mailed was another $5 a year, or about 10 cents a week.
When you use constant dollars to correct for inflation, $3.90 in 1887 would be $96 today. If you use gold as as the standard, $3.90 bought you .195 ounces of the stuff in 1887, or $253 at today’s price of about $1300 an ounce. That’s still cheap for an inexpensive pistol and a year of weekly newspapers in a major city.
The .38 S&W H&R American Double Action revolver advertised has a solid frame. It was stronger than many of the top-break designs in common usage at the time. It’s a pull-pin design. To load it, pull the cylinder pin and remove the cylinder. Fill the chambers with cartridges, then replace the cylinder and the cylinder pin. Here’s a picture of one in decent condition, chambered in .32 S&W long.
It is a simple, solid, design. Old ones often have spring breakage, but parts can be found, and a gunsmith can make a replacement spring. What they can’t replace: the Chronicle’s open acceptance of guns and, by extension, gun rights. The paper is now irredeemably anti-gun. How times have changed.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.