In the cemetery across the road from his Richfield, Ohio home, Rick Hudak made a startling discovery, one which would lead him to own a rare piece of American history he never knew existed.
Four of John Brown’s children are buried in Fairview Cemetery in Richfield, Ohio. That’s what Hudak found when his interest in learning more about Civil Rights led him to follow the controversial abolitionist’s trail from Ohio to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The site of John Brown’s unsuccessful raid on the nation’s second arsenal set the stage for the beginning of the Civil War. Hudak, pursuing an interest in anti-slavery and Civil Rights, found something else.
Two thousand forty eight “twin” pistols produced at Harpers Ferry Arsenal, along with muskets and rifles, represent “state-of-the-art” firearms, unlike any others produced at the time. Harpers Ferry military arms, examples of artisan skills combined with American innovation, offered a quick reload and steady aim. For Hudak, a Civil War era gun collector, learning about Harpers Ferry firearms inspired him to pursue these guns. And then he came upon “the list”.
“Harpers Ferry Arsenal and Joseph Perkin: The Classic Arms of the Early Years”, Hudak's 2012 fall release book, started simply as a list. Within a tight circle of Harpers Ferry arms collectors circulated informal lists documenting the whereabouts of Harpers Ferry pistol sightings over the years. Hudak began to expand the list, scouring publications such as gun magazine articles and advertisements, auction house catalogs, and dealer exchanges at gun shows. He added pictures to his list for pure pleasure – 395 of them. When he was done, the list had become more - a book.
“I’m not a collector or a gun person, yet when I looked at Rick’s raw materials, I was fascinated,” says the book’s publisher, Melinda Mallari of Precision Market Media. “I see the book as a kind of treasure map, a list of ‘clues’. What’s not in the list is still out there waiting to be found.”
One of Hudak's acquisitions turns out be one of the last pistols pairs ever made at Harpers Ferry Arsenal, bearing the serial number 2048. While writing his book, Hudak discovered the M1805 pistol's twin in the collection of J. Robert Roughton of Virginia Beach, Virginia. They met in 2011 and it is unsurprising that neither wishes to part with his pistol.
Hudak owns the pistol pair, serial number 376, pictured on the book's cover.
“Harpers Ferry Arsenal and Joseph Perkin” ships later this month, and may be purchased with a pre-press discount until October 10, 2012 at http://www.harpersferryarsenal.com or call 330-212-5986 .
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