Published: December 14, 2010
Shelburne Museum has acquired a rare collection of firearms made in Vermont in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.
On view for the first time, the 106 firearms in the Terry Tyler Collection represent a lifetime of collecting, documenting the history of gunmaking in Vermont from 1790 to 1900.
“The making of fine firearms has a long tradition in Vermont. This extraordinary collection is unique in both the quality of the firearms and its comprehensive nature,” said the museum’s director, Stephan Jost. “The Terry Tyler Collection represents the pinnacle of gunmaking craftsmanship in Vermont and is an important addition to Shelburne Museum’s collections.”
The entire collection will be on view in an exhibit titled “Lock, Stock and Barrel: The Terry Tyler Collection of Vermont Firearms” opening on May 15, and running through October 30.
The firearms, representing about 70 gunmakers, span the period from the earliest documented gunmaker in the state, John Hills of Charlotte, whose first flintlock rifles are dated in the 1790s, through the advent of the machine tool industry in Windsor, which started with the manufacture of interchangeable gun parts.
Hunting rifles, target rifles, pistols and military guns from the Mexican-American and Civil Wars are all included in the collection, along with unique pieces, such as a cane gun, often favored by poachers who wanted to conceal their intentions, and a greatcoat pistol meant to be easily hidden in an overcoat. Many of the guns feature ornate furniture, that is, intricate silver and brass inlays and engraving. Several stocks are made from decorative woods, such as tiger maple and burled walnut.
Collector Tyler, a resident of Dorset, and retired electrician and town constable, is a noted expert on Vermont firearms. He assembled his collection over five decades and has published books on the history and making of Vermont guns.
The Shelburne Museum is on Route 7. For information, www.shelburnemuseum.org or 802-985-3346.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm