There was a time when every society swell or fashion nabob in America regularly carried a cane as part of the complete accoutrements of a refined gentleman. Therefore, the ultimate in personal protection while looking one's best truly came in the form of the cane gun.
Remington's Ilion, N.Y., factory was the only American manufacturer to produce cane guns, and only around 2,300 were ever made in a 30-year run. Amazingly, collectors consider Remington's .22 or .32 rimfire cane guns, produced from 1866 to 1888, to be the company's first metallic-cartridge long arms. These single-shot arms were based on a patent, first issued in 1858 and extended in 1872, from Remington's master mechanic, J.F. Thomas.
In 1877, for the paltry sum of $10, any gentleman could acquire one of Remington's cane guns with a gutta-percha grip, but a deluxe carved ivory handle in the shape of a duck or dog head with realistic glass eyes would add another $5 to the cost. To keep dirt out of the barrel, a fitted rubber tip was also part of the cane gun ensemble.
Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, December 2006.