Real Antique Weapons as props?

kevin926

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I am originally from New England and if you are also, you already know and have heard all the ghost stories. Tales of Haunted dolls and houses. Spooky stories of the Winchester house in Connecticut being haunted by those killed with Winchester rifles...Amity, Salem, on and on-- You know what I mean. :rolleyes:

That being said, how do you feel about real weapons as props?

I mean, we have no idea if an old Cutlas (sword) or pistol/rifle actually killed someone in defense or battle. No, I'm not saying we are harboring a murder weapon and can have legal issues. I'm saying its possible we can own or purchase an antique weapon that actually took the life of another. I recently decided to start a Pirates of the Caribbean collection and I actually ran into a great looking Cutlas and a Flintlock pistol that would look outstanding in a Pirate themed display. Not completely screen accurate but certainly fits the look and can be used in the films flawlessly. As I started to ask the store clerk to pull them down for me to purchase, something told me to stop. Then I just walked around the store looking at all the antique goodies and left without buying anything. I began to wonder what made me stop and then I realized my concerns and decided to share. The prices were well worth it being under 100 each after the store sale of 25% off that day so it wasn't money related. They didn't look like copies. The Cutlas was not in the best of shape nor the pistol, however, still would have been excellent in a collection. These may or may not be authentic however the question still stands. Yes there are plenty of collections with WWI & WWII pieces that were highly likely to have been used in battle and did take the life of another but that can also be part of the charm.

I pass the store every day and I'm pretty sure they are still in there. Not sold as a pair or tied together in anyway. In fact, they look like they've been there a while because of all the dust on them. I can probably talk him down:lol: I'm just not into wondering about the history of an item in my collection or in my home, and in the back of my mind asking myself if this piece actually killed a fellow human.
Am I crazy or is this a legit concern?
 
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Too Much Garlic

Master Member
Interesting thoughts. I was kinda thinking you meant altering vintage weapons to make props from them, which in my view is both okay and not okay. I'm mixed on that, as altering an authentic vintage weapon to make a prop out of crosses into another hobby that actually collects and preserve these original pieces of history in their original form.

But in this case, just as display pieces... I'm not torn on the matter. But your thoughts are valid. You should always trust your gut feeling. There is no way of knowing whether a vintage weapon has been used against another person and ended their life. If you have moral issues of not wanting to own something that has, then I would suggest not buying anything vintage, and stick to replicas, where you can probably get decent stuff for around the same price.
 

kevin926

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Good points. I don't have any stolen pieces in my collection and I'm positive none of my props were used to hurt anyone. I will stick to copies and have zero concerns.
 

13doctorwho

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
These days there are so many accurate, beautiful replicas no need to get vintage stuff (unless that's what you want to collect specifically). I have a flintlock replica I bought at the Alamo gift store in San Antonio (before all the orange plug nonsense) and to the average person it looks really good. It's actually real wood and metal with a working hammer and trigger. Obviously the plastic ones look like cr@p, but a decent replica looks really good.

Do what makes you comfortable, regardless of what others on the forum think.
 

ahuntley

New Member
This is an interesting topic.

I'm in an interesting position because I am a collector of props and of antique weapons. As I'm sitting and typing I can easily see edged weapons from the 7 Year's War up through the Raj. In the case of the Civil War era surgical kits and the fleams in the collection, I know they have drawn blood. In those particular pieces, I keep them displayed respectfully with no sensationalism.

Ironically enough, those are not the pieces in the collection that I have in a quiet drawer. Those are reserved for the Confederate bonds and letter from Jefferson Davis. In my particular case, they were offered to me at a very good price, and while I think they should be preserved, they should not be on display.

At the end of the day, you have to do what you are comfortable with. The only outside suggestion is if you are running antiques, keep to proper archival procedures.

Side note: if you are not interested in the cutlass, please PM me.
 

joberg

Master Member
My father was an antique weapons collector; mainly Napoleon III French Army and the War of 1870-1871 between Prussia and France.
Of course, all of those weapons served a purpose; either on the battlefield or elsewhere and I'm sure were used.;)
If you worry about that type of thoughts; I think that collecting this genre of antiques is not for you...at the end of the day, you do you and that's fine either way(y)
 

Atlas

Well-Known Member
Interesting subject indeed.

I personally see the questions posed by genuine historical artifacts as a boon rather than a disadvantage- the story potential packed into every scratch and scuff takes my mind on a journey unlike any other. This extends to fake artifacts too, and I reckon that very thing is why I find props, replicas and propmaking so compelling.

Like ahuntley mentioned above, some artifacts (genuine or replica) require or deserve a certain quietude. I've experienced very strong emotional responses in museums in the presence of certain items, so you are definitely not alone in your feelings. The desire to own and to be the steward of pieces that make you feel strongly is not inherently morally wrong to me at least. However, there is a thin line between respect and glorification, you specifically mention weapons that may have been used to take a life. I would find the desire to own something because it was used to kill or hurt questionable and distasteful at best, but owning the same object for different reasons(e.g. aesthetic features) completely acceptable.
Some times, the artifacts that are capable of hurting us in unexpected ways are the most attractive, and the fact that we don't always know why makes it only more compelling.

Obviously nobody should force themselves or be forced to possess anything that makes them uncomfortable. Follow your instincts and trust that you know what you're supposed to do, and what's best for yourself. The point is to have fun, after all.

_A
 

Sluis Van Shipyards

Legendary Member
My dad collected US Civil War items and there were several that he knew the background, as in who carried them, and some were definitely used to kill people. He always said "I don't allow any ghosts in the house and I tell them I have the items to tell their stories and carry their memory forward". So apparently he was right because nothing odd ever happened. :lol:
 

CT1138

Sr Member
I think the difference is use. I would never EVER use an antique weapon as intended. It should simply be used ONLY as a hero prop: something held, zoomed in on, but never actually used. Heck, even swinging it around could pose a possible threat to the condition of the piece. On second thought, just use it for reference and have the prop master make a new one. It's probably for the best.
 

Treadwell

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
It's kind of like how for decades, real human skeletons were used as props in TV and film. I'm not super comfortable with that, but it would be up to the individual whether they'd want to own a prop that was made that way.
 
I own an original Remington 1858 New model Army, dated to around 1863. I am in the process of conserving it, and when completed it will be displayed with my other old west movie and TV props. Though it's days of functionality are long over, every time I pick it up my eyes lock onto five very intentionally placed notches cut onto one corner of it's octagonal barrel. I don't know this gun's history other than it's probable use in the U.S. Civil War, nor am I ever likely to find out. That being said every time I pick it up I treat it as what it is; an artifact with it's own history, one that commands a level of respect, and has a story that -though dark as it may be- deserves to not be forgotten.
As I type this it sits next to me on the bench, lying disassembled and inert as it will be for the rest of it's time in my collection. I know what it is, I can tell what it did, but I also know it will never do such a thing again, and that's what matters to me personally.

-Galifreyscall
 

Trebor

Active Member
My dad collected US Civil War items and there were several that he knew the background, as in who carried them, and some were definitely used to kill people. He always said "I don't allow any ghosts in the house and I tell them I have the items to tell their stories and carry their memory forward". So apparently he was right because nothing odd ever happened. :lol:

Umm, should I mention I'm been hearing voices coming out of the gun room lately? Something about, "That Damn Yankee with that rifle he loaded on Sunday and fired all week..."
 

Treadwell

Legendary Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
One way to think of it is, if you think an object carries bad ju ju from a prior use, you are adding good ju ju with its new positive usage. Washing away the bad, as it were.
 

ahuntley

New Member
Umm, should I mention I'm been hearing voices coming out of the gun room lately? Something about, "That Damn Yankee with that rifle he loaded on Sunday and fired all week..."
The Henry Repeater is one of my favorite firearms from that particular period.
 

Scott D

Sr Member
My Father In-Law gave me a Arisaka Type 38 rifle on Father's day, a few weeks ago. He's a barber and one of his customers had given it to him.

The Chrysanthemum is intact and it's owner was probably killed in the Philippines, according to the note taped to the stock. It's pre-WWII production and was probably in it's share of battles, judging from it's rough condition.

I get no bad vibes from it and it'll be a heirloom from here on out. My stepson will end up with it someday.

IMG_20220619_174011836.jpg
 

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