This encyclopedic guide to the equipment of the trappers and fur traders who opened the Old West is a unique reference work that can be classified either as history or as archaeology. It describes and discusses hundreds of iron artifacts—rifles, shotguns, hatchets, axes, knives, traps, and miscellaneous tools—used by the mountain men from the early 1800s to the mid 1840s.
Thirty years’ research went into the writing of this book. In addition to examining the diaries and letters of the trappers themselves, and the business records of fur-trading companies, the author also tracked down the records and catalogs of the gunsmiths, ironmongers, and other manufacturers who supplied the early traders. He observed most of the surviving artifacts, identified their makers, and traced the evolution of the styles and designs of the weapons and tools, usually from European origins.
Illustrated with over 400 drawings, the book begins with a useful background history of the western fur trade. Among the sections that will appeal to special groups of readers are chapters on firearms and blacksmithing and an appendix on the “Historic Objects as Sources of History.”