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Shelburne Museum Acquires Rare Vermont Firearms Collection

Shelburne Museum Director Stephan Jost announced the acquisition of a rare collection of firearms made in Vermont in the 18th and 19th century.

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. The Terry Tyler collection represents the pinnacle of gunmaking craftsmanship in Vermont and is an important addition to Shelburne Museum’s collections,” Jost said.

The entire collection will be on view in an exhibit entitled Lock, Stock and Barrel: The Terry Tyler Collection of Vermont Firearms opening on May 15, 2011.

The firearms, representing about 70 gunmakers, span the period from the earliest documented gunmaker in the state, John Hills of Charlotte, Vt. whose first flintlock rifles are dated in the 1790s, through the advent of the machine tool industry in Windsor, Vt. 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 Terry Tyler, a resident of Dorset, Vt., 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.

Lock, Stock and Barrel: The Terry Tyler Collection of Vermont Firearms will be on exhibit at Shelburne Museum in Beach Gallery from May 15 through October 30, 2011.

About Shelburne Museum: Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont is one of North America’s finest, most diverse and unconventional museums of art, design and Americana. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in a remarkable setting of 39 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the museum grounds. The museum’s collection includes works by the great Impressionists Claude Monet, Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas as well as a prized collection of folk art including trade signs, weathervanes and quilts.

L-2: Deluxe sidelock, half-stock target rifle, .40 caliber, 31 inches long made by John Belknap of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. This firearm is one of 106 newly acquired Vermont firearms made from 1790 through 1900 and on exhibit for the first time at Shelburne Museum. The exhibit, Lock, Stock and Barrel: The Terry Tyler III Collection of Vermont Firearms runs from May 15-October 30.

Image: The Shelburne Museum

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Shelburne, VT

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