Beeman v Fletcher on Youtube

Beeman v Fletcher on Youtube

Joined: July 22nd, 2011, 4:46 am

June 15th, 2012, 10:45 am #1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBVffZvde2w


Sort of doubt that this will stay up on Youtube so you guys might want to take a peek. Ran across this link on the webpage for the Blue Book of Airguns. Sat down with a drink and listened to it. Beeman had so many "slips," I just had to reply.. a little snarky at the end but.. that's what I believe: Beeman is an incompetent historian. Doesn't mean he's not a nice guy. Well, never thought that he would reply, but, he did.

Thought a bit about how to reply and then did so with the one Beeman "slip" that bothered me the most: Staudenmayer. See the Youtube page for what I wrote. What I didn't write on Youtube is that there is a very practical reason for Beeman to push Staudenmayer later than he should be. That's because if Staudenmayer was in business by, lets say, 1799 then the air gun that M. Lewis purchased in Phil. PA in 1803 could well have been made by Staudenmayer. By the means of this one little "slip," Beeman gets to completely ignore the possibility that copies of the Girandoni air gun were being produced in London ( which is right at the start of the Industrial Revolution) for at least 4 years before M. Lewis stepped into that Phil. store and air gun history.
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Joined: October 5th, 2005, 4:10 pm

June 15th, 2012, 3:31 pm #2

Is there widespread skepticism of the Beeman/Girrandoni claim or is this a private feud/crusade?
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Joined: January 16th, 2006, 9:40 pm

June 15th, 2012, 5:12 pm #3

Out of the entire expedition's equipage, the only thing that seems to have miraculously survived is this air rifle which has no solid provenance. From what I understand, there is no exact description in the expedition's journals or, at least, one sufficient enough to positively identify this gun from among several similar air guns of the period.

Beeman puts a lot of credence in coincidence. For example, he cites his gun's repaired lock as final proof positive. While the mainspring from the Beeman gun does seem to tie in to an account of a repair to the expedition's gun, it is pure conjecture on Beeman's part. Is his spring even the result of a repair? Beeman asserts that the spring came from a farmer's file due to some faint cross-hatchings that appear to be a tooth pattern. I'm not sure if a file from that time period would serve in a metallurgical sense. Would it have the temper and flexibility to be used as a spring? I do know that 'smiths often fashioned knives from files. A knife blade might have been a more readily available, not to mention dispensable, source. (Files didn't grow on trees but everyone had a knife and there were probably some to spare.) At any rate, there is no evidence as to when or where Beeman's spring was made, be it on the journey or in some shop on either continent.

I just skimmed Beeman's "New Evidence on the Lewis and Clark Air Rifle an Assault Rifle of 1803". He makes a good many assumptions. For example, he cites a repair to his gun attributed to damage rendered when a canoe ferrying the expedition's gun was swamped. All that is mentioned in the journals is that the gun was put out of order and the sights knocked. Any gun with sights so misaligned would have been called that. He also disputes an eye witness account of the gun being demonstrated, calling the author's credibility into question, thereby eliminating contradictory testimony. A historian would have to include that information, if only as a qualifier.

What is most troubling about the article is its attempts to strengthen Beeman's argument. There are even pictures of stock decorations with the accompanying captions -

(Describing several little flourishes carved on either side of a crudely inletted brass decoration, etc.)

"Underside of the forearm of the Beeman Girandoni, showing the carved "lightning bolt" lines which may have been added during the Lewis & Clark expedition. Cowan reports that Indian experts indicate that such marks very likely were made to increase the powerful magic effect of the airgun to the Indians."

That's reading a whole LOT into what is, frankly, six short wiggly lines, not at all the traditional zig-zags used in many cultures to symbolize lightening.

(Here we have another example, this time a braided line pattern.)

"Middle underside of forearm of Beeman Girandoni, showing "string of beads" carving of unknown significance. The "lightning bolt" and "string of bead" lines shown in the above two figures are not found on other known specimens of the Girandoni military repeating air rifles. Note, especially in places like the bottom of the carved loop and the defect in the "string of beads" shown in Fig. 19 above, and the tiny gouge marks around the lower left lightning bolt in Fig. 19, that these extra decoration marks clearly were not made by a master gunstock worker with fine stock carving tools, but rather they are the nature of carving that one would expect from someone very good with a very sharp, ordinary field knife - as on a wilderness expedition.

Even these special carvings have been very carefully copied by Ernie Cowan onto the four museum copies of the Beeman Girandoni."

One must, upon examination, agree with Beeman that these embellishments were not the work of a professional wood carver. Especially not the work of one who was "very good with a very sharp, ordinary field knife"! In fact, they are typical of folk art and can be found on any number of guns from the period. They appear, to my eye, to be the usual amateurish attempts at personalizing or decorating guns, usually performed at some later point in time when a gun has lost much of its original value and is in the hands of a subsequent owner. The interpretations by Native American "experts" smack mightily of finding reasons to support a conclusion. ("Tell me the answer and I will create the explanation.") Actually, in this respect, his article reminded me of Eric von Daniken's Chariot of the Gods.

The upshot of all this is that Beeman's gun might have been the one taken with L&C and that's about all you can truthfully and unequivocally say. Within the small community which has digested and regurgitated his claims and "proofs", it might pass muster but, if this were, say, the helmet of Alexander the Great or the Holy Grail, the majority of his assertions would never be accepted.

Here's a question - Has he ever had the wood carbon-dated to see how old the gun is? Some place used to offer this service to owners of antique firearms. At least it would rule out a later copy, etc.

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Joined: July 22nd, 2011, 4:46 am

June 16th, 2012, 1:19 am #4

I've read all of Beeman's writing most carefully and the number of items unsupported by any sort of documentation is huge. As I recall 40 to 50 distinct issues. However, the single issue that best shows Beeman's lack of professionalism is his treatment of Staudenmayer. Shaun Brown, a resource that Beeman lists in his work, provides the absolute proof (City of London tax records) that Stuadenmayer was at work by 1799. What Beeman is doing is nothing less than fraud. This is not a "slip." This is not a simple mistake. He's doing this for the sole purpose of protecting his conclusion that M. Lewis carried, not a common English copy, but a true Austrian Military Girandoni. Sadly, this is all too typical behavior for Beeman.

Generally, I try not to go after Beeman on this forum. If I was concerned enough about the longterm impact of Beeman's misinformation to point out all the errors in his work, it would be a full-time job. However, when I saw his video on Youtube, jammed packed with basic historic errors (Leupold II?!), I made the decision to respond. The general public has the right to know that at least some air gun history "experts" completely disagree with his conclusions. Besides myself, one of the most widely agreed upon air gun history experts, Eldon Wolff, wrote, "There are no undisputed examples of the Girandoni." So, this is not just a private, personal grudge match with Beeman.
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Joined: July 30th, 2008, 11:24 pm

June 17th, 2012, 4:28 am #5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBVffZvde2w


Sort of doubt that this will stay up on Youtube so you guys might want to take a peek. Ran across this link on the webpage for the Blue Book of Airguns. Sat down with a drink and listened to it. Beeman had so many "slips," I just had to reply.. a little snarky at the end but.. that's what I believe: Beeman is an incompetent historian. Doesn't mean he's not a nice guy. Well, never thought that he would reply, but, he did.

Thought a bit about how to reply and then did so with the one Beeman "slip" that bothered me the most: Staudenmayer. See the Youtube page for what I wrote. What I didn't write on Youtube is that there is a very practical reason for Beeman to push Staudenmayer later than he should be. That's because if Staudenmayer was in business by, lets say, 1799 then the air gun that M. Lewis purchased in Phil. PA in 1803 could well have been made by Staudenmayer. By the means of this one little "slip," Beeman gets to completely ignore the possibility that copies of the Girandoni air gun were being produced in London ( which is right at the start of the Industrial Revolution) for at least 4 years before M. Lewis stepped into that Phil. store and air gun history.
I have read several other writings of his and he is so sure this gun or that is the L&C gun.

Now he has this one in HIS collection and now it is "The One"...

Some people might just want something a little to much sometimes.

-Mark
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Joined: July 22nd, 2011, 4:46 am

June 17th, 2012, 7:08 am #6

First candidate was one of the Kunsler air guns made in Phil. which now reside in the VMI collection. Beeman did a couple of articles on these guns and probably spent 5 years or more researching on them. Note that even when it was shown by irrefutable original documentation that Kunsler was not in business early enough for M. Lewis to have purchased them, Beeman utterly ignored that and continued on. Ignoring information and people who do agree with him is classic Beeman behavior.

Then, when the Thomas Rodney dairy entries were discovered (not by Beeman) he wrote the infamous "16 Reasons the L&C Air Gun Cannot be a Girandoni." This was the article were my relationship with Beeman ended. The 16 Reasons article was just the biggest bunch of BS I've ever seen written and the way he treated Thomas Rodney was despicable and inexcusable. Note that, when it served his own purpose to refute the 16 Reasons, Beeman found it effortless to dismiss all 16 in a few paragraphs. So, even though Thomas Rodney, by Beeman's own writing, was now vindicated, Beeman continued with his disgraceful treatment of this very fine and noble person.

Then, from his own collection, a gun with no provenance, on the slimmest of evidence is now the chosen one.

My argument with Beeman on this one is not so much that this gun is the one carried by L&C, because I also believe that they indeed did carry a gun almost identical, instead, my argument is about this gun being a Austrian Army Girandoni. I'm convinced that it was snstead made in London, England along with a bunch of others just like it. Some are marked Staudenmayer, some are marked Mortimer, some are completely unmarked, some have been booger'd up by London Dealers to fool collectors into paying a premium for a rare Austrian Military Air Gun. For me, the clincher is that all of these guns are essentially the same thing. Same caliber, same stock inletting, same hammer, same external latch guide screw, etc, etc, etc.

Fundamentally, Beeman is not an honest broker of information. Because of this, his work is unreliable and not worthy of serious consideration.
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Joined: July 22nd, 2011, 4:46 am

June 17th, 2012, 6:39 pm #7

Wrote Kunsler, should have been Lukens. Some folks cling to the idea that M. Lewis air gun was made in Philadelphia by Lukens. see the Lewis and Clark link on http://www.bryanandac.com/
It was Michael Carrick who uncovered the information on Lukens business history in Philadelphia, which makes it impossible for the Lewis and Clark air gun to have been made by Lukens. Of course, the Lukens airguns are single shot only. Which conflicts directly with the firsthand report written by Thomas Rodney.
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Joined: September 4th, 2006, 10:01 pm

June 17th, 2012, 7:03 pm #8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBVffZvde2w


Sort of doubt that this will stay up on Youtube so you guys might want to take a peek. Ran across this link on the webpage for the Blue Book of Airguns. Sat down with a drink and listened to it. Beeman had so many "slips," I just had to reply.. a little snarky at the end but.. that's what I believe: Beeman is an incompetent historian. Doesn't mean he's not a nice guy. Well, never thought that he would reply, but, he did.

Thought a bit about how to reply and then did so with the one Beeman "slip" that bothered me the most: Staudenmayer. See the Youtube page for what I wrote. What I didn't write on Youtube is that there is a very practical reason for Beeman to push Staudenmayer later than he should be. That's because if Staudenmayer was in business by, lets say, 1799 then the air gun that M. Lewis purchased in Phil. PA in 1803 could well have been made by Staudenmayer. By the means of this one little "slip," Beeman gets to completely ignore the possibility that copies of the Girandoni air gun were being produced in London ( which is right at the start of the Industrial Revolution) for at least 4 years before M. Lewis stepped into that Phil. store and air gun history.
...I think the way Dr Beeman has gone about 'proving' that his own rifle is the actual Lewis & Clark gun exposes a tension between the former scientist; a marine biologist versed in the scientific norm of advancing a hypothesis and setting out to disprove it, and the airgun collector. The collector's desire to own what nobody else can hope to own must test any commitment to scholarly objectivity.

Having followed Dr Beeman's career over the years, I see someone very focused on achieving his goals. Building a successful company founded largely on re-packaging existing products for a different market suggests to me someone who understands the persuasive force of marketing. Entering and aggressively developing the niche pioneered by Robert Law and turning high-end German match rifles into must-have objects of desire for US consumers was the work of someone who really knows how to sell a message.

I see the Blue Book of Airguns as evidence of Dr Beeman's transformation from scientist to businessman/collector. Rather than set out to produce a book with the academic rigour and pursuit of completeness of, say, John Griffiths' Encyclopedia of Spring Air Pistols, Dr Beeman appears to have conceived the BBoA (with its 'price guide' a powerful tool to influence the marketplace) as an extension of his brand.

For all the BBoA's good points, errors in content that persist edition after edition undermine its credibility as a work of record. Marking up the value of German-made products carrying unusual Beeman company markings says a lot to me about his attitude to collecting. Half-hearted attempts to record variations in the production of certain models of air rifle, despite collectors expert in such details being active on this forum and others, also do little to help the BBoA's credibility as a reference work.

I suspect Dr Beeman will go down in airgun history as a innovator, salesman and collector of note. But as an airgun scholar...?


------------------------------<p>
The Vintage Diana Forum </p><p>The Vintage BSA Forum
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Joined: October 5th, 2005, 4:10 pm

June 17th, 2012, 7:30 pm #9

Robert Beeman introduced me to airguns about 25 years ago through his catalogs. From them, I built a body of knowledge about a FEW things in the airgun world. Granted, that body of knowledge was skewed in the direction of me thinking, for a time, that his products were inherently superior to those of the competition (and, strangely, even to the exact same product sans his brand name), but it was more knowledge than I had previously.

Fortunately, I came across Tom Gaylord, the Airgun Letter, the Yellow Forum and many other sources of information that expanded my horizons and built a fuller, more complete body of knowledge. Still, I can't help but be grateful for the work that Beeman did. In my own field of airgun knowledge, Beeman was the seed planter. Gaylord watered and the entire airgun community (through forums, etc.) gave the increase. I honestly don't know if I would have ever experienced this bounty had it not been for those initial seeds planted by the old Beeman catalogs.


Marketer? Absolutely.
Showman? Perhaps.
Huckster? Maybe, but that seems a bit strong.
Whatever, Beeman was and is, he played a major role in my becoming an airgun enthusiast. For that alone, I'm inclined to cut him a great deal of slack.

As for the Lewis and Clark gun . . . how many of us would even know Lewis and Clark carried an airgun if it were not for the writings of Beeman?

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Joined: January 16th, 2006, 9:40 pm

June 18th, 2012, 12:10 am #10

I'm thinking that information came to light with the publishing of their journals.

All that aside, you have only to read Beeman's website where he tries to substantiate his claim. He starts out reasonably well with the broken, repaired mainspring and then it goes completely downhill. What he has is a gun which someone got ahold of and crudely embellished. It could just have easily been done by a ten year old boy in a barn as by someone sitting by the expedition's campfires. Ditto the various bumps and bruises the gun has suffered in it's two-hundred years of existence. You simply cannot point out a dent and say unequivocally that it was made at a certain time and place if you don't have an eye witness report. There is absolutely nothing in the record to tie in any of the carvings and damage to Lewis and Clark.

Here is another question that seems answerable. Where was this gun made? If a true Austrian-manufactured gun and not an English-made copy, it should have a stock carved from a continental tree. That, I believe, is a reasonable supposition. It is not without the bounds of the current technology to determine the origin of that wood. Different areas of the globe have tell-tale elements which become incorporated into plants and animals so that you can, within some reasonable certainty, tell their origin. Beeman could submit it to that and a dating test, either carbon-dating or one which may prove more exact and reliable. These are the kind of things which he should be pursuing instead of examining folk art incising and then finding non-expert witnesses to support his theory.

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