Saturday, August 08, 2009

John Moses Browning, a short history

found courtesy of Alphecca. An excerpt:
It was the great turning point in John’s life, a moment that, though neither Bennett nor Browning could possibly have foreseen it, would prove pivotal in the military history of the modern age. For John Moses Browning, despite the success of his business, was an inventor, not a manufacturer, at heart. He confessed to Bennett that he already had the details for a new rifle — a repeater that could handle large cartridges, something none of the repeating rifles then made could do — fully fleshed out in his mind. If Winchester were amenable, he would be happy to work on that gun as well.

Bennett, with a successful businessman’s instinct for superior talent, paid John $8,000 for the rights to the single shot rifle, and an alliance that lasted 19 years was born. True to his word, John soon developed a working model of what would become the Winchester Model 1886 Lever Action Repeating Rifle. After securing a patent, John traveled to New Haven with his brother Matt to give Winchester the right of first refusal. Bennett was delighted with the gun and purchased the rights to it for an undisclosed but (for the day) very substantial sum — probably in the realm of $50,000 dollars. By now thoroughly convinced of the young Utahn’s genius, Bennett asked John to design a lever-action repeating shotgun for Winchester — which Browning had ready a mere eight months later. The Model 87 repeating shotgun, though not the first repeating shotgun ever produced, was the first truly successful one
$8000 for one, and $50,000 for the next. In the early 1880's. And Winchester was delighted to pay it for the rights to the designs.

Winchester was smart.


Anonymous said...
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James R. Rummel said...

Back then, dollars had about 30 times the value they do now. So $8K had the buying power of about $240K today, and $50K back then was about $1.5 million.

Considering how important the invention of the 1887 was, I'd have to say it was a bargain.