Chapter 0.1 – Introduction

It was on Dec. 21, 2016 when collector Prof. Dr. phil. h.c. Moritz Hunzinger of Frankfurt, Germany inquired if I would be available to catalog his miniature gun collection, organize some exhibitions, but more importantly kick-off an overall research into the subject and present the findings on this website. I frankly admit the perspective of the task was thrilling and particularly the aspect of the research excited me.

ISMU May 12 – 14, 2017: American Frontier Miniatures exhibition at the booth of the VDW

Impressions from ISMU 2017: Size comparisons Uberti full size Colt 1851 Navy replicas and their miniatures

Useful sources for secondary information were old prospectuses1, 2), or popular scientific types of publications and similar literature accessible on the internet. Technical data were obtained elsewhere, gun journals proved to be fine sources but most important were meetings and talks with other collectors and gun dealers which provided valuable insight. 

More impressions from ISMU 2017: Comparing Uberti full size Colt 1873 SAA replicas vs. their miniatures

Impressions of the American Frontier Miniatures display at the 10th Annual Meeting of the FROCS in Hofheim on July 21, 2019

 I found his miniature gun collection appealing for many reasons explained below and in the following chapters. The name American Frontier Miniatures www.american-frontier-miniatures.com in my opinion is just catchy. It is also fair to assume that this collection is the largest of its kind! Alone almost 100 specimens of the collection carry the maker's mark of Italian Uberti company one way or the other. Further miniatures were obtained from renowned Robin Armstrong of Great Britain, Japanese K-Ohba Minifacturing, Larry H. Smith from the U.S.A. and others.

Important primary information could be unearthed by painstakingly documenting the physical characteristics, embellishments, marks and markings etc. of all the pieces of the collection and by comparing them to originals wherever possible. As far as the Uberti miniatures are concerned they were first and foremost compared to their full sized replicas or other Italian clones, only then to originals. 

 To get the project off the ground the idea was born to use the ISMU Internationale SammlerMesse Ulm, Germany (Antiques and Antique Gun Show) to present key specimens of the Hunzinger Uberti miniatures collection to the broad public for the first time. Thanks to VDWVerband für Waffentechnik and –geschichte e.V., Düsseldorf, Germany – because this organization provided their booth as the platform for this successful venture between May 12 through 14, 2017. The VDW operates in Germany similar to the U.S. NRA but on a smaller scale due to the more fragmented gun owners community.

Another unique opportunity to exhibit the collection primarily to the gun collectors' and shooters' community unfolded a few weeks later in June 2017 already. Because the International FROCS– FRiends Of the Centaure Society submitted an invitation to display selected miniature guns within the scope of their Centaure exhibition on occasion of the 8th Annual Meeting of the FROCS on June 11, 2017 in Klein-Umstadt, Germany.

And the beat goes on because in 2019 already two exhibitions for Prof. Hunzinger's American Frontier Miniatures could be scored. Visitors of an exhibition of neo-classikers aka replicas at the 10th Annual Meeting of the FROCS in Hofheim/Germany on July 21 were surprised by the fine specimens of the Hunzinger Collection among other full size western guns. 

References:

1. Aldo Uberti & C. SRL: IL GRANDE PRESTIGIO DI PREZIOSE MINIATURE

2. A. Uberti: HISTORICAL REPLICA ARMS, 2006

3. Lander, U.: ORIGINALE VERKLEINERT, DWJ 07/2012, 78-83

4. Hieke, H.: KLEINIGKEITEN, VISIER 02/1988, 14-19

5. Expo Management GmbH: INTERNATIONALE WAFFEN-BÖRSE KASSEL, 28. November – 1. Dezember 2019

6. Recktenwald, M.: VDW-JUBILÄUM MIT BESONDERER AUSSTELLUNG – EIN FEST FÜR SAMMLER, VISIER 03/2020, 118-121

 

September 29, 2020/WDN

Close-up of the Uberti Winchester 1866 carbine miniature at the 10th Annual Meeting of the FROCS in Hofheim in 2019

Another huge step forward in the public awareness department for the Hunzinger Collection was a display of selected miniatures at an exhibition project in Kassel from November 28 through December 1, 2019. The city of Kassel hosts this major annual gun show aka WBK – Waffen-Börse Kassel5) which is the must-go event for gun collectors, shooters and reenactors in Central Europe. The show is taking place every fall during this time of the year.

At the 2019 Kassel Gun Show: Impressions of a few of the American Frontier Miniatures in their shadow box

Because the VDW – Verband für Waffentechnik and –geschichte e.V., Düsseldorf, Germany had decided to stage their 50th anniversary festivities at this show with an outstanding exhibition featuring neo-classikers including again Uberti miniatures of the Hunzinger Collection. 

This visitor of the 2019 gun show in Kassel is enjoying the display of miniatures of the Hunzinger Collection

This VDW exhibition had been organized by a team of German FROCS as a Special Show. With the headline WHEN THE WEST WAS STILL WILD – Neo-Classikers of the Amerian History the show was designed to feature exhibits of a museum, collectors and a representative of the replica industry.

Among the contributing participants was the famous Karl-May-Museum of Radebeul with a display of iconic guns from Karl May's Western adventure books that were devoured by generations of kids and the young at heart. Featured was Apache chief Winnetou's "Silberbüchse" (silver rifle), his blood brother Old Shatterhand's "Bärentöter" (>.80 cal. double barrel bear killer "shoulder cannon" of close to 20 kg) and a shotgun from one of the many Karl-May movies of the 1960s6)

Three guns from the Karl-May-Museum, Radebeul (from top) on display at the VDW booth in Kassel 2019: Winnetou's "Silberbüchse", Old Shatterhand's "Bärentöter", single barrel shotgun used in Karl-May movies of the 1960s by famous actors Mario Adorf and Terence Hill of Spaghetti Western fame

FROCS members added an array of rare Centaure percussion revolvers, conversions, cased 2nd and 3rd generation Colt percussion and SAAs revolvers whereas the German neo-classiker distributor HEGE Jagd & Sport, Messkirch contributed Uberti made Army models of Smith & Wesson's top-brake revolvers, Remington's 1875s as well as Henry and Winchester lever guns. 

At the 2019 Kassel Gun Show: Joint exhibition of Karl-May-Museum, Radebeul, FROCS Hofheim/Lubbock and HEGE Jagd & Sport, Messkirch with the American Frontier Miniatures right in the middle

The objective of this website is to take a fresh look at the history of Uberti and other makers' miniature guns, to update the information of the few German language white papers3,4) with new findings. Hence, it will eventually fill a gap in documented research data on these miniatures.

Pages 38/39 of the 2006 Uberti catalog featuring their miniature guns

You will appreciate that this website is a construction site rather and always will be. Because new information is added as it becomes available.

More impressions from Kassel 2019: Colt miniatures Colt 1836 Paterson and the 1873 SAA Old Model Storekeeper are arousing lots of interest (picture courtesy Matthias Recktenwald, Bad-Ems) 

As expected and despite their small size Hunzinger's Uberti miniatures were a focal element of the VDW exhibition. Incidentally, the total number of guns on display comprised some 180 specimens at the impressive current replacement value of € 320,000.00.

 

Regarding attendance of shows with the Hunzinger Collection the COVID-19 pandemic slowed things down in 2020. Then the FROCS and VDW held a regional meeting titled WIE DER WESTEN GEWONNEN WURDE … (How the West was Won …) at the CCP Ranch in Stolberg www.copper-city-pioneers.com in the Three Corners Area of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany on September 26/27, 2020 and we got invited. 

Concept displaying miniatures and full-size guns in the same display case at CCP-Ranch in 2020, Stolberg/Germany

At this event we tested a new concept to display the guns. In the past full-size guns and the miniatures were displayed in their own separate showcases. This time we changed that. They were presented under a certain motto in one glass case. The visitors liked it.

Miniatures and full-size guns together (from left): Two Uberti miniatures – "sons2 Schneider & Glassick and  Griswold & Gunnison Armies with their "dad" Schneider & Glassick .44 cal.