For pistol collectors the most interesting item besides the gun is the holster that was used to carry it. Some collectors totally ignore them and for some collectors they are at least as fascinating as the guns themselves. I would like to share with you my observations about this area of collecting over the next month or so.
As long as there have been handguns there needed to be a way of carrying them. Many early flintlock pistols had long hooks on them opposite the lock plate to facilitate shoving in a belt or sash. There also existed the first holsters. A holster is really just an extra pocket to hold a pistol. An early example is this contemporary illustration of Blackbeard, a man famous for smoking locks of hair and carrying at least a dozen pistols into battle. As you can see, he has a ponderous number of pistols strewn about his murderous person.
This type of holster was widely used on horses as well, used in pairs draped across the saddle. The focus of our collecting interest in holsters really only got started in the 1850’s with the invention of practical revolvers. Since we deal mostly in military pistols, we will focus strictly on there use and development.
THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR ERA
With the advent of belt carried revolvers such as the Colt’s model of 1851 and 1860, the handgun became a true belt carried side arm. Holsters were mass produced under government contract for the Federal forces, and were widely used by both sides. These were flap holsters to secure the pistol on one’s body and protect them from the weather. This is where holsters really start to be collected and where our story begins………..