A tribute to the Great American Western Plains Wildlife
By Earl L. Whitney
The show gun for Norman, Oklahoma 2013 is as unique and different as the wildlife of the western plains. Each year is a challenge to offer the CCA membership an auction firearm different than any proceeding years. This year Bill Gamradt has done just that; a firearm that is unique and so different in his presentation that he calls it American Victorian engraving with an the "Oklahoma Sunset". In each of the engravings the "sunset" is in a stippled three dimension gold background.
The Great Plains of the United States is a huge grassy prairie extending northward from Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma into Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada. The physical history of the Great Plains shows us the harsh legacy they passed on to Indians, explorers and settlers. The plains area was hotter than 100 degrees in the summer, and could drop to 40 degrees below zero with heavy snows in the winter. The region was so dry that when it rained it often flooded. The Great Plains was made up of grasslands, valleys, hills and streams. There were very few trees or mountains found in the Great Plains area. Early settlers of the American west first seeing large areas of the grasslands called them a "sea of grass". The French called them prairies, which means "large meadows". In the historic period of the Indian occupation of the plains, before the white man, the prairies covered more land in what is now the United States than any other kind of vegetation.
Before any people arrived in the Great Plains many animals numbered in the millions. Prior to European American settlements and before settlers moved west, the prairies were covered with herds of grazing animals, such as the buffalo, antelope, white tail deer, sage grouse, fox, eagle, wolf and other wildlife. An estimated 50 million American bison once roamed the Great Plains and throughout many other parts of the US. Weighing as much as a ton and standing as tall as six feet at the shoulders. the bison were hunted to the brink of extinction in the U.S. during the 1800’s. The pronghorn antelope was the fastest land animal in North America and one of the fastest in the world. The plains consisted of millions of acres of the grassland that provided habitat and feeding areas for all the wildlife that called this great expanse home. All that changed with settlement by the European Americans. Master Engraver Bill Gamradt has engraved on the 2013 Norman, Oklahoma Show Gun, a tribute to the many species of animals that once roamed the vast prairie grasslands of the Great American Western Plains.
"Rosa Arkansana", the Wild Prairie rose is common to the western areas of the tall grass prairie region. It will grow to a height of 2 feet with flowers in various shades of pink bloom from June through September. The Native American Indians boiled rose hips to make syrup for a number of food uses. Both Native Americans and early settlers boiled rose hips, ate leaves and sprouts when other food was scarce. The show gun features fourteen wild roses of raised gold.
The Great Plains had a tremendous impact on the first human inhabitants of the Midwest. The Native Americans religion and society were based entirely on the land. They hunted the deer, buffalo, beaver and other animals but took only what they needed for food and clothing. The American settlers on the other hand hunted some animals such as the bison and others to near extinction as they took the wildlife’s habitat for crops.
Today very little of the original prairies survive. A large area of the grasslands and the native species that depend on them are gone due to agriculture and grazing as well as oil, gas, minerals development and urban areas. Many states are rehabilitating what is left of their prairies by reintroducing the native wildlife and plants.
Historically speaking saving our wildlife is just as important to individuals interested in wildlife as to the collector of firearms. Each year we lose a few more acres of prairie to the modern world. If we don’t save our wildlife, prairies, and preserve the history of our firearms thru sporting events, gun shows and collections - history will be lost forever.
- An exhibition Master Engraved firearm by Bill Gamradt the Great American Western Plains Wildlife "Oklahoma Sunset" is a tribute to the wildlife that call the Great Plains of America their home. He has engraved the show gun with a very unique and different engraving pattern - American Victorian Leaf.
- Colt Single Action Army in .45 caliber, with 6" Barrel, Full Blue finish with qualified screws and unique serial number "CCA2013".
- The revolver is custom exhibition engraved with a unique three dimensional American Leaf Victorian engraving scroll, intricate gold line borders, raised gold wildlife and border lines. The gold inlays were done in raised 24K gold and in a number of areas the scroll has the background cut away. The recessed areas were than inlaid with gold to give a more three dimensional look to the engraving.
- The recoil shield has deep cut scrolls and leaves that enclose a gold bison to give the impression that the bison is standing in his natural habitat. The background behind the bison was cut away, than inlaid with stippled gold to give the impression of a prairie sunset sky.
- There is a raised gold white tail deer on the left side of the frame between the qualified screws.
- On the flat surface of the frame below the cylinder a cow and bull bison with a gold silhouetted sunset, are shown in the distance.
- In front of the cylinder is a sage grouse in raised gold amidst scroll and leaves of steel. Below the sage grouse is another wild rose of raised gold and leaves of steel relieved background.
- The top strap of the firearm has three bison on the prairie set against an evening sunset of gold.
- On the right side of the firearm the loading gate has a portrait of an American pronghorn antelope that is inlaid in raised gold to appear as though the buck is coming out from the brush.
- Above and below the pronghorn portrait are scroll and leaves with gold inlaid into the recessed areas of the background.
- There is a red fox inlaid in raised, sculpted gold. The fox was engraved to appear as though he is standing amidst the deeply cut scroll surrounding him.
- The flat surface to the right of the fox has been engraved to show two pronghorn bucks set against the gold prairie sunset.
- On the top of the grip strap, below the hammer, the scrolls and leaves were cut deeply and the background around the scroll was removed and gold was inlaid in the lower areas. The gold in this area below the level of the scrolls make it appear behind the scrolls.
- In the center of the grip strap is a wolf portrait in raised gold surrounded by engraved leaves. The metal along the outer edge of the leaves was cut away and stippled to make the leaves and the wolf appear to stand out from the grip metal.
- At the bottom of the grip a couple of scrolls and a number of leaves were cut and the background removed and then stippled. Also, a small gold highlight was added to the area.
- On the right side in front of the cylinder is the head of a golden eagle in raised gold and framed by leaves and scroll.
- The cylinder has six Wild Prairie roses in raised gold. Also on the cylinder are leaves coming out from and above engraved borders. The smooth plain areas of the cylinder were bead blasted with fine grade of powder abrasive to give contrast to the metal.
- Each side of the front sight has a wild rose of raised gold surrounded by leaves of engraved steel. A double line border and engraved leaves highlight the front of the barrel. The barrel in front of the cylinder has scroll and leaf engraving with the background removed and the low areas inlaid with gold. The scroll appears to be above the gold.
- The hammer features leaves and scrolls with the background metal removed and gold inlaid into the recessed areas, again to make it appear as though the gold is behind the metal leaves and scrolls.
- There are fourteen gold raised wild roses and seventeen birds or animals; seven in raised gold.
- The firearm is signed on the bottom of the frame in front of the trigger guard "Wm.Gamradt-Engr".
- One piece carved ivory grips with an American Victorian Leaf design in high relief.
- “Oklahoma Sunset" poster autographed by Paul Goodwin, limited edition framed show gun poster number 13/20 SN CCA2013.