Smithsonian’s National Firearms Collection Journeys West For The First Time

Gold Miquelet lock musket belonged to Thomas Jefferson
Gold Miquelet lock musket belonged to Thomas Jefferson
Buffalo Bill Historical Center
Buffalo Bill Historical Center

Cody, Wyo., –-( The Buffalo Bill Center of the West, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is proud to announce the arrival of 64 unique objects from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s National Firearms Collection.

This is the first time these one-of-a-kind historical items have appeared together outside of the Smithsonian.

Among these artifacts are numerous patent models documenting innovations in the field, international imagination, and historic distinction. The Center of the West was entrusted with the conservation of these firearms and is honored to display them in the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Included in this exhibition is a seven-foot-long gold Miquelet lock musket given to President Thomas Jefferson in 1805 at the beginning of his second term by the Bey of Tunisia after the Tripolitan Wars. Another firearm making its western debut is a beautifully embellished Jaeger rifle that belonged to Catherine the Great of Russia (1729 – 1796). This firearm includes a special touch for her royal highness in the form of a velvet cheek piece to ensure her imperial face would not touch the stock.

In the category of patent innovation is a western cinematic favorite, the Gatling gun. Before inventor Richard Gatling could make his invention a reality, he first created a miniature wooden prototype to submit to the U.S. Patent Office—on display with this collection. This patent was approved in 1862, allowing for the production of the full scale Gatling guns, examples of which can be seen throughout the Cody Firearms Museum.

Also included in the exhibition is the one-of-a-kind Multiblade Folding Knife. Counting the miniatures inside the tortoise shell handle covers, this knife has 100 “blades.” This model includes pocket knife blades of every style imaginable—including a serrated blade, two dagger blades, different types of shears, scissors, two saws, and many other tools. It even has a functional .22-caliber five-shot pinfire revolver.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Smithsonian Institution invite visitors to explore these firearms that have helped shape our nation and beyond. Both institutions hope interaction with this exhibit helps shape individual perceptions of the invention and production of firearms, and their role in the history of our nation. This exhibition opens this weekend in the Cody Firearms Museum’s lower gallery and will be on display through the fall of 2015.

About the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Since 1927, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, formerly known as the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, has been committed to the greatness and growth of the American West, keeping western experiences alive. The Center of the West, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms, and the nature and science of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center of the West has been honored with numerous awards, including the prestigious 2012 National Tour Association’s Award for “favorite museum for groups.” The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is currently operating its summer schedule through September 15: open 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily. For additional information visit or the Center of the West’s Facebook page.

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Charlie Nelson

I am looking at a supposed black powder hawkin shotgun double barreled but find no written reference to these being made by hawkin…could they be legit?

Dal Burleson

Hello, I have a LITTLE ALL RIGHT PALM PISTOL, do you have any information? Thanks, Dale