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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Wax Bullets: 1909

Wax Bullets: 1909

October 23, 1909. New York. "Duelling with wax bullets." Paintball 1.0. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

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Bloodless Duel

Popular Mechanics, November, 1908.

Dueling With Wax Bullets

Great interest was taken in the bloodless dueling tournament at the Olympic games in which the international revolver and pistol championships were contested for. Wax bullets were used, but the combatants were as elaborately protected as a German student duelist, and even the revolvers were equipped with large hand guards. Windows of plate glass were arranged in the helmets.


having been hit by paint balls on a number of occasions I can tell you that they hurt! They travel at around 300 feet per second which is about one-third the velocity of a .45 caliber round.

While not normally capable of breaking the skin they do pack a wallop and can leave strange circular bruises where they hit. Getting hit by a solid wax pellet at close range (40-50 feet) must be similar in feeling.

In France, I bet they used jasmine-scented ammo

From the Parisian Club de Pistolet, about 1905:

THERE has been established in Paris a “School of Duelling,” which is frequented only by the elite, one prominent member being ex-President Casimir Perier. This remarkable academy is conducted by Dr. de Villers, and combats frequently take place there by way of practice. In these mimic duels wire masks are worn to protect the face and bullets made of wax are used, so that no injury may be sustained by the combatants. In all other respects, however, the conduct of the affair is carried through as on the “field of honour,” so that when the time comes — if it ever does come — for the scholars to take part in a serious duel they may acquit themselves with credit to themselves and disaster to their adversary — although this latter point is not of much importance.

Much more including this same photo here.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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