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One Gun, One Bunny: 1922

Washington, D.C., circa 1922. "Denby Christmas tree." Junior remembers this as the best Christmas ever! His gun-giving dad is Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1922. "Denby Christmas tree." Junior remembers this as the best Christmas ever! His gun-giving dad is Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.


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A Remington Rolling Block It Is

One of the most elegant guns ever made... it's hard to see how there could have been fewer moving parts.

Remington #4

That is a Remington #4 Rolling Block,single shot take down rifle, you can see the take down lever on the side of the receiver.To load you must first cock the hammer and then pull back on the breechblock to expose the chamber then insert the cartridge and push the breechblock closed, you are now ready to fire. Like dddlensman said most likely a .22 rimfire but possibly a .32. A very nice present.

Denby Sr.

Edwin Denby Sr. is an interesting guys outside of his Teapot Dome involvement. He enlisted in the Marine Corps as a private in 1917 at age 47 and was discharged in 1919 as a Major. There had been a large number of mail robberies in 1921 so when appointed Secretary of the Navy in 1921 he ordered that the Marines be used to guard mail trucks and trains. The Marines had a simple instruction: if two Marines were guarding the mail and a robber had them covered, they weren't to put up their hands but both go for their guns. The robber might get one of them but the other would get the robber. "When our Corps goes in as guards over the mail, that mail must be delivered, or there must be a Marine dead at the post of duty. There can be no compromise."

Rifle Minutiae

I am in agreement with "jwp". It looks like a Remington Sporting Rifle No. 4. Single shot octagon barrel, 22 short and long caliber. (also manufactured in 32 caliber) Made from 1890 to 1933. Her bunny is safe but other critters may not be.

Rifle Identification

The rifle is a "Crack shot" model .22 caliber manufactured by the J. Stevens Arms & Tool company. Stevens was the company that developed and introduced the .22 LR round. Arguably the most popular and widely shot rifle/pistol round in history.

Christmas Presents

Wonder what she got for Easter. A Santa Claus doll?

Happy Days were not ahead

Edwin Denby Jr., 10 years old in this photo, was killed in WWII aboard the USS Shark submarine in February 1942 in the South Pacific. He was 29.

Not .410, probably .22

It's single-shot and break action, but if you blow up the picture you can see it has an octagonal crowned barrel, a blade front sight and a leaf-type rear sight. Thus, a rifle, not a shotgun. Conceivably not a .22, but some small caliber, and a .22 seems most likely.

[So not a .22, but a .22? If you say so. - Dave]


The mouldings in this house are amazing! And the ceiling is insanely high, even by Victorian standards. Those walls look to be at least 16 feet.

The sideboard seems like an Empire (mahogany piece) with a wonderful bevel mirror).

And I happen to have a few different sizes of antique tin boxes (cash boxes) like the one in front of "junior". They are black with gold and red stripes, and the interior usually has a removable tin tray.

My non-expert guess

Looks to me like a single-shot break-action shotgun, probably 410 gauge, which is not much of a power house. Friend of mine got shot in the small of his back with a 410 from less than a foot away, while getting out of a car with some other hunters (one of them obviously really clumsy) and he survived. Of course he wasn't a soft little bunny.

There will be blood.

Denby is the guy who transferred the naval oil reserves (Teapot Dome) to Albert Fall's Interior Dept in the Harding Administration in 1922. Fall got bribes to lease the lands to Harry Sinclair (Sinclair Oil) and oilman Edward Doheny, the basis of the main character in Upton Sinclair's novel Oil, and who was played by Daniel Day Lewis in the film There Will Be Blood. Given the timing of this photo, one wonders exactly what is on Denby's mind, besides the clear danger the bunny might be in.

Hunting season

No doubt Junior will be using his sister's Christmas bunny as a target next week.

Deja Vu

Didn't we Shorpyites previously see another Denby Christmas Tree? I (think) that I remember it as quite lacking when compared to this one.

[You are perhaps thinking of the Dickey family. - Dave]
There I go, confusing my Denbys and my Dickeys again. - Mal

Uh oh!

She gets a rabbit, he gets a rifle. Trouble ahead.

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