Friday, July 14, 2000

Kentucky museum shows firearms as works of art

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKFORT — The Kentucky History Center presents a unique mating of the world of arms and the world of art in a special exhibit starting Saturday, displaying rare firearms and edged weapons.

        The exhibit, titled “The Weapon As Art,” is presented in the Center's Changing Exhibits Gallery and includes weapons once owned by the likes of George Armstrong Custer, Buffalo Bill Cody and J. Edgar Hoover.

        Visitors can view rifles and pistols with exquisite engraving, gold and silver inlays, and polished and checkered wood stocks that rival expensive furniture.

        The firearms are some of the prizes in the private collection of Owsley Brown Frazier of Louisville, the retired vice president of Brown-Forman Corp. and fourth-generation descendant of company founder George Garvin Brown.

        Oscar Bryant, a spokesman for Mr. Frazier, said the retired executive has been a collector for much of his life and the collecting of rare antique firearms “is one of his greatest loves.”

        Among the more impressive arms on display in “The Weapon As Art” are:

        • A matched pair of 1861 Colt Navy percussion revolvers, engraved and covered in gold and silver plating with carved relief ivory grips in the original mahogany presentation case.

        The pistols were presented to Gen. Custer during the Civil War.

        • A Winchester Model 1892 lever-action deluxe carbine with gold-plated receiver and nickel-plated barrel, formerly owned by Theodore Roosevelt.

        • A Winchester Model 1866 deluxe saddle ring carbine inscribed “Presented to W.F. Cody Champion Buffalo Hunter, Fort McPherson, 1870.”

        • A Colt Single Action Army revolver, one of only 525 "first generation' single actions in .357 Magnum caliber, presented to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover by Colt President G.H. Anthony in 1948.

        • A one-of-a-kind Model 1873 Winchester lever action rifle with color case-hardened receiver and nickel-plated side plates, fancy American walnut stock and special target sights front and rear.

        The exhibit also features detailed custom knives made by Lloyd Hale of Tennessee — including Bowie knives, Arkansas toothpick knives and push daggers — using craftsmanship similar to that of knifemakers in the 1700s and 1800s.

        An accompanying exhibit at the History Center is “A Kentucky Master: John James Audubon,” focusing on the works of the famed naturalist and painter who specialized in illustrations of American birds.

        Mr. Audubon lived in Kentucky from 1807 to 1819. The chromolithographs and mounted birds, native to Kentucky, are from the Cincinnati Museum Center collection.

        Both exhibits continue from Saturday through Sept. 24 at the Kentucky History Center, 100 W. Broadway, Frankfort, and admission is free. For more information call (502) 564-1792.


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