The heart of Shelburne Museum’s collection of historic firearms is the Terry Tyler collection, including more than 100 Vermont firearms by seventy gunmakers working between 1790 and 1900.
Examples represent everything from the earliest documented gunmaker in the state, John Hills of Charlotte, to the advent of the machine tool industry in Windsor, which started with the manufacture of interchangeable gun parts. Hunting rifles, target rifles, pistols, and military guns from the Mexican-American and Civil Wars are all included in the collection, along with unique pieces such as a cane gun, often favored by poachers who wanted to conceal their intentions, and a greatcoat pistol, designed to be hidden easily in an overcoat.
Many of the guns feature ornate “furniture”; that is, intricate silver and brass inlays and engraving. Several of the guns’ stocks are also made from figured woods such as tiger maple and burled walnut.