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The Battle of the Little Big Horn, A First for Custer Firearms

Top-selling-lot-at-High-Noon-was-this-1874-Sharps-that-has-been-forensically-linked-to-the-Battle-of-the-Little-Big-Horn

A cartridge case discovery leads up to an auction sale of the first firearm forensically proven to have been used at the 1876 battle site.

The “first firearm forensically proven to have been used” at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, as the auction catalog noted, hammered down for a quarter of a million dollars at Brian Lebel’s High Noon in Mesa, Arizona, on January 27.

Collectors of artifacts tied to George Custer-—who history best remembers for his decisive defeat in June 1876 that led to the deaths of him and a detachment of 7th Cavalry troops—first widely learned about this Sharps 1874 rifle in a 1988 article written for Man at Arms Magazine by historical archaeologists Douglas D. Scott and Dick Harmon. They discussed not only the supporting forensic evidence, but also the pitfalls of verifying Custer battle guns in general.

custer's last fight poster
Another lot tied to the 1876 battle is this film poster for the 1912 silent short, Custer’s Last Fight, which a collector got for a winning bid of $2,750.

An accidental range fire in 1983 paved the path for a 1984 survey of the Montana fight site. Southeast of Lt. James Calhoun’s position and also on Greasy Grass Ridge, archaeologists recovered empty .50-70 caliber cartridge cases, among cases from other firearms, on known Indian warrior positions. The ballistic comparisons of two Martin-primed cartridge cases provided near-certain proof that the 1874 Sharps sold at the auction was fired on Custer’s battlefield. 

Further evidence of the rifle’s strong provenance is the unbroken family chain of custody. The rifle, bearing serial C54586, was shipped on April 23, 1875, to Schuyler, Hartley and Graham, one of Sharps’s largest agents who shipped many early rifles west for the buffalo hide hunting trade. It was found on the Little Big Horn battlefield in 1883 by rancher Willis Spear and stayed with the family until it was sold at the auction.

Western movie actor Tom Mix’s personal batwing chaps and framed carnival cards topped the celebrity lots at the auction, with a $17,000 bid.
Western movie actor Tom Mix’s personal batwing chaps and framed carnival cards topped the celebrity lots at the auction, with a $17,000 bid.

If any doubt could be raised on this being a Custer battle gun, it is the fact that the rifle was not found closer to the battle date. Some could speculate that it was fired in 1883 or even afterward, since access to the battlefield was unrestricted, says C. Lee Noyes, a retired U.S. Customs officer and former editor of the Custer Battlefield Historical & Museum Association quarterly newsletter.

“And there is at least one known and photographed instance of a military firing demonstration there, in 1886, during the 10th anniversary of the Custer battle. In addition, Capt. Edward S. Luce, a 7th Cavalry veteran and long-time park superintendent, reportedly ‘salted’ the battlefield with cartridge cases and other ‘relics’ for tourists to find,” he adds.

Other Custer battlefield guns before this one, however, had shakier provenance, as they relied solely on historical documentation. As Scott and Harmon wrote, the combination of modern crime laboratory firearms identification procedures with archaeological evidence allowed for this 1874 Sharps to become the “first gun in history that has been scientifically proven to ‘have been there.’”

Collectors who lost out on the chance to bid for a Custer battle gun have another opportunity—at the James D. Julia Auction this April 11-13. A Model 1873 Colt Single Action Army revolver, serial 5773, is one of three that 7th Cavalry Capt. Frederick W. Benteen reported unserviceable after the 1876 battle. This revolver has a “pure Little Big Horn pedigree,” Noyes says.

Collectors earned more than $1.25 million for their Old West artifacts.

 

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Could Gin boost your metabolism and help you to burn calories faster?

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Britain loves gin.

In fact, last year, we consumed 73 million bottles of the stuff.

Fortunately, experts have found that it could well have health benefits, It’s been reported that gin can help tackle hayfever, but now experts have discovered that it may also boost your metabolism.

A study carried out by the University of Sigulda in Latvia found that gin may have a positive effect on our metabolism by helping to burn calories more efficiently.

Gin
Gin / Experts say that the tipple may have a positive effect on our bodies 

The study was carried out using groups of mice, who were given either gin or water.Their calorie burning potential was then observed, with researchers finding that the mice who drank the gin showed an increase in their metabolic rate and not by a small measure.

Not only that, but some mice showed an increase of a whopping 17% in metabolic rate.

 

The Hypersonic Synergetic Rocket Engine – Sabre – is designed to drive space planes to orbit

Hypersonic jet travel across the Atlantic has moved a step closer after scientists successfully tested technology to stop jet engines melting at speeds up to 25 times the speed of sound.

Researchers at Reaction Engines managed to make a ‘pre cooler’ work at a simulated speed of 3.3 mach or 2,500 mph (4,023kph) – that means large scale hypersonic engines that could be fitted to passenger jets are a step closer to being realised.

Their experimental Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine (Sabre) is designed to be fitted to large aircraft to ferry passengers around the world in hours and deliver goods into orbit for less.

The ‘pre-cooler’, which lets the aircraft travel at high speed without hot air rushing in and causing the engine to melt was tested at simulated speeds of more than three times the speed of sound. The next stage of tests will see the technology tested at Mach 5.5 (4,200mph / 6,800kph), and could one day lead to flights between London and New York that take less than an hour. 

UK engineers have completed a milestone test of their new high-speed 'spaceplane' which they say could be able to fly at 25 times the speed of sound (mach 25). Reaction Engines has tested a 'pre-cooler' technology - which allows aircraft to travel faster than ever

UK engineers have completed a milestone test of their new high-speed ‘spaceplane’ which they say could be able to fly at 25 times the speed of sound (mach 25). Reaction Engines has tested a ‘pre-cooler’ technology – which allows aircraft to travel faster than ever

Reaction built a testing facility on the ground in Colorado and used a General Electric J79 turbojet engine to replicate the conditions that the vehicle will experience at hypersonic speeds.

The firm hopes to make a reusable vehicle that would combine the fuel efficiency of a jet engine with the power and speed of a rocket.

Reaction, based in Oxfordshire, believe that the aircraft could travel the distance between New York and London in less than an hour when running at it’s proposed top speed.

The company also wants to take people and payloads into space and return to Earth.

A spokesperson for Reaction Engines told MailOnline that although this technology is decades away from use in passenger jets, the technology could be used in more immediate applications.

The heat exchanger technology has a wide range of potential commercial applications and the ability to revolutionise the approach to thermal management across a range of industries; from aerospace to motorsport, industrial processes, and the oil and gas industry.

The heat exchanger technology has a wide range of potential commercial applications and the ability to revolutionise the approach to thermal management across a range of industries; from aerospace to motorsport, industrial processes, and the oil and gas industry

The heat exchanger technology has a wide range of potential commercial applications and the ability to revolutionise the approach to thermal management across a range of industries; from aerospace to motorsport, industrial processes, and the oil and gas industry

The breakthrough test was conducted at the company’s newly opened TF2 test facility at Colorado Air and Space Port.

It comes 30 years after Reaction Engines was formed in the UK around an engine cycle concept to enable access to space and hypersonic air-breathing flight from a standing start.

The pre-cooling technology is designed to lower the temperature of the air coming into the engine from more than 1,000°C (1,832°F) to room temperature in one twentieth of a second.

To do this, the team developed a heat-exchanger to manage very high temperature airflows.

Reaction Engines has tested a 'pre-cooler' technology - which allows aircraft to travel faster than ever. The experimental Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine - Sabre - is designed to drive space planes to orbit and take airliners around the world in just a few hours

Reaction Engines has tested a ‘pre-cooler’ technology – which allows aircraft to travel faster than ever. The experimental Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine – Sabre – is designed to drive space planes to orbit and take airliners around the world in just a few hours

The tech is designed to chill air in the inlet of high-speed turbojets for hypersonic vehicles and ultimately will form the basis for the company’s Sabre engine for low-cost repeatable access to space.

The goal is to incorporate this technology into their Sabre engine, which would work like an ‘air breathing rocket engine’.

It would carry significantly less fuel oxidant than a conventional rocket, making it much lighter.

From take-off to Mach 5.5 (5.5 times the speed of sound), it would take oxygen from the atmosphere, which would be fed into a rocket combustion chamber.

During tests, at simulated speeds of Mach 3.3, or more than three times the speed of sound. To replicate the conditions that it will experience at hypersonic speeds, Reaction built a testing facility on the ground in Colorado and used a General Electric J79 turbojet engine

During tests, at simulated speeds of Mach 3.3, or more than three times the speed of sound. To replicate the conditions that it will experience at hypersonic speeds, Reaction built a testing facility on the ground in Colorado and used a General Electric J79 turbojet engine

The tech is designed to chill air in the inlet of high-speed turbojets for hypersonic vehicles and ultimately will form the basis for the company’s Sabre engine for low-cost repeatable access to space. The goal is to incorporate this technology into their Sabre engine, which would work like an 'air breathing rocket engine'

The tech is designed to chill air in the inlet of high-speed turbojets for hypersonic vehicles and ultimately will form the basis for the company’s Sabre engine for low-cost repeatable access to space. The goal is to incorporate this technology into their Sabre engine, which would work like an ‘air breathing rocket engine’

Here, it would be ignited along with stored liquid hydrogen and then switch at high altitude, burning liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen from on-board fuel tanks.

Mark Thomas, the Reaction Engines chief executive, told the Times: ‘If you can pull it off, it’s a game changer. It kicks conventional rocket engines into touch.’

It did this by successfully quenching a 420°C (788°F) stream of gases in less than 1/20th of a second.

At low altitude and low speeds, it would behave like a jet, burning its fuel in a stream of air scooped from the atmosphere.

At high speeds and at high altitude, it would transition to full rocket mode, combining the fuel with the oxygen carried inside.

They envisage that it would be able aircraft that could travel the distance between New York and London in less than an hour. They also want to take people or payloads into space and return to Earth

They envisage that it would be able aircraft that could travel the distance between New York and London in less than an hour. They also want to take people or payloads into space and return to Earth

HOW DOES REACTION ENGINES’ ‘SABRE’ ENGINE WORK?

Reaction Engines Limited (REL), based at Culham in Oxfordshire, is working on a turbine that combines both jet and rocket technologies. 

The Sabre engine works by burning atmospheric air in combustion chambers.

It then uses the heat to turbo-charge the engine.

The Sabre engine works by burning atmospheric air in combustion chambers. It then uses the heat to turbo-charge the engine

The Sabre engine (artist’s impression) works by burning atmospheric air in combustion chambers. It then uses the heat to turbo-charge the engine

At the moment, rockets have to carry liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to power them and the cost of carrying this heavy fuel is expensive. 

The new engine creates its own liquid oxygen by cooling air entering the engine from 1,000°C to minus 150°C in a hundredth of a second – six times faster than the blink of an eye – without creating ice blockages.

This new class of aerospace engine is designed to enable aircraft to operate from standstill on the runway to speeds of over five times the speed of sound in the atmosphere.

It can then transition to a rocket flight mode, allowing spaceflight at speeds up to orbital velocity, equivalent to 25 times the speed of sound.

American Psycho, Cult Classic?

Released in 2000, American Psycho is in parts hilarious, in parts surreal and in the remaining parts plays out like a horror flick. Based on Bret Easton Ellis’ novel of the same name, the Mary Harron directorial has, over the years, become a cult film. And not without reason.

american psycho
Christian Bale in a still from American Psycho.

American Psycho movie cast: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Chloë Sevigny, Justin Theroux, Reese Witherspoon
American Psycho movie director: Mary Harron
American Psycho movie rating: 4 stars

Sometimes it becomes difficult to categorise movies into specific genres. Some films are stubborn and/or experimental by nature and they refuse to be labelled. Christian Bale starrer American Psycho is an example in case.

Released in 2000, this movie is in parts hilarious, in parts surreal and in the remaining parts plays out like a horror flick. Based on Bret Easton Ellis’ novel of the same name, the Mary Harron directorial has, over the years, become a cult film. And not without reason.

When the basic premise of the plot revolves around the actions of an unreliable, unhinged and darkly comic character; you have already got yourself a winner. But despite all the gore and murder, I remember thoroughly enjoying the movie for what it was. A classic case of why-dunit. Why does Patrick Bateman kill people? Is it because he is bored, or because he is filled with hatred or he really does bear some sort of personal animosity against entire humanity? Or worst of all, he is an empty shell of a human being?

The movie keeps you guessing, but what adds to the story is the fact that Bale’s performance as a nutjob is on point. His rhetorical questions and his response to situations when he is not painting the town red with someone’s blood, is side-splitting.

A wealthy investment banker (Bale) unchains his inner demon on the streets of New York and all hell breaks loose. American Psycho could have been an overly-indulgent, narcissistic piece of cinema. But it reins itself in where it should and what we ultimately get is a fine and weirdly entertaining motion picture.

Kudos also to the scriptwriters Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner whose excellent writing makes you cough on your tea several times during the course of the film. Frequently a cough of laughter and joy, something that one would hardly expect from such a narrative.

While you don’t necessarily understand the motivation of the character, he pulls you in, setting traps all over to lure you with mere words, then music and then numerous murders.

Everest… Earth’s highest mountain

Everest. So sprawling is the scale and macabre history of this fabled landmass, the name alone should be enough to give your brain momentary frostbite. Indeed, separating the myth from the mountain isn’t easy – but it is important.
Over 200 mountaineers have died climbing Everest in the past century. In 2015 alone, a record-high 22 climbers met their fate atop the massif (avalanches accounting for 29% of deaths, 23% for falls and 20% for exposure or acute mountain sickness, among other deadly factors).
Few know the dangers more than British explorer Matthew Dieumegard-Thornton. In May 2012, aged just 22, he became one of the youngest climbers in history to reach the summit. Here, he reveals the darkest parts of an Everest climb.

1. The ‘death zone’ makes you delirious

“The difference between Everest and most high-altitude climbs is that you need supplemental oxygen to reach the summit. An average journey takes five or six weeks, with much of the trek designed to help your body acclimatise. We had a good rotation, we didn’t get sick and we completed it on the first attempt within five weeks. But nothing prepares you for that thin air, it makes you delirious. They call the area where there’s not enough The Death Zone. Up there it’s all or nothing.”

2. There are a lot of crevices

“There are loads of crevices on Everest, many requiring you to traverse across them on ladders. Normally you start the journey with single ladders, gradually getting two ladders back-to-back and then eventually you get three ladders, like in this video I took [above]. I’d never climbed a horizontal ladder with crampons on before Everest, but feeling a little drunk on the lack of oxygen helped to ease any fears. On Everest, you encounter obstacles, tricks and techniques you’ve never had to solve before, and it all comes together on the same mountain.”

3. Sherpas can be crazy

“If I fell into a crevice nothing would probably happen as I’d still be attached by a rope. But the worst part is watching the Sherpas. They are paid by load/weight, so the more rotations they do the more they get paid, so they cut corners to go faster. They don’t clip in, they don’t wear helmets, they don’t do a lot of safety stuff. They’ll be walking across the ladders unclipped holding on with their hands. The day before we got to a big crevice past camp one we were told a Sherpa had fallen into it and died a day earlier. A rescue team had dragged his body up and he’d bled all the way up the icy face of this square crevice. There was no smell, it was just the sight of the blood. It was a lot darker than I expected it to look, and it made me feel physically sick. It put the climb into perspective.”

4. The mountain hides itself

"The sheer size of it is a huge problem to overcome mentally."
“The sheer size of it is a huge problem to overcome mentally.”
“You can’t quite take Everest in. Not fully. It’s so far away that when you can see all of it that it looks like a painting, and close-up it’s so big that it’s not possible to know what you’re even looking at. It’s almost as if the mountain hides itself: you can’t see camp three until you get to camp two. Then you only see camp four once you’re going up around the side of the mountain. Even on summit day it looks unrelenting. The size is a huge problem to overcome mentally.”

5. You will probably see dead bodies

“Everest is littered with dead bodies. When you leave camp four and you’re on your summit day, it’s so high up there you can barely take yourself. You can’t take a heavy rucksack, so if you die up there then there’s very little chance anyone will be able to get you down, and so you encounter bodies. Some families do pay for teams to pick up a body and lower it down. For the most part everyone stays very positive, you don’t talk about this stuff, but you can’t help but notice the bodies because their clothes are still bright. You might see some bare flesh but you won’t see a skull as the skin is almost embalmed as if it’s been frozen in time, almost like a waxwork. The clothes are flapping in the wind and ultra violet light, each person with their own story.”

6. Debris is a constant danger

Dieumegard-Thornton on his Everest climb
Dieumegard-Thornton on his Everest climb
“Everest isn’t your traditional up and down mountain – it’s not a technical climb; K2 is a more difficult mountain to climb in terms of technicality – but you still need to watch your step. Due to Everest getting drier as a result of global warming, and not enough snowfall, the mountain effectively sheds a layer of ice and rocks which tumble down the mountain. Basically, you have to negotiate terrain that is trying to throw a lot of stuff at you, and these can be boulders the size of a car.”

7. Failure is a big fear

“One of the biggest challenges with Everest is funding. It costs over £40,000 to plan a trip, you need good marketability, and it’s harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. I contacted 2,000 companies, and in the end it was just luck – Yellow Pages were re-branding and wanted Everest as part of their messaging, so I was in the right place at the right time. You don’t want to let anyone down, and this added pressure of failing when people have invested so much in you can play on your mind.”

8. Reaching the summit feels like a horror movie

Dieumegard-Thornton shortly before reaching Everest's summit
Dieumegard-Thornton shortly before reaching Everest’s summit
“I went into the climb imagining dying at the top of Everest would be quite a tranquil end – should the worst happen – because the oxygen is so low that you’d just fade out. But no, the summit is so windy and hostile – it’s simply not a nice place to be. It is extreme. You feel a long way from help and nobody is going to rescue you. The wind adds so much suspense I can only liken it to the sound of a horror movie. By the point I reached the top I was so hypoxic, or rather, low on oxygen, that I completely forgot about taking photos for all my sponsors. I only cared about myself in that moment as I felt so punch drunk. But when you’re pitting yourself against nature in a very raw way, thinking about yourself is no bad thing.”

Would a bottle of wine from the Titanic still be drinkable?

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In August of 1985, a US Navy-sponsored expedition lead by marine archeologist Robert Ballard was struggling to find the wreck of the Titanic. Ballard and his crew were given twelve days to sweep a potential resting place of more than 150 square miles using new technology that allowed for exploration below 10,000 feet. One week into the expedition, Ballard and his crew propitiously stumbled across the Titanic’s “debris field,” a large trail of debris left by the ship as it broke in half and sank to the ocean floor.

The debris field contained millions of objects: suitcases, clothes, bathtubs, jugs, bowls, hand mirrors and numerous other personal effects. One item that caught Ballard’s eye in particular were fully intact wine bottles, which appeared to still contain their corks.

The number of wine bottles scattered around the Titanic—an ocean liner whose main appeal was its luxury—isn’t a surprise. The ship’s first class passengers enjoyed extremely elaborate, 10-course dinners, with accompanying wine pairings for each dish. Corks retreived from the wreck indicate that Champagne from Moët and Heidsieck & Co. was popular on board.

A man holds a lunch menu recovered from the Titanic.

Champagne-style wines were favoured on the Titanic because they could be easily chilled after being brought onto the ship. Bordeaux wines were less favoured because the rumble from the enormous steam engines could dislodge sediment from inside the bottle. To slake the thirst of its first class passengers, the Titanic held more than 12,000 bottles of wine in its cellar.

This begs the question: if photographs indicate that the wreck of the Titanic holds thousands of sealed, unbroken bottles, could some of that wine still be drinkable?

It’s difficult to say, mainly because samples from the wreck are few and far between. Ballard himself refused to take bottles of wine from the wreck, claiming that doing so would be tantamount to grave robbing:

“Maritime collectors around the world would have paid thousands of dollars for a piece of the ship… How I would have loved a bottle of Titanic champagne for my own wine cellar. But from all our discussions it became clear that the Titanic has no true archaeological value… Recovering a chamber pot or a wine bottle or a copper cooking pan would really just be pure treasure-hunting.”

Bottles claiming to be from the wreck of the Titanic do occasionally appear at auctions, but the ship’s extensive wine collection remains mostly undisturbed on the ocean floor.

Experts taste wine from a 151-year-old US Civil War shipwreck at an event in Charleston, South Carolina. Attendees claimed the wine tasted like “crab water, gasoline, salt water, vinegar, with hints of citrus and alcohol.”

If other wrecks are any indication, however, there is some hope. A shipment of wines that lay buried in a wreck on the ocean floor for 138 years off the coast of Georgia was retrieved and tasted by divers in 1979, who described the wines as “incredibly good” (the collection contained 1839 red Bergundy of Cru quality, 1834 Port and 1830 Madeira).

In 2010, Finnish divers discovered several crates of champagne and beer from a sunken ship that had been at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for nearly 200 years. When changing pressures caused one of the champagne corks to pop out of its bottle, the divers tasted the wine and found that it was still drinkable.

“Bottles kept at the bottom of the sea are better kept than in the finest wine cellars,” Champagne expert Richard Juhlin explains. If experts like Juhlin are right, if there is anywhere wine could survive for 100 years, it’s the bottom of the ocean.

Perhaps the closest comparison we have to the Titanic is the RMS Republic, another massive White Star ocean liner which sunk in 1909 when it collided with the SS Florida. A key difference between the two wrecks is that the Republic experienced relatively little loss of life, making salvage efforts less prone to accusations of grave robbing.

Expeditions to the Republic have found a similarly large collection of wines: Moët & Chandon and Dom Ruinart champagnes; several Mosels, other white wines of uncertain origin, and some Bordeaux. When divers from a 1987 expedition opened a bottle of 1898 Moët & Chandon Champagne from the wreck, they found the wine to be “effervescent” and “wonderful.” When they sent some of the bottles to the New York office of Christie’s auction house, however, the wines were found to be malodorous and unpleasant.

“The bottles they brought us were debris,” Robert Maneker of Christie’s told The Wine Spectator in 1987. Experts at the auction house determined that the wine bottles were nothing more than a collection of “curiosities,” like “shrunken heads,” and said that newspaper reports estimating that the bottles could be worth up to $4,000 were “absolutely rubbish.”

If past shipwrecks are any indication then, the Titanic’s wine collection could have met a variety of fates. Fluctuations in temperature, bacteria and water pressure could have removed the seals of the bottles completely. Seepage might also have slowly replaced the original contents of the bottles with saltwater. Or perhaps some of the Titanic’s wine collection lies on the ocean floor still intact, after more than a century of deep sea cellaring, still waiting to be tasted. ♦

TOYOTA SUPRA 4×4 CONCEPT 2020

2020-Toyota-Supra-4x4-By-Rain-Prisk-0-Hero

The fifth-generation 2020 Supra — code-named A90 — has looks that will put even the bright-orange fourth-generation Fast and Furious movie car to shame.

Toyota made some big waves recently by announcing the rebirth of one of their most coveted sports cars, the Supra, which they’re bringing back after nearly two decades.  The sports car is one of Toyota’s most iconic models, thanks to a star-making turn in The Fast and the Furious. And while some folks were quite pleased with the announcement, others felt the unveiling fell a bit flat. We’re not sure exactly where Estonian digital designer Rain Prisk falls, but we do know he’s already taken the car to task and created this jaw-dropping 4×4 concept.

‘Insane’ might not be a powerful enough word to describe what Prisk has done here, completely overhauling the low-stance Japanese export into a lifted, all-terrain, off-road-ready panther of a car. And the redesign isn’t just a simple lift kit, as that wouldn’t really fit Prisk’s extremely detailed style. No, it’s also got a front-end winch, massive wheel arches to suit beefed-up tires, a step so you can climb in without jumping, a snorkel intake for fording deep water, and even a roof rack. It’s a shame that this beautiful monstrosity will likely never see the light of day, but we’re glad to have seen what could have been.

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