16 August, 2017

Item 55: Hell's Revolver


Collection Item 55 was discovered early in our Hawkins Strongbox explorations, but required careful handling and restoration before becoming available for exhibition at the Victorian Mechanical Museum and subsequently here at our online showcase.  It was designated as Hell's Revolver by Museum researchers, the origin of said epithet to be explained later in this missive.

The path to Item 55 originated in Lot 7, from which we have previously exhibited Collection Item 31: The Deakin Bro's Trade Card.  That group of items relates specifically to the 1882 disappearance of Jack Deakin and the efforts of his brother Timothy to find him and bring him home.  According to a narrative recorded by Timothy Deakin in a small bound journal (Collection Item 29), Jack Deakin was taken prisoner by criminal underlings working for Dr. Enoch Cyncad.  He had been searching for one of Cyncad's rumored subterranean outposts deep below the city of London.

Timothy Deakin enlisted the aid of underground explorer Matthew Hardy and newspaper reporter Adler Fanshaw in locating and recovering his brother.  After a heated battle with a number of Cyncad's clockhead automatons, the trio rescued Jack and managed a strategic retreat back to the relative safety of London's surface streets.  In the process, they confiscated a firearm used by one of Cyncad's higher ranking subordinates.

In his notes, Timothy Deakin identified the weapon as a heavily modified Saunders Æther V prototype, manufactured by Saunders and Sons in 1880.  He observed ". . . that numerous ventilation ports had been added to reduce the combustibility risks," and "exterior mechanics were used to synchronise particle beam rotation through the multiple barrels."
According to Devon Gillroy, Firearms Curator for the Victorian Mechanical Museum, Saunders and Sons abandoned the Æther V design in early 1881.  As noted here previously, Kenyon Saunders was tragically killed in 1882 while developing the company's Æther VI model.

Gillroy notes there is evidence that Cyncad was just then beginning to tinker with æther-based weaponry. That tinkering apparently involved numerous flawed designs absconded from Saunders laboratories. The modified Æther V was likely one of Cyncad's earliest experiments.  Timothy Deakin examined the piece extensively and concluded " . . . it is a thoroughly volatile and dangerous modification of an exceptionally flawed concept. "  He added, "I hope to God Almighty that it is the only one of its kind."  He then neutered it by removing its æther battery core and secured it in a lead-lined box within a second lead-lined box.  At some later date it was placed within the Hawkins Strongbox.

In July 1949, the pulp magazine Startling Stories published Adler Fanshaw's short story "The Battle Below," a thinly veiled albeit exaggerated fictional recounting of the rescue of Jack Deakin.  At the story's climax, the heroes are confronted by an adversary who was "brandishing a revolver forged in the firey pits of hell itself."  Museum researchers were inspired by Fanshaw's prose and Collection Item 55 became known as Hell's Revolver.

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