Piece of the month
- H. stationary bike
The piece we?ve chosen for April is a bike, but not just any old bike: this is the first stationary bike produced by the famous B.H. brand
The letters B.H. stand for Beistegui Hermanos, originally from Eibar. It was created in 1909 by three brothers (Domingo, Juan and Cosme) who had started out as weapon makers. But when the arms industry was thrown into crisis after the end of World War I, they began making bicycles in 1923. In no time they had a cycling team and were organising races. However, in 1959, realising the lack of suitable space to continue growing in Eibar, the company moved to Vitoria. It was one of the first big companies to leave Eibar, an early sign of the business exodus which was to spread in the 70s.
Today it is still a famous brand, particularly for being the first European manufacturers to produce mountain bikes (MTB in English) and for their international expansion. It is interesting to note that their Vitoria plant has been closed since 2012; today the company only produces in Portugal and China.
The bike we see here is a stationary model controlled by mechanical brake. It only has a front wheel, connected to a chain and a brake. The brake friction prevents the user from freewheeling and its resistance can be adjusted using the knob (between the two handlebars) to obtain a gentler or harder pedalling strength. It is pale green in colour, with a red leather sprung saddle and metal handlebars. It also comes with a chain cover printed with the brand name and the drawing of a gazelle. B.H. Gacela was one of the company?s brand designs and it brought out several models, particularly in the 60s and 70s. The chassis has two stickers displaying the company?s former logo (a red cyclist) and giving information about the bike in Spanish and English, such as the name of the patent and the year and place of production: Vitoria 1959. Thanks to this information, we know that this was the first model of stationary bike made at the new Vitoria plant. The stickers also tell us that the chassis is arc welded, i.e. that the parts are joined by electric welding. Lastly, the bike has three frontal elements that make it even more unique: a manual timer for up to 30 minutes, a speedometer and a kilometre counter. As an accessory, it has a key at the back to adjust the height of the handlebar, the saddle and the rear of the chassis to suit different users. This is a delightful gem of the cycling world, a unique piece that surprises us with a new detail every time we look at it.
Damascene amphora by Pablo Sarasua
Amphoras are vessels used since ancient Roman times; they are recognisable for their long neck and two handles. They have had myriad purposes down through history, but their best known use is for storing wine or oil.
This said, the small size of our piece (33cm tall) and the material used to make it lead us to believe that it was conceived for ornamental purposes. While amphoras are generally made of clay, the one we have here is iron, since damascene ware can only be made with iron or steel.
Damascening is a technique whereby fine strands of gold or silver are used to create drawings; it was first used and revamped in 19th century Eibar by Eusebio Zuloaga. With time it became the town?s most famous and highly appreciated technique, particularly for decorating weapons. When Eusebio?s son, Plácido, improved the procedure by introducing the cutting technique (which meant ?preparing? the metal by making incisions in three directions before inserting the thread), damascene use spread to other kinds of objects, such as this piece. Pablo Sarasua (Eibar 1885-1969), one of Eibar?s greatest damascene artists, made this amphora somewhere around 1948. He was particularly skilled at shading, the technique that brings damascene figures to life and can be particularly appreciated in the beautiful animal figures featured on the amphora. We must remember that Pablo inherited his trade and skill from the family, since his father was Donato Sarasua, an apprentice under Plácido Zuloaga and creator of the Sarasua Etxea damascening shop in the Calle del Rabal.
This piece was given to the museum in 2014 by Joseba Sarasua (Pablo?s son). He also donated numerous tools used by his father. That same year Naría Asun Nogues restored the amphora to ensure that it would maintain its ancient splendour for many years to come.
Between 1916 and 1920 the Eibar-based firm "Beristain y Cía" obtained patents on improvements based on the ?Browning?1910 system.
These pistols were commercialised under the trademark BUFALO, identifying them with patent numbers 62004 and 67567, and the inscription "Model 1920" on the "Eibar-type" pistol. "Beristain y Cía" contracted the firm "Gabilondo y Cía" to manufacture the "Bufalo" pistols.
Production began in 1920, and the following year, undoubtedly foreseeing legal action by the "Fabrique Nationale" to defend their rights over the patent of the Browning 1910, "Beristain y Cia" presented a lawsuit to demand the repeal of the aforementioned patent basing their arguments on the failure of the Belgians to produce the weapon in Spain. In 1914 the "Fabrique Nationale" had submitted a certificate claiming that they possessed the means to start making the Browning 1910 in Barcelona, but production had never actually got under way. The Belgians alleged "force majeure" due to the war, but were unable to prevent their patent and industrial model being declared null and void, in a sentence passed on 6th of July 1926. Shortly before receiving the favourable resolution of their lawsuit against the "Fabrique Nationale", "Beristain y Cía" put an end to the manufacturing contract of their "Bufalo" pistols.
These two pocket revolvers are the Hammerless type for central-firing cartridges. Double action, with a folding trigger, a manual rod extractor housed in the axis of the cylinder and rifled bore. These pieces have the inscription: "Hammerless" and belong to the group known as "Velo-Dog".
The "Velo-Dog" revolver was the brain-child of the Belgian Mr. Charles François Galand in the decade of the 1890s as a defence weapon to allow cyclists to protect themselves from wild dogs.
Although initially conceived as an arm for a 6mm cartridge, it could also be loaded with pepper or a lead bullet for greater effect. Thus they exceeded the purpose for which they had been designed and became personal defence weapons. They went on to undergo modifications to accommodate 6,35 mm. and 7.35mm Browning, 7,62 mm. Nagant or 8mm. Lebel ammunition.
In Eibar this kind of weapon was first produced by Francisco Arizmendi, who in 1904 applied for the introduction licence, but a large number of Basque gunsmiths also showed interest, applying for patents of a wide variety of systems: automatic, automatic ejection, swivel mounted, oscillatory, etc.
The poor quality of the vast majority of these weapons meant they were generally looked down on, and such is their variety that arms collectors were far from keen to specialise in this kind of arm. However, this range includes pieces which, if only for their mechanical features, deserve our attention. They competed with automatic pistols in the field of pocket personal defence weaponry, until the latter finally prevailed.
Pair of "travelling" pistols made by Eusebio Zuloaga
This is a pair of single-shot "travelling" pistols, muzzle-loading and with English style stud chain locks. Of normal size, these weapons were for personal defence on dangerous journeys. Each has an octagonal-shaped smooth-bore barrel with the inscription, EUSEBIO ZULOAGA ARCABº DE S. M. EN MADRID AÑO DE 1840 (EUSEBIO ZULOAGA, gun-maker to H.M. in Madrid in the year 1840). The side plate is flat and is engraved with the same inscription as that on the barrel. The plate on the opposite side has a silhouette reminiscent of an open-winged eagle and is decorated with engravings. The large French-style stock, with criss-crossing grooves designed to enhance the grip, opens out at the bottom in an ovoid-shape with the edge engraved and a round base. The trigger guard with an additional hook for safer handling encloses a trigger with a hair device to adjust the touch of the trigger.
These pieces were made in Madrid in 1840 by D.Eusebio Zuloaga, (1808-1898), the last to hold the title "Gun-maker to His Majesty", granted by H.M. Isabel II in 1840. This gunsmith possessed a factory and shop in Madrid where he attended the needs of the Court. These premises were most probably used to assemble and give a suitably luxurious finish to arms that had been manufactured in the factory he owned in Eibar, which at the end of the 1840s was one of the best equipped in Spain. Eusebio Zuloaga closed his business in Madrid in 1854 and reorganised the factory in Eibar in order to achieve production that would not require subsequent finishing processes. In 1867 he handed management of the company over to his son Plácido, giving up any participation in the gun-making trade.
Length of arm: 380 mm.
Length of barrel: 216 mm.
Calibre: 17,2 mm.
Hunting knife with percussion cap pistol
Hunting knife with incorporated percussion cap pistol made by Felipe Galbasoro in Eibar around 1850. The single-edged blade has a grooved back with a small percussion cap pistol lodged in the upper third of the blade. The pistol has a spiral-grooved barrel and also a grooved priming pan. The small dog that acts as a firing hammer is engraved, as are the side plate and stirrup. On the upper side of the weapon, just before the spiral barrel, is the inscription: "Galbasoro en Eibar". The trigger can be folded to allow the arm to enter its scabbard. The handle is made of wood with a brass fixture, ending with a small cone-shaped point and a button. The handle guard consists of a brass strip with each end spirally engraved and turning away in opposite directions. There is a nº 5 engraved on the end of the handle and the inscription: GALBASORO EN EYBAR.
Pedro Careaga Garagarza is regarded as one of the most influential inventors of his time (Calvó (1997) p.151). Thanks to his ties with the manufacturers Esperanza & Unceta, as from 1911 his models began to be produced by them under the "Victoria" trademark. The Victoria is probably the first pistol with Eibar-type characteristics to be produced. Esperanza & Unceta made Victoria pistols with calibre 6,35 mm and 7,65 mm, both the hammerless version and with the percussion hammer exposed. Some of their models included a device which enabled the firer to see at a glance if there was a bullet in the breech. Due to a dispute over trademark rights, in 1915 Esperanza & Unceta ceased to use the "Victoria" trade name and adopted instead that of "Astra", which from then on came to be the most commonly used. Other brand names used for the commercialisation of these pistols were: "Muxi", "Scott", "Brunswig", "Dewaf" or "Belgium".
The model belonging to the museum collection has a magazine for seven bullets. Safety catch lever, magazine lock and magazine indicator; hidden hammer and rifled bore with five striations. The pistol has the inscription: Automatic Pistol. Victoria Patent.
Campo Giro Pistol, 1913 model.
Created by Lieutenant-Colonel Venancio López de Ceballos y Aguirre, count of Campo-Giro, who presented the it to the commission (of which he himself was a member) of the Spanish Army which had been set up to decide on the semi-automatic weapon that would be adopted as Standard issue.
After an exhaustive study of the arms that had been submitted, it was decided that Campo-giro would be responsible for manufacturing the weapon. Though the initial order was not followed by more, the Campo-Giro was well known to the public at large and production continued for the civil market. 995 were made and it was one of the pistols used in the Civil War.
Its design is somewhat complex, but has perfect alignment and finish. This pistol has a fixed barrel and its semi-automatic mechanism depends on the Blow-Back system. In this bolt-free process, the breech starts to open as soon as a shot has been fired, endowing the recoil spring with great strength. Moreover, another small spring was mounted just under the barrel to help to delay the opening of the breech. Magazine for eight bullets. Rifled bore.
Star Pistol 1919 model. "Sindicalista"
Bonifacio Echeverría was the first to take an interest in the "Colt" Md.1911 pistol, which had been patented in Spain that very year by the Belgian "Fabrique Nationale".
In 1919 the Eibar gunsmith filed a licence to introduce an arm of similar characteristics to the Colt, and though he had no intention of making an exact copy, he did plan to use it as a basis for pistols which, given their appearance, are naturally included in the category of arms known as "Colt" type weapons.
The first model of this pistol, made by Star, was a 6,35 calibre, and it provided a basic weapon from which other models, differing in size and calibre, were manufactured. The frame resembles that of the first 1911 Colt, while the half-open slide is reminiscent of the Italian Beretta. This pistol remained in production until 1929 in calibres 6,35mm, 7,65mm y 9mm.
The best known and most popular of all these was the model known as the "Sindicalista" thanks to its widespread use among anarchist union members in Barcelona and Zaragoza. Of 7,65mm calibre, it was officially called the ?Star, Police model?. All have a similar shape, and the feature that sets them apart from other weapons is the location of the safety catch, at the front under the slide rail.
According to reminiscences recorded in biographies of members of anarchist organisations, given its small dimensions, it used to be hung inside the trouser leg on a length of string attached to the activist?s waist. If a situation arose in which the pistol was required, the anarchist drew the gun through a hole that had been made in the trouser pocket. This same hole was then used to hide the gun and deceive the police when the activists were searched.