The vintage airgun forums - a brief history
The vintage airgun forums - a brief history
I kicked off the old forums with the Falke forum in April 2009 (introduction here) and followed it with ones on vintage Diana (introduction here) and BSA/Lincoln (with Lakey - introduction here) airguns respectively in May and October 2010.
There seemed to me to be a need because there wasn’t a single, centralised, internet resource catering for these manufacturers and information about each was scattered.
If you wanted to know about the models or makes, you had to ask on the main airgun forums and I felt a lot of valuable knowledge from experts was getting lost or obscured under the sheer weight of airgun chat – much of it throwaway.
The forums were all well received and I got a lot of enjoyment out of creating them and collating all the information and pics in one place.
I soon found that while enthusiasts were quite slow to contribute posts, they were (and are) very generous in supplying me with pics and scans of their collections. At this point the germ of the idea of an over-arching vintage airguns gallery began to take shape.
Also in 2010 I created the Gem forum – on one page rather than with separate gallery, resources, talk etc sections – mainly to harness the expertise of one man, DCL Dave, who was building up a very impressive knowledge of Gems due to his keen interest in the subject.
I launched the main vintage airguns gallery in June 2014 (introduction here), by which time I had collected hundreds of pics of vintage airguns, many of which I had owned and carefully photographed before I moved them on. I was ably assisted in building the gallery by Leonard Joe (LeonardJ) in Canada and Frank Korn (Frakor) in the Netherlands, who kindly contributed pics from their extensive airgun collections.
Since then, collectors from all over the world have contributed their pics and I rarely find myself at a loss as to what to post. The curators of large museum collections and auction houses that had major airgun sales have kindly allowed me to post their pics. Some charge a large amount for commercial re-use of the images, but are relaxed about a free internet gallery re-posting them.
The current WordPress incarnation of the gallery came about first as a result of the online pic host Photobucket changing its terms and conditions and forcing me to find another host, this time under my ownership and control. I sought donations to cover the cost and the galleries’ many supporters delivered – coming forward and kindly supplying the necessary funds in a matter of weeks.
Secondly, the future of the galleries’ web host, Network 54, was in doubt. It still limps on but has more and more technical problems. The last straw came when its owner announced that mobile forums specialist Tapatalk would become involved in (and it now emerges, take over) the network. Tapatalk has a reputation for ‘monetizing’ all the bulletin board forums it takes on and I knew this approach was not appropriate for a free gallery of donated pics.
The enabler for moving the galleries from Network 54 to WordPress, which is a modern, mobile-friendly platform, was Kane (Citizen K), owner of the South African air rifles forum. Unprompted, he took on responsibility for moving the pics to a self-hosted web server and then turned his attention to building a new home for them.
I couldn’t have asked for a better, more technically-able ally in this endeavour and I’ll always be grateful to him for the countless hours he gave over to the task. The phrase “cometh the hour, cometh the man”, springs to mind.
I decided to merge the contents of the four forums as there didn’t seem any point in recreating them separately. Kane has preserved the contents of the ‘talk’ areas of each forum so nothing much was lost.
My hopes for the gallery in the future are pretty much what they were when it started: that it becomes a repository of airgun information to rival any other and, with any luck, that it can inspire younger collectors to devote greater effort to building up their collections and knowledge, so that our hobby can continue to thrive and grow.
If you have any comments, or have vintage airgun-related questions, please feel free to post them in this forum. I recommend looking at my post on web links, which includes reference to several more dynamic vintage airgun-related forums than this one, in particular the airgunbbs.com's collectables section.
There follows some screenshots of the old forums, for posterity.