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[Sticky] Markham airguns chronology and company history

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Markham Manufacturing Company/Markham Air Rifle Company History

In 1885, across the railroad tracks from the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company was the Markham Manufacturing Company, which produced wooden tanks and cisterns. In 1886, Captain William F. Markham (no one seems to know why he called himself "Captain") came across a design for a wooden air rifle.  He changed the name of his company to Markham Air Rifle Company and began manufacturing a rifle which they called the "Challenger". The design wasn't patented until 1887.  It was inexpensive to manufacture and of simple design. Some historians claim that it was the first mass-produced air rifle that turned a profit. In 1888 they made a few minor modifications to the design and changed the name to "Chicago". The name "Chicago" came from the name of the city where their distributor was located.  This model appears to have been popular, because they continued to manufacture it until 1910.

Across the tracks, in 1888, Plymouth Iron Windmill Company started manufacturing the first all metal bb gun, (the "Daisy"), putting quite a dent in Markham's sales. That prompted Captain Markham to start manufacturing the "King" in 1890, a sheet metal bb gun with a cast iron receiver. It had a break-open cocking mechanism. This began many years of intense competition between Daisy and Markham. Although Markham held the most (and newest) patents, and was often the first to manufacture a new design, Daisy was the bb gun that most boys wanted to own. Daisy was much better at marketing than Markham.

In 1897, Markham, Daisy and a few other air rifle manufacturers entered into a marketing agreement that would be impossible under today's laws. They agreed to fix the prices of bb guns and even entered into mutual marketing agreements. These agreements could well account for the "Daisy" and "Sentinel" models both appearing in the same ads. There is some disagreement as to whether the "Sentinel" was a Daisy or a Markham gun.

In 1916, Daisy executives bought controlling interest in Markham Air Rifle Company. Captain Markham moved to California.

In 1928, Markham Air Rifle Company changed it's name to King Air Rifle Company. That year, Cass Hough (Grandson of Lewis Cass Hough, president of Daisy) took over sales and marketing of King Air Rifle Company. Most of King's guns were being sold to Sears and Roebuck. Daisy refused to sell directly to Sears (with the exception of the Model 25) until 1935. This was due to Sears' policy of discounting, which would have had a negative effect on Daisy's other customers. During the Great Depression, King Air Rifle Company suffered huge losses, while Daisy experienced a thirty percent reduction in sales. In 1931, the King plant was closed and from then on, all King guns were manufactured at the Daisy plant.

Although King guns had always been as good as Daisy's, most boys preferred to own a Daisy.  In fact, Daisy's famous Buck Jones Pump Gun was made with the 1931 King No. 5 Pump Gun design. After 1940, King bb guns were no longer manufactured.