Dogs and Doubles: Exploring 19th Century Portraits of People Posing with their Pinfire Shotguns and Canine Companions

The 19th century was a time of great change, as the world transitioned from agrarian societies to industrialized nations. Despite these changes, one thing remained constant: the deep and abiding bond between humans, their firearms, and their dogs. This bond is evident in a series of fascinating photographs from the 19th century, which showcase people from all walks of life posing with their pinfire shotguns and their loyal canine companions. From hunters to farmers, from kids to couples, these portraits offer a glimpse into a world where the relationship between a person, their weapon, and their dog was seen as an essential part of daily life. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these intriguing images and the stories they tell about the relationships between humans, their firearms, and their furry friends.

Ready for the Hunt

The first two portraits depict men preparing for a hunting excursion. Dressed in traditional hunting attire and armed with Lefaucheux pinfire shotguns, they stand ready with their trusty canine companions by their side. These hunting dogs, eager for action, seem to anticipate the thrill of the chase that awaits them in the field.

The next four portraits offer a more relaxed and contemplative look at the relationship between humans, firearms, and dogs. In these images, the men are seated with their canine companions by their side, each with a pinfire shotgun in hand. Dressed in hunting attire, they seem to be deep in thought, perhaps reflecting on past hunting adventures or contemplating the excursions to come. These portraits were taken at a photographer’s studio, providing a more formal and posed look at the subjects. They offer a unique glimpse into the world of 19th-century hunting culture and the deep bond between people, their firearms, and their dogs.

By the late 19th century, photography had become more affordable, allowing for more spontaneous and candid portraits. The many cartes de visite (CDVs) featured in this collection, including the two images below, cost approximately $5-$10 in today’s currency. At the time, most people did not own cameras, so they would either visit the photographer’s studio or the photographer would travel to their location.

As I curated this collection of images, I was struck by the number of young children posing with firearms in 19th century Europe. This suggests that firearms were not just practical tools, but also symbols of status and prized possessions. Unfortunately, many of these children did not have pinfire guns, so they could not be included in this collection dedicated to pinfire firearms.

While reviewing thousands of images, I noticed that pistols were less prevalent. Perhaps this well-dressed boy had recently received a pistol as a gift for his birthday, and posed with his dog for a portrait to send to his relatives. The presence of the dog adds an extra layer of warmth and personal connection to the image.

Celebrating the Bounty of the Hunt

Photographs taken after a successful hunt served as a testament to a person’s hunting skills and their mastery of the firearms they used. By posing with their catch, these hunters could demonstrate their hunting prowess and their ability to effectively use their pinfire shotgun. These images not only showcased the results of the hunt, but also the hunters’ close relationship with their firearms and the critical role they played in their lives. These post-hunt portraits were a way for hunters to proudly display their accomplishments and share their experiences with friends and family.

Just Posing with their Pinfire

The remaining images in this collection feature people posing with their pinfire shotguns. Including the firearm in the portrait highlights the significance that guns played in their lives, whether it was a fascination with firearms or a practical tool for hunting and shooting. It is likely that these individuals wanted to preserve the memory of their favorite pastime, showcasing their connection to their firearms and the role they played in their daily life.

The presence of the pinfire shotgun in these portraits suggests that it was not just a tool for hunting, but also a symbol of the individual’s passion and expertise. Whether they were proud hunters or simply enjoyed shooting as a leisure activity, the inclusion of the firearm in their portrait captured the essence of their personality and the experiences they held dear. These images offer a fascinating glimpse into the world of 19th-century gun culture and the important role that firearms played in the lives of people from all walks of life.

In conclusion, these portraits from the 19th century provide a window into a world where the relationship between humans, their firearms, and their dogs was an integral part of daily life. From the excitement of the hunt to the proud display of their firearms and catches, these images showcase the deep bond between people and their canine companions, as well as their love and appreciation for firearms. These portraits not only offer a glimpse into the past, but also serve as a reminder of the timeless bond between humans and their furry friends, as well as the role that firearms have played in our history. As we look back at these images, we can appreciate the unique and special relationships that have been formed over time between people, their firearms, and their dogs.