Historical information

This cap gun was found by a local Warrnambool resident in about 1971.

Cap guns first appeared following the end of the American Civil War in the mid-1860s, when firearms companies experimented with toy guns to stay in business. Cap guns became especially popular when the heroes of cinema and television rode through the West ridding the territories of villains.

Many cap guns were named after or endorsed by leading matinee idols like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Tonto, Dale Evans, Marshal Matt Dillon, or any of countless others. Cap guns became popular after the second world war and children all over the world emulated their heroes and collected and played with these toy guns. Eventually all of the famous cap gun manufacturers either sold out to other toy companies or started manufacturing other types of toys.


Before it was deemed dangerous or politically incorrect for young children to point pistols at each other and fire at will, cap guns were a staple of toy chests. The item demonstrates how society has changed its attitudes and now regard these types of toys as morally unacceptable as they tend to promote violent attitudes towards others. The item demonstrates significantly how our societies social attitudes have changed since world war two from general societal acceptance of such toys to one of distaste.

Physical description

Toy gun; cap gun. Cast iron toy pistol with metal trigger. Name "National" in raised embossing in the casting on the handle on both sides of the gun. Made in 1911.

Inscriptions & markings