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Roy_Jinks.jpg
Roy Jinks

COMPANY HISTORIAN BUILDS ON A FASCINATION WITH FIREARMS

January 6, 2005

There is an entire bookshelf (10 feet, 6 inches long) in Roy G. Jinks's home office that contains every firearms patent issued in the United States from June 29, 1832, to May 17, 1921. They were compiled and bound first by Daniel Baird Wesson, who died in 1906, and then his sons. D. B. Wesson, as he was known, together with his business partner Horace Smith founded Smith & Wesson, a company that holds a special place in American industrial history.

Wesson, who was responsible for innovations that led to the first handguns that could shoot multiple rounds without reloading, held more than idle interest in the set. "The company has always concentrated on coming up with new designs and new innovations that would give them an edge in the market," said Jinks, who has been company historian since joining the Springfield-based firearms manufacturer in 1962. (He has also held several other posts.)

Jinks's fascination with Wesson and his legacy goes back to when Jinks was a boy shooting at tin cans in Rochester, N.Y. "It was the guns that brought me to the history," said Jinks, who not only has an extensive firearms collection but has accumulated hundreds of thousands of Smith & Wesson documents mainly catalogues, advertising fliers, invoices, and original patents as well as business and personal correspondences.

When the City of Springfield razed the old Smith & Wesson factory in 1971, they first sold it to Jinks for $1 and gave him a week to rummage around and take anything he thought valuable. The prizes he landed included the original chestnut paneling in D. B. Wesson's office, which Jinks installed in the 18th-century red brick Colonial house in the Berkshires that he shares with his wife, Jean, a retired advertising executive.

Now on a winter's morning, you are likely to find Jinks, an endowed member of the National Rifle Association, sitting in Wesson's re-created office, doing the things the company historian might do. Last year that included responding to 20,978 e-mails, 6,007 phone inquiries 3,169 letters, and performing 378 serial number traces for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

All articles © Eric Goldscheider

(413) 835-1248 - eric.goldscheider@gmail.com