John Dillinger’s wooden escape gun sold for auction
Published on May 11th, 2010 | by Admin2
Probably the Single Most Iconic Item Associated with John Dillinger is the Legendary “Wooden Gun” He Carved and Used to Escape from the Crown Point, Indiana Jail, March 3, 1934. In reality there are three ‘wooden guns’, including this example, that can lay claim, all with some degree of credibility, to being the one Dillinger used is his remarkable escape. This example was part of the personal effects of Dillinger’s younger brother Hubert, and has been in the possession of Frances Helen’s family since his death in 1974. Another example is in the possession of the Dillinger Museum in Hammond, Indiana, while still another is in the possession of another branch of the family. While it will probably never be known which, if indeed any, of these three examples is the one he actually used, aside from it having a traceable lineage through the Dillinger family, this example exhibits several other details which lend strong credence to the family’s belief that this is, in fact, the original specimen. 5.75″ overall, the blackened finish is clearly affected by a dye, such as shoe blacking, rather than a paint and it does, indeed appear to have been fabricated from the leg of something such as a washboard. The general impression, based on the barrel form, is that of an automatic pistol. There are tiny brads in place on top at the front and back giving the impression of sights, with an incised line between them. A notched area at the back approximates a hammer. The front/muzzle has a .25″ copper tube inserted to simulate a barrel. Crudely carved on the right side “Colt 38” and on the left, clearly in keeping with Dillinger’s sense of humor and irony, “Pat Mar 3, 1934” the date of Dillinger’s escape. Accompanied by a detailed letter of provenance and lineage from Frances Helen Thompson (Dillinger).