What’s your oldest Form 1 and what does it cover? Well, earlier this week the Cody Firearms Museum in Cody, Wyoming recently found their oldest Form 1, the physical form itself, and it is just over 85 years old. Filed in Arizona by Mr. R.F. Chatfield-Taylor to cover a short barrelled rifle which is now part of their collection.
The form is for a Winchester Model 94, chambered in 30-30, with a 15 inch barrel. When the NFA was originally passed the barrel length restriction was 18in, so the rifle was well under the restricted length. The rifle’s serial number dates its production to 1931, and Mr. Chatfield-Taylor’s Form 1 states he acquired the rifle some time in 1933.
Mr. R.F. Chatfield-Taylor, is likely Robert Farwell Chatfield-Taylor – who from some digging was an official with Aeronautics Branch of the Department of Commerce (an early air travel regulator) after his time working at Tuscon airport. In July 1938, the Arizona Daily Star reported that Chatfield-Taylor made a flight from New York to Tuscon in less than a day with just two stops. He was the brother of Wayne Chatfield-Taylor, the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under F.D.R and may have been responsible for the development of the .416 Taylor cartridge.
Dating from early November 1934, the form might be one of the oldest surviving physical NFA Form 1s. To put that into some perspective this Form 1 was completed just 5 months after the NFA became law on 26 July, 1934.
Time for a little history. The original impetus for the creation of the National Firearms Act of 1934 was the prolific wave of gangland crime which swept across the US from coast to coast during the Prohibition era. The regular use of sawn-off shotguns, machine guns and (far less regularly) suppressors by gangsters led the US government to seek to prohibitively regulate short-barrelled weapons, suppressors and machine guns with a new law that imposed a high one-time tax payment and more importantly register the owner.
Here’s the Cody Firearms Museum’s original post sharing the form:
Back then, just as today, the NFA tax stamp cost $200, if we adjust that for inflation it would be somewhere near $3,900 today. That’s no small investment for the Depression hit 1930s. Well, Mr. Chatfield-Taylor must have felt his little Winchester was well worth the expensive new tax stamp. Especially when you consider that if he bought the rifle new from a dealer he would have paid around $30 for the carbine (perhaps a little more for the peep rear sight and the shorter barrel). Essentially Mr. Chatfield-Taylor paid nearly 7 times more for those 3 inches of barrel he didn’t have.
The rifle and Form 1 remain part of the Cody Firearms Museum’s collection, the museum recent re-opened after a huge refurbishment, I visited last year and the new museum is well worth checking out. Find out more about the museum at www.centerofthewest.org/explore/firearms