In the early days of cycling, bicycles were expensive so brigands were tempted to rob their riders if they strayed into unknown territory. A pistol was therefore a useful accessory. By the mid-1890s, bicycles had become so common on the roads that the bandit problem eased, and a live firing pistol was less of a necessity.
The other problem was dogs, which commonly attacked cyclists both in the countryside and in cities. A demand arose for small pistols which would fit easily in a cyclist’s pocket.
In 1894, Charles-Francois Galand designed a small pistol which used a 5.5mm cartridge. He was a Frenchman with a workshop in Liege, Belgium (a centre for arms manufacture). His son Rene registered the ‘Velo Dog’ trademark in Liege 1904. The name ‘velodog’ became a generic term for all pistols of this type, including cap guns, that were marketed for cyclists. The most common calibre for velodog pistols was 6mm. As well as those manufactured at Liege, many were made in Germany which, at that time, was the world’s leading exporter of all types of metal products.
The velodog was particularly popular in France, which continued to have a bandit and dog problem into the early 1900s. Velodog cap guns are similar in effect to a starting gun, where the loud noise scares a dog away. The example here has a blanked-off barrel, uses caps, and is legal to own in Britain. I believe this example was manufactured by J G Anschutz GMBH Waffenfabrik, Germany, and sold through the trade to retail companies throughout Europe.
1914 JGA ‘Velodog’ Cyclist Pistol
Manufactured by J G Anschutz GMBH Waffenfabrik, Germany
This ‘Velo Dog’ pistol is in good, fully operational condition. The centre of the faded cartouche (inscription) reads ‘JGA’ in vertical letters, which is the initials of the manufacturer J. G. Anschutz. According to a historical website page (reproduced below), with the company initials displayed vertically, as on this pistol, it would have been manufactured in 1914.
The logo DRGM inscribed on the side of the pistol stands for Deutsches Reich Gebrauchsmuster, which translates as ‘German Reich Registered Design.’ This was the German Patent system up to 1949.
Manufrance, who produced the catalogue below, was one of many retail outlets around Europe that purchased pistols from JGA and other German firms for resale in their catalogues.