Friday, May 2, 2014

The Conqueror

John Wayne! Make sure you take your hat off when you say his name!
Starring as Genghis Kahn in the 1956 movie The Conqueror. 
John Wayne is carrying a bow built by the Cravotta Bros in the photo below. The Cravotta Bros. built 400 bows for this movie.
Additionally, the movie was filmed in Utah, downwind of a nuclear test facility in Nevadah. By 1981, 91 of the 220 member cast was dead of some form of cancer.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How to find and purchase a vintage Cravotta Bros. Bow

You may be wondering...................... How can I find a vintage Cravotta Bros. bow?
Well, finding one may not be the hardest part. Finding one in good condition without hidden flaws or buying one online from a seller you know nothing about, or............ buying one from a seller that knows nothing about bows could be the hardest and most disappointing part.

But before I go on, and give you my .02 cents on the subject, please let me direct you to a very well written blog post about purchasing vintage bows, from my good friend and blogging mentor: Larry Vienneau. CLICK HERE

In addition to the sites Larry has pointed out in his blog, you may also find some Cravotta Bros. bows on the following sites from time to time:
And, there's now several traditional classifieds and vintage traditional archery pages on facebook:
Traditional Bowhunters Classifieds Buy-Sell-Trade
Recurve and Longbow Swap Shop
Stickbowman Vintage Archery
If you don't see what you're looking for, post a message letting folks know. Lot's of times folks will have a bow they no longer use, but think nobody has an interest in it, or, they just need a little coaxing to put them in the mood for selling it.

First and foremost............ LEARN what a Cravotta Bros Bow looks like. The style, the lines of the bow, the limb tip shapes and features, etc. Sometimes the labels fall off, and sometimes the writing fades, sometimes folks camouflage them, sometimes folks refinish them. So it's possible someone will list one online and they won't know what they have, or, you'll be looking at one at a flea market, and you won't even know it. Look at my photos in the gallery and learn what they look like.

I also suggest reviewing my Prices page. That way you'll have something to go by as far as pricing goes for vintage Cravotta Bros Bows. But remember, in some cases you may find an extraordinary bow that may be well worth more then my recorded prices, and on the other hand, it could be a piece of junk.

When I visit ebay I have a few searches I do:
First, I search for Recurve Bows in the Outdoors Sports category, and look for Newly Listed items on a daily basis. You'll have to wade through a lot of accessories, but with some folks posting in the wrong category, you'll need to do this to find those bows that "possibly" nobody else will.
Once I do that search, I then search for longbow, in the same category and for newly listed.
Then, I search for vintage archery....... then, I search for recurve.
Depending on how many new listings there are daily, sometimes I can be on there an hour or more.

Craigs list is a whole different beast to search for vintage bows. I wish Craigs list had a nationwide search you can do, but unfortunately I haven't found a way to do it yet. But be careful in buying from sellers far away from home on there, who may be willing to ship. You don't have the sort of protection to get your money back on Craigs list like you do on ebay.

If you have a local Bargain Finder, check there. My local bargain finder has a Black Hawk bow listed every couple months, and usually much cheaper then you can buy online.

If you have the time, go to yard sales, flea markets, etc. My Uncle once bought me a Bear Takedown for $40 in mint condition, which I sold for over $800 at a flea market. So those are excellent sources too.

Most of all, have fun. Decide what kind of collector you're gonna be.
Do you want to just collect a couple shootable bows to use on a frequent basis?
Do you wish to collect beater bows, and fix them up?
Do you wish to collect pristine bows for display?
Do you wish to collect good condition bows, and have a professional refinish them?
Or, all the above?

Best wishes in your collecting ventures!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

1957 Black Hawk Bee

Recently I traded for a fine looking Black Hawk Bee. It's in excellent shape for being over 50 years old.
I wanted to share some photos, and, I also wanted to share my thoughts on the bow. So below is my personal run down of the specs, and my thoughts on the Black Hawk Bee.

Born: June 1957
60 inches long
46# @ 28"
Physical weight= 1# 7oz.
Grip from front to back= 1.5"
Grip from side to side= 1.125
Maple riser and limb cores.
Tan woven glass on back, white woven glass on belly.

Hand Shock is minimal. But noticeable if you notice such things. Which can be expected with the small, longbow style riser, and light physical weight.
The bow is a joy to carry.
The leather wrapped handle has a good feel to it, and is comfortable.
The color of the tan woven glass has an attractive look to it. Much more attractive then the modern colored glass.
The bow appears to be very well made, and the wood and glass lamination's have minimal glue lines.
It is a very quite bow. With only a flemish dacron string and no silencers, it is quieter then nearly all recurves I've shot with silencers, and quieter then a lot of longbows .

Last thoughts on the Bee:
The Bee was one of Black Hawks less expensive models. But it is still a joy to shoot, and not too shabby on looks with it's classic lines. I'm of the opinion, that it is every bit as good a bow, as some modern recurves being built for $250-$350 today. And an even better bow then some of the sub-$200 bows being offered from companies overseas. If you're a beginning collector, who wants an inexpensive bow to start your collection, or, if you're a beginning archer, that wants a nice little bow to start out with, that has some classic 50's looks to it, a Black Hawk Bee would be a great little bow! You can usually pick these up for less then $150 in great shape, and less then $100 in shootable shape, but may need some refinishing. I would love to see some of the American Bowyers start building some inexpensive, but nice bows like this again.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Red Headed step child.....

No offense meant by my title if you are indeed a red headed step child, but my friend Shane Reed shared this bow with me. It's another bow built by the Cravotta Brothers for the Red Head company. It was the original Red Head company before Bass Pro bought them out.
It's called the Red Head Thunderbird. and was made February 1, 1958.
You can see below a lot of the traits of the early Cravotta Bros. bows.
The multi laminate riser.
The small limb tips laminated in different colors.
The angled grip, which was sort of a trademark of early Black Hawk bows.
It's a fine looking bow, and compared to some more vintage recurve style from around the same time period, (see bottom photo), it had a rather large riser.

Bottom bow in the below photo:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Doug Kittredge Signature Hunter

A few days ago, while doing research I happened upon what to date, is the most beautiful Cravotta Brothers built bow I've seen.
Member Mike Shaw, of Tradgang made a post about the bow and shared photos of it in April 2012.
You can go to his original post by CLICKING HERE

It's a truly beautiful bow built July 1973 as can be seen by the following photos.
(photo credits: Mike Shaw)

It's interesting to note the use of multiple woods, as well as phenolic in the riser. Also the pronounced thumbrest like Fedora uses. The light colored wood looks like the same wood I've seen in some of the Galaxie bows the Cravotta Bros built. To me, it appears to be ash wood.

I also did a search to find out who Doug Kittredge was. After reading some info I remembered hearing of him before.
You can read some great posts about Doug Kittredge on the TradRag site by CLICKING HERE.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Two Birds of a feather

In a previous post I mentioned the Galaxie Models that the Cravotta Brothers made. An ebay user allowed me to use photos of a beautiful Blackhawk Galaxie Mars bow which I'll post below.
But before I post the photos of the Mars bow, I have its brother from a different mother......... to show you.
I've earned a lot in the few days since starting this blog. And this is another piece of Blackhawk bows history that needs to be shared.
In researching Blackhawk Bows, my search led me to the leatherwall traditional archery site. Where a guy (shortdraw) had purchased a nice Martin Hunter MKII recurve bow. It's a very nice bow indeed! After some reading, one member stated that Blackhawk made some bows for Martin Archery before they bought out Damon-Howatt.

Here are some photos of the Martin Hunter MKII which shortdraw gave me permission to use:
Notice the arrow rest with the Blackhawk on it?

According to the bow ID, it was made Feb. 1974
Compared to a Shakespeare Sierra. Martin top, Sierra bottom:
And now the Martin logo:

And now for the photos of the Blackhawk Galaxie Mars which an ebay user gave me permission to use:
This bow is a beauty!
Nicely done limb tips:

The side profiles are very similar to the Martin:

Beautiful Blackhawk label on the riser, or is that an inlay?
Notice the limb label only says Galaxie:

 Born in April 1973. Nearly a year older then it's brother above. Also notice it's also 52" long.
And one more comparison of the two risers of both bows. They are slightly different, but only because the darker, outer riser lamination of the Galaxie (left) was ground a little deeper in the grip area during the finishing job. And the Galaxie, (left) has a bit more forward set riser. But it's plain to see these are "birds of a feather"........ Blackhawks that is!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cravotta Bros. Patents

Today in doing some research, I happened upon more treasures. Patents by the Cravotta Brothers. I found these on Google Patents.

James J., and Cosimo V. filed for Sep. 4  1956 for a composite bow patent, and here's the link you can view it at: CLICK HERE

Cosimo V. Cravotta also filed for patent on Feb. 25 1957 for binders for water skis and the like: CLICK HERE

Cosimo V. Cravotta also filed for patent on May 27 1960 for Water Skis: CLICK HERE