WALDO E. NUTTER: Author of the book Manhattan Firearms

Waldo E. Nutter, Author
( double-click on the photos for larger pics )

Manhattan Firearms by Waldo E. Nutter is the “bible” for Manhattan collectors.  Nutter wrote the only complete book on Manhattan
Firearms Company over 50 years ago and published on Dec. 17, 1958.  The book was published by the Stackpole Company of
Pennsylvania and sold for $10.00.  The author was a professional engineer and gun collector living in St. Louis, Missouri. He worked
primarily as a business consultant.  The author was also a superintendent of a munitions factory during WWII.  He was a descendant
of Captain Thomas Nutter, Revolutionary War militiaman who founded Nutter’s Fort in Augusta County, Virginia in 1772.

Manhattan Firearms is a book written as much about the Company and its founders as the firearms themselves.  It is a story about
American free enterprise, where a group of investors seeing that there was an opportunity to compete in the firearms marketplace
when Colt’s patent for the revolving pistol was to expire.   They formed a new company to compete against the largest firearm
companies in the U.S.   It details the improvements and patents that Manhattan added during the revolver’s development.  Most
importantly, it detailed the models and variations thus giving collectors a template to collect by.

I speculate that the popularity of
Manhattan Firearms was limited to a very small market of collectors.  Most of the books were not sold
at the time of publishing.   Then in the late 1970’s, these books were found in a warehouse and distributed to dealers.  The Second
Edition of
Flayderman’s Guide to American Antique Firearms, published in 1980, added a new chapter devoted solely to the
Manhattan Firearms Company.  With these two sources of information now available to collectors, they became select guides for new
collectors to follow.  Prices started to rise and availability started to drop.  Manhattan firearms joined with Colt and Winchester as
highly collectible firearms.

During the early 1960’s, Nutter’s collection of firearms was sold by Norm Flayderman and were featured in his catalog “No. 48”.   On
the cover was a matched pair of fully engraved, carved ivory-gripped, consecutive serial numbered, Manhattan Navy revolvers.   
These guns, serial numbered 58490 and 58491, were considered by Nutter “to be the Acme of an arms collection”.   According to
Flayderman, in addition to almost every known model of Manhattan, Nutter also had almost every known model of Metropolitan,
Whitney and Bacon firearms.  Nutter clearly intended to write several books and had already started on his next book,
“Metropolitan Firearms” by Waldo E. Nutter.  He eventually published this work in a series of magazine artices in
The Gun Report.

In some way, I have become as interested in the actual book, sales marketing of the book, and the publishing details, as in the
firearms themselves.  In addition to the standard green-clothed cover edition with dust cover, there was also published a limited
leather-bound edition.   The highest volume number I have seen on a copy of the leather-bound edition is #29; making them one of
the rarer Manhattan collectibles. I recieved an email from a long-time Manahttan Collector who contacted Stackpole and asked how
many leather bound editions there were. There were not sure, but records indicate that there were probably 50 of these printed.
A few advanced copies were sent out to reviewers and dealers.  These advanced copies included a special insert marking them as an
advanced copy (see photo below).  

There are two things that are a challenge in searching the Internet for information on Manhattan Firearms.  First is the misspelling of
the word Manhattan.   It seems a good portion of the public, including some prominent dealers, continue to spell it with a final “e”
(Manhatten).   Secondly, the actual name of the company according to company records is Manhattan Fire Arms Manufacturing
Company.   If you look closely at the barrel addresses, you will see that “Fire Arms” is two words.  I believe the title to Nutter’s book
which shows “Firearms” as one word was meant to describe the guns themselves not the company name.  But Nutter’s use of the one
word in the title adds to the confusion of today.  

While I have seen glimpses of the illusive author, such as an inscription to his parents in the forward of his book signed “Wally”, I still
would like to know more.   I do not know when Nutter passed away nor have I even ever talked to someone who knew him personally.   
If you have any personal observations, please email me with anything you would like to share.  
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please contact me
using the contact form at the bottom of my home page.

Manhattan Firearms by Waldo E. Nutter
Standard Edition
Bookcover for standard edition
Green cloth cover on standard edition

Manhattan Firearms by Waldo E. Nutter
Leather Limited Edition
Leather cover for Limited edition
Inside page of Limited edition
Volume # 11
Signed "Waldo E. Nutter"
Inscription for Limited edition #11
Dated Nov. 11, '62

Flayderman Catalog # 48
The sale of the Nutter Collection
Norm Flayderman catalog #48
from the 1960's showing Nutter's prized
Matched pair of pistols on the cover
Nutter Collection Matched pair of Navy Pistols
Serial Numbers 58490 and 58491
as shown on page 182 in
Manhattan Firearms
The Acme of my collection too!!
Sample copies sent to Reviewers and
Dealers had this sheet inside the front cover
Inscription to family inside the front cover of a
standard edition signed "Wally"
Letterhead of Nutter Engineering Firm
included with Volume #11

Personal folder of Waldo E. Nutter
Collection of Photos and Book Notes
Personal folder of Waldo Nutter. Has original photo
bookplates, notes, and other material from Manhattan
Firearms book. Also has photos and research for his next
book Metropolitan firearms which was not published.
Closeup of Top Front Cover title
Closeup of Bottom Front Cover title

Nutter's article on Metropolitans were published in the
August and September 1967 issues of
The gun Report.