John J. Loud's Fire Cracker Cannon

My first firecracker cannon was a Home Guard Safety Cannon. Up until that time I had never seen one before, but this little field piece intrigued me because it opened up like a break action shot gun. I studied it trying to figure if it was a pin-fire blank shooter when a broken firecracker fell out of the barrel. At once all was clear!

That was 1988 and the $50 I paid was the most I had ever spent for a cannon! We talked about it for weeks. Breaking the $100, $500 and $1000 barriers somehow were not the same. The Home Guard is a very nice shooter and has survived in several variations and MIB (mint in box) examples can still be found.

Patented Dec.. 27, 1887 in the US and June 26, 1888 in Canada it was manufactured by the Safety Cannon Company in Brookline, Massachusetts. The retail price was 50 cents. It is believed this toy was manufactured into the 1920's or even the 1930's by licensees. The Home Guard is easily identified by the six spoke wheels.

You will see this toy with ten-spoke wheels. Originally we called this the fake Home-Guard because of lighter weight and poorer fitting castings. But the ten-spoke toy has both the American and Canadian patents marked in the trail so we first thought it to be made under license.

However, we know that the company was operated by Mr. A. H. French, believed to be Loud's son-in-law. The current speculation is that while Mr. Loud was in charge of the operation, the higher quality six-spoke version was being manufactured. Then when Mr. French took over, some changes were made to reduce costs and increase profits.

The ten-spoke barrel is the same length and width as the six-spoke, but the wheels and drag are smaller. Also, the drag is hollowed out on each side where the pivot is so there would be less iron to drill through. This causes the sloppy fit. The barrel is also narrowed in the area of the drag pivot and when viewed from the top, there is a hole through between the barrel and the cheeks on each side. While we have several pieces of advertising showing the six spoke cannon, we have none for the ten spoke toy. Any help here is appreciated. Three distinct Home Guards have been identified so far, not counting our bronze version. They are the original, the ten-spoke and the split trail. The split trail cannon has a trail that is made up of a left and right casting.

View J.J. Loud's Patent
View Home-Guard Cannon
View Split Trail Home-Guard Cannon
Lady Guard 1/2 scale Home Guard

Picture of Patent
J. J. Loud's patent.

Picture of Cannon
Home Guard (front) Ten-spoke "Fake" Home Guard (rear)
 Photo of Home Guard
Ray-Vin Bronze Home Guard 2001-2004 (only 50 made)

Picture of Cannon
Split Trail Home Guard
We believe this version was designed to get around Loud's patent. It is nicely made and looks just like the original, but it dosen't work as well.

Picture of Cannon
This is a half-scale version that was prototyped by Ray-Vin in November of 2001.
It is made from silicone bronze by the lost-wax casting process. It shoots lady finger firecrackers. We called it the Lady Guard. About five were made. It was too small and light weight to stay closed when fired. Nice to look at, but no fun to shoot.