A one-of-a-kind engraved Cabot 1911
In 1981, Otto Carter was an art student at Texas’ Abilene Christian University. One day, a friend showed Carter his recently purchased 1873 Colt single action revolver commemorating the Abilene Centennial. It was engraved by Weldon Lister using 1800′s-style scrollwork. Carter was entranced.
After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Carter continued as a sign painter at Ellison Edwards Sign Co. But he never forgot the beauty and artistry of that Colt. In 2002, further inspired by James B. Meek’s The Art of Engraving, Carter took a firearms engraving course led by FEGA Master, Mike Dubber. The seed planted by the Colt took root.
“Engraving has a steep learning curve,” Carter admits with a laugh, “It takes years of patient perseverance to master.” Carter applied his growing talents to a range of objects, including motorcycles, watches, jewelry and firearms. After thousands of hours of dedicated labor, Otto earned the title Master Engraver.
His engraving career began with traditional scrollwork. “You can’t play jazz without first learning music theory,” Carter says. His journey into non-traditional firearms engraving began with a Celtic design laboriously carved into a revolver handgun. It opened-up a world of possibilities. Carter began engraving a variety of non-traditional designs on firearms: snakeskin, cattle brands, tribal symbols and skulls and flames (inspired by art work commissioned by Big Daddy Roth).
Carter’s firearms engraving reached new heights with two recent pieces. In 2014, he engraved a Bond Arms Derringer in the Aztec style, complete with a matching ring. In 2015, he completed an H.R. Giger-inspired 1911 (a firearm for which Carter has a special affection). In 2016, 1911 manufacturer Cabot Guns saw Carter’s Giger gun and approached the engraver with an open-ended commission.
Carter agreed to engrave the Cabot 1911 inspired by a little-known design language from the Victorian era. “I’ve been fascinated by the Aesthetic Movement for years,” Carter says. “It doesn’t have the rhythmic flowing patterns of traditional scrollwork. It has a chaotic composition, with large fields broken up by geometric brackets and banners separating different pattern motifs.”
“The lack of obvious continuity is a radical approach compared to anything in traditional engraving,’ Carter asserts. “But I think it’s fascinating; informed by Asian, Moorish, Italian and other cultural influences are drawn from the furthest reaches of the British Empire.”We’re delighted with the result,” Cabot Founder and President Rob Bianchin opines. “It’s a unique piece that required over 150 hours of concentrated effort from one of the world’s most skilled and creative firearms engravers. It’s a one-of-a-kind work of art that heralds a new beginning for the firearms engraver’s art.”
Christened “Pandemonium,” the Carter-engaved Cabot 1911 is now offered for sale.