HILP Antique Suicide Device – Deadly High Five With A Revolver

Emailed to me by Artimus.  He got it at a blind auction at an abandoned warehouse:

The only markings on it are HILP on the one arm.

He said someone made a joke that HILP stood for “High Impact Lead Poisoning” LOL

Fascinating… the base looks like it was made from an old fan.   Someone really put some work into jury rigging this thing. Wow that hand is creepy… wouldn’t a simple circular target area have sufficed?

I wonder what the deal with the hand is?  Maybe the person thought that if they didn’t physically pull the trigger they wouldn’t have “commited suicide”, instead they would have got murdered.   Hey, you never know…

Anyone have any theories on what HILP is, or any other thoughts about this device?


25 responses to “HILP Antique Suicide Device – Deadly High Five With A Revolver”

  1. mn_smokeater Avatar

    maybe its a remote firing set up? grab the base of the lamp and pull the hand towards you while aiming down range?

  2. Well, it is, of course, an old Smith & Wesson 3rd Model, or ‘Schofield’, probably in .44 Russian. If it’s original (as it appears to be- as in, it’s unlikely it’s a Uberti copy) then it’s probably somewhat valuable in and of itself. It looks like a lot of the finish is still there.

    The base is definitely an old desk fan… lemme look… yep, a 50’s era Westinghouse:

    The hand is probably off of something like a cheap tourist-trap backscratcher that somebody brought back from their vacation to Hawaii or Thailand or some such.

    As for what the completed assembly was for? Unless it was a prop for some “Home Alone” type movie where the protagonist sets up various Rube-Goldberg-like traps, I have no bloody idea. It hurts my brain to try and wedge it into an identifiable slot… :)


  3. Jackson Avatar

    Looks like it would make for a really intense game of catch.

  4. Edward Bleistein Avatar
    Edward Bleistein

    This is a Russian roulette board game that never really caught on !
    Your turn comrade , hi five !

  5. Artimus Freeman Avatar
    Artimus Freeman

    FYI for the Gun Enthusiasts out there. The Gun is marked as Follows : “*Iver Johnson’s Arms & Cycle Works of Fitchburg Mass USA. The barrel size (in diameter) is .3535 inches. I am unaware of what caliber that would be.

    1. Hey, I have an old Iver-Johnson Safety-Automatic. That is probably the model name of that pistol. I have it in .32 ACP, and it is unshootable. The .38 models were much beefier, but whatever you do with that, don’t shoot it until it’s checked out by a gunsmith. Safety comes from the fact that it has a bar between the hammer and firing pin that drops out of the way if the trigger is not being pulled (to prevent accidental discharges from a drop), and Automatic comes from the fact it should have a star-shaped ejector that protrudes from the cylinder when you open it, to make reloads quicker.

      I am with the camp that says this is art or a prop. Since it is an I-J, I doubt it would be worthwhile to restore (they don’t have much panache to gunnies or historians, despite being used to assassinate McKinley — or perhaps because of that). Just put it on the mantle, pointed in a safe direction, and let it be a conversation piece.

  6. Artimus Freeman Avatar
    Artimus Freeman

    I am the owner by the way. That is how I know what the top of the gun says by the way.

  7. It COULD very simply be a device to allow someone with a disability to go shooting….

  8. That one guy Avatar
    That one guy

    I’ve seen one o these before(something like it anyway, the gun was held in with the grips still attached and it had a target instead of a hand). It’s no machine, it’s simply a form of art. It’s as much art as gluing your entire dining room upside-down to the roof is though.

    But that’s the great thing about art, it doesn’t have to make sense. This thing is a metal (If not somewhat lethal) Picasso. My good sir, what you’ve bought is something that requires insane taste to understand or like xD

    1. Perturbo Avatar

      You mean like Da-daism?

  9. armed_partisan Avatar

    Seems like a rather complicated way to commit suicide. My thoughts? Booby trap. Load it, cock it, set it on a desk or table in front of a door, when the door knob hits the hand, BLAM! Something like that.

    The caliber is almost certainly .38 S&W (not .38 S&W Special), which is still available and not too expensive. Unless you wanted to keep it as a piece of folk art or something, I’d take the gun off, find some old grips to put on there, and keep or sell the gun. Guess it depends on how much you paid for it.

  10. Snow and Ash Avatar
    Snow and Ash

    Since no one else has said it, I will. This mystery object is clearly a HANDgun! Ha Ha!!

  11. Henry Bowman Avatar
    Henry Bowman

    It has to be “art.” Because whatever the function of the hand is, te device would function equally well with something much less anthropomorphic.

    Is there a title on it anywhere? If not, I suggest “Welfare.”

  12. Henry Bowman Avatar
    Henry Bowman

    After a fair amount of net research, the most appropriate meaning I could find for HILP was “high-impact, low probability event.” The sort of disaster they tend to offer insurance for, like a house fire or death of a breadwinner. Maybe the joke here is that if somebody were to load the gun and then throw a beach ball at the hand, that would be a high impact event, but with a real low probability of anyone actually being stupid enough to do that.

  13. Looks like some jacked up piece of conceptual “art.” I doubt it was intended ever to work. It would be great if the revolver was still functional. and could be restored with some vintage grip panels.

  14. It’s clearly a Russian roulette carnival game where the players either win or die. The HILP stands for HI-five Loaded Pistol!

  15. It’s badass that’s what it is. I want one for some strange reason, but then again I like weird stuff.

  16. i guess the hilp 1 didn’t work. maybe the hilp 2 was better and thats how the warehouse came to be abandoned.

  17. That hand is kinda freaky it reminds me of a salad fork (wooden minus the spoon) and a back scratcher.

  18. bigghoss Avatar

    I’m gonna go with a piece to a larger rube-goldberg device. maybe firing the gun is the ultimate goal or maybe the gunshot just triggers the next action in the chain but that’s my guess. maybe it’s a prop for a movie where the character constructs and overly complicated rube-goldberg suicide-machine or booby-trap. as for art? well, I would hope that they would somehow render the gun non-functional if it’s just for decoration. though it’s possible they wanted it to still shoot while serving no purpose.

    it’s also very possible that “HILP” is unrelated to this piece and is in reference to whatever the part was scrounged from, since it’s cobbled together from various bits. I’m assuming the reason it’s a wooden hand instead of just some simple round target is because it’s cobbled together and it was just HAND-y! sorry for the bad joke but I just had to give it a SHOT.

  19. Hand Initiated Lead Poisoning ?

    Hit In Left Palm ?

    I don’t think it’s a suicide device. I think it’s part of a Rube Goldberg contraption. So that at some point, a arm or bar would turn in response, pressing the hand down and firing the pistol, and the bullet would carry across a distance, initiating the next step in the sequence.

    Think of it being used in something like this:

  20. conceptual art? no. process art? yes.

  21. That one guy Avatar
    That one guy

    IT. IS. ART. Put it on the mantelpiece over your fireplace and it becomes an epic conversation piece.

    …. i’ll buy the revolver for a tenner. Deal? xD

    1. Artimus Freeman Avatar
      Artimus Freeman

      Thank you for the offer, but I feel the piece is more interesting with the gun in place. AF

  22. a revolver tester, not to fire the revolver but to dry test it!