A photo of a handgun frozen in a block of ice.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

If you have a retro 1935 ice gun, it could very well be worth thousands of dollars. They’re now valued as antiques and have even been featured in books such as 100 Designs for a Modern World by George Kravis. One of them sold for $19,000 on liveauctioneers.com. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art even has one on display.

They’re highly valued because there are only a handful of them in existence. Opco Company USA engineered the gun in 1935 to shred ice cubes. Armed with a spring-action plunger and trigger mechanism, the gun is capable of compressing an ice cube and turning it into a spray that shoots out at the bottom. Pretty cool, eh?

Why anyone would need this type of device remains a mystery. But the important thing to remember is that they’re rare, they’re highly valued, and they’re pretty badass.

But aside from being a nifty sci-fi weapon, the gun actually provides some pretty cool insight into the history of technology. If we look at a timeline of products that were developed in the 1920s and 1930s, we notice that the first handheld portable hair dryer was developed in 1920.

It was large, heavy, and only had about 100 watts of energy. It was terribly inefficient. But after years and years of redesign, the modern hair dryer is compact, lightweight, and packs about 1500 watts of power!

Similarly, the first television was developed in 1927. The original models were terrible. Images were fuzzy and full of static, pictures were only displayed in black-and-white, and the TVs themselves were bulky. Now, in 2016, we have high-resolution screens with Wi-Fi capabilities.

When it comes to ice, the technology has evolved, too. In the early 1900s, ice was produced in huge blocks that had to be manually cut into smaller pieces. It wasn’t until 1938 when Vogt Ice revolutionized the ice-making industry with the world’s first automatic-sized ice machine.

While we don’t exactly have a modern-day ice gun, we do have freezers that are capable of producing either crushed or cubed ice at the press of a button. And we take that for granted.

So although the ice gun sounds like a silly invention, we have to remember at that at the time, it was a highly sophisticated technological advancement. And similar technological advancements continue today.

About 

Martin Ackerman is a freelance writer and current editor originally from Staten Island, NY. His university schooling focused on English education and Japanese. He has a (not so secret) passion for art history and political science. When he isn't writing or editing you can find him at sci-tech conventions, building the latest LEGO city or pampering his cat, Tea. You can follow him on Twitter @MarMackerman.