The Raiders of the Lost Ark Bullwhip
While several bullwhips were used in the film, in 2001 Indy Gear staff member, Walt “Sergei” Rybinsky had a first hand opportunity to examine one very special bullwhip used in the film.
"My Tale and Pictures"
Fall of 2001
I was in Las Vegas to meet with Mark Allen for a whip lesson and "getting to know each other" session. After the lesson, we walked over to the famous "Wall of Whips" that Mark has that is quite impressive. Up there on the wall were whips made by unknown whip makers, the now famous whip makers and whip makers that are now famous and weren't famous when Mark acquired them. Examples of what is on this wall are:
The second whip Joe Strain ever made (an Indy style whip). Not bad but far from the quality he is making now.
A David Morgan whip that he made soon after he hooked up with the famous Australian whip maker, Tom Hill Sr. It's a very long handled bullwhip (let's call it a target whip) with the classic style that Tom Hill used with 2 bellies and a 12 plait 'roo overlay. You wouldn't recognize it was a David Morgan. Tom actually corresponded with David a lot on the art of whipmaking.
Whips by Janine Fraser, Russell Shultz, Mike Murphy, Fiona Wilks, etc. The “Who’s Who.” A Stenhouse could have been on that wall, but Paul told Mark to get in line like the rest of Paul's fans.
Here's a picture of Mark & Me in front
of the famous "Wall of Whips"
Mark, then tells me that there is one whip that is not on the wall due to it's value. And that whip was a whip from a movie. More specifically, Raiders!!!! Right at that point, I do the "Cosmic Gulp!" "What?,” I say. I give this grin, like, "Mark, please don't BS, me!”
"Sorry, that whip is offsite in a vault."
We both had to go, but I left stating my intentions that I would like to come back and take a few pictures. You know write an article about whips in general, and then have a side story of a famous whip (Yours), with a few snaps to reel in the audience. Mark says sure, and the rest is history.
We make contact again after a few months and I ask Mark to embellish the story around the whip that would authenticate it.
The following is Mark Allen's account:
"I frequently run advertisements under the want ads for trick saddles. A response came in 1993 from a woman by the name of Fay Schneider. Fay in 1993, was living in Las Vegas. I showed up at her home and agreed to buy the trick saddle. I also had asked if there was anything else she had that might be of interest. Well, that box over there has some whips and one was actually in one of the Indiana Jones movie."
Mark said, "Oh yea, well how did you stumble across it?" She proceeded to tell me that she was a next door neighbor of Glenn Randall Sr./Jr. when she lived in Santa Clarita, California. Glenn Jr., gifted her the whip right after the movie was made. Glenn of course never knowing how popular the movie was going to be."
"I gave her a fair price for the saddle and threw in some extra bucks for the whip. Then I call Glenn to verify Mrs. Schneider’s recollection on the whip. Glenn says yep, and the rest is history."
Mark had a letter from both Fay Schneider and Glenn Randall Jr. that verified, authenticated their stories. Unfortunately Fay Schneider is now deceased.
Mark Allen finishes telling me the story. And now I say, that is really great, Mark, but I really need to take some pictures. Mark then starts getting more inquisitive about my interest in the Raiders whip and the reason for taking the pictures. Aside from making my article more interesting, there is a controversy BREWING AT INDYGEAR. "Oh yea", Mark says. I then tell him about the famous HANDLE LENGTH debate. That the knot placement on the handle and the shape of the turkshead knot are much different now vs. when Morgan was making the whips about 20 years ago.
So Mark and me arrange for a time to meet to take the pictures.
....It's Las Vegas, March 2002
I show up to the designated off-site location. Mark is visibly intrigued with my level of interest and wondering, "What kind of nut did I let into this place?" He goes into a secret room. I hear the tumblers of a huge safe. And I hear: "Holy sh**, YOU WERE RIGHT!!" I finally believe you. The ring knot is way out there. It's dark outside, so we rush into the kitchen for a picture taking session.
I finish taking pictures and out I pull my caliper that is accurate to 1/64 of an inch. Before I start measuring, I tell Mark that the knot on the handle should be 8 inches, give or take a few 'roo whiskers. The knot should end right at the end of the 8 inch nail that David Morgan used. I get out the caliper and SPEC ON. EIGHT INCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! High fives around. Mark does one of those COSMIC GULPS and is now extremely ecstatic that another data point is true to mark (pardon the pun). And he now starts to feel a lot better about me NOT being a nut that just came off the streets.
Well, a happy ending to a great adventure. Actually holding a whip, that Harrison held along with Glenn Randall Jr. Wow, what a moment in history.
p.s. - The whip is eight feet long. We will never know which scene in
the movie this whip was in. The facts are:
- It belonged to Glenn Randall Jr.
- It minimally was used by both Glenn and Harrison (Glenn coached Harrison before filming started)
- Handle knot is at 8 inches, which is backed up by screen grabs
- The turks head knot is more bulbous than it is now as verified by screen grabs
- The letters from Fay Schneider and Glenn Randall Jr. independently verifying Mark's account of Fay with Glenn's letter
- Fay was the next door neighbor to Glenn Randall in Santa Clarita at the time of the movie
- I still to this day see advertisements in western, cowboy, and horse magazines from Mark Allen under the want ads for trick saddles.
For completeness, I am posting my sketches and measurements from that session. I didn't post the notes at the time of my original findings . My handwritten notes have two measurements in each key area. The left number was the Raiders whip. The right hand number is of current Morgan whips. The current number is usually higher, with the exception of the handle length (from bottom to top of handle junction knot) , which was 8 inches.
The whip measured for Raiders varied even for that era. But in general you can conclude that the laces were narrower, the thong diameter in general was narrower and the handle length was longer compared to current production whips. For the whip makers, this should be an obvious statement. Those precise measurements of the laces will be hard to duplicate due to the variable stretch of the kangaroo hide. So when the final pull occurs, the lace width narrows- and it stretches unpredictably depending on the hide location. Hence the dilemma. Of course those with highly developed plaiting skills should overcome this.
Was it actually in the movie? Well the age, the manufacture of the whip are true to the late 70s, early 80s bullwhips being made by David Morgan. Glenn Randall Jr. says that it was so. But based on the heavy use of this whip, the dimensions, it's certainly a safe bet.
Fully Coiled Whip
Braided End, Half-Hitch Area
Handle Area from the Back
Inside of Wrist Loop
The Man Himself, Mark Allen
Special thanks to Mark Allen for allowing this historical whip to be fully documented before eventually being auctioned off.
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