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# 3262 - Harrison & Richardson Prototype?
10/28/00
David

Harrington & Richardson - 121 - 20 GA -

Harrison & Richardson Arms Co.Worcester - Mass - USA - Model - 121 - 20 GA. My wife just purchased an H&R bolt action 20 Ga. shotgun. I had a friend look up the model number but he was unable to find this one. Every H&R I've seen has something about "US Patent" stamped on it but this one doesn't. Could it be some kind of prototype that was never mass produced? Any information would be appreciated.

Answer:
David, I was unable to find any information on the Harrison & Richardson model 121 so I can not tell you much about your shotgun. I can tell you that there is little or no collector interest in Harrison & Richardson firearms and so even if your shotgun is a rare prototype, value will probably be in the $75 or less range. Marc


# 3265 - Iver Johnson Revolver Value
10/28/00

Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle - Unk - .32 breaktop - 3" - Blue (probably) - Unk -

Owlshead on Bakelite(/?/)grips This small frame 'pocket pistol' is very rough, does it still have any value?? NRA since '78

Answer:
I am always glad to be of assistance to fellow NRA members, but in this case I am afraid that I have bad news. Generally these were basic inexpensive simple guns which sold at modest prices and still have little interest or value on the market today. On the retail market they usually sell in the $25-75 range depending on condition and general appearance for use as a "wall hanger" over a fireplace. Where there is any family history, we encourage people to keep these old guns for sentimental value. Please be warned that this revolver may be unsafe to fire. If there is no sentimental value attached you may want to wait until the next gun buy back program in your local area and put your revolver to good use by lowering the monetary reserves of the anti gun fanatics. Make sure they pay you in cash don't accept coupons for merchandise. Marc


# 3270 - Smokey Mountains Firearms
10/28/00
Ken

Hi, I am working on a movie about the Smokey Mountains, particularly about the Del Rio area in Cocke County,in 1912/1913. Would it be reasonable to have muzzle loader rifles, powder horns etc. on these backwoods people. So far my only reference is another movie and they may have had good research and they surely did use muzzle loaders on most characters. Can you point me in a better direction to check. Thanks Ken

Answer:
Ken- I have never been that area, so my opinions should be weighted accordingly.

I am sure that muzzle loaders would have been in the possession of many people in rural America in the pre-WW1 era, used frequently by some, used occasionally by a few, and left in the corner or over the fireplace by others. Guns are tools for sport, gathering food, and perhaps for self-defense or criminal acts. People with the most involvement in these pursuits will probably equip themselves with the newest and best types available that they can afford. Those less interested, or less affluent, will probably make do with older models already in their possession. Youngsters (and in the time period you are interested in, nearly every boy was given a gun at 10 ro12 years of age) probably had inexpensive or hand-me-down guns. Elderly family members probably used guns they had acquired and become proficient with much earlier in life. Therefore I would expect to see quite a mix of gun types depending on age, economic status, and how often guns were being used.

Some old Sears Roebuck catalogs are available in reprint form (originals long ago having been put to use in the outhouses) and show that some muzzle-loaders were still being sold in the early 1900s. At that time surplus Civil War muskets were no older than the WW2 surplus rifles and pistols being sold today, and filled the same market niche- people looking for a cheap gun and willing to accept older technology and features in exchange for a low price. Black powder and percussion caps were manufactured and stocked in stores along with cartridges throughout the 20th century. It was not until 1947 that archaic muzzle loaders were recognized as an endangered species resulting in the formation of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association.

The series of "Foxfire Books" present oral history and traditional crafts and skills of rural mountain inhabitants. One includes a great deal on muzzle loading rifles and their use, which apparently extended well into the 1900s.

Ned H. Roberts' classic "Muzzle Loading Cap Lock Rifle" has further information on these arms, their usage, and their makers. Although it has been a long time, my recollection is that it shows that some were still being made in the Appalachians circa 1900 to meet local demands. Hope this helps, even though I don't have specific details. John Spangler


# 3271 - Old Ammo Ident
10/28/00

Hi, While mountain climbing in New Mexico I found old bullet shells from possibly a pistol and rifle. The dates maybe from the early 1800's. On the top of the shorter one it says: U.S. C CO 44 W C F On the longer one it says Winchester 270 WIN I would like to find out some information on them. Their dates, uses, value and such. I haven't had much luck on the internet so far and was wondering if you knew any info on these or where I could look. Thank you, Lindsey

Answer:
Lindsey- Assuming the cases came from the same location, they may or may not have been left there at the same time. .44 WCF is also known as .44-40 and was introduced in 1873 for the Winchester Model 1873 lever action rifle, and it was also used in many revolvers. It is still a popular cartridge today. USCCo is U.S. Cartridge Company, which was a private company, not a government operation. I think they were in operation from about 1890 until about 1930.

The .270 Winchester cartridge was introduced in 1925, and remains very popular today.

In trying to date the time they were left there, remember a number of factors. Often ammunition is not fired until many years after it was made. (Much of the.30-06 ammo shot today is left over from WW2 or Korea, now 50-60 years old.) A lot of ammunition has been reloaded, essentially starting the clock all over again, so a case made much earlier may still be waiting to be shot (again). Cases are attractive trinkets to kids, and critters and may have been moved from another site.

Fired cases, even from historic sites are not very valuable, although they are neat bits of history. You can buy most common Civil War bullets or cartridge cases for under $5.00 and those from old western forts for less than that. John Spangler


# 3247 - Herter's Reloading Equipment
10/25/00

I have a variety of antique reloading equipment, mostly Herters, lots of items still in original boxes. Also antique hunting catalogs, Hodgdons shooters and reloaders catalog #10, 1969 Gun Digest, Deluxe Edition, 1968 Krupp-American Corp., copyright 1962 Beginners guide to Handloading, R.F. Wells, Inc, copyright 1960 How to reload shotgun, rifle & pistol shells, Herters, 1961 Much, Much more. Could you tell me if this is worth anything, and where I could post it if it is.

Answer:
Sir- I am very familiar with Herter's equipment (and still use some of it myself) In general, the market for used reloading equipment is very weak, as most people like the newer progressive quick change presses, and smaller numbers of people are reloading at all. Herters stuff falls into the category of "old" more than "antique", and there is only a tiny cult of people who collect Herters stuff, although I think that would be great fun trying to track down examples of all their "world-famous old secret European family recipe...." stuff ranging from reloading gear to canoe paddles. As a ballpark estimate, I think that a press will sell for about $20-25, die sets for about $10-15, scales abut $10, manuals maybe $5. All these are retail figures. For the whole lot, you will probably get about 60-70% of the individual values, but it will be gone. Unless you are in Utah or someplace we get to in order to pick things up, the shipping cost would make this not very cost effective for us to handle. I doubt if this will sell well in the gun market. It may do better on E-bay if you put out a couple pieces at a time. You can probably search under sold items to see if there is much action/interest in this sort of stuff. Good luck. John Spangler


# 3248 - Manhattan Firearms Handgun
10/25/00
Gary

Manhattan Firearm Comp. - 37738 -

Hello, My name is Gary, My father just bought a pistol from Manhattan Firearm Comp. Newark NJ the serial number is 37738 and WJ Green is etched on it. I'm new to the internet and haven't been able to find any information on the pistol or its owner and was wondering if you can give me any idea of the history of the pistol and its worth.

Answer:
Gary- We hope you will find our site useful for all your firearms and militaria needs. With a Newark address and serial number of 37738 your pistol is probably a five shot .36 caliber type known as the "Navy model" for it similarity to the Colt 1851 Navy. There should be a 1864 patent date on the barrel as well as an 1859 patent date on the cylinder. This is known as the fourth of five minor variations within this series, probably made circa 1864-1866. The only book other than "Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms and their values" which will help you is Waldo Nutter's "Manhattan Firearms" which is out of print. Your library can get a copy on interlibrary loan for a piddling charge. W.J. Green could be just about anybody from the original owner on to a cop who scratched their name on it as evidence in a recent criminal case. It would be just about impossible to narrow the list down since there is not even a specific date or geographic location where Mr. (or Ms) Green may have lived. Hope this helps. John


# 3249 - $700 H&R Victor?
10/25/00
Jacob

H&R - Victor -

I Have a 32 cal revolver that has me somewhat confused. The revolver was confiscated from striking a Pennsylvania Coal Miner in the late 1920's or early 1930's by my wife's grandfather. What is confusing to me is the markings on the revolver. At first glance it looks like a common H&R. The butt is stamped with H&R Arms Co. Worchester MA, USA. The frame above the cylinder is stamped on the right - VICTOR. On the left are the standard ammo markings 32 S&W, CTGE. There is no serial number and never was one on the revolver. I suspect that may be do to the age. I know H&R is common and this may be a $100-200 piece, however I have been told that VICTOR's are quite valuable to collectors and could range upward to $700.00. Could you please tell me more about what I Have. I can email you pictures if necessary.

Answer:
Jacob - If you think H&R's are in the $100-200 range, we have several you need to invest in. I think Victor is just one of their models, and worth as much (or as little) as the other H&R guns for which there do not seem to be many collectors. If someone suggests they think it may be worth $700, then you should be very generous (and damn quick about it) and let them have it for half price before they change their mind. These were all popular old guns of the type likely to be carried by working men to protect their paychecks, encourage honesty in card games and get rid of pesky dogs or noisy burglars. No serial numbers were required prior to 1968. John Spangler


# 3241 - Savage 4C
10/21/00
Robert, Beaumont, AB, Canada

Savage - 4C - .22 -

Can you provide me information on this Rifle. When was it actually manufactured ? I can't find a serial number on it.

Answer:
Robert, prior to 1968, there was no U.S. law that required that all firearms have a serial number, a lot of firearms that were manufactured prior to 1968, especially inexpensive shotguns and boy's rifles, do not have them. The Savage Model 4 and it's variants were manufactured from 1933 to 1965, it was a takedown, 5 shot, bolt action rifle with a 24 inch barrel and open sights. Because Model 4 rifles were not serial numbered, it is hard to pin down a date of manufacture. Model 4 rifles manufactured prior to WWII had a checkered pistol grip stock, rifles manufactured after the war had a plain straight wrist stock. There is not a lot of collector interest in these rifles, values range form $25 to about $60 depending on condition. Marc


# 3250 - Replacement Sample Powder Tank MK.1
10/21/00
Tommy

I have recently acquired the item: Replacement Sample Powder Tank MK.1, T.A.C.U. Co. 1945, Serial # 423038 A 5. I suspect it was a prototype built for the AGM Co. and that it was some sort of explosive powder tank. Can you please furnish me any information as to its actual function and its value?

Answer:
Tommy- The Mark I designation indicates it was made for the Navy. In a tradition dating from the earliest days of smokeless powder for the big guns, the Navy felt it was necessary to have samples of the powder exposed to the same heat, humidity, and motion as the powder loaded in the cartridges. These would be checked periodically to make sure the powder was not deteriorating in potentially dangerous ways. Therefore they had powder sample tanks in many of the magazines on ships, especially larger ships like cruisers or battleships that still used bag type charges instead of brass cases. As far as I know, there is no collector interest whatever in these, and value is probably in the $20 or less range, if you can find anyone interested. There are also large powder tanks (about 10-25 gallon size) that were used to store powder in magazines at ammo loading facilities. There were copper and I think had wooden outer surfaces. A bunch of these are on the market now, also at low prices, and useful as scrap metal, or perhaps to polish up for the wife to plant flowers in. Unfortunately, not everything that is old, or military, has a lot of collector interest or value. John Spangler


# 3251 - Re-Blue My Winchester?
10/21/00
Keith

Winchester - 42 - 410 -

I have inherited a Winchester model 42 410 gauge pump shot gun. The barrel had rust on it which has been sanded off, but ion the process most of the bluing was also taken off. I have not fired it, but everything is operable and in good working condition. Stock is in good condition. What is this shot gun worth? Should I have it reblued? I would like to us it for bird hunting this season.

Answer:
Keith- Once the metal has been sanded, the damage to the collector value has already been done. It would no hurt at all to have it refinished. You have several options, depending on how much money you want to spend, and how good you want it to look. The cheap and fairly easy approach is to stop at your local Wal-Mart or sporting goods store and get some cold blue (Birchwood Casey or any other brand they carry.) Read and follow their instructions, but most basically involve cleaning the rust and any oil off your gun, smearing the cold blue on and maybe rubbing a little, then rubbing it with some real fine steel wool and repeating the process several times. It will not be beautiful up close, but at least people will not recognize it as an ugly gun from 50 feet away. The medium cost and somewhat unpredictable approach is to have a local gunsmith reblue it for you. Some are really skilled craftsmen who will do a nice job, and some are butchers pretending to be shade tree mechanics who have little skill or interest. Both will probably use the "hot dip" method. Most people will be happy with this type job as the gun will turn out to be a dark blue color all over. A good job will include a proper polishing and keeping all the edges and markings intact, while the butcher will mess things up a bit. For the absolute best work using the much slower (and more expensive) rust blue process you can send it off to John Kay at Winchester Restorations. He does great work. He also sells the rust blue chemicals and Winchester stock finishing stuff if you want to try it yourself. Harder than cold blue, but not beyond the ability of someone who is handy with tools and enjoys working on guns. Complete information is available on his website at http://www.winchester-restorations.com/Good luck. Next time keep the gun oiled and stored properly to prevent it from rusting. John Spangler


# 3244 - Where To Purchase A Sherman Tank
10/18/00
Lark

My father is much intrigued by the Sherman Tank, and would very much like to purchase one. I am doing the legwork. If you could provide any direction, I would appreciate it very much. Thank You!

Answer:
Lark - I have a friend in New Mexico who owns one. (Actually he says it belongs to his wife, so I am not sure who really owns if) I do not know if it is for sale, or what they sell for. I do know that moving one is a major production (weight about 40-48,000 pounds) and if not in running condition, or at least with free moving tracks, they are tough to get loaded without a BIG crane. I had about a dozen in various stages of demolition as targets on the naval gunfire support range in Puerto Rico back in the 1970s, but they had been exposed to the weather and shot at for 25 years when I got there. Our military vehicle guy had a M3 (Lee or Grant) that was operable, and had much of the armor replaced by fake wood panels so it was light, but he sold it a year or two ago. Search under "Military Vehicle Collectors Club (MVCC) or Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) and you should find folks who have these for sale. I know a well-off collector in Virginia who has a couple dozen operable tanks and a full time crew of mechanics to maintain them. You might find that half tracks are a lot cheaper and easier to work on, find parts for and maintain and operate. I know a couple of guys who own one (each), but none are for sale. Located in Colorado, Utah and Idaho. A bunch got sold off as surplus from Israel a number of years ago, and I remember them being advertised in Shotgun News for something like $10,000 each, running, but they are a lot more now. I was having a hard time making payments on a Volkswagen Beetle, so knew better than to mess with something like that. Good luck! John Spangler


# 3245 - Cartridge ID
10/18/00
Rob

I have recently acquired a large sum of older ammunition. Some of the ammunition is still in the boxes but a large amount of it is loose. There are a lot of odd calibers and a lot of foreign pieces that I am not familiar with. I was wondering if someone on your end may know of a good web site to help identify some of these rounds. Please keep in mind that I is very dense, so the more pictures the better. Thank you for any help that you can provide.

Answer:
Rob- I do not know of a web site to recommend. Frank Barnes' "Cartridges of the World" is probably your best all around cartridge ID book, and probably available from IDSA books (see our links page) or from other booksellers. It is put out by the Gun Digest folks (I think) about that size and loaded with actual size illustrations, tables of measurement, histories, etc. It is divided into sections dealing with rimfires, metrics, US rifle, pistol, etc, so it is pretty easy to find your way around in. It will not do much for values, but at least you can figure out what most of the cartridges are. To identify them all, you may need a very extensive library. Even with a couple dozen ammo and cartridge books, I still have a small pile of oddball ammo I cannot identify. John Spangler


# 3246 - Winchester Serial Number Letter
10/18/00

From your web site I determined a m1873 rifle I have was manufactured in 1888. I could not find what the 1r at the end of the serial number means. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:
Sir- Winchester used letters in conjunction with serial numbers to indicate minor design changes that required use of slightly different parts for the different letters. Most customers would never notice, but this was important for gunsmiths and people dealing with repair parts. Often the changes only applied to a couple of parts and everything else remained the same. John Spangler


# 3234 - Trench Art
10/14/00
Mike Golden BC

Mk 1 - 303 -

1813 British 303 mark 1 with wood engravings on the stock want too know more about trench art and where too look for info. Thank you mike golden bc

Answer:
Mike - Trench art is a neat collecting area with lots of variety and little to go on in the way of historical documentation or pricing guides. It pretty much comes down to the artistic merits, and individual taste which will dictate the values.

As a word of caution, much of the trench art was made far from the front lines, often by civilians, and often after the wars were over. Veterans going home, veterans on later visits or reunions, and other tourists made ready buyers for this sort of stuff, and the artisans often had a good supply of raw materials and little cost other than their time.

Most common types are artillery shells, then small arms ammunition components, and after that it can get truly bizarre depending on the individual taste (or lack thereof) and skill (or lack thereof) and motives of the craftsmen and his access to raw materials. Captured weapons were fair game for artists, but one's superiors would not take kindly to artwork on your own arms. However, to some poor slob stuck in a muddy trench, addled with disease, subsisting on wretched food, being shelled regularly and shot at often may have had a tendency to disregard regulations and superiors. Exactly what punishment could they inflict that would be worse than their present circumstances? John Spangler


# 3235 - Swamp Angel Revolver
10/14/00
Jerry

Forehand & Wadsworth - SWAMP ANGEL -

We are trying to find information about a hand gun. This is what we know about it. On the side of the short barrel is:

Forehand & Wadsworth, Worcester, Mass

pat'd Oct. 22 '61 --- Apr. 10 '75

On the underside of the short barrel and on the butt is the number: 12083

On the top, above the cylinder is:

SWAMP ANGEL

There are 5 chambers in the cylinder.

The barrel doesn't seem to be bored or rifled like new guns. It seems to be grooved. It's about the same size as a 38 cal. It seems to be a single action.

Answer:
Jerry- Forehand & Wadsworth made large quantities of inexpensive pistols in the 1870-1900 period. Many of these are in the category known to collectors as "suicide specials" based on their probably accurate range and durability. Many had imaginative names, and a complete collection would probably be several hundred examples in .22 to .44 caliber, but mainly .32 and .38 rimfire or centerfire.

The Swamp Angel was one of the better quality pieces (but the competition was not keen). It is .41 rimfire and uses the same ammunition as many derringer pistols of the period. "Swamp Angel" was a famous artillery piece used in the Civil War to shell Charleston, SC from a neighboring island.

Value depends on condition, but it is probably in the $50-150 range, more likely at the low end.

Hope this helps. Anyone interested in what little is known about these should track down a copy of "Suicide Specials" by Daniel B. Webster. IT is out of print, but your local library can probably get a copy on interlibrary loan for you. John Spangler


# 3236 - Bullet Mold
10/14/00
Dana

Hi. I've been looking all over the internet with no luck, thought maybe you could help. We have an old, wooden, bullet mold and I was trying to find something, ANYTHING similar to it that I could compare it to, to maybe figure out what it's worth. Could you possibly suggest a website that I could check??? Thank you for your time. Dana

Answer:
Dana- Bullets were generally cast from melted lead, and the size is fairly critical. Wood will not stand up to repeated use as the wood would be burned away with use and the bullets progressively larger.

Prior to about 1830 most bullet were round balls, and although they continued in use until about 1900, the use of "bullet" shaped bullets began about 1830 and became more popular until they dominated the market by 1900.

However, molds were used to cast many items other than bullets, and can be mistaken for bullets. One often mistaken mold type is for suppositories made by pharmacists. There are probably cases of balls or bullet shaped things cast from wax, ceramic material, clay, bread dough, for use as decorations, game pieces, parts of picture frames or craft projects, or who knows what.

I do not claim to know anything about any of these, but if you send a photo of the mold, I will be happy to tell you if it looks like any bullet mold I have seen. I do not know of a website on such things, but there may be one. John Spangler


# 3157 - Springfield 1826 Musket info
10/10/00

Springfield 1826 -

Musket is stamped with "Spring Field 1826" It is also stamped with a eagle and beneath it the letters "US". This musket looks to have been ordinarily manufactured as a flintlock and was converted to percussion Where could I find information on this musket?

Answer:
Sir- Prior to 1868 Springfield did not put serial numbers on any rifles, so there is absolutely no way to track the history of an individual gun such as yours. The best we can do is find examples of where similar guns were issued and used and be content knowing that maybe this was one of those. It was strictly against regulations to mark names or unit marks on guns, and very few are seen with AUTHENTIC markings. In my opinion, many of the markings were applied after the guns were sold as surplus or otherwise fell into civilian hands. This is analogous to the wretched practice people have of engraving their driver license or other ID number on guns so that if they get stolen they can identify them. Decades ago a name was sufficient to identify a gun as Ezra Peabody's favorite hunting/hog killing/rustler chasing tool.

You can find out about what units used what sort of guns from the "Quarterly Report of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores on Hand" in the National Archives. Fortunately for lazy folks who do not have time to read a mound of old reports, summaries are available in reference books. Frederick P. Todd et al. "American Military Equipage 1851-1872" has listings for most regiments showing small arms used at various times during the Civil War era, neatly organized by state. A great inexpensive paperback "An Introduction to Civil War Small Arms" by Earl Coates and Dean Thomas has a pretty detailed listing of regiments sorted by type of weapon, as well as good descriptions of the guns and their use.

For details on your musket (or nearly any other Civil War era gun) there are two exceptionally well done books that any beginning collector should get. William B. Edwards "Civil War Guns" is still the best overall coverage of the development, purchase, politics, performance and history of US made and imported guns of the period. Bill is a neat guy, who researched and wrote this long ago at an age when many people are just barely able to read books, and it was one of the first truly comprehensive scholarly studies of historical arms. The other book is by the late Robert M. Reilly, "U.S. Military Small Arms 1816-1865" and it focuses on the hardware from a collectors standpoint. Here you will find details on production numbers, markings, minor variations, measurements, and the finest detailed drawings done yet showing the guns and their features. A more specialized set of books by George Moller "American Military Shoulder Arms" are also useful references, but the first two volumes only cover the Colonial era through the end of the flintlocks. He is working on the rest. Another morfe general reference that EVERY gun collector NEEDS is "Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Arms and their Values" which identifies and places values on virtually all guns made in the U.S. prior to about 1945. (We have these available on our Book catalog page). Hope this helps. John Spangler


# 3163 - M1917 Rifle Receiver Notch
10/10/00
Morgan

Eddystone - 17 Enfield - 3006 - unknown - unknown - unknown -

I have recently bought this rifle and have noticed that it has a notch cut into the receiver, I think its for a longer bullet. If so, why and when was this done?

Answer:
Morgan- I have seen M1917s with this notch also. About all I can tell you is that I am certain that this was not done at the time of manufacture, nor as a U.S. military alteration. There are some Mauser rifles with similar notches in the receiver (at the back of the receiver ring about one-quarter inch deep) that were added when the Norwegians converted a bunch of K98k Mausers to .30-06 and wanted some room to provide clearance for loading from stripper clips. I think there may have been similar alterations in some South American Mausers for Venezuela or Colombia as well. Somebody probably knows and can tell us. John Spangler


# 3222 - Don't Ask Us About Re-Loading
10/10/00
Ken ,Edmonton, Alberta

Ruger - VaQuero - 45 - 191mm - Stainless Steel - 5764192 -

I don't want to know what the book says and I don't want opinions I want to know what combination of black powder and bullet will make my gun shoot to its Max. What is the load using black powder that will make my Vaquero shoot it's best

Answer:
Ken, due to liability concerns our policy is to refrain from answering any questions about re-loading. If you value your life, hands and fingers, it may be wise to purchase a re-loading book and read it (especially the part about safety precautions) and stay within the parameters listed. My advise would be to not stake your life on re-loading data provided by every self proclaimed expert that you run into on the internet. Marc


# 3125 - PP Type Pistol Identification
10/7/00
Jim, San Jose, CA, USA

Walther - PP - .32 (7.65) - 3 7/8" - Blue - 12445 -

N with crown on top and small eagle on top of crown on left slide and left behind trigger N with small crown on top on left barrel No Walther markings at all1001-0-Cal 7,65 on left slide Plastic grips I'm trying to get an approximate place and date when this handgun was produced and why it doesn't have any "Walther" markings. Thanks in advance for your comments.

Answer:
Jim, The Walther PP pistol was manufactured by Waffenfabrik Walther at Zella-Mehlis, Germany, from 1929 to 1945, PP stands for Police Pistol. The crown over "N" marking that you describe could be a nitro proof that was used in Germany prior to being superceded by the proof law of 1939 which became effective on April 1, 1940, or it could be a proof mark used by Suhl in East Germany after 1950. I can find no information to explain what the eagle over crown marking that you describe is. Early PP pistols were manufactured with the a high quality Walther commercial finish and slides were marked with the Walther legend on the left side. Your serial number "12445" is a bit confusing. The first Walther PP serial number was 750000 and numbers increased from there. When serial numbers reached one million, a new series was initiated with the added letter "P" which began at 100000. My GUESS is that your pistol may be an East German copy of the Walther PP. There is also a possibility that it may have been manufactured by Walther between 1929 and 1940 for a special contract that was serial numbered outside the normal range, possibly for export outside Germany but I tend to like the East German copy explanation better. Marc


# 3220 - Original Cost For The Maxim Machine Gun
10/7/00

We are looking for an approximate original cost for the maxim machine gun that was prevalent in the late 1800's and early 1900's. This gun was patented by Krupps in 1893. I need this information for a 6th grade school project.

Answer:
Sir- Hiram Maxim was an American, but his guns gained most fame from their use by the Germans. The guns were very successful, although needing periodic adjustment for reliable operation. (Last year members of our gun collector club got a chance to fire one belonging to a club member with the proper licenses to own a machine gun.) In Germany they are known as "Maxim" machine guns, while the nearly identical guns made in England were known as "Vickers" after the company that made them there. They were also made in the United States by Colt, but referred to as "Vickers-Maxim" guns. Some 120 were purchased from Colt by the US army in 1904. In 1909 the Maxim design was abandoned and a lighter air cooled "Benet-Mercie" machine gun was made at Springfield Armory which turned out to be very unreliable. In 1914 the Army decided to return to the Vickers-Maxim design. In 1914 the cost of a Benet-Mercie gun from Springfield was $560. The cost of a Vickers-Maxim was approximately $3,000 with its pack equipment. (Pack equipment included special saddles and carrying equipment to transport the gun by horse or mule.) By the time the US entered WW1 in 1917, we had a total of 282 Vickers-Maxim guns for the whole U.S. army.

This information is from David A. Armstrong, "Bullets and Bureaucrats: The Machine Gun and the U.S. Army 1861-1916", Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 1982, pp 180-185. This is the best book on U.S. machine gun adoption and procurement up to 1916. A college friend wrote his senior project paper on this subject in 1967.

I also checked:

B. Crowell, "America's Munitions 1817-1918" but it only had procurement numbers, not costs.

W. Brophy, "Springfield Armory: Arsenal of Freedom" and it had references to tests conducted, and some inspection of items procured from Colt, but no costs.

"Annual Report of the Chief of Ordnance" for the years 1900-1916. Lots of information on tests and recommendations, but nothing on costs. I did NOT check G.M. Chinn "The Machine Gun" (5 volumes). It is a great set, but mostly involved with technical and design details of the guns themselves.

In 1917 John M Browning invented his machine gun design (in Ogden, Utah, about 50 miles from where I am now) and this was the basis for most US machine guns up to about 1965, and still remains the basic .50 caliber machine gun used by most armies around the world today.

Hope this helps. I was a history major in college. That meant I did not really have to know much, but better be able to figure out where to find lots of information. (BA (history)- Allegheny College, 1966, MA (history) University of Florida, 1977).

Remember, guns are not bad things by themselves, but bad people can do bad things with them. That does not mean that good people should lose the right to own guns, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. John Spangler


# 3221 - Rusty Relic Revolver
10/7/00
Don

H&R -

I found this revolver that had been placed in the forks of a tree approx.50+ years ago and the tree had completely engulfed it. I think it is a H&R--It is a 5shot-breakdown -hammer and trigger were missing as well as the grips-The only identifying marks are-on top of the barrel the only thing I can make out is 1896-next to the bottom on the left side of the butt is the numbers 97421-any ideas-- Thanks Don

Answer:
Don- It sure looks like an H&R to me, but there were several other outfits that made very close copies, but all were in the same time period (circa 1890-1930. Value for excellent shotable examples is pretty low, and rusty relics probably not much at all. While not worth much it certainly gets high marks for being neat and having an interesting (if unknown) story. One of the neater displays I have seen at a gun show recently was of Colt percussion revolvers, in the same condition as yours. They had one of every model from the Patterson on up to some of the post-Civil War conversions. John Spangler


# 3217 - Barrel Attachments
10/3/00

I am a graduate student in a Nautical Archaeology program. I am in the process of conserving firearms recovered from a survey of a shipwreck. I have two gun barrels which have small copper alloy rectangular plates (3/4" x 1/2") attached to the underside of the barrel, presumably for attachment to the stock. Other firearms from the shipwreck have characteristics placing them in the late 18th century. I cannot find a reference for this barrel feature. I have read about flat copper keys used in British India Pattern muskets but I cannot find a picture or description. Are these used for attaching the barrel lugs to the barrel or are these 'keys'? Do you know what firearm used these devices?

Answer:
Sir- I applaud your work in the field of historical archaeology. I took a course on this at the University of Florida and found it totally fascinating to see the knowledge that could be obtained when artifacts from the ground (or sea) are merged with historical records. The often overlooked part of the equation is the antiquarian or collector who studies non-dug examples of the artifacts, and often has a tremendous amount of information on a specialized area. Unfortunately they sometimes have some misinformation that can be corrected by considering archaeological evidence.

Undoubtedly the context of the other artifacts gives a pretty good basis for identification of these two arms.

We need to remember that on non-interchangeable arms there was considerable variation in details according to the whim of the maker or details deemed important by the purchaser. British military arms probably had a better degree of standardization than those for the East India Company which also generally procured military style arms. Beyond those two major consumers, the gunmakers had few if any limits on their designs or quality.

As you already know, the British taste was for "pin fastened" barrels where the barrel had several small lugs of some sort protruding below the bottom of the barrel. The lugs each had a hole for a pin passing through the stock from side to side to hold the barrel and stock together. This was a cheap solution and discouraged soldiers from removing the barrel from the stock. Better quality arms, and especially in the first half of the 19th century often used a flat key instead of a simple pin. While more costly, it made disassembly easier, and in the case of half stock arms (like shotguns) the gun could be easily disassembled and carried in a much shorter package than the assembled arm.

The French (and indeed most of Europe and later the U.S.) fashion was to hold the barrel of military arms in the stock by the use of barrel bands. While more costly, this made disassembly for cleaning much easier, and if repair was needed, it was much easier to cannibalize several arms to make one good one.

On the pin or key fastened arms, makers could attach the lug by several methods:

(a) The most common form was to file a shallow dovetail in the bottom of the barrel and fabricate an iron or steel piece to slide tightly into the dovetail and shape the lug part into a narrow blade (somewhat similar to a very bulky front sight).

(b) Since brass and copper are easier to work than iron or steel, they were sometimes used instead, but with the same dovetail design.

(c) Lugs could also be attached to the barrel by brazing or soldering, and this was probably more common with brass/copper lugs than iron. This form of attachment was probably most common on arms at the lower end of the price spectrum.

(d) Another method was to drill two shallow holes into the barrel, and insert pins that would be bent over to form a lug, but this was apparently much less common, and probably limited to use on the thicker barrels of rifles.

Since there is no specific pattern or model that would exactly fit your situation, I hope that this general background will be helpful.

There has been an exhaustively detailed book on arms of the East India Company published recently which may be helpful for the specialist, and would be available on interlibrary loan. There are archaeological site studies on a number of colonial, Revolutionary War, and fur trade era sites in North America which may have similar artifacts. George Moller's superbly researched "American Military Shoulder Arms- Vol I" covers the colonial and Revolutionary War periods and may be helpful. John Spangler


# 3216 - 1903 A1 Springfield
10/3/00
Matt

Springfield - 1903A1 - 30-06 -

You guys have a great site, and I'm hoping you can help me. I have an 03 SN 1296278 with a barrel date of 9-29. My research indicates the barrel is about a year newer than the receiver (made in 1928), and the different color of the parkerizing on each indicates a possible replacement barrel. The receiver is pre-WWII black parkerized while the barrel is a medium gray. The stock, which I believe to be a pre-war C stock because it is very nicely shaped and colored and doesn't have an 03A3 retaining ring groove, is marked only with an S in the cutoff recess, an E on the forend tip, and with the initials MR behind the cutoff. I assume this indicates post WWII overhaul at Mt. Ranier arsenal. The left-hand side of the receiver is drilled with the post-1936 gas hole, but it doesn't look like it was done after the receiver was parkerized. The feed ramp and magazine feed rails are lightly polished; I don't know if this was done at the arsenal or later. When I bought the rifle it had an obviously mismatched very early straight handle bolt (green parkerized), and a smooth buttplate. It also has a serrated trigger, and a NM type sight leaf without the notch at the top of the folding leaf. I have read about the Special Match rifles made in the 20s that were basically National Match rifles turned in after Perry and put back into service and have been wondering if this rifle could be one of these.

Something that has always confused me during my 20 years of studying and collecting 03s is the production of rifles after 1927 that are not DCM, National Match, or other special rifles. How did these high-number rifles get put into service with matching barrel dates if they weren't made as service rifles? I have read that some of the extra receivers were used to retrofit low-number rifles, but that wouldn't seem to account for a 1929 barrel. The dates of my rifle would appear to be too early for an arsenal built 03A1, but it could have been built as a National Match rifle and rebarrelled, put back into service with a service grade barrel, and later overhauled and released through the DCM. That could account for the stock and the mismatched parts, or it could be just a mongrel. Thanks for reading this. I appreciate any insights you may have.

Answer:
Matt- Time precludes a detailed analysis, but I think you have done your homework well and identified the possible answers.

Your rifle is not listed in Springfield Research Service database, but does fall in a serial number block between two large block of NRA sporters. The rifles in this block include many issued to various ROTC units at the high school level in the late 1930s. This would be consistent with the post 1936(+/-) gas escape hole.

Several key points to remember:

(a) parts are parts, both at time of manufacture, later in service, and later during any repair or overhaul program, and even more so once out of military service and into civilian hands. Interchangeable parts are wonderful and can easily be assembled for illogical reasons at unlikely times by unknown parties into unexplainable combinations..

(b) Collectors too often fall into the error of thinking that Springfield just made complete rifles. SA was funded for and operated as a number of distinct operations: manufacture and overhaul being the two largest. Within the manufacture area funding was probably broken down by Army policy decisions into specific dollar amounts (or perhaps quantities) for production of: service rifles for issue; service rifle parts for issue through the supply system, service rifle parts for future armory use, and rifles and parts for sale to authorized purchasers (Navy/Marine Corps; National Guard, ROTC, NRA members, inventors, etc).

(c) Parts production varied considerably. Bill Brophy's "Springfield Armory- Arsenal of Freedom" book has the complete annual production reports and will show that during most of the years they made various numbers of: complete rifles, complete barrel assemblies, stripped receivers, barreled receivers, since all these were authorized items in the supply system and history/projections predicted a usage of certain numbers on an annual basis.

(d) One of the tasks of an industrial operation is to balance the workload to avoid paying overtime, and to keep everyone busy producing something for customers, and keep from firing/losing skilled workers, all while minimizing expense of production by careful (even stingy or cheap) attention to avoiding waste and using all possible materials.

(e) After 1936, with the M1 Garand adopted and the M1903 clearly on the path to obsolescence, virtually any combination of parts might be cleaned out of storage lockers or parts bins and assembled, especially if intended for use by other than front line troops.

(f) In the 1930s and 40s nearly everything in the way of small arms parts (for rifles anyway) was available for purchase by NRA members through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (forerunner of the current Civilian Marksmanship Program). "Service rifle" target shooting was a big sport then and it was quite easy for gunsmiths to assemble whatever combination of parts was appropriate to keep a shooter competitive with the latest developments in the shooting game.

(g) Many sales of rifles through the DCM program can be documented and will identify the type of rifle, date and location of the sale and name and address of the purchaser. It is relatively easy to tell if these rifles have been altered. Some rifle sales were made by military activities (especially after WW2 when M1903s were obsolete) with little or no surviving documentation, and even if it existed it may not have said much. Add the fact that over the years a small number of rifles (or parts) were taken home without permission from various units or lost in shipment.

I cannot be sure how your rifle (or its component parts) emerged from these sometimes contradictory conditions. This is why I get very amused at the "experts" who pronounce that things are "always" or "never" this way or that. Some have even written very attractive books with loads of good solid information and some total fantasy misinformation, but there is no way to separate which is which, so I must recommend that collectors disregard the whole book. I am sure the author disagrees with me, and that is his right. Stick with Brophy and Campbell books for the best and most accurate information. Use all others at your own peril.

I have not specifically answered your question, but perhaps we will never know the answer. Maybe the information above will help you understand why. John Spangler


# 3215 - Sword Info
10/3/00
Sean

I have a sword that I found in the swamp. From the research I've done so far I've learned that it is very possibly from the king Philip war 1675-1676. If so it would have been owned by a British troop. Do you know where I could find more info on this subject.

Answer:
Sean- Sword styles evolved slowly, and many remained in use for decades after their original manufacture, and the British government habitually shipped obsolete military stores to the colonies, so date of manufacture may differ substantially from the date it was lost/deposited deposited where you found it.

A good starting point would be Harold L. Peterson's "Arms and Armor in Colonial America" which covers all types of arms of the pre 1783 era. George Neumann has several books on Revolutionary War weapons, the latest and best being "Battle Weapons of the American Revolution" This has numerous examples of weapons from patriot and loyalist forces which cover quite a geographic and date range.

Over the years there have been some excellent, but often highly specialized, articles on swords in two respected gun collector magazines: "Man at Arms" and "Gun Report". You might check indices for those to see what you can find. There are also a number of advanced sword collectors, and other specialized publications that would reveal more.

If you send some photos (by email, or if snail mail to Box 711282, Salt Lake City, UT 84171) we will see if we can find anything useful for you. John Spangler


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