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Thread Like Summary
BrentD, Prof, Buzz, canvasback, Dan S. W., eeb, eightbore, mc, Mills, old colonel, Parabola, Stanton Hillis, Ted Schefelbein
Total Likes: 28
Original Post (Thread Starter)
by bushveld
bushveld
Interesting article by Diggory in the March 2009 issue of "Sporting Shooter" in the UK. The article's title is "BORN IN THE USA". In explaining the USA gun collector he says:

"The typical collector in the US looks for a factory original, mint condition example of a gun by the likes of Le Fever (sic), Parker or LC Smith. The fewer made, the more collectable, the more original condition, the more it will cost. Quality hardly comes into it. A basic grade Birmingham trade boxlock surpasses all these in terms of mechanical integrity, design and manufacture. If you want to upset an American show him a high-grade Parker, then show him a Purdey, and watch him blather on about nostalgia and patriotism and grandpa's homestead.

However, not all American Guns are over-priced rubbish, and many American collectors have very impressive collections of best English guns and a surprising number are immensely Knowledgeable, haveing taken pains to eductate themselves about English guns......Bill McPhail is unusual because his collection focuses on real qulity from relatively unknown American makers (William Schaefer, T. Hasdell, E. Thomas Jr., D. Kirkwood, Joseph Tonks and Mortimer & Kirkwood). Some of these guns clearly emanate from Scott in Birmingham, having distinctive tower mark stamped on the action flats or the barrel flats. I suspect very few if any were fully American made.....The quality of guns in Bill's collection is comparable to British guns of the 1870-80......Traveling and learning are wonderful parts of my job and I love discovering things that unravel my prejudices. So now when someone dismisses all American shotguns as agricultural nonentities like the LC Smith, I can point them to a Tonks or a Mortimer & Kirkwood and watch them struggle to find fault with it"
Liked Replies
by canvasback
canvasback
Not all will agree with me but besides a small bore Fox, I have a hard time justifying either the cost or the gun with most American makes. The other exception I have are Remington 1894. As finely made as a Parker with a classic A&D design. Too bad most you run across have been rode hard and put away wet.

I focus on Continental guns and British. And as far as value for gun goes, the Continental are typically better value than the British options.

Now, if I was "collecting" guns and looking for appreciation, that would be a different story.
4 members like this
by old colonel
old colonel
Learned a long time ago that talking someone else’s gun down was not of much value.

Be it a Stevens 20ga SXS or a Purdey if the shooter handles it well it is a good gun for them.

Most if not all of us here like SXS guns. I know I do.

I am not a collector, what I own I intend to use. Which is why when looking at vintage guns I care more for condition of barrels and other mechanics than beauty of engraving or figure in the wood.

It is why I value a 1901 Boss SLE with new barrels in 1979 and .030 + wall thickness more than original condition.024 walls. I mean to shoot what I buy and maybe my grandson will too.

Putting a custom stock, which may not have great figure, but fits me perfectly makes it a dream gun.

I like figure in the wood and pretty engraving, but before that shootability is fundamental.

There are many high end guns that are seriously worn, but usable for another lifetime of some but not heavy shooting. It is really a trade off which comes down to the question is it worth it to you?

I know that each of us bring biases in terms of what we value, that said I argue for a positive spin.
3 members like this
by BrentD, Prof
BrentD, Prof
Somehow, English guns seem to equate to Purdey when these types of discussions come up. Strange. There are so many other guns to talk about. English (and the rest of Great Britain) guns have a diversity that American guns can't touch. As for quality and value, I think the English win hands down at most price points. Look at some recently offered Sterlingworths vs better English boxlocks at slightly more than half the money.

I keep looking for the right American double, and I keep finding they are much too expensive for what they are. That others think they are worth so much is fine. My money isn't going there. Perhaps my opinions are colored by being a user, not a collector.
2 members like this
by eeb
eeb
Your portfolio needs more diversification
2 members like this
by eightbore
eightbore
One point I will make on gun handling is that a bird gun is not a pigeon gun, end of story. Light British game guns at 6 1/2 pounds are wonderful for what they were intended. Slightly heavier British pigeon guns are a bit more to handle and weigh about 7 1/4 pounds. American pigeon guns are even more to handle at about 7 3/4 pounds, 8 pounds or less according to turn of the 20th century rules. A man of good physical condition can handle any of them without any problem, again, end of story. I like a good light British or American game gun for general shooting at birds or clays, and do well with them. However, an eight pound 30" 12 gauge also feels like a wand under the same conditions. I have, in my lap, a 7 pound, 15 ounce Parker, that Annie Oakley shot in the 1902, last Grand American at Live Birds, and would choose that gun for any competition at birds or clays that were more than 30 yards from me when released or flushed. I would choose a common game gun of lighter weight if the birds were closer or faster. One point that I am making is that any shooter in good physical condition can handle a 6 1/2 pound or 8 pound gun with equal comfort and skill as long as the stock fit is proper. Annie's Parker pigeon gun, which I don't think is a great fit for me, is factory built at Parker Brothers to her exact dimensions, to the sixteenth of an inch, per Parker factory letter, as fitted by Lancaster. However, it is a hoot to shoot, because of its historical provenance, regardless of poor fit, as mentioned by previous posters when discussing collectors of American guns. Yes, we collectors of American guns are an emotional bunch, even though the guns are junk.
2 members like this
by wburns
wburns
I think there is a fair amount of truth in his statements. I do not see why some field grade guns ranging from Parks to Remingtons (especially the ones)in poor conditions are bringing the price they do today. I see no shortage of them either.
1 member likes this
by Lloyd3
Lloyd3
Fun to see this old thread come up again. Some of the original posters here are now gone, sadly.
1 member likes this
by Salopian
Salopian
'Those that do, do it.Those that can't, write about it'
In my experience, journalists are the scum of the earth, a plague foisted on mankind to irritate and annoy.
Dig is an okay chap, who has chosen to swim with sharks, I hope he doesn't get eaten alive.
There are many fine American guns, ( let us all offer up a prayer for John Moses). There are many poor English guns.
The one deciding factor is that the British best is a work that has evolved due to the demand created by the Gentry in the pre-Great War (1914) and the live pigeon shooting fraternity where they demanded the 'Best' and so balance, function and form evolved.In the Frontier World at around the same time the operational word was 'Utility' and that I feel is what the American trade provided.
We have two entirely different products for two entirely different people.
Now let us not argue, let us all enjoy. Each to is own.
Diggory, you keep writing, I enjoy a good read.
Me? I'll just keep filing.
1 member likes this
by obsessed-with-doubles
obsessed-with-doubles
Dig is right on and American gunmakers have always known it.

That's one reason they backed Congress's passing of the McKinely Tariff in 1890.

It drove up the prices on imported guns by 48.4%.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McKinley_Tariff

I wonder if Fox, Parker, Lefever, and L.C. Smith would have had a chance on a level playing field.

Before 1890 Greener and Scott sold a lot of guns in America. I think the US was Scott's major market.

OWD



1 member likes this
by Rocketman
Rocketman
By the late 1860's the materials, designs, and craftsmanship were available to make robust guns, guns that would endure long chronological time spans and endure many, many cycles of the action. A very pedestrian boxlock can be expected to give prolonged service if it is well maintained, not abused, and meets with no misfortune. For all guns, there is a certain element of "luck of the draw" for wear and breakage of parts. There was probably a lack of durability in the extra cheap JABC and bottom end USA made guns. I don't know of a Brit made conterpart to these.

I have very little concern over the reliability of most any gun. The parts that are likely to wear of break are easy enough to fix. If I correctly determine the current condition of a gun, then I should discount it sufficinetly to be able to afford to repair it when something wears out.

All collectables , guns included, are subject to pricing according to scarcity and desirability. Very few top grade guns were made in America. Many, many Americans want them, for whatever reason. Ergo, the price is way out of line with natural utility; the gun may well be worth the price as a collector's piece, but not as a shooter. Birmingham boxlocks are plentiful relative to the number of people who want them. Their price relatively low. I don't know of a single collector who runs a rest home for tired old Burmmies. There are a lot of collectors who run "museums" of high original quality guns.

Getting in a snit over American vs British guns is a waste of good snits. They simply are not comparable; they are shot and collected for differing reasons.
1 member likes this
by Rocketman
Rocketman
Sounds very much like the stopping (more accurately,stomping)double rifle competition at the Vintage Cup. Quality of the day is judged by pain suffered during dinner. "Not tonight, dear, I'M the one with a headache!"
1 member likes this
by eightbore
eightbore
DanS.W., I appreciate your post and your points, but you must realize that we, as wealthy shotgun enthusiasts, can own more than one gun. I don't take my pigeon guns into the grouse woods and don't take my grouse guns to the pigeon ring.
1 member likes this
by Ted Schefelbein
Ted Schefelbein
Originally Posted by eightbore
DanS.W., I appreciate your post and your points, but you must realize that we, as wealthy shotgun enthusiasts, can own more than one gun. I don't take my pigeon guns into the grouse woods and don't take my grouse guns to the pigeon ring.

My pigeon gun looks a lot like a Remington 1100. My grouse gun looks like a Darne V19.

I like Don King’s definition of wealth. “ If you can count your money, you ain’t got none”.

Best,
Ted
1 member likes this
by Dan S. W.
Dan S. W.
I am actually not much of a collector by habit - I buy, interest wanes, then sell. No regrets about any past liquidations. They took me from an LC Smith, through a couple of boxlocks, a Parker, up to owning my current two "best" off-brand SLE's. A number of intervening stack barrels as well, along with hobby cars and motorcycles. I guess I have owned more than a safe-full, but I don't yearn for any of the ones that moved down the road.

The thing I am really lusting after at the moment is vintage Datsuns, or muscles cars, not really sure...just depends on the day I guess. Probably helps that the garage is closer than a sporting clays course as well.
1 member likes this
by Dick Jones otp
Dick Jones otp
I don’t own D grade Foxes, A grade Parkers or Purdeys. In another venue, I would tell you a story about an elephant and a mouse. It relates to the ownership of exclusive possessions making up for other shortcomings. I own Sterlingworths Trojans, basic Levefers, basic Birmingham guns and other similar guns. I shoot them all and I don’t see any real difference in quality. I have high regards for both.

I grew up in High Point, North Carolina and one of the things I learned as a boy is that, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. I will say that, the way I grew up, we considered anyone who told us how much better it was where he was from, or how much better his gun, dog, or car was, as a jerk and we simply wrote him off as such.

Mr. Haddock is a writer and I am a writer. He makes a lot more money for what he writes and I’m sure has a lot more readers. I do understand that one way to get your name out as a writer is to say irritating things that entice folks to read what you write out of irritation. I will never be well known if I have to resort to those tactics.

There are a lot of guns out there that I don’t care for or I think they are grossly over rated but I see no need to urinate in someone else’s corn flakes.

We have a popular bumper sticker in the South that says “We don’t care how the He## ya’ll do it up North.” That bumper sticker is often interpreted to mean that Southern folks don’t like Yankees. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I married a Yankee and, if you read any of my writing, I will bore you telling you how great she is. My favorite relative is her brother and I have as many friends north of the Mason Dixon as south. None of them tell me how much better it is up there or how much smarter folks are up there. The folks that do, I count off as jerks just as I would those from the South that tell me how much smarter Southern folks are.

Everyone has his opinion and has a right to it. My opinion is that Mr. Haddock’s expression of his opinion that things British are better than things made in the USA says a lot about his character. Another thing I’ve learned is that you can never convince a horses a$$ that he is one. As my Mama said on many occasions, “you might as well save your breath to cool your soup.”

I would also say that I would hardly consider a man who can’t spell Lefever as an expert on American guns any more than I would a person making bold statements about Brit guns who couldn't spell Purdey.
1 member likes this
by GLS
GLS
Originally Posted by canvasback
Prince of Darkness. laugh
e

Lucasifer.
1 member likes this
by canvasback
canvasback
Originally Posted by Dan S. W.
I am actually not much of a collector by habit - I buy, interest wanes, then sell. No regrets about any past liquidations. They took me from an LC Smith, through a couple of boxlocks, a Parker, up to owning my current two "best" off-brand SLE's. A number of intervening stack barrels as well, along with hobby cars and motorcycles. I guess I have owned more than a safe-full, but I don't yearn for any of the ones that moved down the road.

The thing I am really lusting after at the moment is vintage Datsuns, or muscles cars, not really sure...just depends on the day I guess. Probably helps that the garage is closer than a sporting clays course as well.

I had three 240Z back in the day. A ‘71, a ‘72 and a ‘73. An almost perfect car.
1 member likes this
by canvasback
canvasback
Originally Posted by Dan S. W.
Canvasback, that is exactly what I have been looking at, early Z's. Unfortunately, they are unit-body cars that are incredibly prone to rusting. Other than that, hard to beat in aesthetics and relative handling characteristics. Much like an English SLE:)

LOL, all three of mine eventually just broke apart from rust. I owned them in the period 1976 through 1983 and for most of the time didn't have the cash to properly repair them from the ravages of rust. It's a bit shocking when you consider that they sold over 50,000 units a year of 240Z in North America and by the mid 1990's you hardly ever saw one. All gone to rust. I've owned and driven a bunch of interesting cars, but those early Z cars were in a class by themselves at the time.

In a way it reminds me of what Sir William Lyons was attempting to do with the Jaguar E-type in 1963. His stated goal was to outperform Ferrari in every way......looks and performance.....with a car costing 1/3 of the price. And he succeeded. Datsun/Nissan created a car that looked and performed like cars costing multiples of it's list price. But something had to give.

My son recently (last month) received a 1976 Triumph TR6 for his 18th birthday and high school graduation. That particular choice of car wasn't my idea. But as soon as I dug into it, I was reminded of what a pleasure it was to tinker with the 240Z and why I have a major distrust of any car maker who made a deal with the Prince of Darkness. laugh

As an aside, the 4 cars I've owned that stand head and shoulders about the rest for enjoyment of one sort or another were:
1971 Datsun 240Z 2.4 litre straight six
1967 Camaro RS/SS 350 Convertible
1972 de Tomaso Pantera 351 Cleveland
1963 Volvo 544 2 sedan with B18 engine
1 member likes this
by Stanton Hillis
Stanton Hillis
My first love, in a car, was my '56 Chevy two-door 210 sedan, bought when I was 17. Repainted, re-upholstered, carpeted, new headliner and custom hubcaps, with longer rear spring shackles, and glasspacks, it was quite a clean (loud) street machine. Guys loved it. My heart throb hated it, so I dated her often in my Dad's 98 Olds. Next came a new '69 Camaro SS 350/300, Aztec Gold with black hockey puck side stripes and trunk lid spoiler. Girl friend liked it much better. Married her in Nov. '71. In the "family way" by the spring of '73, she'd have to drive 50 miles to her gynecologist during the hot summer months of that year for check-ups and the "Cameo" had no a/c, so wifey lost any love for it, too. First son born that October. Cameo was traded off for a (lowered compression) '73 Chevelle Laguna S3 eventually, but hey, it had a/c and it was quiet!

I could care less what happened to that '73 Chevelle, but I miss the '56 Chevy and the '69 Camaro SS every day of my life. Wife and I have made it in marriage for 51 years. Looking back, I made the right decisions ......... but I DO miss those two cars.
1 member likes this
by canvasback
canvasback
Originally Posted by Stanton Hillis
My first love, in a car, was my '56 Chevy two-door 210 sedan, bought when I was 17. Repainted, re-upholstered, carpeted, new headliner and custom hubcaps, with longer rear spring shackles, and glasspacks, it was quite a clean (loud) street machine. Guys loved it. My heart throb hated it, so I dated her often in my Dad's 98 Olds. Next came a new '69 Camaro SS 350/300, Aztec Gold with black hockey puck side stripes and trunk lid spoiler. Girl friend liked it much better. Married her in Nov. '71. In the "family way" by the spring of '73, she'd have to drive 50 miles to her gynecologist during the hot summer months of that year for check-ups and the "Cameo" had no a/c, so wifey lost any love for it, too. First son born that October. Cameo was traded off for a (lowered compression) '73 Chevelle Laguna S3 eventually, but hey, it had a/c and it was quiet!

I could care less what happened to that '73 Chevelle, but I miss the '56 Chevy and the '69 Camaro SS every day of my life. Wife and I have made it in marriage for 51 years. Looking back, I made the right decisions ......... but I DO miss those two cars.

Stan, my '67 Camaro RS/SS was also Aztec Gold. No spoiler though the roof did come down. My girlfriend at the time didn't think much of it until I stopped one day at a store in a strip mall. This was about 1980 and a nice summer day so the roof was down. Ran in to pick something up while she waited in the car. When I came out the car was surrounded by about 5-6 guys but they were ogling the car, not my girlfriend. When we drove away she said " I still don't get the car but I guess you know what you are doing.....those guys wouldn't stop asking me questions about this stupid car!" LOL I think she was a bit peeved she wasn't the object of admiration.
1 member likes this

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