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#229207 - 05/19/11 06:42 PM Educate Me On Francotte SxS's
gjw Offline
Sidelock
**

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 3042
Loc: North Dakota
Hi all, I'm not up on Belguns by any means, so I was wondering if you can give me an education. I know this maker is well known and respected, but I see so many different models and was wondering if you all can tell me the grading system used by them, i.e. 25E, 14E etc. I guess from best quality to entry level.

Also are there any time periods were their quality declined or are their guns always good quality?

Thanks for the help!!!

Greg
_________________________
Gregory J. Westberg
MSG, USA
Ret

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#229211 - 05/19/11 07:35 PM Re: Educate Me On Francotte SxS's [Re: gjw]
Franc Otte Online   content
Sidelock
**

Registered: 12/31/01
Posts: 3531
Loc: NH
gjw
Yes, the cat is out of the bag on Francottes.
I am no expert,but am a fan & have had several.
I believe the nicest Guns available over here were imported by VL&D (Von Lenge? & Detmold) , & so marked on the side of bbls,,from around 1920--30 ish.The later A&F ones don't seem as nicely finished to me
They had some plainish Boxlocks like The High Gun & Knockabout, then some rather nicely engraved Bl's like the #s 14 & 18.
Then there were some nice Sideplated BL's going up in prettyness from #s 20,25,30,& 45(eagle grade)
Then there were the SLE Guns,don't know what #s these were, but a nice Francotte SLE is a very beautiful Gun.
I particularly like the lovely carved Rush/Reed/Ribband fences found on many of them, not just the SLEs either,
I had a beaut' of an 18e, awsome to look at, but it had problems & I had to send it back to seller.
The Model #s above were just for the imported Guns..I don't think they used those #s on their home turf.
Hope this helps a bit
Cheers
Franc Otte


Edited by Franc Otte (05/19/11 08:27 PM)

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#229232 - 05/19/11 10:21 PM Re: Educate Me On Francotte SxS's [Re: gjw]
bbman3 Offline
Sidelock
***

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 2817
Loc: Georgia
Greg i had a 25E 16 gauge with straight grip and it was a fine gun with fancy wood,side plates and really fine engraving. Bobby

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#229234 - 05/19/11 10:35 PM Re: Educate Me On Francotte SxS's [Re: gjw]
sandlapper Offline
Sidelock

Registered: 03/15/11
Posts: 209
Loc: South Carolina
Greg, I've got an Eagle Grade(45E),circa 1921 V,L&D gun that is put together as good as anything else being built in those days. It's a 12 ga. ejector with 26" chopper lump Siemens bbls,with all the std.Francottefeature that even the 14E had,namely sideclips, Greener X-bolt,intercepting sears,double underbolts,and it weighs 6'3". The Belgians could build some stuff that could stand with anybody else. Regards, Marcus

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#229237 - 05/19/11 10:51 PM Re: Educate Me On Francotte SxS's [Re: gjw]
gjw Offline
Sidelock
**

Registered: 12/15/06
Posts: 3042
Loc: North Dakota
HI all and thanks!! So what do you think of this one:

http://www.gunsinternational.com/Francot...un_id=100181760

Just curious.

Thanjs as always!

Greg
_________________________
Gregory J. Westberg
MSG, USA
Ret

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#229252 - 05/20/11 07:50 AM Re: Educate Me On Francotte SxS's [Re: gjw]
L. Brown Offline
Sidelock
**

Registered: 01/01/02
Posts: 10723
Loc: Iowa
Greg, just by way of comparison: Per the A&F catalog from 1936, a 25 sold for $325. A Parker CHE with a single trigger went for $282, a Fox XE for $200, an Ithaca 4E Skeet with single trigger for $166, and a Browning Superposed Midas Grade for $305. Other than the British guns and the Sauer Deluxe, the Francottes were the most expensive European guns A&F handled.

If you want to look at a very nice 25E 20ga, go to www.schwandtclassicarms.com. I've held that one, and it was mighty tempting!


Edited by L. Brown (05/20/11 07:53 AM)

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#229260 - 05/20/11 09:24 AM Re: Educate Me On Francotte SxS's [Re: gjw]
King Brown Offline
Sidelock
**

Registered: 06/02/02
Posts: 9297
Loc: Nova Scotia
The original owner of my 1899 12ga double Francotte was C.W. Billings of Glen Ridge, N.J. captain of the 1912 US Olympic trapshooting team. "Made for C.W. Billings" in gold on the rib, bought through VLD. It's straight stock with 26-inch barrels, probably bought for grouse. I believe the US Olympic team used Remington automatics. Francottes seem underrated. I bought mine about 10 years ago in great shape for $800 and a good one sold here last week at a sporting clays shoot for $1500. I'd have bought it but two Francottes would be a waste on me!

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#229273 - 05/20/11 01:00 PM Re: Educate Me On Francotte SxS's [Re: gjw]
Bob Beach Offline
Sidelock
***

Registered: 01/03/02
Posts: 169
Loc: Morristown, NJ
Allow me to present the models of the Francotte shotguns that were imported to the U.S. by Von Lengerke & Detmold and, later, by Abercrombie & Fitch. It’s a bit lengthy but as you know there is not much information out there about Francotte shotguns so there is a lot to be said.

Von Lengerke & Detmold began to import Francotte firearms in 1889. The earliest VL&D ledger in the Griffin & Howe archives is Volume No. 1 and it was created sometime in 1900. It contains a list of the firearms, sorted by make and model, that were in inventory 1900 followed by the newly arrived ones in chronological order. Between 1900 and 1910 the Francotte models included the following, generally in order of increasing quality and price:

PRE-1910 MODELS

BASIC MODELS

Nimrod – hammer gun
KnockAbout – utility grade hammerless (added in 1904 to replace the JP Sauer KnockAbout which was discontinued at that time)
No. 1 – non-ejector hammerless boxlock
No. 2 – non-ejector hammerless boxlock
No. 3 – non-ejector hammerless boxlock, Damascus barrels
No. 3A – non-ejector hammerless boxlock, Siemen-Martin steel barrels
‘X’ Ejector - ejector hammerless, Siemen-Martin steel barrels

PIGEON EJECTOR (TRAP EJECTOR) MODELS

‘A’ - ejector hammerless boxlock
‘B’ - ejector hammerless sideplated boxlock
‘C’ - ejector hammerless sideplated boxlock
Special Trap Ejector - ejector hammerless

FEATHERWEIGHT MODELS

Hammer Featherweight– lightweight hammer gun
Special – non-ejector hammerless
Quality ‘I’ - ejector hammerless
Quality ‘II’ – ejector hammerless sideplated boxlock
‘AA’ - ejector hammerless boxlock
‘BB’ - ejector hammerless sideplated boxlock
‘CC’ - ejector hammerless sideplated boxlock
‘DD’ - ejector hammerless sideplated boxlock
Eagle - ejector hammerless sideplated boxlock (replaced the Grade DD in December 1900)


SINGLE BARREL MODELS

Single Barrel Trap – non-ejector hammerless

POST 1910 MODELS

In 1910 VL&D changed most of the Francotte model designations and reduced the number of models that were offered. In the 1910 records the models that are listed include the following, again in order of quality and price:

Knockabout Grade – the basic utility grade gun
No. 10 Quality – a non-ejector lightweight field gun
No. 11 Quality – a non-ejector Single Barrel Trap gun
No. 13 Quality – an ejector Single Barrel Trap gun
No. 14 Quality – boxlock hammerless ejector
No. 17 ½ Quality - boxlock hammerless ejector
No. 20 Quality – side-plated boxlock hammerless ejector
No. 25 Quality – side-plated boxlock hammerless ejector
No. 30 Quality – side-plated boxlock hammerless ejector
No. 45 (Eagle) Quality – side-plated boxlock hammerless ejector

(Higher graded sidelock guns were mostly special order although between 1931 and 1948 some were imported for stock and sold as “Deluxe” models)

Existing Francotte shotguns from prior years were entered in the model category that they most closely resembled. I suspect that the earlier, mostly letter model names were those of Francotte while the numbered model names begun in 1910 were those of VL&D. Import records from 1920-23 show that Francotte’s were received as ‘Letter’ models but entered in inventory as ‘Number’ models, sometimes with the accompanying letter designation as well.

For over a year I pondered about the model 17 1/2, trying to determine why the “1/2” was added to the number. There was nothing in the record books that provided an explanation but then Carol Barnes of Gunnerman Books generously provided me with copies of the early Francotte data that had been collected by her late husband, Larry Barnes. Included were VL&D catalog pages from 1910 and upon reviewing them the reason was immediately obvious. In 1910, the price of the Grade No. 10 was $100, the Grade No. 14 was $140, the Grade No. 17 ½ was $175, and so on. Back then it was not unheard of for makers and retailers to designate models according to the retail price of the firearm. By 1920 grades No. 10 and 17 ½ had both disappeared from the inventory and the designation “Quality” was dropped from the model name.

So where does Abercrombie & Fitch come into the picture? In 1928, Ezra Fitch retired as the president of A&F and his place was taken by his son-in-law, James L. Cobb. Until then A&F had sold mostly clothing and camping gear. Although they did offer firearms and hunting and fishing equipment, they were not as heavily involved in those areas as their competitor, Von Lengerke & Detmold. So Cobb decided to expand the old fashioned way – by buying the competition. In 1929 A&F purchased (some say merged with) Von Lengerke & Detmold as well as Von Lengerke & Antoine in Chicago and Griffin & Howe in New York. About the same time A&F also purchased several fishing tackle firms. By purchasing VL&D, A&F not only significantly increased their inventory of firearms but they picked up the VL&D firearms importation business, including Auguste Francotte firearms. To handle the increased work load and inventory, A&F hired many of the VL&D staff, including George Henry Krug, vice-president of VL&D and manager of the VL&D gunroom. Henry Krug was the manager of the VL&D and the A&F gunrooms until his retirement on April 1, 1950 so it is likely that he handled most and sold many of the Francotte’s in your collections.

When A&F took over the importation of Francotte’s they continued to market them as “VL&D Francotte” shotguns until about the mid-1930’s after which they were engraved with the A&F name.

From 1927 until 1940 A&F sold a Francotte model known as the 1923-H which was a SxS available in 410 bore only.

In 1939, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the VL&D/A&F importation of Francotte’s, A&F advertised the Jubilee Model. This was a grade somewhat better than the Knockabout grade and priced a bit higher. First inventoried in 1940 they were sold out by 1942. Of course, the war prevented the further importation of this model.

In 1963-64 the High Gun was offered. This model was a plain sideplated boxlock with a semi-beavertail forend.

One interesting note – in June 1955 the A&F Francotte serial numbers, which had reached up into the 90,000’s, started over with number 1001 – a Knockabout gun. The number of Francotte’s imported picked up again after the war until the 1960’s when the sale of Francotte’s began to be overtaken by the A&F Zoli-Rizzini’s. Francotte continued to manufacture sidelock guns with serial numbers in the high 80,000 and low 90,000 serial range but these were not imported by A&F and do not appear in the A&F record books.

A&F imported a large number of Over/Under shotguns that, while they are not stamped with the Francotte name, do have the maker’s mark ‘AF’ in an oval and topped by a crown among the proof marks. These would also be Francotte shotguns.

Please contact me if you need to determine the precise model of your VL&D/A&F Francotte and the year of its importation. See the Research page of the Griffin & Howe web site.
_________________________
Bob Beach

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#229277 - 05/20/11 02:00 PM Re: Educate Me On Francotte SxS's [Re: gjw]
obsessed-with-doubles Offline
Sidelock
**

Registered: 01/27/03
Posts: 2766
Loc: USA
Holy cow - awesome info.

The clouds have parted and the sun is shining.

Thanks for sharing.

OWD
_________________________
Good Gun Alerts & more:

www.DogsandDoubles.com

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#229280 - 05/20/11 02:10 PM Re: Educate Me On Francotte SxS's [Re: gjw]
PeteM Offline
Sidelock
***

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 4598
Loc: IL
Very nice Bob. Thank you.

Pete
_________________________
http://www.damascus-barrels.com/Movie.html



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