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This is the most beautiful and graceful hammer I have ever seen. From a Williams & Powell of Liverpool about 1872. Try to imagine these identical twins were carved out of a block of steel or a rough forging by a craftsman without blueprints, only his lifetime skills, saws, files, and chisels. And an incredible knowledge of the Golden Mean and Rococo scroll.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]


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Beautiful workmanship, Joe.

I wonder how many gunmakers apprentices are taught the Golden Mean ratio nowadays. I learned about it many years ago when beginning to build longrifles.

Thanks for posting.


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Superb.

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I don't have anything that approaches that hammer. This might be a short thread Joe. There can't be many that can top or even approach that one.


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Oh, I love seeing hammers—from the simplest to the most elaborate. They all have character of their own and deserve respect. Even the plainest is beyond the ability of most of us to produce.


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I have some nice hammerguns, but nothing approaches that pair of hammers. Works of art and functional as well.

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Well, I'll try to bring the bar down a good long ways.

Here is a hammer from a Cashmore that I am very fond of.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]



And here is a hammer from a recently made rifle - included only because it is the best I have at the moment.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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Absolutely gorgeous hammers on the Williams & Powell.
The finish and engraving is stunning.
I would guess that there would have been sample patterns and snap gauges to keep parts identical.

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I am under the impression that the Birmingham gun trade began to use steam powered
forging machines NLT the 1860s to produce parts such as hammers.

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Beautifully done, Brent. Nice design and engraving is great. Tell us about the rifle.


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thanks Joe. It's and Alex Henry replica for on my long range percussion rifle.


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Steam power forging isn't going to get a hammer like the one in the op more like the cashmore then file chisel and engrave to get the William and Powell hammer

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This is a repeat from the pinfire game gun thread (have a look, if you haven't seen it), but it is a good look at a bevy of hammers from the late 1850s to the late 1860s... Remarkable what can be done with metal files and talent.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

1. Barnett
2. Birkett & Allan
3. The Breech Loading Armoury Company (Limited)
4. John Blanch
5. John Blissett
6. Boss & Co.
7. Joseph Braddell & Son
8. Dougall
9. Cogswell & Harrison
10. James Bott
11. James Erskine
12. Boss & Co.
13. Benjamin Woodward & Sons
14. Masu Brothers
15. Henry Adkin
16. John Blissett
17. George Fuller
18. Frederick Gates
19. W. W. Greener
20. Hambling
21. Harris Holland
22. Harris Holland
23. John William Hunt
24. Jeffrey
25. Joseph Lang
26. Masu Brothers
27. William Moore
28. Charles Frederick Niebour
29. Parker, Field & Sons
30. Edward Paton
31. William Powell
32. Fedele Primavesi
33. Schofield, Goodman & Sons
34. W & C Scott & Son
35. Hugh Snowie
36. Thomas Julian Watkins
37. Robert Watmough
38. Philip Webley & Son
39. Westley Richards
40. Westley Richards
41. James Woodward
42. Unknown
43. Unknown
44. Unknown
45. Châlet, Père et Fils
46. Jean-Baptiste Rongé et Fils
47. August Gottlieb Schüler, Maximilien Nicolas Colleye action
48. Boss & Co.

Last edited by Steve Nash; 02/13/21 08:40 PM. Reason: correction
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I didn't mean to suggest that forging could eliminate all hand-work. Rather
it would eliminate the need to cut and file from a block of metal. It would
also ensure uniform size and basic shape.

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I'll re-post these Reilly pin-fire hammers from the Reilly line:
https://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=436538&page=43
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

1. 10655 - 1858
2. NSN - 1862
3. 12920 - 1862
4. NSN - 1864?
5. 14469 - 1867
6. 15129 - 1868
7. 15288 - 1868
8. 16810 - 1871
9. 15287 - 1868 - original center fre
10. 16761 - 1871 - original center fire

Last edited by Argo44; 02/14/21 01:01 AM.

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Were not a pair of hammers made by filing up a single block of metal to have left and right sides which was then divided into two halves. Obviously not so in the case of the cheaper grade castings .

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I don't want to rain on your parade nor denigrate those lovely hammers but they were almost certainly forged or cast and then finished by hand, as Steve says above. The engraving is lovely but at that time the number of engravers to the trade who could have duplicated that pattern, to that level of finish, was huge. It was just a matter of how much the customer was prepared to shell out for his new toy. In our era of automated mass production techniques, we forget that nearly everything was built and finished by hand and any level of finish could be bought for a few shillings (shilling=12 old pennies=5 new pennies=$0.07).
If you examine most nice Joseph Lang guns of the period, you will see engraving that will blow your mind on a gun that is really not that special under the skin.
Likewise, the late C19th William Evans guns, built by Webley on the screw grip patent often have the most amazing engraving.
It is a common practise then to finish a fairly commonplace gun very highly so it would command a premium price for a medium quality gun. I'm sure you could find parallels today.
In a way, it is why some very high quality guns are rather understated in their adornment.

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My understanding is that in the 1860s at least these parts were either forged or cast, then shaped and finished by hand, then engraved. As Mr Barclay states above, engravers were plentiful, and hand work was relatively cheap. Even the most basic ‘trade’ engraving at the time was nice by modern standards, and better engraving could enhance the appeal of an otherwise standard offering. I simply marvel at the range of hammer styles. While hammerless guns are a technological improvement, I prefer the look and tactile pleasure of exposed hammers.

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The Donald Dallas book "Boss & Co.: Best Gunmakers" provides a most interesting perspective
on the cost of engraving in 1897. The cost of having John James Sumner fully engrave a Boss
'best' sidelock gun that retailed for £60 was £2.

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Here’s a Pape 10 bore from around 1873:

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com][/URL

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All those lovely pin fire hammers reminded me to post here that there are 200 20 gauge pin fire shell available on the web. If they were 12 or 16 their demand would be greater. But still perhaps someone could use them.

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Very nice, Joe.
Will add some hammers to keep it going. Next, we should sing the praise of remarkable fences.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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Dougall with London address.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Scott

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Tonks

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Colt

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Boyd Repeating Arms [Boyd and Tyler]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Daryl Hallquist; 02/16/21 07:04 PM.
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Joe, your post and the posts attracted to it are really interesting. The variety of shapes and decoration are fascinating.

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Very, very nice examples, JB and Daryl. The variety is almost infinite. Interesting that almost all hammers submitted came from the 1870’s and earlier. Of course that was the golden era for hammer breechloaders—and very short lived at that.

Daryl, you always manage to pull out some of the darndest odd variants. Never cease to amaze me!


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This is personal opinion only, but the hammers with a "flat", as opposed to those that are of a half round shape, are the most beautiful. The Williams & Powell posted by Joe, the Reilly in last pic on the bottom right posted by Gene, and the Pape posted by bsteele exhibit the style hammers that are by far the most exquisite and most pleasing to the eye, IMHO. The flat surface allows the engraver to change the engraving from one style to another. While the half round hammers can exhibit superfine engraving, it's almost gets boring in a sense, to me. Kinda, too much of a good thing. I dunno, hard to explain. Again, just a personal preference.

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From my Reilly database here are a few 1880's Reilly hammers...less ornate..and the very functional "crouching tiger" (low profile) seems to predominate.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Horizontal left to right
1. 24365 - 1882
2. 24534 - 1882 (Cyril Adams)
3. 20808 - 1877
4. 21839 - 1879
5. 25354 - 1882 (Cyril Adams)
6. 25771 - 1883 - Maharajah's will be maharajahs

Last edited by Argo44; 02/16/21 10:53 PM.

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I particularly like #5. Is that what you mean by "crouching tiger"?


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Daryl, your Tonks looks very similar to a WC 'Scott Victoria grade that I have.

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]


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Here area few. The first 2 are George H. Daw shotguns, the first from one of the earliest cartridge guns made in 1867; next an underlever Daw; Then a Webley and lastly a Colt 1878...

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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Henry Clarke double rifle...



[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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Tamid, on my post, the labels are at the top of the pictures, and the picture you noticed is a Scott. Very similar to yours, from a period when "lower" hammers were used.

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Posted for Mr. Helsley.

Cani Esterni was published in Italy. It is devoted to hammers and the

black & white images are excellent. The gun shown is a William Powell
& Son 'lifter.'
2 Attachments

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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I’m going to have to find a copy of that book. That Powell is fine!

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That's it! I've enjoyed this thread so far, I really, really need a hammer gun! It's been said that " a gun without hammers, is like a spaniel without ears "
Karl

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Karl, You will love them. Scratch the itch! You have my permission to buy a nice sub-gauge English or German SxS, preferably with damascus barrels.


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I find it interesting how the entire industry settled on an "S" shaped hammer. Is there a reason for it? Early hammers were often straight and straight hammers are lighter (and therefore faster) all else being the same, but perhaps the "S" shape was all about shock absorption? Or was it all just esthetics?


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The S shape of hammers might be a carry-over from the friction flintlock hammer, with its circular arc to scrape flint against steel; the percussion hammer appears to have been designed to hit an angled nipple square on with the most force; the pinfire hammer had to perform an awkward arc to drive a pin downward; and the centrefire hammer was more of a return to the angled hit of the percussion nipple, with a striker instead. Noseless hammers could hit a striker more in line with the barrel which, while sufficient for the task, might not deliver as hard a blow as the slightly longer arc of the angled striker? A physicist and mathematician might provide a better answer.

One thing, the tighter S shape, angled thumb pieces, and lower positioning of the tumbler vis-à-vis the line of the barrel on later hammerguns means that when the hammers are fully cocked, they are out of the line of sight. The other extreme are pinfire hammers which, when cocked, offer a sight picture resembling rugby goal posts!

One thing that is remarkable on so many of the centrefire hammers pictured above is the retention, though highly stylized, of the percussion-era 'cap guards' on the hammer noses designed to keep flying bits of copper cap away from the shooter, a good example of skeuomorphism.

As posts without pictures are dull, here are Lancaster early centrefire hammers of the noseless variety, dated 1858.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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I love that Lancaster hammer. So simple and yet so elegant.

I don't think the "S" has anything to do with keeping the hammers low when cocked. That can be done with a straight as well as curved hammer body. The S just makes the whole hammer heavier and therefore slower. Lock time isn't a major issue for shotguns, but it doesn't help anything either.


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From top to bottom:

Alfred Hollis 10 gauge (probably 1880s)

Charles Moore 12 gauge (probably from 1880s-90s)

Johannes Ecker 16 gauge (Austrian, 1931 - restored by the grandson of the original maker)

SIACE Concordia 28 gauge (2007)

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

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I really like the hammers on this guy!

[Linked Image from photos.smugmug.com]

[Full Size]


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Absolutely exquisite, 28 gauge. Thanks for sharing!


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Originally Posted by 28 gauge shooter

Very nice. Love the gold "eyes" on those hammers.

SRH


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I don't care for the style, but that took an extreme amount of talent.


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I do think the most elegant hammers were on pin fires.

Ps...I sold all my hammer guns and I'm not even sad about it.

Last edited by HomelessjOe; 02/22/21 10:13 AM. Reason: Looking good Stan...19 likes I bet your balls are wet.
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Originally Posted by Stanton Hillis
I don't care for the style, but that took an extreme amount of talent.

Darn it, “Stanton” you’ve sure played with my mind (easy to do). For a couple decades you’ve been “Stan” on this BBS and now you’ve gone to “Stanton Hillis”. Ever time I see that name I stop and wonder who this newcomer is! Stop it! I hate change!


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For Mr. Helsley

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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Originally Posted by Joe Wood
Originally Posted by Stanton Hillis
I don't care for the style, but that took an extreme amount of talent.

Darn it, “Stanton” you’ve sure played with my mind (easy to do). For a couple decades you’ve been “Stan” on this BBS and now you’ve gone to “Stanton Hillis”. Ever time I see that name I stop and wonder who this newcomer is! Stop it! I hate change!

grin grin I've been a Stanton all along, Joe, for 69 years. I just decided to get Dave to change it for me in order to help remind those who think every Stan is a Stanley that it's not so. Been correcting that misassumption all my life. Probably will continue to. Some know better and seem to think it's funny to pretend ignorance.

Same ol' me. Same ol' them.

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Posted for Stan(ton) Hillis:

From an America San Giorgio. Nothing cast here, just fabulous sculpting with hand tools and an artists eye. A bit of Gothic design here? Reminds me a bit of gargoyles.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]


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This thread has been a joy and a feast for the eyes ! Thank you Mr. Wood.

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Great post! Hammer shotguns and rifles are outstanding for me. Here is my simply but lovely 28 ga Wiggan&Elliott.
[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]


28 ga, hammerguns and all shotguns and rifles made by hands.
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British 14 bore rifle, unmarked and converted from ML to centerfire long ago.

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A very best Alex. Henry 10 bore single barrel rifle

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A Lancaster .50 cal smooth rifle(oval bore)

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William Moore 14 bore 2 groove percussion rifle

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Last edited by SKB; 02/23/21 12:37 PM.

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Originally Posted by SKB
British 14 bore rifle, unmarked and converted from ML to centerfire long ago.]

Small world. I once owned that very rifle, in the early 1980s, in Toronto. I sold it as I was leaving the country for a number of years, and shortly afterwards a ill-conceived gun registry came into effect, causing a great many guns to move south to the USA. A lot of fine guns left, and gun shows up here in the past years have been a shadow of their former selves, with few fine pieces to be seen. Glad to see that rifle is being cared for!

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Originally Posted by Steve Nash
Originally Posted by SKB
British 14 bore rifle, unmarked and converted from ML to centerfire long ago.]

Small world. I once owned that very rifle, in the early 1980s, in Toronto. I sold it as I was leaving the country for a number of years, and shortly afterwards a ill-conceived gun registry came into effect, causing a great many guns to move south to the USA. A lot of fine guns left, and gun shows up here in the past years have been a shadow of their former selves, with few fine pieces to be seen. Glad to see that rifle is being cared for!

I know two other guys who once owned it as well and I did not buy it from either of them, I bought it at Basspro of all places. It needed a new bridle, a fly, a front sight and the barrel was bent. I re-finish both the wood and the metal and attended to all of the above issues. I have since sold it to a new owner who appreciates it and shoots it regularly as well as hunts it.

Yes indeed, small world.


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Adding pics of my Greener to keep this going
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Beautiful symmetry, JB. Greener always had nice hammers on his early guns. Looks like on heck of a nice gun! Thanks for sharing.


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Gorgeous guns! I have wanted a hammergun ever since I sold my last one (20 Thomas Bland). I just havent been able to justify owning something that I would use so sparingly. They are an art form I never seem to tire of looking at, so perhaps yet again some day?

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Originally Posted by Joe Wood
Posted for Stan(ton) Hillis:

From an America San Giorgio. Nothing cast here, just fabulous sculpting with hand tools and an artists eye. A bit of Gothic design here? Reminds me a bit of gargoyles.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
Why would you think they weren't cast ?

Kinda look out of place on the plane looking side plate.

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A change of pace and a big step back in time. Here is my W. H. Wilson double flint circa 1820. Very late London flint with just about all the improvements Joe Manton adopted. I believe the gun was likely made by Alexander Wilson, late of Manton. The twin locks are totally hand made, perhaps the hammers began life as rough blacksmith forgings. They are double throated for strength in the neck as is most common with late flint guns.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]


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Beautiful gun complete with grip safety.

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What a superb flintlock, a feast for the eyes!

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This is WW Greener’s Self Acting Striker, patented in 1868. It was his first patent after he quit working for his father and went out on his own. At the time primer quality varied quite a bit and strikers often penetrated the primer and stuck in them. Greener’s solution was to manually force the striker to retract before opening. You can see a small protrusion on the throat of the hammer engaging a stub on the striker. As the hammer was moved to the half cock position it pulled the striker away from the primer. Obviously this lock does not have the rebounding feature Stanton had patented about the same time. Very few of these were made. I love the graceful sweep of the hammers and the way they lay in full cock. They remind me of a racing horse in the starting gate eager for a race to begin.

Hammers certainly gave a craftsman a palette for artistic expression.

HALF COCK

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

FULL COCK

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Last edited by Joe Wood; 03/04/21 11:26 AM.

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Lovely Joe, and the condition is not half bad either wink , thanks for sharing.


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Another superb hammer gun. And clever, too.

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Two digit serial number, Wesson. A couple of hundred were made, some engraved by Gustav Young.

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Hard to find Wilkes Barre.

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Not hammers, but the gun that probably started it all. Pauly

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The beginning of the Dalys, sourced from Geo. Lindner ?

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Daryl, I really like that Wesson! Unique. And that Pauly is most interesting.


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Originally Posted by Daryl Hallquist
Not hammers, but the gun that probably started it all. Pauly

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
Ah, the very beginning! Superb!

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Don't know if anyone has tried to just checker a hammer spur, particularly one with a border all the way around.
Try it and you will appreciate the craftmanship even more.
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Originally Posted by Chuckster
Don't know if anyone has tried to just checker a hammer spur, particularly one with a border all the way around.
Try it and you will appreciate the craftmanship even more.
Chuck

Chuckster, one of the quickest ways I have found to judge the intrinsic quality of a hammer gun is to glance at the quality of the hammer spur checkering. If it’s coarsely done or irregular then there’s no need to look further. The gun’s internal quality will also be lacking.


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Here's the photo....excellent.
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