I recently took possession of a WW Greener Imperial 12 bore shotgun, serial number 51722. In correspondence with Graham Greener it is determined this gun was started 5/6/1903, and finished for delivery on 10/27/1903. A Hammerless 12 bore with 30 inch Whitworth steel barrels, a non-ejector with standard straight hand stock: 2-1/2 by 14 inches, other dimensions not recorded. Type of action is a Facile Princeps. Engravers were Stokes, Horricks, and Hipkiss.
A client made me a deal I couldn't pass up, maybe he knew an Imperial is a bucketlist shotgun for me and in most circumstances one I'd currently not be in the position to afford. He took possession of it from his late brother-in-law, whom in a business/collateral trade took hold of it.
For those familiar with Graham Greeners book, you might notice the serial number proximity to 51712 and 51713, two Imperial models made for the 1904 St Louis World Fair, opened by president Theodore Roosevelt. Those two guns are considered to be two of the finest guns WW Greener produced, aside from the modern offerings from Graham. Mine wuld have been started around the same time as those two, albeit finished much sooner due to the other guns having more time consuming medium relief engraving. I cant place my gun at the 1904 Fair, but the gun did spend a long time in Memphis, TN prior to coming to me. Nevertheless...
Unfortunately the gun suffered a devastating fall at some point which broke the original stock at the wrist. At the same time the trigger guard tang snapped, and the rear trigger broke. Instead of welding the trigger guard tang back together, someone just cut it short. The rear trigger...they welded it. The new stock is of an American walnut, and not up to the standard of a Greener Imperial. The barrels are no longer 30", having lost 2" along the way as well as any choke. While there is no pitting in the bores and they are of correct bore dia, the minimum wall thicknesses are .018" and .019". The muzzles are out of round, there are many dents and a very slight bulge which wasnt repaired well. On the outside of the barrels in the dented areas are file marks. The barrels are off-face.
This gun needs a game plan, and a person to set it right. I know a guy.
I plan to make and fit a new trigger guard and have it engraved to match the original. Ill restock it with a piece of Turkish walnut to my dimensions. I'll have to see if the rear trigger can be cleaned up to appear as-new, or make a new one. The barrels will be put back on face. I am on the fence about sleeving the barrels back to 30", or repair the originals. My qualms with the originals are the thin wall which will only get thinner with repairs and polishing to a high level, no choke, and unoriginal 28" length. ugh...Witworth steel and the stampings...
This project will be a personal one, clients projects come first so this one will be a long term project for me.
One might notice the imperfection at the tip of the trigger plate, a good candidate for laser welding and dressing.
Original forend wood:
horribly repaired trigger guard and rear trigger: