2 inherited H&Rs

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by mcwop, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. mcwop

    mcwop New Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    This is my first post and I have already learned a lot from reading up on this website. I am hoping that you all can tell me what year my two H&Rs were made, what model and variation they are, and approximately what they are worth.

    One is a top break 6 shot .32 with "Harrington & Rishardson Arms Company Worchester Mass USA pat'd Oct 4th 1887" stamped on the top rib with serial number 45986. It is completely nickel plated with the black target grips and a 3 1/4" barrel.

    The second is a solid frame 6 shot .32 stamped "Saftey Hammer Double Action" across the top with "Patented April 5, 1887" on the hammer. It has an octaganol 2 1/2" barrel and is completly nickel plated with black crown and arrow grips. There is only an 817 under the right side grip, no other serial number that I can see.

    Attached Files:

  2. mcwop

    mcwop New Member

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    Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Were both these guns made to work with black powder, or can I safely shoot modern ammunition with them. Any information will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
  3. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

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    Hi, First off, don't use modern ammo in them. They are over 100 years old. Personally, I'd hand load rounds for them with low power for shooting them.

    As to value, the first .32 has a lot of pitting and some rust. For selling it, anyone who buys it would either be buying it for parts or for restoration. The highest prices I've seen payed for these is in the $50-60 range. The same piece in excellent condition can get a price of around $175.

    Now, the second pistol appears to be in better condition and has the octagon barrel. Again though, I wouldn't expect to achieve a retail value of over about $75. The 817 under the grip is the serial number which indicates that this was manufactured withing a couple years after the patent date. Other people in this forum may be able to give you a more precise date, but you can be quite certain that it is before 1900.

    There are 3 extremely important factors that will affect the price.
    1) How do the parts function? If the piece functions well and the lock up is tight when the cylinder rotates for firing, then the piece becomes a more viable option for complete restoration. If the exterior metal and the bore is in very poor condition then the interior parts definitely have value for the parts for other pistols that are restoreable.

    2) The condition of the bore.
    If the bore has rust or pitting, the barrel is not a candidate for restoration. Getting a decent replacement barrel to match the pistol isn't very easy to find and will cost about $40-60 - shipping not included. A good bore with a heavily pitted and or rusted surface will make the barrel not desirable as a replacement and will also reduce the value as a potential restorable piece.

    3) the condition of the exterior metal surfaces. Pitting and rust says it all. If the metal has too much pitting, it is impossible to restore. Light surface rust can be managed easily enough, but, in general, when there is rust on old pieces there is generally a lot of pitting also. If the piece was a plated weapon, plating flakes with old age and lack of maintenance. Removing the old plating isn't all that easy. With pitting included on the surface it is likely not possible to restore the piece.

    In the case of your first pistol, the rust and pitting will make it a much less desirable choice for trying to restore it. The main value will be in the internal parts if they are working and in the grips if they are decent. Personally, I would not try to restore the exterior surface.

    The second piece though does have potential as a restoration project. This pistol seems to be in decent condition. Granted, I would want to know how the interior parts are functioning. I would pay around $60-65 for it to work on restoring it provided that it had some reasonable functionality and the bore was clean with some visible rifling. It could be worth more than what I'd be willing to pay for it, but you will never see a multi hundred dollar price. The absolute nicest ones I've seen sold for around $150-175.

    That's about the best info I can give you. I've been watching what these old top break revolvers are currently selling for now for several months because I'm looking for one for my collection.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012
  4. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

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    I want to stress - DO NOT USE MODERN AMMO in these. Don't even TRY to fire them. You put yourself at grave risk even attempting such a folly. The entire pistol could easily and effectively disintegrate in your hand leaving you very seriously injured. The second pistol is a hammerless pistol and all the interior parts need checking by a qualified gunsmith before ever attempting to shoot it. The first pistol with the standard hammer is in poor condition. Under NO circumstances should you attempt to fire it without restoration and a qualified gunsmith providing you certification that it is safe to do so.

    William H. Smith IV
    Moore, Idaho
    US Navy Veteran
  5. mcwop

    mcwop New Member

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    I really appreciate all of this information Mr. Smith. My buddy and I actually finished off the box of ammo that my wife's grandfather gave me with the guns. They both functioned flawlessly. I would have never imagined that they were this old and I have actually been looking for another box of ammo to shoot them again. In my novice opinion I would have to say they are very tight and sound pieces. There is no more play in them than any of my other modern firearms and their rifling is clean and crisp. Thanks for all the great info and rest assured, I won't be shooting them.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012
  6. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

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    You are more than welcome. They are nice old pieces :)
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