Belknap Hardware - John W. Price Shotgun

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Jordan, Mar 15, 2004.

  1. Jordan

    Jordan New Member

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    Hello,

    Can anyone tell me which gun manufacturer made the "John W. Price" name brand single shot 12 gauge shotguns for Belknap Hardware in Lousiville Kentucky? I have a shotgun that looks to be about 90 years old. It has John W. Price on the side of the magazine. It's a single shot 12 gauge. Dark brown stock. The barrel and receiver has lost it's bluing and is entirely unfinished metal. The distinguishing feature is it has a screw pin on the side that has a small fold out lever on it that allows the barrel to be removed from the stock and receiver. Any information would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Jordan
  2. glocknut

    glocknut New Member

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    Welcome Jordan !!!!!
  3. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Hi Jordan.......welcome to TFF.

    This isn't an easy one. A large number of manufacturers made "Hardware Store Shotguns" in the 1880-1920 period.

    Crescent made a number of brands sold by Belknap, but the John W. Price tradename doesn't appear to be one of them.

    It could possibly have been made by Hopkins & Allen, Stevens, or Harrington & Richardson.....or a dozen or so smaller gun manufacturers.

    Check it over carefully to see if it has any proofmarks. If it does, it's probably a Belgian import.
  4. CountryGunsmith

    CountryGunsmith New Member

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    It's not Belgian.

    Hopkins & Allen and Crescent both produced single shot shotguns with that type of hinge pin. Interesting that both companies were located in Norwich CT...

    That era saw a lot of merging and takeovers among firearms manufacturers. Hopkins & Allen absorbed Forehand Arms Co in 1902, for instance, and I believe that is where this shotgun design came from. H&A, of course, ceased-to-be in 1917 when the plant was taken over by Marlin-Rockwell to build BAR's for World War I. Meanwhile, Crescent was busily providing single and double shotguns for many, many large hardware concerns (including Belknap) through its parent company H&D Folsom. Crescent was eventually absorbed into Savage around 1930 and the brand disappears at the start of World War 2.

    The Belknap Hardware Company started before the Civil War in Louisville KY and prospered for well over 100 years. During World War 2, they were one of the largest (if not THE largest) catalog-hardware concerns in the nation, publishing a 3000-page annual catalog with over 100,000 items! The 'John W Price' tradename is known on their shotguns, similar to the more famous 'John Primble' trademarked pocketknives. Belknap went into bankruptcy in 1986.

    Reasonably, then, we can date your shotgun to the period between 1900-1920 with H&A being the most likely manufacturer.
  5. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Doc......Norwich, CT is a relatively small city (about 35,000 today) yet between 1800 and 1920 was the home of at least 24 major and minor firearms makers, including:

    Bacon Arms, Smith & Wesson, Allen & Thurber, Hopkins & Allen, Merwin Hulbert, Crescent Arms, Norwich Arms, Davenport, N.R. Davis, Manhatten Firearms........

    Sort of America's own Eibar Region..... :D
  6. CountryGunsmith

    CountryGunsmith New Member

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    Yes, and the interbreeding between them is a fascinating part of firearms history that still has not been completely researched.
  7. Jordan

    Jordan New Member

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    Is it safe to shoot?

    Hello,

    Thank you for the information. Do you think this gun is safe to shoot with low brass ammunition or is it just too old to take a chance?

    Thanks,

    Jordan
  8. CountryGunsmith

    CountryGunsmith New Member

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    I would not shoot it.
  9. Jordan

    Jordan New Member

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    Blue or Brown for this old shotgun

    Thanks again for the information. Most important if this shotgun is safe to shoot or not. I think it sounds like I should put it up on a wall and tell some stories about it and nothing more. No sense in having an accident trying to shoot it. Just one more question. I want to restore this firearm and I want to know if these types of shotguns were blued or browned when manufactured. I believe this one was originally browned, however, it was hard to determine if it was browning I was seeing or all the rust that had taken over the piece. Under the stock it does look like browning to me on the barrel. Just wanted to get a second opinion.

    Thanks,

    Jordan
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2004
  10. CountryGunsmith

    CountryGunsmith New Member

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    The gun was not browned. Originally, the barrels and the mounting hardware were rust-blued. The receiver was almost certainly color case-hardened.

    Please do not attempt to have someone blue that gun using the modern (post WW2) hot blue. That is a caustic process that runs at 295 degrees and will almost certainly separate lug from barrel. Also, the receiver would almost certainly turn a 'plum' purplish color due to the high iron content of the alloy.

    A traditional rust-blue such as Pilkington's or a modernized version such as Brownell's Dicropan IM (which requires heated tanks, just not as hot as salt-bluing) would be correct.
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