Harrington & Richardson Arms Co

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by watersdc, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. watersdc

    watersdc New Member

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    I have a top break, 6-shot H&R that was my dad's. Just curious what it might be worth? I've attached some pictures. Also, I assume it's a .32 caliber. Is that a correct assumption? Thanks!

    Attached Files:

  2. Lanrezac

    Lanrezac Active Member

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    watersdc, there are a great many guns like yours, so this question come up pretty often. I hope you will not mind if I cut, paste, and edit an answer I originally wrote for someone else:

    Your revolver is a copy of a type Smith & Wesson began making in the early 1870's. Once S&W's patents on it expired, numerous companies began making copies, starting around 1890. Most of these companies vanished by the end of World War 1 (1918), but the two best makers, Iver Johnson and Harrington & Richardson kept making pistols of this type until about 1940.

    Both of these companies survived World War 2; H&R still exists, but has been in and out of bankruptcy at least twice and no longer makes pistols.

    Your pistol holds 6 shots, so it is probably made for "32 Smith & Wesson Long". As the name suggests, this is a longer and more powerful version of a cartridge called simply "32 Smith & Wesson". Before Smith & Wesson introduced the Long version, H&R had its own long 32, but guns for this are scarce.

    Most guns of this size were made for 38 Smith & Wesson and held only 5 rounds, so your gun is slightly unusual in that regard. 32 S&W Long is bit easier to find now than 38 S&W and is more pleasant to shoot, IMO.

    The early guns of this type were made for ammunition that used old fashioned "black powder". About 1900, ammunition makers began switching to "smokeless powder". This not only gave less smoke, but was less dirty in all ways. However, it produced higher pressures than black powder. Gun makers began using better steel to compensate for this. Since the guns are now so old, the early guns made for black powder should not be used with modern ammunition.

    I think that 32 S&W Long was not introduced until after the switch to smokeless powder, but I am not certain. Whether your gun is safe to shoot depends on its condition as well as its age, of course.

    There are people on this forum who can tell you what year your gun was made based on your pictures and the serial number, but I am not one of them, unfortunately. Check back and see what they say.

    Guns like this were quite inexpensive ($6 to $9 back before 1914, I think), and were primarily intended for self-defense. Some were made with long barrels for target shooting or use by fur-trappers. By today's standards, they are expensive to shoot and difficult to shoot well with because of small grips, tiny sights, and difficult trigger-pulls. The ammunition they use, while of course dangerous, is low-powered by today's standards.

    Back before there was a telephone in every home, pistol ownership was surprisingly common, and very large numbers of this type were sold because they were much cheaper than a more modern Colt or Smith & Wesson. Still, an H&R was a sound, decent quality gun, which is why they (and Iver Johnson) stayed in business while the other makers failed. Many have survived, and there are not a lot of collectors interested in them, so prices tend to be low unless condition is very good. Unfortunately, your gun has lost all of its finish, so it is hard to give a value for it - it could be difficult to find a buyer at any price. Refinishing it would be a waste of money; collectors do not really want refinished guns.

    Note 1) Welcome to the Forum, and thanks for putting up pictures.

    Note 2) There is another 32 caliber pistol cartridge that will fit your gun. It is called 32 Automatic, and is also known as 32 ACP and 7.65mm Browning. Even though your gun is a 32 Long, 32 Auto is much too powerful and should be avoided.

    Note 3) The grips on your gun are made of hard rubber, which was very common at the time. It is a good material but gets brittle with age. Be careful if you remove them, try to pry them up gently with a knife blade. There is a locating pin at the bottom of the grip frame, and it is common to see grips broken there from clumsy removal. The "bullet-pocked target" was H&R's trademark, BTW.

    Note 4) I think your gun is rather early because of the tiny checkered button forward of the top latch. If the top latch is help up, that little button locks it in the up position so the cylinder can be unscrewed and removed. H&R switched to a simpler system at some point.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  3. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    WatersDC,
    Welcome,
    You have an H&R 2nd Model LARGE FRAME AUTOEJECTING 2nd Variation - made between 1890 and 1892. It was made to handle .32 S&W (6 shot) S&W or .32 H&R LONG (no H&R hand guns of that period were were ever specifically made nor specifically marked for the .32 H&R LONG Cartridge (we're not talking the Federal .32 H&R MAGNUM 1983-84 cartridge here.) Both of those are BLACK POWDER LOADS. The S&W Long came out in 1896 and by around 1922-23 had completely replaced the .32 H&R LONG.
    These gun (the Auto Ejectors) were based upon ORIGINAL designs drawn up by Gilbert Harrington during the late 1859s and early 1860s (I'm researching some old records that I just received and there is more to explore - but there are claims that GH designed the basic auto ejection concepts and S&W and others ran with it. Very interesting. The 1st Model H&R AUTOs were introduced circa 1883-84.

    IMG_1770.jpg
  4. watersdc

    watersdc New Member

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    Thanks Jim for your reply. Based on its condition, how much would you say it's worth?
  5. jamesjo

    jamesjo New Member

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    watersdc,
    unfortunately Jim Hauff is out of commission for the time being, hopefully he will be back up and running soon.
    I will go out on a limb, because these older revolvers are for sure not my specialty, and say value of your revolver is probably around the $ 150 range + or -.
  6. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    watersdc,
    Jamesjo - hit it for you (maybe a bit high - hard to tell from the photos and with out a bit of "clean-up".) Unfortunately, the OLD, semi-beater H&Rs don't generate a lot of monetary interest among the "common"/casual collectors and only pick-up value in v.good or better condition (like those pics above) or have unusual features, transitions, variational changes or some odd ball characterisitics - then the values (to us few hard corps collectors will run up to and above 3 bills or more.
    All that not-with-standing, value is in the eye of the owner - you can certainly build a nice collection of the antiques (hinge frames is how I got started) for under $100 or $150 a piece - I once set my limit at $75 (almost 17 years ago) and developed a small collection of close to 100 pieces - some of which have recently sold for 4 to 5 times what I paid originally.
  7. jamesjo

    jamesjo New Member

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    Jim,
    Great to see you posting.
    Hang in there my friend!!!!!!!!!!!
  8. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    jamesjo,
    I'm doing what I can. Limited time in this typing position slows me down a bit. More tests and shyt next week. When they get done with me, I'll be better than new. ROFLMAO!
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