Henry Beckwith Pinfire 12 ga.

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by GuildGun6, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. GuildGun6

    GuildGun6 Member

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    I have recently acquired a beautiful 12 ga Pinfire Shotgun. It is very ornately engraved with what appears to be sturgeon as hammers. There is nothing on this gun which is not engraved, all screws are even engraved. I have done quite a bit of research on this and also had an appraiser give me an opinion on it, but unfortunately did not tell me anything other than what I told him. I know it was manufactured by a 3rd generation company from Snow Hill, London, "William A Beckwith" pre-1841, then his wife and son under "Elizabeth Beckwith & Son" 1841-1862, and then 1863-68 under the son "Henry Beckwith". There are some connections to the East India Trading Company at some point. I don't know what ever happened to the company after that. The gun it exquisite, I would love to get my hands on a couple of pinfire shells to display with it.
    Anyone who can help me with further information about this gun would be of help, I am really interested in an idea of value for this, as I have not seen any online anywhere.

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  2. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    You haven't shown or listed the actual markings; is it marked Wm Beckwith and does it have Birmingham proofs? I ask because British pinfires are far less common than those made in Belgium.

    Boothroyd's Directory of British Gunmakers lists William Andrew Beckwith 1808-1865, in business in Birmingham 1810-1861, and business owned by William and Henry Beckwith 1865.

    I can't suggest a value, but pinfires were never popular in USA, and are not highly sought by US collectors today.
  3. GuildGun6

    GuildGun6 Member

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    I will add those markings , so sorry, I am new at this. This does say "Henry Beckwith" on the top of frame.
  4. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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  5. GuildGun6

    GuildGun6 Member

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    Proof Marks: Where the barrel hinges there are 2 "V" with Crown overtop, which I understand is a London View Proof with the serial number 3403.
    One the bottom of barrel is numerous proofs, Duplicates parallel Starting with a Crown with interlocking CP underneath; "13"; Crown with V underneath; Lion over a half moon over a "g" which in BB says London Provisional Proof.
    On top of barrel is "Henry Beckwith 58 Streeter Street Snow Hill London"
    Also it has Demascus steel barrels.

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  6. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the excellent photos, showing the London proofmarks.

    Boothroyd listed the Beckwiths as Birmingham makers, but then lists the 58 Skinner St address.

    They may have had only a sales outlet in London and had their guns proofed there.

    Webley of Birmingham marked some early guns "St James's London" but there's no record they ever had an actual office there.

    Your best bet to find sample pinfire shells to display is probably a cartridge collector's table at a gun show.
    The online auctions sometimes list them, but both primed empties and loaded shells must be shipped by express.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
  7. GuildGun6

    GuildGun6 Member

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    What does the "TE" and the "13" proof marks mean?
  8. GuildGun6

    GuildGun6 Member

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    It definitely is Skinner Street, I used another magnifyer on that. I would think that there would be many of these in the USA, with all the immigration into US from England, Ireland, etc. Why have I not seen any to compare with?
    Thankyou so much HRF for all your help. I have always owned guns, but as I am getting older I appreciate them more, escpecially the old ones. They may not be a valuable, but desirable is in the eye of the beholder! I think my husband is afraid I am desiring them too much! haha.
  9. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Some were no doubt brought to USA by immigrants, but they were probably cast aside and replaced by centerfire guns as imported pinfire shells became scarce.

    To my knowledge no U.S companies ever made pinfire guns or ammo. The 1900 Sears catalog still offered empty pinfire shells for reloading, but no loaded shells:

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    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
  10. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    TE was probably an inspector at the London proofhouse.

    13 may be the gauge, and the 1911 ALFA catalog does lists odd number gauges, but I think they were far less common than the familiar 12, 14, 16, etc. even number gauges.
  11. GuildGun6

    GuildGun6 Member

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    I also saw the "Hodges" stamped in the barrel hinge area and researched that to be a gun maker who had six patents in London. E C Hodges who did alot with the pinfires. I am wondeering why his name is on this gun and not on the sides where Hodges normally engraved his name.
  12. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Beckwith may have used barrels made by Hodges. It was not uncommon for the early gunmakers to share piecework.

    Boothroyd lists Edwin Charles Hodges in London 1860-1908.
  13. Robert Hodges

    Robert Hodges New Member

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  14. sharps4590

    sharps4590 Active Member

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    The pinfire cartridge dates to the 1830's and was a Lefeucheux development. His original was a "long key" actuated lock that swiveled from beneath the forearm. Yours is a Jones underlever action and a slight improvement upon the Lefeucheux action. The locking of the lugs was the same. Mostly the only improvement was that it is a handier action to operate, and they are. I have and use both. They are about the same strength. Many Jones underlever's were sourced from Birmingham. hrf and Robert are obviously far and above me on knowledge of the maker. German firearms are more my forte'.

    Robert, thank you for those links. I WILL visit them in the near future.
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