W.H. Hamilton SXS 12 Ga. (LOTS of Pics)

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by marcodelat, May 29, 2009.

  1. marcodelat

    marcodelat New Member

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    I acquired this old shotgun a couple of years back because I really liked the way it looks.

    I have never shot it, nor do I intend to ever do so.

    It is a Belgium made gun with all the Liege proof marks that designate a Black Powder firearm.

    I assume this gun was made and imported in the early decades of last century somewhere around 1910 - 1920... or, I wonder if its year of manufacture could be earlier - somewhere around 1900?

    Now, I know that literally hundreds of thousands of these shotguns were produced in Belgium in this era and that were imported into the US in large numbers.

    These guns were sold at most Hardware Stores, General Stores, Feed Supply Stores, "Mom & Pop" stores... really just about anywhere a person would go to buy tools and supplies - at VERY low prices.

    The value of these inexpensive (cheap really) guns I know was, nor is great.

    These old shotguns can be had as interesting "wall-hangers" - the only purpose most are fit for nowadays usually for well under $100.

    Now, as I said I bought this gun because I like how it looks - it is quite different than most I've seen from this period.

    To begin with, the barrels are stamped "FINE STEEL" - I don't think that these are of the more common laminated variety, the wound and hammer-welded. "Twist", "Stubb Twist" and "Damascus" barrels.

    Secondly - the engraving on the gun, while not "high quality" is pretty nice and does not appear to be all machine engraving, but some of it executed by hand.

    Finally, the work on the stock (checkering and brass studding) is pretty intricate, aesthetically pleasing and makes the firearm "stand out".

    The gun is in excellent working order - fine mechanically, action is tight and crisp, barrels lock up properly and firm and as it has mirror bores it seems the gun was not used much or at least very well cared for.

    Following are some pictures (quite a few actually).

    Any comments as to dating, value (although I am definitely NOT selling this one, as I said, "I like it"), or any other observation, etc. would be most welcomed.


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  2. Contenderizer

    Contenderizer New Member

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    Great looking gun marcodelat. And, as you suggested, not all Belgium guns of that period were cheap. Yours has too much detail to be one of the cheap ones, plus the doll's head was usually reserved for the better guns.

    Here is some info to get you started on your research:

    W.H. Hamilton - Importer located in New York City, c.1875-85. Imported guns manufactured by Torrison & Son, Liege, Belgium

    also,

    W.H. Hamilton - Trade name used by Thomas Leary on shotguns manufactured by F.Dumoulin & Co. of Liege, Belgium 1904-10.

    Source: A Short History of Shotgun Making in Belgium, By Joseph Vorisek

    Dumoulin had offices in London. Thomas Leary may have been a retailer or an importer/exported, I don't know.

    For more, go to my publisher (below) and order a copy of Joe's book. Also do a search for W.H. Hamilton while you are there.

    Good luck ... and I have room in my gun safe if you need a place to keep it.:D

    p.s. You may have a broken or weak firing pin spring in the left barrel.
    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  3. RJay

    RJay Active Member

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  4. marcodelat

    marcodelat New Member

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    Thanks for the links Contenderizer very interesting reading - amazing that so many of these things (thousands and thousands) were, for the most part hand made - put together and fitted individually - one at a time.

    Old cottage industry production. Craftsmanship... from a bygone era.

    ... might need to take you up on this Hurricane Season's here and all. :(

    It really is a pain evacuating the firearms... but they do go to the mainland (Miami) with us as does my restored '70 VW Beetle convertible.

    Just how many firearms can you give shelter / lodging to?
    They do need feeding you know.

    Actually the springs are out - and so are the firing pins - just in for the pics here.

    Don't want to chance that, for some reason and somehow, someone should get hold of this shotgun and decide to "try it out" with modern (nitro) shells.

    Would be dangerous for my gun and for the fool who somehow (?) got a hold of it.

    The fool, probably having stolen the gun, would deserve this... but not so my poor shotgun!!!

    Pins and springs are put away safely.

    Anyway... think this here SXS is worth $300 - $500?

    That's what I've been told... it's not a shooter but looks GREAT on display.
    Last edited: May 30, 2009
  5. Contenderizer

    Contenderizer New Member

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    marcodelat,

    Oh, it appears you live in the Florida Keys - I'm in the Ocala area. A Rotarian friend and shooting buddy of mine just relocated from Tavernier up this way. He was in the newspaper business and also a Beetle lover, so you might know the guy. Last name Whitney.

    Do you think the barrels are damacus? I don't see any tell-tail signs. While damascus barreled guns can be fired, if yours is solid steel all the better. Might be fun to shoot it once or twice.

    Wall hangers usually go for $100 or less. Yours is a nice example though, and I might be tempted to go as high as $300 if you caught me on a good day. Others may feel the same. I doubt you could get $500, however. Do your homework on the maker/importer. The more you know the greater the value.
  6. CHW2021

    CHW2021 Member

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    If you were interested in shooting this gun, check into having sub-guage tubes made for it (Briley ect...) There is nothing wrong with 20 ga. tubes in a 12 ga. bore. What is the weight of this gun and how does it "feel" to bring it to your shoulder? Have some fun with the gun and pass it to the next generation in your will !
  7. fleetwood1976

    fleetwood1976 Active Member

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    I would be very proud of this gun, there is something about side by sides that everyone loves. I put a few old guns that I bought cheap over the years in a yardsale and everyone checked out the hardware store sxs. they are iconic and yours is very good looking.
  8. marcodelat

    marcodelat New Member

    Joined:
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    Thanks for your comment CHW2021.

    I believe that if I wanted to shoot this gun (with the proper shells of course, which i believe would be 2 1/2 inch 12 gauge) the barrels would be just fine.

    As I stated before, these are steel - stamped "FINE STEEL", not Damascus, or Laminated Steel - appear to be in VERY good condition...

    Of course, being that I know very little about shotguns I would seek out advice from someone who does as to the metal the barrels are made from and their integrity. But I really don't have any plans to shoot this gun.

    The gun weighs just a tad over 8 lbs. Length of Pull is 14 1/2. (rear trigger's 14) Like I say - don't know much about shotguns - do these double trigger guns considered to have TWO LOPs?

    As to the "feel", well I've never really fired many shotguns much - did "play" a bit with some of them "cannons" that some grunts used back in the day - don't rightly remember, but believe these were Remington.

    Anyway, someone I know who shoots skeet, hunts birds, etc. saw the shotgun and said he thinks it'd be OK to shoot (but then, he is NOT a gunsmith)

    He also said the metal buttplate would put a hurting on a body if he were not careful and hold it tight on the shoulder.

    Seems his guns have rubber pads on the stock which cushion the kick... anyway he wanted to order shells and go out and fire it... but I told him I really would prefer to have the gun checked out - this was over a year ago.

    Thanks fleetwood.

    Yes indeed... seems everyone likes it and likes to hold it :( ... and yes, that's the perfect word - "iconic"!

    Guess that's really why I got this shotgun... guess it'll eventually pass on down to one of my daughters.

    Thinking of getting a nice rack to put it on a wall - maybe even have a shadow box made for it.
  9. CHW2021

    CHW2021 Member

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    Look at the Briley web site for fun anyway, it is entirely do-able to tube a shotgun (and have the breech tightened) for a sub-guage without altering the gun AT ALL. The tubes can be put in a Damascus barrel ----or any other---- and take the recoil to a manageable level. One could have a set or a single pair made in any sub bore. If the shotgun that I inherited from my grandpa was not so wore out I would have it Brileyed.
    Old guns are fun to enjoy, looking at them and shooting them!! Good luck.

    C.W.
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