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Baker guns
Unread 10-05-2019, 10:09 AM   #1
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Lee Sherfield
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Default Baker guns

What are your thoughts on Baker gun quality, specifically the paragon. I am just absolutely intrigued by the dogs engraved on these guns , usually setters one side and pointers on the other . But mechanically / functionality are they quality ? Thank you for your time. Lee
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Unread 10-05-2019, 11:49 AM   #2
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Don't know about your specific gun, obviously, but Baker made very nice, serviceable guns. I've found them reliable and well made.
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Unread 10-05-2019, 01:20 PM   #3
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They seem like very nice guns. I haven't shot any of mine enough to have any comments on reliability/longevity.

http://bakercollectors.com/index.php...er-G-F-Co-Guns

I'd take one of these --

Baker Special Whitworth.jpg
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Unread 10-05-2019, 03:40 PM   #4
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I hunted an R grade 12 ga.( 30" Krupp, ext.) for about 6 years back before I learned about low pressure loads. It had a steady diet of Remington express #6 and the occasional Brenneke slug and never skipped a beat. I hunted a Paragon 12 ga. (24" ejector, Damascus) for a few years with target loads and some Navy Arms black powder high brass 6s- no problems, I also had an A grade 12 ga. in real nice shape (28", ext., Damascus) which I shot now and again with trap loads. All were solid guns which did not break in spite of my ignorance. I always loved the scrolls, dogs, and birds on these guns and have seen mention of Joseph Loy as engraver for the nicer ones. My guns all had the intercepting safety sears which was a very nice plus.
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Unread 10-06-2019, 03:24 PM   #5
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Lee,
Hammerless Baker guns are, IMO, some of the most undervalued American doubles. The A & B (and the later equivalent R grade) were all fairly uniform in engraving motif, and the vignette as you've described with Setter and Pointer is commonly seen. Paragon grade guns are often unmarked, but carry a higher level of embellishment/coverage. Dogs are not always seen on this grade. The Paragon was the first "custom" they offered and as such it is likely no two were exactly the same. I've seen many Paragon's with no dogs and multiple birds on each sideplate. The higher grades above Paragon are seldom seen, but there are known examples. I'm not sure there was ever a Loy connection to the Baker Gun Co.. The in-house engraver was an incredibly talented gentleman by the name of Frank Mason who was well known for his beautiful dogs. They used a combination of etching and hand engraving over time.

Researcher posted a link to the Baker Collectors site which will put you in contact with Daryl Hallquist. Daryl and Chris Schotz have collected data on hundreds of guns and are THE authorities on all things Baker. I would not hesitate to reach out to them to get more info on a potential purchase.

As for serviceability, the usual caveat applies, thorough inspection by a qualified double-gun Smith. Assuming all is deemed well and safe the gun should provide many years of excellent service.

My personal recommendation would be to only use low pressure 2 1/2" loads which are a little less abusive to the wood even if the rest of the gun is stout enough to handle it.

Best,
Ken
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Unread 10-07-2019, 08:45 AM   #6
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A gent who often shoots sporting with my gang is a Baker man and shoots them almost exclusively. His wife grew up in Batavia and he has some other early life connections with the town. He doesn't reload and is probably one of RST's biggest users although he also shoots LIGHT commercial 12-gauge shells from time to time. He has quite a few Bakers and hasn't mentioned any particular problems with them, though he almost always has a stock comb raiser, one of those stretchy sock type thingies, on the gun he's shooting that day. From that I perceive he either likes to float the birds or that most of the stock combs are too low for his physique.
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Unread 10-07-2019, 11:11 AM   #7
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I have no idea why Baker guns were not more popular among turn-of-the-century Live Bird and Inanimate Target competitors, but were used very little at the GAHs.

W.R. Crosby was a representative for Baker from at least 1897 until 1899, twice winning the “E.C.” Target Championship of America.

At the 1899 Sportsmen's Show, Madison Square Garden - Fanning (Smith), Crosby (Baker), Budd (Parker), B. Leroy Woodard, Campello, Mass., (Remington), Heikes (Remington). Courtesy of Randy Davis.



He used a "$30 Baker Hammerless" at the 1899 GAH, but in Sept. 1899 was using a Paragon.
He went to a L.C. Smith in 1900, after 1906 used a Parker, and later an Ithaca 5E SBT.

Charles "Sparrow" Young, using the nom de plume of “Robin Hood” (as a rep for the Robin Hood Powder Co.) used a Smith in April 1900 at the GAH at Live Birds, then broke 25 straight at the Grand American Handicap at Targets in June 1900 with his own Young Repeating Arms Co. two shot pump.
After that business failed, he was a demonstrator for Baker Gun (W.R. Crosby having left Baker for Hunter Arms in 1900), a trade representative for Peters, and in 1907 he was shooting a Parker.

There was no Baker trade rep at the 1907 nor 1910 GAHs.

Lots of Baker pics here
http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/17434920

This is a Frank Mason engraved Paragon



I believe this huntress on the cover of the Dec. 1913 Outdoor World & Recreation is using a Baker

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Unread 10-07-2019, 12:07 PM   #8
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The early Baker hammerless guns made while Baker was still alive are of great quality and the fit and finish was comparable to any of the other makers of the time. And their high grade guns were exquisite.
Their mechanism was a very simple one and is very serviceable. As far as the few American Sidelock that were made, I would say that the early baker guns were a superior gun to LC Smiths by way of overall design.

Of course quality in fit and finish really took a nosedive when Folsom took ownership of the company. The basic design of the gun remained the same. This is in the era that most people think of when the Batavia Leaders and Black Beauties were their main offering as field grade guns.

I am not up to speed enough on their product line offerings to know if they did offer any higher grade guns in the Folsom era or not.

I would summarize that the company and the design of the gun surely had the potential to be more than it was in the overall market and could have certainly had a greater effect on their following today.
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Unread 10-07-2019, 02:13 PM   #9
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Baker left Ithaca early 1887 and returned to Syracuse to work with his brother Dr. Ellis Baker at the Syracuse Forging Co., which soon became the Syracuse Forging & Gun Co. They manufactured a trigger-plate hammer gun designed by A.C. McFarland, Patent No. 370,966 called the "New Baker Gun".
After the factory in Syracuse burned in the summer of 1888, they moved to Batavia and eventually the company became the Baker Gun & Forging Co. At the time of the move W.H. Baker was ill with TB and/or silicosis and died Sept. 10, 1889. Frank A. Hollenbeck was then plant superintendent 1890-1892.

Folsom continued to produce Paragon, Expert and DeLuxe grades, but in very small numbers; c. 1921 catalog





A late Folsom Paragon Ejector with much simpler engraving

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Unread 10-07-2019, 02:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
The early Baker hammerless guns made while Baker was still alive are of great quality and the fit and finish was comparable to any of the other makers of the time.
W.H. Baker was dead well before the first Baker Gun & Forging Co. hammerless gun was produced. William H. Baker died October 10, 1889. The first Baker Hammerless Doubles came out in 1892. The Patent dates found on the watertables of a few very early Baker hammerless guns are all for Frank A. Hollenbeck patents. Frank took over as plant superintendent shortly after the move to Batavia.

The brief period of time that W.H. Baker was with the Syracuse Forging & Gun Co., the trigger plate action "New Baker" hammer gun they were making was based on Albert C. McFarland's Patent No. 370,966 granted October 4, 1887.
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