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New User from N. Illinois looking for assistance
Unread 11-01-2018, 04:59 PM   #1
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Nicholas Stauber
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Default New User from N. Illinois looking for assistance

Hello from behind enemy lines in N. Illinois,

I'm trying to help a customer of mine get his Parker insured and they need a statement of value. I've handled quite a few doing transfers from customers who purchased Parkers at auctions but I'm far from an expert.

The gun in question is 12ga Grade 2 Exposed Hammer Toplever gun with 30" Damascus barrels, extractor only, built on #2 frame. SN# 24879.
I'm familiar with grading based on remaining case color, original finish, etc, but the thing that is throwing me for a loop is the lack of a dolls head. I know that the feature was implemented some time in 1882, but what does that mean for the value? I found a post on this forum stating that there approximately 283 Grade 2 toplever guns are out there without a dolls head. Does that 283 include Grade 2 guns in all gauges, barrel lengths, stock types, variants, etc? If so, how rare is this gun and what does that do for the value compared to a slightly later model with the dolls head in similar condition?

I've searched the online auctions and auction results from a few large houses, but I haven't found what I would consider a comparable gun. If it were just based on remaining finish, features, etc, I think I could manage. I have seen exactly one for sale on line where the ad touts the lack of a dolls head - its a Grade 3 hammerless with much more original finish remaining, and close to $10K.

I also noticed that a 12ga hull fit rather loosely in the chambers, but its too small for a 10ga. I measured the bores with a Stan Baker gauge and they come out .724/.722"@the muzzles .753/.754 @ 4" in from the muzzle and .757/.758 as deep as the probe can measure (maybe 18" or so). I didn't get a chance to mic the chamber mouths, but the forcing cones started at approximately 2-5/8" point, definitely shy of 2-3/4" Are these just standard dimensions for period Parker guns, or indicative of a non-standard chambering?

Any assistance would be helpful!
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Unread 11-01-2018, 05:44 PM   #2
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Here is a bit of Austin Hogan's article, "Parker Bores and Chambers".

Austin certainly wasn't the 'last word' on the subject but he and Charlie Price and Richard Hoover were the prominent Parker researchers and analysts for a couple of decades.

It may not tell you much of anything about your gun but I think we can rule out it having been bored to 11 gauge - those were 99% 4-digit serial number guns.

. King became superintendent of Parker Bros., with the knowledge that imported tubes could be bored and turned to profile at lesser duty and lower cost. King’s earliest Parker related patents covered tooling used to bore and contour tubes into barrels. He devised a method called “bulldozing” to swage the breech of a tube to contour, that formed the railed barrel flat.
It was apparently quite difficult to cut straight, uniform diameter bores in Damascus and other composite tubes. King first cast the tubes in plaster to support them during the boring operation. He apparently mastered boring composites by around s/n 3000; we find some high grade guns of lesser number with extremely variable bores. We think that the reason it is difficult to bore and turn Damascus (composites) is because the compound material breaks at the lamination, and does not produce complete, or multi turn chips. Research continues relative to learning the cutter sharpening and cutting speed that King may have used.
A chronology of bore diameter relative to serial number is shown in the figure. These are bore diameters measured on PGCA member’s guns at meetings and gatherings. Note that almost all guns less than 70,000 s/n have bore diameters of 0.750 – 0.760 inches. Note that the variability of diameter seems to diminish after introduction of the top action around s/n 25000. Perhaps new tooling was incorporated.
Note that bores of greater than 0.750 are not found after 1891. New tooling was incorporated at this time which apparently bored to about 0.730, to be followed by a polish that produced bores of 0.731 – 0.735. Note the two large circles indicative of barrels of 0.740 bore. These are live bird competition guns. Super Foxes were bored to the same diameter in the 1920’s.






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Unread 11-01-2018, 05:49 PM   #3
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For insurance purposes, The blue book. It is documented and in the case of lower grade guns, usually better than the market actually is.
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Unread 11-01-2018, 07:39 PM   #4
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Incidentally, the fact that it doesn't have a doll's head rib extension has no bearing on value of a Parker in that serial number range. We have seen a great many with no doll's head - they are not rare or even unusual.





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Unread 11-02-2018, 02:57 PM   #5
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This is exactly the info I needed so I can help him out. I noticed the lack of the dolls head and then found this forum by searching for that info. It was difficult to ascertain from the thread what effect it would have on the value, so I'm glad you could set me straight. The gun was supposedly purchased by the owner's great grandfather in the 30's and has been a family heirloom ever since. The lock up is still tight and I'm sure its shootable with suitable loads. I'm advising the customer to get a factory letter just add to the provenance.
The info about the bore size is lines up exactly with my measurements and the manufacturing technology used by these gunmakers is remarkable given the time period. The part about boring Damascus barrels and making irregular chips makes perfect sense. The barrels on this particular gun are thick and hefty - the unstruck weight is stamped 5 and the whole gun is just a shade under 9lbs.
After handling a bunch that their owners were unwilling to part with, I'm still looking for a Parker of my own. Thanks to all for their help. I don't have any lavish photos like those taken by the owners or restoration experts and uploaded here, but I will upload some snaps I took while taking notes (the customer was hesitant to leave the gun here more than a few hours).
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Unread 11-02-2018, 05:30 PM   #6
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Don't get your hopes up about provenance, the order books ended Dec 1919 and they showed who ordered the gun. It's possible there is an IBM card for this gun but even then it's not a given that a name will be mentioned.
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