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B.H. Worthen and his Parker
Old 10-02-2017, 11:14 PM   #1
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Default B.H. Worthen and his Parker

https://books.google.com/books?id=MC...J&pg=PA328&lpg
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Old 10-03-2017, 10:23 AM   #2
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Bernie Worthen was not only a top shooter, he was also a famous rifle maker.
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Old 10-03-2017, 11:21 AM   #3
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B.H. Worthen Arms Co. 1899
https://books.google.com/books?id=45...g=RA7-PA42&lpg

Still at it in 1916; the Golden Gate shoot
http://library.la84.org/SportsLibrar.../SL6706030.pdf

Courtesy of the late Michael Petrov

Barney Worthen of San Francisco, California is a good example of a regional gunmaker who never had a national following. Bernard H. Worthen was born in Marion County, Illinois in 1868. By the late 1890's he was living in Charleston, South Carolina. Worthen was a well known trap shooter. His name is found as a participant in several national matches in the 1890's finishing many times in the top few shooters if not in first place. In 1914 E.C. Crossman recommended Worthen to make custom sporting rifles who was then located in Sacramento, California. By 1921 Townsend Whelen recommended Worthen to people on the West Coast as a skilled gunmaker who could do a nice job of converting the Springfield to a sporter. At this time Whelen shows Worthen’s address as San Francisco and places him at the Ellery Arms Company. Ellery Arms Company was a large sporting goods store located at 583-585 Market St. I learned that Worthen was a skilled machinist and also did a lot of work for the nearby King Gunsight Company.

Over the years I have handled four or five Worthens and looked at pictures and information on another four or so. All were on the Springfield action in caliber .30-06, .22 Hornet or .22 Long Rifle. More than half of the Worthens I know about are take-downs. A few of the gunmakers made a takedown rifle; I have seen them made by Adolph and Niedner but It would seem that the takedown was worthen’s specialty. He did a great job on the takedown conversion, using a full, not interrupted thread with a jam nut against the receiver and a tapered pin to center the forearm. The pictured Worthen take-down has a label made for display, to the best of my knowledge Worthen had no trade label.

One problem with the 1903 Springfield is if the gun is cocked and the safety is off and for any reason the bolt handle is partially lifted, the tension on the firing pin spring would be relieved and the firing pin would not hit with enough force to discharge the primer. This very thing happened to Hosea Serber in 1933 on Afognak Island, Alaska. Holding his rifle in his left hand with the safety off while trying to take a picture a Kodiak bear with his right hand he was attacked by the bear. Somehow the bolt handle had been raised and when Serber pulled the trigger all he got was, in his words a “snick”. Knowing immediately what had happened he chambered a new round and killed the bear.

Barney Worthen supplied many of his rifles with a solution to fix this problem. What he did was install a small spring-loaded pin with a rounded nose in the forward part of the rear safety lug on the bolt. A corresponding small indent in the back of the extractor receives the pin when the bolt is fully closed. This helps keep the bolt locked in the closed position. Another identifiable Worthen touch found on many of his stocks is a very thin grip. In order to make it this way he inletted the trigger guard group enough so he had to shorten the trigger.
I have always thought highly of Worthen’s work but my outlook rose to new heights last year when a friend showed me the pictured non-takedown Springfield-Worthen. This rifle was made for a prominent San Francisco gentleman and the workmanship is superb.


Bernard H. (Barney) Worthen:
I wrote about Barney Worthen in the August, 2000 PS and since that time I have received information on many of his rifles and have examined first-hand a few as well. I’m impressed with his work. The more I see the more I like what he did with both the metal and wood. Barney Worthen was born in Illinois on April 12th, 1867 and died in San Francisco January 27th, 1940. I was able to learn Barney was working in Charleston, South Carolina in 1900 at a business called Worthen Arms Company. By 1910 he is listed in the census as a gunmaker in Sacramento, California at a sporting good company. Sometime before 1917 he relocated to Ellery Arms Company, San Francisco and was living at 529 Mission Street, San Rafael. All the Worthen custom rifles I know about are marked with the San Francisco address.

On every single rifle I have information about each has a horn grip cap with an empty oval in the center. On one rifle the old dry glue can still be seen, so whatever type of glue he used, over time it let go. During my search for Worthen information I ran across the following information in the August 15th, 1920 Arms and the Man magazine.

“Description of Springfield Sporter Converted by Barney H. Worthen”
“This is a Springfield Sporter remodeled by Barney H. Worthen for Commander S.C. Barber, U.S.N.
The stock is of selected Circassian walnut- a piece of excellent grain- with dull London oil finish, Whelen pattern cheek piece, and thick, well curved pistol grip fairly close to guard. The neat horn cap on the pistol grip holds an oval silver plate for monogram.”

The author then goes on to describe the rifle in detail. So there it was. They had an oval silver insert. I made a tracing of the empty cap and sent it to a friend who does silver work. He cut out a replacement plate a little oversized which I then fitted and attached using epoxy. I have no way of knowing what the future holds for this rifle but I can you tell you the silver oval will not be falling out of this rifle.

Worthen sporters are marked in a single line on the top of the barrel, early markings are engraved “Barney H. Worthen San Francisco”. Later he used a stamp “Made By Barney H. Worthen San Francisco”.

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Old 10-03-2017, 02:40 PM   #4
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Michael Petrov's images have been lost to the Photobucket debacle.
This tiny pic is all I could harvest

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Old 10-03-2017, 03:39 PM   #5
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Steve Barnett sold a few Worthen rifles not too many years ago.
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:32 PM   #6
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Beating W.R. Crosby in 1904 was no small accomplishment as he was at the top of his game.
Crosby was a representative for Baker Gun & Forging from at least 1897 until 1899, twice winning the “E.C.” Target Championship of America, first with a Baker B grade, then with a Paragon.
He went to a L.C. Smith in 1900, which he used during the 1901 Anglo-American Match.
In 1903, Crosby held the "E. C." Cup (targets), Dupont Cup (live birds), and Hazard Cup (live birds).
In 1904 he held the "E. C." cup, Schmelzer cup (reverse angle targets), DuPont cup, and Hazard cups. The "E. C." Cup was emblematic of the Flying Target Championship of the World, the conditions being 50 singles unknown angles, 50 singles expert rules, and 25 doubles. The live bird trophies were the Cast Iron Medal, the Du Pont Cup and the Hazard Cup; all shot for 100 live birds, 30 yards rise.
After 1906 Crosby shot a Parker, and later an Ithaca 5E SBT.

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