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Syracuse Arms Co shotgun?

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2008-12-26 22:18:52
2008-12-26 22:18:52

Excerpts from The Firing Line Forum and Firearms Forum Questions and answers from Shotgun Tom and WarPig:

The 16-bore Syracuse gun was first listed in Syracuse Arms Company catalogs in 1901 (the 20-bore in 1902), and it was offered in all grades from Grade OO, the lowest, to Grade D, the highest; and ranging in suggested retail price from $30 to $475. Major manufacturing modifications to the frame and barrels occurred in 1902, and again in late 1903 or early 1904; therefore it is difficult for the novice to determine which variation of the Syracuse gun he may own. For assistance in this regard, I suggest you acquire back issues of the Double Gun Journal having articles on the Syracuse gun; as these articles represent the most comprehensive work done to date on the various models of the Syracuse gun and the Syracuse Arms Company. Small bore SAC guns (the 16 and 20) are not very common, as these models were introduced late in the life of the company; and it appears actual production had ceased by mid-1905 (certainly by 1906). Most 16-bore examples seen today are in Grade 0 and Grade 2, both plain models will a small flourish of engraving around the lock pins. The simplest way to determine grade is as follows: The Grade 0 will be roll-stamped "New Twist" for barrel steel type atop the barrels, the Grade 2 gun will have "Improved Damascus" roll-stamped atop the barrels, the Grade 3 gun will have the same barrel steel as the Grade 2 gun but will feature 40-50% line and scoll engraving coverage. The Grade A, A-1, B, C, and D guns will feature finer Damacus barrels for each grade or have optional Krupp barrels (Whitworth with the Grade D gun); and the engraving will be as follows: The Grade A gun will be engraved very similar to the style featured on the Grade 3 gun (line and scroll), the A-1 will have finer line and scroll work and two birds on either side of the frame, the Grade B will feature lots of fine scroll and a single pointing dog on either side of the frame, the Grade C gun will feature very fine scroll with full coverage and dogs and birds, the Grade D will feature the finest scroll with double dogs and birds and unique frame sculpting. Stocks for each grade become more elaborate as to carving and checkering patterns with finer pointed diamonds in the checkering panels. The highest grades are somewhat scarce and collectible, and will bring a decent price if in good original condition (although nothing remotely close to the prices paid for Parkers, Smiths, Lefevers, and Foxes). Low grades with little remaining finish have little value; although there is a limited collector demand for low grade SAC guns with lots of remaining original finishes and no aftermarket alterations. I hope you find this information somewhat helpful.

Production records for the Syracuse Arms Company no longer exist, so there is no way to provide an exact shipping date on your gun. From personal research I can tell you the following: Triplet Steel barrels were first introduced by SAC on their Grade OO gun in 1901. Triplet Steel was SAC's moniker for the type of fluid steel barrels used on this grade gun; and they later used this same barrel steel on a limited run of Syracuse hammer guns introduced in 1904, but these were the only two models of SAC guns advertised as being available with Triplet Steel barrels. The frames of SAC guns were strengthened in 1902 (wider top strap and lengthened frame sides); and their top fastener modified to what SAC advertised as a "double cross bolt". This change occurred around serial number 24,500 (give or take a few numbers either way); adn based on that fact, I would speculate your gun was manufactured in late 1902 or early 1903. In 1902 and 1903, the Grade OO gun was the least expensive SAC gun and carried a suggested retail of $30; not an insignificant sum at the turn of the last century.

Here is more from shotgun expert Russ Ruppel.

I would believe these dates over the ones I posted above, as the website I found the others on had a bnch of information that is screwed up.

Russ is a double shotgun historian and generally knows his stuff.

[quote]I never heard of one marked "New Era" which was a hardware store brand name but I do have a speal on the Real Syracuse Arms guns:

Syracuse Arms Company was founded by Frank Hollenbeck after he left Baker Gun & Forging Company in Batavia, New York, and returned to Syracuse in 1893. Between 1893 and 95 Frank had nine patents assigned to Syracuse Arms Co. The early guns are very tricky to take down, but Frank's patent number 523,813 for a "Movable Cocking Shoulder for Breakdown Guns" made this easier. After a couple of years Frank left to make bicycle seats but the company continued to operate until possibly as late as 1908. The earlier guns are marked "The Hollenbeck" and after Frank left in August 1895 they are often marked "The Syracuse." Syracuse Arms Company guns were made in two series -- the stock guns, which had grades designated by numbers 00, 0, 1, 2, and 3; and the special order guns which had grades designated by letters, A, A-1, B, C, and D. List prices in the 1902 catalogue ranged from $30 for the 00-Grade with Triplet Steel barrels to $475 for the D-grade with either Whitworth Fluid or Damascus barrels. Operating in the Syracuse area the company had access to some of this country's finest engravers in the Glahn family. I briefly owned a straight-gripped B-grade that had some of the best engraving (not in quantity but in execution) I've ever seen on an American gun.

The ejectors for Syracuse Arms Co. were designed by George A. Horne and featured a cut-off to set them to just extract if wanted. Two excellent articles on Frank Hollenbeck were published in The Gun Report -- "The Syracuse Arms Company and Frank Hollenbeck" by the late A.C. Atterbury in the July 1988 issue, and "New Notes of Frank A. Hollenbeck" by H.J. Swinney in the September 1991 issue. I believe they sell back issues -- phone (309) 582-5311.

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I would only add that there were about 40,000 made total and value is from $100 for a low grade clunker to about $3500 for a top grade in mint condition of which only about 3 are extant. 20ga are scarce. [?quote]

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