Where can you find information about a Mississippi Valley Arms Co shotgun?

Mississippi Valley Arms Co.

Mississippi Valley Arms Company: Trade name by the H. & D. Folsom Arms Company on firearms made for the Shapleigh Hardware Company of St. Louis, Missouri.

Folsom was a sporting goods wholesale/retail business in New York City. The actual manufacturer would be their subsidiary company, Crescent Firearms, Norwich, CT, or it may have been imported from Belgium. Look carefully at the barrels and receiver for ELG* in an oval. If you find this mark, it is Belgian, if not, then Crescent.

It would have been manufactured c. 1880-1930. If it has outside hammers and/or damascus barrels, probably before 1905. If hammerless with fluid steel barrels, most likely after 1900.

Does anyone know the year the shotgun was made, by looking at the serial number? I have a dbl barrel, exposed hammer, breechloading, 20 ga., serial #415407. Thanks! Don

Don - If your shotgun is from one of the "quality" manufacturers like Parker Brothers, Lefever, or Winchester, there are serial number lists available. For the utility "hardware store" guns like Crescent, Iver Johnson, Stevens, and especially the Belgian imports, no such information exists and often the "serial numbers" are really batch numbers or assembly numbers which may have been duplicated in different years. If the actual manufacturer or retailer can be identified, it is sometimes possible to narrow the date of manufacture down to a few years.

Don - These fall under the category of hardware-store guns for which there does not seem to be any reliable dating method. Knowing the actual manufacturer could narrow the estimated DOM by a few years. If you find the ELG proofmark, figure 1880-1914 (Belgian imports stopped during WWI and never really came back after), and if it is a Crescent, that company was founded in 1893.

Roy--Thanks for helping. The shotgun I was referring to is a Mississippi Valley Arms, with that serial #.

Don -Mississippi Valley Arms Company never existed. That was a trade name owned by the Shapleigh Hardware. I think Shapleigh was still in business into the 1950's.