This is an antique fine condition Parker Brothers DH, or D3 Grade, 12 Gauge hammerless, side-by-side shotgun with 30” barrels from 1896.
This particular shotgun was ordered by the Clark Ainslie & Company of Lynchburg, Virginia on October 10, 1896, and it was shipped from the factory on October 19, 1896. This shotgun comes with a Parker Brothers Historical Letter, and it notes that the shotgun’s information is found in the original Parker Brothers Order Book No. 29 and confirms that it was a DH hammerless in 12 Gauge with 30-inch Damascus Steel Barrels. The requested chokes in the order were Cylinder choke for the right barrel and Modified choke for the left barrel. The specifications of the stock are a capped pistol grip and has a length of pull of 14 ¼”, drop at the heel of 2 ¾”, and it weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces. The original sales price in 1895 was $100.00, which was a very expensive, high end shotgun at the time.
Charles Parker began as an industrial manufacturer of numerous durable goods, including hardware, lamps, spectacles, steam engines, presses, tooling and even railroad wheels in Meriden, Connecticut beginning in 1828, under the name Meriden Machine Company. Charles Parker created numerous companies over the years, including the Meriden Curtain Fixture Company, Parker & Whipple Company, which manufactured clocks, and, later, Parker Brothers, manufacturing fine shotguns.
Once the Civil War began, Parker, like many other New England manufacturers, capitalized on the need for firearms and joined by Gamaliel F. Snow and machinist James. S. Brooks, created the Parker, Snow, Brooks & Company in 1860.
On September 28, 1863, Parker, Snow, Brooks & Company received a US contract
for the production of 15,000 Model 1861 pattern rifle muskets for $19.00 each. Interestingly, most of the components for Parker, Snow’s contract were manufactured under subcontract by other makers. Parker, Snow delivered the 15,000 contracted-for rifles in 1863 and 1864.
In January 1865, the company’s name was changed to the Meriden Manufacturing Company and, under this name, the company produced 5,000 Triplett & Scott magazine firearms for the state of Kentucky. Shortly after the end of the Civil War, employee William H. Miller developed a cartridge system and the company altered approximately 5,000 Parker, Snow Model 1861 pattern rifles using this system, known as the Miller Alteration. During the Civil War, Miller designed and manufactured the prototype of what would become the first Parker Brothers shotgun. Charles Parker made the decision to produce these shotguns after the war and created Parker Brothers in 1868.
As noted, this is a “DH” Grade Parker Shotgun, also known as a “D3” high grade, which used the beautiful Damascus Steel Barrels. The Parker Brothers DH was considered a premium Parker Shotguns in the late 19th Century. Grade 3 guns such as this were introduced in 1875 and were sometimes also referred to as “100 dollar grade” shotguns. The DH or D3 Grade shotguns used Damascus barrels until Titanic Steel barrels were introduced. The stocks on D3 guns were made of Circassian walnut. Checkering on D3 grades were more elaborate and were made deep with twenty lines to the inch. Stocks were fitted with skeleton butt plates as standard. Dogs and extensive scroll work are typically found on D3 guns. Only about 8,607 D3 Grade shotguns were manufactured by Parker Brothers.
The stock on this shotgun is beautiful imported Circassian Walnut, which comes from the Circassian Mountains in Russia. This stock still exhibits beautiful grain and there are minor dings and scratches, but no cracks or chips are noted. The wrist and pistol grip have very nice original checkering that remains crisp. The cheeks of the stock, adjacent to the receiver, have the extended carving that is common on Grade 3 guns. The bottom of the stock has a silver plate with engraved initials. The original Skeleton Steel Butt Plate is present, and it engraved throughout with engraved screws. The checkering on the butt stock remains very distinct. The butt plate does exhibit considerable old corrosion staining and some pitting near the tang. The pistol grip cap is the original Parker checkered panel with engraved screw. There is some old corrosion on the screw but the cap is solid.
Both the Left Hand Trigger and Right Hand Trigger are present and both retain traces of what appears to be original nickel plating with traces of old corrosion staining. Both Triggers still release crisply.
The receiver exhibits the beautiful and extensive hand engraving that characterizes D3 grade shotguns. The entire sides and the bolsters are engraved. Both sides exhibit a clean pewter patina. The right side of the Receiver has the “PARKER BROS” engraving along with a Pointer. The left side of the Receiver has the “PARKER BROS” engraving along with another hunting dog. The Receiver Tang also exhibits a pewter patina with considerable original color case-hardened finish towards the receiver, and the “SAFE” engraving is still crisply. The serrated Safety is present and operates smoothly. The tang screws are engraved. The Top Lever also operates smoothly and exhibits a pewter patina. The bottom plate is also heavily engraved with three engraved screws and engraved waterfowl.
The Water Table has the patent information stamps, “PAT’D JAN.18.AUG.16.1887. / MAY.7 – OCT 8. 1885,” on one side and the “D” and “3” grade stamps on either side of the serial number stamp “81359.” The water table still retains the majority of the original color case-hardened finish.
The Guard Bow exhibits a pewter patina and is heavily engraved. The Trigger Plate exhibits a pewter patina and is heavily engraved and also has the serial number “No. 81359” engraved on the rearmost portion.
The original Damascus barrel set is in antique very good condition and measures 30” long and it has 2 7/8” chambers. Both barrels exhibit a pewter and plum patina with vivid Damascus figure throughout. The original rib is present and is marked, “PARKER BROS. MAKERS. MERIDEN, CONN. DAMASCUS STEEL.” The original brass sighting post is present on the front of the rib. The bottom of the barrel mount has a “2” stamp, indicating it was a size 2 frame. The bottom of the mount also has a “4 4” stamp, indicating the barrel assembly weighs 4 pounds 4 ounces. There is also a “D” and “3” stamp, indicating the grade, and a “C” stamp. The left side of the barrel mount has the matching serial number “81359.” The rear of the lug has the matching partial serial number “359,” which was found on guns circa 1890 to 1910. The Extractor is present and works smoothly. Barrel lockup is as tight as the day this shotgun was manufactured. The bores of both barrels are very clean with a mirror finish. There is some minor frosting in the very front of the left barrel. As noted previously, the right barrel is Cylinder choke, and the left barrel is Modified choke.
This shotgun has its original and matching Splinter Forend. The Forend Iron exhibits generous original color case-hardened finish and it has the matching serial number “81350.” The Circassian Walnut is in fine condition with no cracks or chips noted and it is deeply checkered. The Forend Lock exhibits a pewter patina and has the patent stamp “PATD.MAR.26.1878.” The lock is also extensively engraved as is the forend nose iron, which also exhibits a pewter patina. The attaching iron spring is still strong, and it secures tightly to the barrel.
This shotgun functions perfectly and would still be a fine bird gun today in its popular 12-gauge configuration. This is a beautiful example of one of Parker Brothers’ high-end guns from 1896.