This is a fine condition Parker Brothers GH Grade, 12 Gauge hammerless, side-by-side shotgun with beautiful Damascus Steel barrels from 1899. This particular shotgun was ordered by W. S. Brown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 24, 1899, and it was shipped from the factory on September 21, 1899. This shotgun’s information is found in the original Parker Brothers Order Book No. 32 and confirms that it was a GH hammerless in 12 Gauge with 30-inch Damascus Steel Barrels. The requested chokes were measured in pellets that struck a given size circle at 40 yards and on this shotgun, it is 175 pellets in the right hand barrel and 225 pellets in the left hand barrel. This roughly equates to an improved choke on the left barrel and bore choke on the right. The prescribed measurements are pistol grip stock, length of pull of 14 ¼”, drop at heel of 2 ¾” and weight of 7 pounds and 5 ounces. The original sales price in 1899 was $80.00.
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 “GH” Grade Parker Shotgun, also known as a Grade 2 Shotgun. The GH Parker Shotguns had better quality wood and checkering as well as deeper and more thorough engraving and cost about $20.00 more than the next lower grade, which was a significant amount of money in 1895. Parker Brothers manufactured 31,778 GH hammerless shotguns.
The stock on this shotgun is beautiful Walnut, and it has gorgeous grain. There are only a very few minor dings and scratches but there are no cracks or chips noted. The wrist and pistol grip have very nice original checkering that remains crisp on the edges with some flattening towards the middle from field use. The original Parker Butt Plate is present, and it is in fine condition. Both screws are engraved and have unmarred slots. The bottom of the butt has the original German silver shield that was never engraved.
Both the Left Hand Trigger and Right Hand Trigger are present and both retain considerable blued finish. Both Triggers still release crisply.
The receiver exhibits a pewter patina generally with traces of the original color case-hardened finish in places, and it has generous original color case-hardened finish on the water table. The right side of the Receiver has the “PARKER BROS” engraving with two quail along with border engraving. The Bolsters are also engraved around the edge and on the bolsters themselves. The left side of the Receiver has the “PARKER BROS” engraving along with border engraving and nice engraving of two ducks on the wing. 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. Both tang screws are engraved. The serrated Safety is present and operates smoothly. The Top Lever works correctly but will stick slightly if pushed too far open. The lever also has border and scroll engraving. The bottom plate is serial number matching with “808” stamped as viewed through the water table. The breech face is very clean.
The bottom of the receiver has beautiful engraving, two include two pheasant and generous scroll work. All three plate screw are engraved. The Water Table has the patent information stamps, “PAT’D JAN.18.AUG.16.1887. / MAY.7. – OCT.8.1889,” on one side and the “G” grade stamp, “2” receiver size stamp, and the serial number “90808” stamp.
The Guard Bow exhibits a pewter patina on the outer surface, but the inner surface retains the majority of its original blued finish. The outer surface of the bow is engraved. The Trigger Plate exhibits a pewter patina and has the serial number “90808” engraved on the rearmost portion. The plate also has border engraving. The plate screws are engraved.
The original barrel set was cut down from the original 30” to 28” at some point and it has 2 ¾” chambers. Both barrels retain the majority of their original and beautiful Damascus finish. The original rib is present and is marked, “PARKER BROS. MAKERS. MERIDEN, CONN. DAMASCUS STEEL.” The original ivory sighting post is present on the front of the rib as moved back after the barrels were shortened. The bottom of the barrel mount has a serif “+” inspection stamp on one side and, “D” and “C” stamps, the “3 13” stamp indicating the barrels weigh 3 pounds, 13 ounces, and the “PAT’D APR 11.1876” patent date. The bottom of the mount also has a “1 ½” stamp indicating the matching frame size. The side of the barrel mount has the matching serial number “90808.” 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.
This shotgun has its original and matching Splinter Forend. The Forend Iron exhibits the majority of its original color case-hardened finish, and it has the matching serial number “90808.” The Walnut is in fine condition with no cracks or chips noted. The Forend Lock exhibits a pewter patina with engraving and has the patent stamp “PATD.MAR.26.1878.” The forend nose iron also exhibits a pewter patina and is heavily engraved. The checkering on the forend is very clear with flattening from field use. 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.