This is an original Parker Brothers VH Grade, 12 Gauge hammerless, side-by-side shotgun from 1909. This particular shotgun was ordered by the E. K. Tryon Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 22, 1909, and it was shipped from the factory on April 6, 1909. This shotgun’s information is found in the original Parker Brothers Order Book No. 78 and confirms that it was a VH hammerless in 12 Gauge with 30-inch Vulcan Steel Barrels. The specifications are also listed in the order book and are: pistol grip stock configuration, drop at the heel of between 2 ½” and 3 ¼”, weight between 7 and 7 ¾” pounds, and right hand modified choke and left hand full choke. The order was placed by S. A. Tucker. The original sales price in 1909 was $50.00.
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 “VH” Grade Parker Shotgun, also known as the “Vulcan Grade” and which used the Vulcan Steel Barrels. The Parker Brothers VH was the workhorse of Parker Shotguns in the early 20th Century. The Vulcan Grade Parkers began production in 1899 and were produced until Parker Brothers was taken over by Remington. VH Shotguns were manufactured in 10, 12, 16, 20, 28, and .410 gauge, and this particular shotgun is in 12 gauge. Parker Brothers manufactured 78,677 shotguns with Vulcan Steel barrels.
The stock on this shotgun is the original American Black Walnut with nice grain. There are normal operational dings and scratches and there is one crack on the left side of the wrist that extends from the trigger guard rearward about 3 inches, although the crack is tight, does not extend to the other side, and the stock does not flex. The wrist and pistol grip have the original checkering that is now very worn from use. The original Parker Butt Plate is present, and it has the dog with a bird in its mouth. The butt plate exhibits wear but there are no cracks or chips noted. The pistol grip cap is the Original “Parker Brothers” cap with “MERIDEN CONN.” Address that remains in excellent condition. 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 and has generous original color case-hardened finish on the water table. The right side of the Receiver has the “PARKER BROS” engraving along with border engraving. The Bolsters are also engraved around the edge. The left side of the Receiver has the “PARKER BROS” engraving along with border engraving. 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 Top Lever also operates smoothly and retains generous color case-hardened finish.
The Water Table has the patent information stamps, “PAT’D JAN.18.AUG.16.1887. / MAY 7 – OCT.8.1889/ PAT’D.AUG.15.1905,” on one side and the “V” Vulcan stamp, and the serial number “139888” stamp.
The Guard Bow exhibits a dark plum patina and is engraved around the edge. The Trigger Plate exhibits a pewter and plum patina and has the serial number “139888” engraved on the rearmost portion. The plate also has border engraving.
The original barrel set is in very good condition and measures 30” long and it has 2 7/8” chambers. Both barrels retain considerable original blued finish with areas of wear on the left side of the barrel, mid-length, and on the right side near the chambers, along with minor areas of staining. The original rib is present and is marked, “PARKER BROS. MAKERS. MERIDEN, CONN. VULCAN STEEL.” The original brass sighting post is present on the front of the rib. The bottom of the barrel mount has the oval “W.K.” inspection stamp, a circle serif “V” stamp, and the “3 14” stamp, indicating the barrel assembly weighs 3 pounds 14 ounces. The bottom of the mount also has a “1 ½” stamp indicating it is 1 ½ frame size. The side of the barrel mount has the matching serial number “139888.” The Extractor is present and works smoothly. Barrel lockup is as tight as the day this shotgun was manufactured. The nose of the barrel mount has the matching partial serial number “88” stamp. The bores of both barrels are very clean with a mirror finish. As noted previously, the right barrel is a modified choke, and the left barrel is a full 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 “139888.” The American Black Walnut is in fine condition with no cracks or chips noted. The Forend Lock exhibits a pewter patina and has the patent stamp “PATD.MAR.26.1878.” The forend nose iron 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.