This is a very good antique condition Parker Brothers Quality T Grade, 12 Gauge top action hammer, side-by-side shotgun that was manufactured in 1885. This particular Parker Shotgun has a well-documented history from the Parker factory and includes the Parker Gun Collectors Association research letter.
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 the Parker, Snow 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.
This particular shotgun was originally ordered by Tabb Brothers Maslin & Company of Baltimore, Maryland for J. P. Tabb on December 6 ,1884. The shotgun was then shipped on September 17, 1885. The original specifications for this shotgun are found in Parker Brothers Order Book No. 17, and lists it as a Quality T, Top Action Hammer Gun in 12-gauge with Plain Twist barrels that are 30 inches in length. The original price in 1885 was $55.00. This shotgun is also listed in Parker Brothers Stock Book Number 16 and denotes a capped pistol grip stock configuration with a length of pull of 14 ¼”, a drop at heel of 2 5/8”, a weight of 7 pounds and 8 ounces, and full chokes for both the right and left barrels.
This shotgun next appears in the Parker Brothers records in Order Book No 20 as a return for credit by Tabb Brothers Maslin & Company on January 4, 1886. The gun was then sold to Jno. P. Moores Sons of New York City on January 13, 1886, for $55.00. The gun then appears again in Order Book Number 36 as returned on April 4, 1894, by Tabb & Jenkins Hardware Company of Baltimore to be sent to A. G. Alford Sporting Goods Company of Baltimore for a new forend. The price was $5.00. Finally, in Order Book Number 67, the records show that an order was made for a right-hand hammer and tumbler pin, which was placed on March 17, 1905, by M. Hartley Company of New York City to be sent to Chase & Hartley of Baltimore.
As noted, this is a “T” Grade Parker Shotgun, also known as the “Twist Grade” and which used the Plain Twist Damascus Steel Barrels. Even though the “TWIST” stamp was put on the barrels, this applied to Plain Twist after 1883. The Parker Brothers T grade was manufactured from 1882 until 1903. This shotgun has the desirable, early post-1882 changes, to include the doll’s head rib extension, the solid head plungers, the Lockplate screw behind the hammer and the check-hook and pin. It also has the correct and early one-piece hinge pin.
The stock on this shotgun is beautiful American Black Walnut with nice grain. There are only a very few minor dings and scratches, but the condition is excellent. The wrist and pistol grip have very nice original checkering with only a few small areas of wear. The stock retains the well worn but very good condition and original Parker Brothers hard rubber butt plate with the Parker Brothers dog and bird logo. The pistol grip cap is the Original “Parker Brothers” cap that remains in worn but good condition. The bottom of the butt has the original silver shield that was never engraved.
Both the Left Hand Trigger and Right Hand Triggers are present and both retain considerable blued finish. Both Triggers still release crisply.
The receiver exhibits a pewter patina generally and has traces of the original color case-hardened finish in the protected areas. The right side of the Receiver has the “PARKER BROS” engraving along with three-line border engraving. The Bolsters are also engraved around the edge. Both bolster clean out screws are present. The left side of the Receiver has the “PARKER BROS” engraving along with border engraving. The Receiver Tang also exhibits a pewter patina with border engraving. The Top Lever also operates smoothly and exhibits generous engraving on the top. The bottom of the receiver has border checkering and a “PAT’D MAR 23. 1875” stamp and it exhibits a salt and pepper patina.
Both original Parker Brothers Hammers are present, and both are in excellent condition. As noted in the original Parker records, this shotgun was sent back for a new right-hand trigger in 1905. This shotgun now has two original Parker Brothers hammers that are matching to each other but not to the shotgun. The right hammer is slightly loose, but it still operates correctly. Both hammers have double edge engraving and the rebounding mechanism for both hammers works perfectly. The firing pins for both barrels are also present and also move freely.
The Water Table has the patent information stamps, “PAT’D APR.11.1876 / SEP.3.1872.” on one side and the serial number “45294” and “PAT’D MAR.16.1875” stamps on the other side.
The Guard Bow exhibits a pewter and plum patina and is engraved. The Trigger Plate also exhibits a pewter patina and has the faded serial number “45294” 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 twist Damascus finish with areas of finish loss and small areas of old corrosion and old pinprick pitting. The right barrel has a dent about three inches forward of the end of the forend, but it will not affect the firing of the shotgun. There is also a very small ding on the left barrel about eight inches from the muzzle, but it will not affect the firing of the shotgun. The original rib is present and is marked, “PARKER BROS. MAKERS. MERIDEN, CONN. TWIST.” The original brass sighting post is present on the front of the rib. The bottom of the barrel mount has the circle serif “T” grade stamp and the “3 13” stamp, indicating the barrel assembly weighs 3 pounds 13 ounces, along with patent dates. The Extractor is present and works smoothly. The bores of both barrels exhibit old corrosion and pitting but they still remain in firing condition. As noted previously, both barrels are full choke.
This shotgun has its original and matching Splinter Forend. As noted, this shotgun was returned to the factory in 1894 for a new forend and this the forend that was installed at that time. The Forend Iron exhibits generous original color case-hardened finish and it has the matching serial number “45294.” The American Black Walnut is in good condition with no cracks or chips noted. There is considerably field wear to the checkering. 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.