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Joined: Jan 2009
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I have dabbled in collectable guns for about 10 years and have even acquired some worthwhile unmolested doubles (Winchester, Ithaca, Iver Johnson and Baker) at what seemed to be market prices.

However, the market for guns by Parker and A.H. Fox is to me an impenetrable morass. How does a know nothing blind pig not get taken when foraging for an unmolested Parker or A.H. Fox

Last edited by Bushmaster; 05/15/17 10:26 PM.
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Haven't tried Fox but did make an effort on Parkers. Bought a couple molested ones but not what I wanted. Finally found a Parker collector who took pity on me and sent me to a collector who was disposing of part of his assets. Found the 20ga VHE I wanted at a reasonable price. However both Parker and Fox are just too well known names and their collector value is far above their mechanical value in the lower grades. There are a lot of better quality guns for the price of a Parker VHE or DHE. Besides I am a shooter not a collector. My 20ga has seen a lot of miles in the desert hunting quail;a trip to South Dakota for pheasant, Idaho for Huns and a few sporting clays venues too. Of course dove frequently as well. So I suggest you figure out how to meet collectors of such guns and develop a relationship or two. Those selling their Parkers are more like the adoption agency for kids in my experience.

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A "blind pig" has no such assurances. Even experienced collectors can get taken if they aren't careful. Especially when it comes to higher value graded guns, some of the restorations can absolutely approach or equal original finishes. But work like that doesn't come cheap either, so is less likely in lesser value guns. And there are guns that have been sold as restorations by the better restoration smiths such as Dewey Vicknair or Doug Turnbull that later get passed off as closet queen originals. You simply have to learn to spot the subtle and not so subtle signs of restorations or refreshing. I certainly have been burned by excessive exuberance and rushing into a purchase without doing all of my homework. It is part of the game, and part of the challenge of gun collecting.

Parkers and Foxes are obviously more tempting for unscrupulous sellers to restore or refresh in order to maximize their profits because of the greater value and demand for them. Refreshing is more common than restoration because a lot of that is done by amateurs and hobbyists. Just look at the number of photos of re-blued barrels you see on this one website in a year. Does anyone think for a moment that some of them aren't getting back into circulation? Look at the long discussions there have been here simply recounting how to verify if barrels have been cut, or had chokes honed, or chambers altered. How about the many discussions of what type of case colors are proper for this gun or that? All of those little details go into defining "unmolested" original collector condition. But if you can detect "unmolested" condition in the other brands you mentioned, there is no difference with a Parker or Fox. A good place to start with the Parkers is to get a copy of the Parker Shotgun Identification and Serialization book so you can at least verify original configuration.

Other than that, there is only verifiable provenance such as absolutely knowing that a very nice or pristine specimen was in the same family, lightly used, and well cared for, from the time it was brand new. As time passes, that gets harder and harder too. Just look at some of the dishonesty you see even when there is no money involved.



A true sign of mental illness is any gun owner who would vote for an Anti-Gunner like Joe Biden.

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We've all been burned a time or two in 'gun collecting'. I believe there is no substitute for experience, examining the more guns the better (hundreds to thousands being best). Even then, it's likely best to get expert opinion before jumping in if a high dollar piece. I recently purchased a Westley Richards droplock from the '30's in original condition in 16 bore. It helped knowing I was dealing with an honest dealer, but even with that I had a couple guys here take a look...Joe Wood and Amarillo Mike, 2 men who know guns. I ended up paying a pretty penny for this gun, but I'm relatively sure of its originality and am ultimately happy with the deal. Good luck in your quest and don't forget, the hunt for a fine piece is much of the fun.


Socialism is almost the worst.
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Learn the subtle differences in case color between the brands. For example, IMO there is no one alive that reproduces the "oil on water" colors of original A H Fox guns. The only way to learn what that looks like is looking at some in person, holding them in your hands and studying the subtleties in natural light. There is a distinctive color and finish to an original Fox barrel blue, as well. I believe L C Smiths can be restored to much nearer exact original case colors than can a Fox. I cannot say for certain about Parkers, as I have purposely stayed away from them for all these years. The higher the market for a particular brand, the more likely you are to run into fakes, or restored guns. And, they are badly overpriced IMO, much more so than Foxes.

If you really want an unmolested Parker I would keep asking for information on guns for sale by old collectors, or that might be for sale in the future. Hang around people that have been collecting that particular brand for a long time. Ask questions. Sometimes you just have to wait. I know of a high condition, graded 32" Parker near me that is original, bought from old man Odum in S. GA many years ago. I was allowed to shoot it a couple years ago. I have finally gotten a promise from the owner that if he ever sells it he will give me first shot. Sometimes that's as good as you can do. If and when the time comes, I may or may not buy ............ all according to the price.

Whatever you do, don't get in too big a hurry. The only thing worse than not finding what you want is buying it and then finding out it isn't what you thought.

Good hunting, SRH


"With one foot in the grave ..........and one foot on the pedal, I was born a Rebel" T.P.
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I agree with Stan for the most part in terms of not rushing into anything; however, there are times when one must act expeditiously, else the jewel will be gone.


Socialism is almost the worst.
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I recall reading a while back that Turnbull would occasionally receive guns for restoration that the owner thought were in original condition. A records check would show that in fact, Turnbull had restored them in the past. I suspect that the same thing happens with Del Grego.

This begs two questions. One, is it possible to inquire to both firms as to if the gun was restored in the past? And two, if a credible restoration was done, certainly possible by others than just those two firms, why should it dramatically alter the gun's value?

A hundred years can obviously age a gun, especially barrel finish and case coloring, as well as the condition of the wood finish. In guns with no significant historical provenance, a credible restoration should improve value, rather than detract from it. How many rusty weapons or pieces of armor have you seen in museums? Sure, there are plenty, but also many that were restored, as long as the piece was in good enough condition to warrant restoration.

Once again, it's the Original vs Restored condition "Kettle of Worms"....

Regards
Ken

Last edited by Ken61; 05/16/17 08:30 AM.

I prefer wood to plastic, leather to nylon, waxed cotton to Gore-Tex, and split bamboo to graphite.
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I've on occasion found sellers at a show who were offering highly molested Parkers I was attracted to, struck up conversation, and then asked about what they hadn't brought to the show. Nobody can own just one Parker!
Sometimes it took years, but eventually I've come to see and own a few of the better specimens, and know some really great guys.

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If you are not into small bores or higher grades there are still good buys out there. Clean 12 gauges in grades no higher than DH are great guns. And their values hold together. Best of all, there are parts available and great workmen who know every minute detail about them, such as our own Brian Dudley. There is just something special about using one of our great American guns, be it Fox, Smith, Ithaca, or Old Reliable.


If we feed our faith our fears will starve, if we feed our fears our faith will starve.
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there is no substitute for experience...however, good pictures can be educational...many can be found via a google search for parker shotguns...and then there are books, such as those by ed muderlak and the parker story, by cote, etc...


birds are gone...dogs are gone...awl we got left are the gons...
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