1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

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lance jones 504
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:25 am

1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

Post by lance jones 504 » Mon Mar 16, 2020 1:55 pm

Hello fellow forum members.
I have just purchased a C&H 12 gauge side by side. I have wanted to own an antique side by side that can still be used for some time. I am hoping it will prove to be an interesting addition to my collection.
I am no expert, but have shot "most things" through out a lifetime of varied shooting activities.

I have some questions, if I may trouble those with far more knowledge than my own, regarding older guns.
I purchased the gun with the leather owners box. The box needs some attention to bring it back to near original condition. Any advice on cleaning and treating would be appreciated. I have heard so far, saddle soap and or brown boot polish will both do a great job. Two different opinions hence the reson for asking. The leather straps need replacing also.

The serial number is 55662. I think, from my own determination, this places the gun around late 1927 or into 1928. Can anyone confirm or correct this please? What model of gun is it?

I am wondering, if this gun is a sidelock or a boxloxk with a side plate? The reason I ask, is because the aft side part of the plate appears to be a two piece. A very well machined two piece, only close inspection reveals the join.

The whole firing action exterior, has a blue and tan tempering finish to it, other guns I have viewed online are more silver in appearance. Am I able to remove the colouring, should I attempt to remove it and how is the discolouration created, is it chemical or heat induced, or just a fashion for a period? Is it a measure of quality or not so good quality? I have a folding 410 with a similar finish, which cannot be removed.

The barrels are marked as Nitro proofed, apprently have been resleeved too. There was some disscussion at the dealers, as to which cartridges I could use with the gun, bearing in mind the barrels have apparently been worked upon. Returning home, my stock 3 inch cartridges slide into the chambers with no problem. So, is it 2.5 inch or 3 inch I should use and what grain weight should be the maximum. I intend to use the gun as a game gun on shoots. Of course I will have a few clay sessions to get used to the gun prior to shooting in the rough.

What is the best approach to C&H for receiving a letter to provide the provenance of the gun.I understand I have to pay C&H for the history. I am fine with that, of course within reason.

Lastly, apologies if this has gone on a little, I wish to return the woodwork to its former glory. It is grimy from use, grease and skin on but and more so on the chequered knurling.

In summary, I am the new proud owner of this old gun, I have looked up the history of C&H over the weekend and realise there are hundreds of thousands of their guns in circulation. My gun, hardly being a valuable rare model. However, I am keen to find out more about it. Of the six shotguns I now currently own, this is my first antique. I think I may have stumbled upon a new addiction !

John 39
Posts: 265
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Re: 1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

Post by John 39 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:27 am

I always use "Neatsfoot" oil applied liberally with a brush to all leather goods, with more applied after an hour or two to any areas which have dried quickly. Then leave in a warm place for a day or two.

Serial Number 55662 dates to 1927. If the gun is a real sidelock the sideplate will be all in one piece and you will see 5-7 "screw" ends in it. If it is a sideplate there will be just 2 or 3 screw ends showing. A lot of gunsmiths wire brush colour hardened actions if they show wear so they end up with a silver finish. Pity really! The wear or patina tells you that the gun has been enjoyed by somebody for a long time. There were several ways of colour hardening most using bones or bonemeal in a metal container heated with the parts to be hardened to a high temperature. Hardening was done for obvious reasons but some makers removed the surface colouring according to the buyers wishes.

On the barrel flats the chamber size may be marked in inches or in a diamond - C means normal chamber i.e. 2 1/2 inches. If you carefully slide a flat screwdriver in on one side of a chamberand find where the "cone" starts measure it. I would have thought the chambers are 2 3/4 inches as these were introduced in about 1900and few 2 1/2 inch chambers were made after 1924/1925. If you fire a 2 3/4 inch cartridge in the gun and bits are missing from the end of the cartridge case switch to the shorter 2 1/2 inch case.

When re-sleeving the gun the old barrels are cut off just in front of the chambers so re-sleeving does not affect the chamber size unless the owner asked for the chamber size to be lengthened. The proof marks on the barrel flats should tell you the current chamber size. A re-sleeved gun usually shows the line of the cut but if the job has been done really well you might struggle to see it. 30 gram cartridges are usual these days for game and clay shooting. You could go up to 32 gram but the recoil is greater for little extra advantage.

Wash the stock repeatedly with methylated spirit on a small piece of cloth and using a stiff toothbrush or even a brass / phosphor bronze brush for the chequering. I often use a Stanley knife blade held vertically in the centre of a chequering groove to remove really hard wax or dirt. Do not tilt it or you'll muck up the wood. I finally wash with clean spirit and let it thoroughly dry then sand and gun stock stain and apply Linseed oil diluted with methylated spirit. Let this dry for a day or two then one coat of apply undiluted oil. Let this dry then apply 3-4 coats of any good furniture polish. I'll get back to you about the precise model and how to put up photos.

John 39
Posts: 265
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Re: 1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

Post by John 39 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 6:50 pm

We don't have a catalogue for the 1920s but you might find one somewhere. We think the Blagdon was the first to have ornamental sideplates, from 1900. Cogswell's "Sandhurst" from 1906 model also had them. These were all produced up to or after the Second World War. The Cogswell & Harrison book published in 2000 by Cooley and Newton (Sportsman's Press ISBN 0-948253-83-5) has a few but not many details on these.

To put up images you first have to upload them onto an image hosting site such as photobucket.com. Once you have done this you get several codes, choose the IMG one and right click to Copy it. Put up any text you want then paste the IMG code into the right place in the text. Press submit.

lance jones 504
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:25 am

Re: 1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

Post by lance jones 504 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:26 pm

Hi John,
I was quite taken aback by the detail of the reply. Thank you so much.

It is a long time since, I have heard anyone mention Neatsfoot. A flash back to my youth and childhood and working with horses, before I discovered motorcycles.

Whilst I am quite competent to sand pieces of wood, I am nervous to select the correct grade sandpaper, what ever it maybe and set about an antique gun stock. I might try the methylated spirit approach first and see how it cleans up.

I have taken some images and will attempt to upload them. I do think the gun may have a side plate from your description. I will try to show the #blueing# on the patina, as I think it is created as opposed to a result of hard work, but I stand to be corrected. Was there ever a period that gun owners wanted the discolouration to appear as a hard working shooter?

The barrel flats have three London proofing house marks on them and the the marks V, Cp and NP. Further marks are 1 1/8 and 2 1/2
Nitroproof a damond with either 12C or 12G inside. I will try and post images.

Thank you again for your time and expertise. It is very much appreciated. The more I discover about the gun, the more I learn.

Lance

lance jones 504
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:25 am

Re: 1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

Post by lance jones 504 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:37 pm

Hi John hoping I can upload the opics into here.
The barrel flats are not indicating the level of choke - is there a standard? I thought this would be stated?

Image

Image
Last edited by lance jones 504 on Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

lance jones 504
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:25 am

Re: 1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

Post by lance jones 504 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:40 pm

OK here is what maybe the side plate - notice the discolouration.
If this is what maybe the sideplate, does this mean that the trigger action is a boxlock?

Image

John 39
Posts: 265
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Re: 1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

Post by John 39 » Thu Mar 19, 2020 11:04 am

This gun was proofed in London as usual with C & H. The crown over V mark shows it was "Viewed" when partly built. If it faied viewing it would have been scrapped and no further expense would have been incurred. The Crown over GP Mark shows it passed final proof when finished. The NITRO PROOF words were added, unnecessarily in my opinion, but they help date the gun in the absence of a serial number. The 12 over C in a diamond means 2 1/2 inch chambers, but they add 2 1/2, unnecessarily. The gun has chambers of this length, re-sleeving has not altered this. Use cartridges of 65 or 67 mm, not longer. The gun was proofed for a maximum shot load of 1 1/8 ounces. The left barrel has a degree of choke in it, this is a warning not to use solid bullets, it does no indicate the degree of choke but full would be normal.

The gun is definitely a boxlock with sideplates. It was originally colour hardened but most of the colour of the hardening process has worn off. This does not affect the hardness of the metal. It would be expensive to re-colour harden it and if you do that you destroy the patina and history of the gun.Was there ever a period that gun owners wanted the discolouration to appear as a hard working shooter? No!

You must follow the treatment I recommend for the stock. Remove the sideplates and trigger guard and whatever else you need to to separate the stock from the action. Strip the metal parts as much as you wish and flood the lot with WD 40 to flush ot any dirt, stand up turning over occasionally to let it drain. Use a fine artist's brush to dislodge any chunky bits. Reassemble, do not use grease of any kind, WD 40 is enough. Wash the stock thoroughly and repeatedly with methylated spirit using a Stanley knife blade held vertically in the bottom of every groove. Then use a brass or phosphor bronze brush over all the chequering being careful not to scratch the wood (too much!). Use sandpaper coarse enough to remove sawdust in 4-5 strokes (say 80) then sand with about 400 grain then with 800 grain. Apply gun stock stain which has Red Root oil in it, this darkens the dark wood and give contrast between the dark and the light. Apply slightly diluted Linseed oil (boiled preferably) for penetration and let it soak in over a day or two. Apply undiluted oil and let that dry 2-4 days in a warm place. Don't put any oil on the chequering, what goes on your hands puts enough on the chequering. Then apply 3-4 coats of antique furniture polish letting each coat dry.

My gun room backs on to my airing cupboard. your airing cupboard will not be too hot for gun drying purposes - whatever your wife says.

Mark Worthey 508
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Mar 18, 2020 4:25 pm

Re: 1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

Post by Mark Worthey 508 » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:37 pm

For how long do you leave the antique furniture polish to dry, John?

lance jones 504
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:25 am

Re: 1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

Post by lance jones 504 » Fri Mar 20, 2020 5:21 am

Hi John,
Amazing, I cannot thank you enough, I have learned so much more than I did from the experts in the gun shop. The V means 'viewed', I was informed it meant 'Victorian' which led to me searching the forum for more information, as I thought the gun was younger, being nitro proofed. Although I understand guns may have been stamped as such, after works, possibly, I am of course guessing. Clearly, my gun being 1927, the nitro stamp is part of the original marks.

Is there an indication mark to show it has been resleeved? I was only told it had been, I do not know that it was. I cannot see works on the barrel, but as you mention previously, I may not be able to see any evidence, if the work was carried out to high specification. The barrels appear to be in reasonable condition, they have clear indication of use, but not worn.
I thought perhaps, initially that the discolouration maybe through use, but further searching coupled with your information, I realise it is more of a matter of peronal choice of finishing by the original owner. The colour hardening finish still being available on bespoke guns today.
I have applied to C&H for the certificate of origin, just weaiting for the reply. The owners case, I have asked if I can buy the missing badge for the top and two leather straps which are worn through to the point that they are in seperated parts. If I can obtain new straps, I would still keep the old, and store them inside the box.
Thank you again for increasing my knowledge regarding my recent purchase. I am still nervous regarding restoration. Maybe I will clean and polish it first to see how it cleans up. Although I am used to used to cleaning guns and dismantling them for cleaning and oiling, I am not a gunsmith.

Thanks again - Lance

John 39
Posts: 265
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Re: 1st Antique Gun - Cogswell Harrison Purchase

Post by John 39 » Sat Mar 21, 2020 3:54 pm

Hi Mark,

The polish will harden more and more over time. I would leave it a week or so between coats re-polishing every time it gets wet.

If your gun gets wet dismantle it and wipe it with a paper kitchen towel. Open and hang your gun slip over a door to dry overnight. Leave the dismantled gun overnight in your gun room, or a large warmish gun cabinet if you have one the idea being for the air to circulate a bit.

Next day push kitchen 1 1/2 kitchen towels into the chambers and then ram them down the barrel with a cleaning rod. This is just to get the powder residue out. Nobody needs mops or jags, just a bit of dowelling about 10mm wide and 6 inches longer than the barrels Then spray some WD40 into each barrel (holding them level!). Take a piece of old sheet or pillowcase about 10 inches long and 5inches wide and put it over the end of the rod. Push it through each barrel the do it again working it round each chamber and then down the barrel. Take the cloth dampened with W D 40 and wipe the action face to remove the powder and primer residue, and wipe over and round the action especially the knuckle to leave a film of WD 40 on everything. You can re-use the cloth a dozen or so times, then replace it or ask your wife to wash it. Wipe over the barrels and metal parts of the fore-end. What gets onto the wood doesn't do any harm. Re-assemble the gun and store. WD40 disperses any water and lubricates brilliantly. It does not weaken solder or brazing so don't worry about that. It does not attract dirt, harden and clog moving parts like most oils and greases .If it is good enough for today's missiles and rockets it is good enough for old and new guns.

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