Cogswell & Harrison side plated boxlock

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Barry Gregory 440
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:24 pm

Cogswell & Harrison side plated boxlock

Post by Barry Gregory 440 » Sat Apr 04, 2020 1:09 pm

I am researching the history of a C & H side plated ‘Avant-Tout’ boxlock for a clay shooting friend of mine. It is up for auction in the next few weeks. Notwithstanding the risks of buying at auction, it looks like an interesting piece.

From the serial number it was made in 1909 and from the London proof marks it is a 16-bore and was proofed between 1904 and 1925. As far as we can tell the barrels, which are original, are in good condition but all the woodwork is in a very distressed condition and needs some very serious TLC.

I have found an archived forum on IGC dating back to 2005 in which it was suggested that the C & G ‘Avant-Tout’ was made in 4 models or grades. The highest grades were the Crown and the Sandhurst, which were side plated, and the Rex and the Ideal which were plainer with the Ideal being the plainest.

So, if true, it means that this C & G is either a Crown or a Sandhurst - but which? Is there any way to tell the difference?

Does anybody have any general comments about the quality of the C & G ‘Avant-Tout’?

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

Re: Cogswell & Harrison side plated boxlock

Post by John 39 » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:49 pm

My great grandfather worked as a shopman for Cogswell & Harrison for a couple of years from 1880, he lived with the Harrison family in the Strand during this time. The firm produced thousands of guns for the "wider" market, it disappoints me to look at most of their models which, lacking the name of a "Best" London maker, have seldom been very good quality or well looked after. Even the "Extra Quality Victor" models I have seen have not pleased me very much.

Supposedly, all guns were given model names but in the company records they were sometimes recorded by type numbers. I doubt if any guns were stamped with the type number but you might look for a number that looks like a type number. Some guns in a model range were given enhanced engraving and better wood, I guess that these guns were those that had very few mistakes or signs of doubtful workmanship. C & H may be able to give you an extract from the records and this may contain a T number.

In boxlocks particularly in the Avant Tout range look for a letter that would indicate quality, there were eight grades of boxlock.

I have run out of time today and will come back to this post tomorrow.

Barry Gregory 440
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:24 pm

Re: Cogswell & Harrison side plated boxlock

Post by Barry Gregory 440 » Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:35 pm

Thanks John for your post so quickly. Much appreciated. Look forward to anything more you can tell me.

I’m having to work from several photograph on an auction site some of which are better than others. I will have a look for any additional letters and numbers.

My impression is that in its day this was a very ‘nice’ gun. The engravings on the sides of the action and side plates are quite detailed and look in reasonable condition. It is such a shame that the woodwork has been allowed to deteriorate although I guess this can be rejuvenated at a price and by a good gunsmith.

Thanks again and look forward to your next instalment.

Barry Gregory 440
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:24 pm

Re: Cogswell & Harrison side plated boxlock

Post by Barry Gregory 440 » Sun Apr 05, 2020 9:36 am

John,
Had a look overnight for any additional letters or numbers on the photographs of the C & H Avant-Tout 16-bore boxlock ejector.

Not found any apart from the words ‘Trade ARCUS Mark’ stamped on the underside of the barrels in front of the flats and the word ‘PATENT’ stamped on the left hand bar of the action.

I suspect the latter refers to one of Edgar Harrison’s several ejector patents. There is some lettering stamped above and below the word ‘ARCUS’ that I cannot make out.

Do you have any idea as to where a type letter might be stamped?

Thanks again for your feedback.

Barry Gregory

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

Re: Cogswell & Harrison side plated boxlock

Post by John 39 » Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:35 pm

Hi Barry,

The C & H gun range over the years was very complicated. The Crown was originally a sidelock and I don't think the name was ever given to a boxlock. I have no idea where any of the marks mentioned might have been put, they may appear only in the company records and not on any gun, The word Arcus has me totally confused, never come across it before and the context gives no clues.

The Cogswell & Harrison book by Cooley & Newton has info on sidelocks and boxlocks but it is somewhat difficult to read possibly because their range of guns was so "muddled".

Barry Gregory 440
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:24 pm

Re: Cogswell & Harrison side plated boxlock

Post by Barry Gregory 440 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 8:48 pm

John 39,

Since your last post I’ve done a bit more examination of the stamping ‘Trade “ARCUS” Mark’ on the underside of the barrels in this C & H boxlock.

I’ve done some photographic enhancement of the stampings on both barrels and I’m now pretty sure that the words above and below the word “ARCUS” are the words ‘COMPRESSED’ and ‘STEEL’ - as I have tried to illustrate below:

COMPRESSED
TRADE “ARCUS” MARK (I can’t reproduce it exactly because I only have one size of typeface
STEEL. and the words above and below are in a smaller typeface.)

So it’s pretty clear that ARCUS refers to the brand of compressed steel used for the barrels. I think the terms compressed steel and fluid steel were similar and related methods or processes for producing the high grade steel needed for gun barrels. From what I’ve read, I think this type of steel process was pioneered by Whitworth and developed by others including Krupp in Germany.

Although I’ve tried some trade mark searches, I’ve not found who owned the ARCUS trade mark. There is always the possibility that it’s not a UK trade mark and may well be obsolete. Will keep searching bearing in mind that, from the serial number, this shotgun was manufactured in 1909.

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