Lot 1407: Gary Cooper Griffin & Howe .30-06 Sporting Rifle with Scope
Documented Griffin & Howe Bolt Action .30-06 Sporting Rifle with Zeiss Scope, and Silver Plaque Inscribed with Initials Attributed to Gary Cooper, Famed American Actor and Sportsman.
Estimated Price: $12,000 – $18,000
Lot 1408: Gary Cooper Griffin & Howe Scoped 1903 Bolt Action .22 Hornet
Griffin & Howe Bolt Action .22 Hornet Sporting Rifle with Zeiss Scope, Large Movie Poster, and Silver Plaque Inscribed with Initials Attributed to Gary Cooper, Famed American Actor and Sportsman.
Estimated Price: $9,000 – $14,000
Browning is undoubtedly the greatest firearm designer of all time. The list of his sporting arms, lever action Winchester, pump and semiauto shotguns is long, and the useful careers of some of his military arms is even longer. The Browning .50 caliber M2 machine gun (the “Ma Deuce”), designed late during WWI, is still in use by the US Military today. His Model 1911 pistol remained our military’s primary issue sidearm right up until the 1980s, and has since gone on to whole new wave of massive enthusiasm for both target-shooting and personal defense. A hundred years after its design, the old 1911 is still pretty much America’s default handgun.
The 1865 Browning home in Ogden, Utah, was adobe brick, situated a few steps away from untrammeled land filled with grouse, a small wildfowl that made tolerable eating once it was plucked, butchered, and cooked, preferably with bacon fat to moisten the dry flesh. Utah’s five varieties of grouse could fly, but mostly the birds shuffled about on the earth. The male “greater” grouse reached seven pounds, making a decent meal and an easy target, as yellow feathers surrounded each eye and a burst of white marked the breast. A skilled hunter could sneak up on a covey picking at leaves and grasses and with one blast of birdshot get two or three for the frying pan.
Such frugality was necessary. The closest railroad stop was nearly one thousand miles east, and the largest nearby town was Salt Lake City, 35 miles to the south and home to only ten thousand people. Ogden’s settlers ate what they grew, raised, or hunted. Water for drinking and crops depended on the streams and rivers that flowed west out of the mountains into the Great Salt Lake, and irrigated wheat, corn, turnips, cabbage, and potatoes. Each settler was obliged to contribute labor or money to construct the hand-dug ditches and canals. They made their own bricks, cured hides for leather, and made molasses out of a thin, yellowish juice squeezed from sugar beets with heavy iron rollers and then boiled down to a thick, dark bittersweet liquid.
The rollers were made by John’s father, Jonathan, himself a talented gunsmith who also doubled as a blacksmith. Jonathan’s shop was his son’s playground, and John’s toys were broken gun parts thrown into the corner. At age six, John was taught by his “pappy” to pick out metal bits for forging and hammering into new gun parts. Soon the boy was wielding tools under his father’s direction.
To build that first crude gun John chose a day when his father was away on an errand. From the pile of discards John retrieved the old musket barrel and dug out a few feet of wire and a length of scrap wood. He clamped the barrel into a vice and with a fine-toothed saw cut off the damaged muzzle. He set Matt to work with a file and orders to scrape a strip along the barrel’s top down to clean metal. With a hatchet John hacked out a crude stock. The boys worked intently. On the frontier a task didn’t have to be polished, but it had to be right. Basic materials were in short supply, and to make his gun parts and agricultural tools Pappy Browning scavenged iron and steel abandoned by exhausted and overloaded immigrants passing through on their way west. Once, he purchased a load of metal fittings collected from the burned-out remains of an army wagon train, and as payment he signed over a parcel of land that, years later, became the site of Ogden’s first hotel.
John used a length of wire to fasten the gun barrel to the stock, then bonded them with drops of molten solder. There was no trigger. Near the barrel’s flash hole John screwed on a tin cone. When it came time to fire, gunpowder and lead birdshot would be loaded down the muzzle and finely ground primer powder would be sprinkled into the cone. The brothers would work together as a team: John would aim, Matt would lean in and ignite the primer with the tip of a smoldering stick, and the cobbled-together shotgun would, presumably, fire.
This wasn’t without risk. There was no telling if the soldered wire was strong enough to contain the recoil, or if the barrel itself would burst. Then there was the matter of ammunition. Gunpowder and shot were expensive imports delivered by ox-drawn wagon train. And the Browning brothers’ makeshift weapon might prove ineffective, or John could miss, and anger their father by using up valuable gunpowder with no result. Despite the risks, John pilfered enough powder and lead shot (from Jonathan’s poorly hidden supply) for one shot.
In ten minutes the brothers were in open country. Ogden’s eastern side nestled against the sheer ramparts of the Wasatch Mountains, and to the west lay the waters of the Great Salt Lake. To the north the Bear and Weber rivers flowed out of the Wasatch to sustain the largest waterfowl breeding ground west of the Mississippi River. Early white explorers were staggered by seemingly endless flocks of geese and ducks. In the 1840s pioneers described the “astonishing spectacle of waterfowl multitudes” taking to the air with a sound like “distant thunder.” Mountains rose up in all four directions, with one range or another flashing reflected sunlight. It was a striking geographic combination, magnified by the bright, clear sunlight of Ogden’s near-mile-high elevation. A settler’s life was lived on a stage of uncommon spectacle.
John carried the shotgun while Matt toted a stick and a small metal can holding a few clumps of glowing coal. The idea was to take two or three birds with a single shot, thereby allaying parental anger with a show of skilled marksmanship. Barefoot, the brothers crept from place to place until they spotted a cluster of birds pecking at the ground. Two were almost touching wings and a third was inches away. John knelt and aimed. Matt pulled the glowing stick out of the embers, almost jabbed John in the ear, and then touched the stick to the tin cone to fire the shot. The recoil knocked John backward—but in front of him lay a dead bird. Two other wounded fowl flapped nearby. Matt scampered ahead and “stood, a bird in each hand, whooping and trying to wring both necks at once.”
The next morning, as Jonathan breakfasted on grouse breast and biscuits, John listened to sympathetic advice from his mother and chose that moment to tell Pappy the story of his gun, his hunt—and the pilfered powder. Jonathan sat quietly and when John was finished made no mention of the theft. He did ask to see the weapon and was unimpressed. “John Moses, you’re going on eleven; can’t you make a better gun than that?”
Matt snickered. John choked down his remaining breakfast. “Pappy has drawn first blood, no doubt about that. He hadn’t scolded about the powder and shot, and the sin of stealing. But he’d hit my pride right on the funny bone,” John told his family decades later. A moment later he followed his father into the shop. He unrolled the wire from the barrel, “whistling soft and low to show how unconcerned I was,” and then stamped on the stock, snapped it in two, and tossed the pieces into a pile of kindling. “I remember thinking, rebelliously, that for all Pappy might say, the gun had gotten three fine birds for breakfast. Then I set to work. Neither of us mentioned it again.”
Scott (of Kentucky Ballistics on YouTube) was making a video of firing his Serbu single-shot .50 caliber rifle April 9, 2021 when a hot surplus round literally blew up the rifle in his face. Flying debris broke the orbital bone of his right eyes in three places (despite his wearing shooting glasses), lacerated his jugular vein, punctured his right lung, broke his nose, and severely mangled his index finger, but he miraculously survived. One piece of the receiver fortunately took off his hat, narrowly missing striking him in the head.
serial #137720, 12 ga., 32” Whitworth steel barrels choked modified and full with bright excellent bores, each of the tubes showing a small ding along their top edge about 4” from the muzzles. There is no wall-thickness noted below .030” most .035” or more. This rare Parker A-1 Special remains in very honest, fine as-found condition, being consigned directly from the family of the man who ordered and used the gun on his extensive plantation in Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. Built on a No. 2 frame, the barrel shows perhaps 80% of a dark gray-blue fading original blue, mixing with a mottled pewter patina, showing some light oxidation staining about the surface. The nice engraved rings at the muzzles remain intact and the engraved wedges at the breeches remain crisp, the rib with dual ivory beads and “No. 1 Special Parker Brothers Makers Meriden Conn Whitworth Steel” hand engraved rather than roll-marked as-mentioned in The Parker Story. The frame is now a very pleasing pewter-tone patina with the open intertwining scroll and floral embellishment remaining crisp, the nice fine background punch-dot shading, three beaded ribs at the rear of each fence. The water table still shows the nice fine engine turning which matches the bottom of the barrel flats, fading a bit from the years. The triggers gold plating is fading somewhat but is strong at the roots and the bow of the guard is neatly pierced. The checkered capped pistol grip English walnut buttstock rates very fine with much original varnish, stunning grain figure, the special A-1 checkering remaining crisp, the fleur-de-lis’ at the rear of the cheeks a bit soft. The splinter forend is fully checkered and shows a bit more wear showing some smoothed points, all of the forend metal a deep pewter gray. The pistol grip cap sits on a nice beaded flat brass spacer and has gold inlay at its center lightly engraved around the border with Mr. Crump’s name in an oval “James L Crump/New Orleans”. Close inspection reveals that the stock shows a repair to a break through its left side at wrist, the repair neatly camouflaged beneath the checkering (as a 12 ga. gun, it should not be considered fireable with a repaired break in this area). The length of pull to the period Hawkins 1” recoil pad is 14 1/4” with drops of 1 5/8” and 2 5/8”, showing roughly half an inch of cast-off. The gun locks up solidly with the top lever still just right of center, the barrels tight on-face. The safety is non-automatic and the arm cocks and fires properly however the ejector mechanism has been disabled. An external inspection shows that all of the parts seem to be present. James Lyman Crump was a cotton man for roughly 50 years before moving to develop a farm and spacious Holly Bluff lodge on his 3600 acre tract along the Jourdan River which they would name Holly-Bluff-on-the-Jourdan. He would put some 600 acres into cultivation, breeding a hybrid “Braford” beef cattle, upland rice, Kentucky fescue and Ladino Clover, clearing leveling and draining the land for the purpose. The gardens at Holly Bluff on Bay St. Louis became so luscious and wonderful that they were a must-see for tourists to the area for many years. Crump was a sportsman and owned and used this arm for many years, indeed the muzzleloader sold in our last auction dubbed “Pocahontas” hung over the fireplace in that rustic lodge for many years, these arms consigned directly from a descendant. The A-1 special is arguably Parker’s finest high-grade arm, this example being one of only five listed in the Parker stock books as “Whit1” being an A-1 Special with Whitworth steel barrels, this serial number gun is mentioned in the monumental work The Parker Story on page 362 in the A-1 Special chapter. The Parker Story calls the floral embellishment Texas bluebells, although this example would seem to have some daisies and other flowers thrown in, perhaps very fittingly as the gardens at Holly Bluff was so extensive and beautiful. There were thirteen 12 ga. guns made with 32” barrels, this very rare gun being one of the special “five” with the special engraved barrel marking in the Parker stock books. The authors of The Parker Story quote: “the reason for the use of Whit1 for their quality code and their unusual markings is not certain. It must be that all five of these Whit1 guns were made for something special or unusual.”. Parker Guns, I.D. and Serialization also confirms “Grade 8, A-1 Special, Ejectors, capped pistolgrip, 12 ga. with 32” barrels”. A very lovely and very special Parker double for the advanced Parker collector or the discerning collector of fine double guns. (3K9828-1) C&R (20,000/30,000)
The A1 Special was introduced in 1907, and cost $500 at the time. You could buy a small house in lots of places in America for $500 in 1907. Only 79 examples of this model were ever built.
Parker collectors will be snapping at this one like trout after caddis flies. Personally, I’d consider a 2-frame Parker heavier than I’d like for Upland Hunting. This gun also has a wrist crack and a dent. I prefer a straight stock to a pistol grip. And the elaborate engraving is too florid and Baroque for my taste. I’d be happier with lots of less expensive and scarce English guns.
Once again I am forced to bring to everyone's attention that the Karachi police have combined rollerblades with automatic weapons to create the absolute worst of law enforcement ideas. I cannot stress enough that there's a reason nobody else has tried this. https://t.co/KvKhksUDzhpic.twitter.com/l8a58wFJpi