Amoskeag Auction No. 129, Lot 128:
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 Grade was Parker’s 8th highest grade shotgun, topped only by the 9th grade Invicible.
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.