The L.C. Smith Collectors Association
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Re: Transitional ejectors from the 1st type to the Banjo type
Several (many) years ago I wrote an article for the Newsletter discussing the Type II ejector variations I've observed, although I don't recall exactly when now? At any rate, the earliest gun I've noted with the Type II ejector mechanism, and which was not a retro-fitted refinement, was the Pratt A3; serial number 5020, as I recall. This gun was fully engraved and was fitted with what is considered to be the first version the Type II ejector system featuring a round escutcheon secured by two small screws and a narrow fore iron strap. Of note on this gun was that its fore iron strap was engraved the words "Patent Applied For". I later acquired an same period un-marked high-grade, and fully engraved Smith Pigeon gun in the 54XX range (can't recall the exact serial number) with the identical Type II ejector system, but which featured Hunter's 1901 ejector patent date prominently engraved on its iron; so obviously Hunter's patent application was granted sometime between the time frame these guns were shipped (both were 1901 production). I then came into possession of a 1902 vintage 0 Grade ejector gun in the 61XX serial number range which gun featured the "banjo" style escutcheon most commonly associated with Smith ejector guns, and which also featured the strengthened fore iron strap; so obviously, somewhere between serial number 5020 and 61XX the Hunter Arms company completed all their refinements to their Type II ejector mechanism. In my comparisons of the early un-patented Type II ejector mechanism to the final refined version I observed only two differences. The first and most obvious difference is the elimination of the round escutcheon and incorporation of the stronger the "banjo" style. The second less obvious difference is seen on the fore iron strap itself, which was widened and strengthened at it's base. Both of these changes were significant improvements, as the original exterior escutcheon wood screws, which were easily loosened by recoil, were eliminated; and the extra metal in the new and longer "banjo" escutcheon allowed the escutcheon to be secured directly to the fore iron strap itself (as opposed to the fore arm wood), virtually eliminating the possibility that the escutcheon could become loose. It also allowed for a very secure attachment of the fore arm wood to the iron. The other flaw in the first Type II version was in the fore iron strap, which was originally left narrow (about 1/2" wide) at the base; leaving metal in that area weak and prone to bending. Hunter subsequently strengthened their ejector iron by making it's base wider; and to my knowledge, there were no further refinements to Hunter's Type II ejector from that point thru the end of production (other than a cosmetic change in the shape of the escutcheon late in production). I'm unable to open your photo files, so haven't had the opportunity to examine the escutcheon you describe with the odd "banjo" style escutcheon, and therefore will withhold speculation; but it's always interesting to find Smith guns with odd features. These early Smith guns are often found with unique features, and one other thing to remember is that these early ejector guns were seldom finished and shipped consecutively. I've seen pages from the original ledgers where more than three years had elapsed between the time a serial numbered frame was entered into the ledger and the date the gun was completed and shipped. Hope this gives some insight.