Congratulations on acquiring a Smith 3E in 16 gauge, as this grade with that chambering is a hard to find article. As to your questions, the following would be my responses. When there is no serial number record, as is the case with the gun in the article, we date Smith guns by studying features found on surviving examples; and from that study we generally don't find the two-piece top tang feature after 1908. And although features from these time frame studies are always subject to some degree of overlap, this feature would be standard issue on your 1908 era example; and not represent a later modification done in the repair shop. The "brass" you see on the trigger guard represents a brazed welding repair, as brazing was often used for aftermarket metal parts repair by gunsmiths; and although this repair could have been done in Hunter's repair shop, I'm not aware (and don't believe) that Hunter would have used brazing as a method to effect a repair? They would have simply replaced the broken part. As to the value of a "repair shop gun" I can't say that having such a piece makes the gun more or less valuable which is why I stated that each example should be examined on its own merits (grade, condition, gauge, etc.). That said, as examples of repair shop guns are so rare, I suspect the advanced Smith collector who seeks all unique things Smith related would have the most interest. From your description your 3E is entirely grade standard and was ordered with Hunter's HOT and auto-ejector options; should be a great gun to carry to the range and afield. Thanks for the kudos on the article, and let us hope more examples of repair shop guns will surface.