The L.C. Smith Collectors Association
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    Re: Syracuse High Grades Archived Message

    Posted by SGT on August 21, 2008, 11:14 pm, in reply to "Re: Syracuse High Grades"

    The answer to your question is "NO", stepped side plates were regularly used on Syracuse Quality 7 guns, and also on Hunter/Fulton produced early A2 Grade and special order guns. This feature was also used on at least one Syracuse era Grade 5 gun that Russ Ruppell recorded (I don't understand photo posting so I'll send pix to Doc Drew and ask him to add them to this thread; one will show a standard Syracuse Quality 5 with stepped side plates and one without).
    While we're on this subject, the presentation Smith on the cover of the Houchin's book and featured in the Syracuse gun section on page 95 is NOT a Syracuse produced Smith; it is instead a Fulton era gun, and it is truly unfortunate that the reader has been mislead to think it is a Syracuse era gun. The original sales invoice for this gun still exists and describes that gun as a "Quality 7, Extra Gold"; but the gun was ordered, built, and shipped in 1895; five years after Hunter purchased the gun works and is clearly marked Hunter Arms Company, Fulton, NY.
    There is no grade mark on this gun; but the work "special" in inlayed on the water table. Evidence seems to indicate that until about 1898, Hunter produced the old "Quality" style grades in conjunction with their newer "numbered" grades. And although most of the serial numbers for the Hunter produced quality grades are recorded, there is no grade designation assigned to many of the guns recorded within those records. For instance, there is no grade assignment for the above noted Quality 7/Special, an extractor gun; while the A2 on page 127 (in the 35,000 sn range, and also an extractor gun) does carry an A2 grade stamp but was not recorded as such in the shipping ledger. I have no real idea as to why some gun grades were recorded, and others not; but both guns are evidence that more high grade Smith guns exist than are recorded in the grades recap. On the other hand, the A2 featured on page 123 is a Hunter/Fulton era ejector gun and is recorded in the grade/serial number recap. Although these early A2 guns had a lot in common, engraving wise, with the Syracuse Quality 7 gun, these early A2s do not feature the gold dog lockplate inlays typically seen on the Syracuse era Quality 7s. Another interesting stepped sideplate gun is the "LCS" gun featured on page 328. This gun, a Hunter/Fulton gun #23475, is not recorded in any surviving records and has no grade mark; and would therefore be considered a "special", but it was also ordered with the stepped sideplates feature.
    As to my opinion of Syracuse era guns, they are beautifully made and very interesting. I honestly don't recall saying that I thought they were of lesser quality than the early Fulton guns; although I have stated that I personally liked studying/collecting the early Fulton era guns more simply because I had run across more unusual and special guns from that era. It is my opinion that the collector should follow whatever era of Smith gun production he finds most interesting.

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