Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spurious Guns - 2

In our last post, we looked at some spurious guns that were sold as though they were products manufactured by reputable British manufacturers. We will continue the discussion in this post.

Reputable British manufacturers were not the only ones harmed by unscrupulous manufacturers. The practice also covered some US manufacturers as well. For instance, Parker shotguns were a well-known American brand from the 1870s to 1942 and their products were once described as "America's finest shotguns". The company was founded by one Charles Parker in Connecticut. However, any shotguns marked "C. Parker" are not made by the Parker company, but are actually cheap Belgian fakes.

A "C.Parker" shotgun. Click on image to enlarge

Similarly, the Henry repeating rifle gained a lot of fame during the American civil war and was one of the first reliable lever-action rifles and a precursor to the Winchester Model 1866 repeating rifle. The Henry rifle was made by the New Haven Arms Company of Meridien, Connecticut, which was later renamed to Winchester Repeating Arms Company, when they started making the Model 1866. However, firearms labelled "Henry Arms" had nothing to do with either of these companies. The "Henry Arms" firearms were either manufactured by Crescent Firearms of Norwich, Connecticut, or by Belgian manufacturers such as Anciens Establissments Pieper or F. Dumoulin.

A "Henry Arms" rifle. Click on image to enlarge. 

In the same category, we have brands like Sam Holt (sounds like Sam Colt), T. Barker, Barker Bros (both intended to be confused with Parker Bros) etc., all of which were made by Belgian manufacturers.

Such firearms were often called "trade name firearms" or "trade name guns". Large firearm manufacturers would mass produce cheap models and stamp them with any brand name requested by  hardware stores, large distributors, mail-order businesses etc. Belgian companies like Ancient Establissments Pieper or F. Dumoulin and US manufacturers such as Crescent Arms Co., Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works, Harrington and Richardson Arms Co., Stevens Arms Co. etc. were known to produce the firearms and these were sold by well known retailers such as Sears Roebuck & Co., H&D Folsom, Montgomery Ward etc. Some of the brand names used to sell such firearms include Henry Arms Co., Premier Arms Co., Bayard Arms Co., Eagle Gun Works, J. Manton & Co., T. Barker Co., Sam Holt Arms Co. etc.

Some of these firearms are quite reasonable quality, but they're definitely not high-end firearms and will also not hold up to pressures generated by modern gunpowder loads.


  1. I have one of these "Spurious Guns". It is a 12 gauge side by side Pieper Breech shotgun. I have no use for this, as I am not a collector or a gun enthusiast, but I was wondering what the general date of manufacture was, and how I can determine if it was produced by Ancient Establissments Pieper or F. Dumoulin.

  2. Hi Lisa,
    Pieper guns were made by the Pieper company alone, not by F. Dumolin. Both companies did make firearms for other companies as well, that sold under a variety of trade names, such as the ones listed in the article.

    Pieper were in business from 1866 to 1956-57 (though they had some financial troubles around 1906 and nearly went bust when they attempted to get into the bicycle and automobile manufacturing industry). The name stamped on your shotgun could offer some clues, as the company was named Pieper (or H. Pieper) from 1866 to 1898 when the founder Henry Pieper died. After that, it was named Etablisements Pieper from 1898-1905 until his son Nicholas Pieper left the company and founded his own arms company (N. Pieper) which was in business from 1905-1935. Meanwhile Etablisements Pieper was renamed to "Anciens Etablisements Pieper" from 1905-1956. So depending on what brand name is stamped on it (H. Pieper, N. Pieper, Etablisements Pieper or Anciens Etablisements Pieper) you can roughly tell which period it is from.