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Thread: How to establish providence of a firearm?

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    Idaho45guy's Avatar
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    How to establish providence of a firearm?

    My dad showed me a shotgun that he says was once owned by Jack O'Connor.

    He said he bought it from a local gun shop in 1964 when Jack O'Connor lived in the area and put the shotgun on consignment. My dad bought it for $500. Shop was Lolo Sporting Goods, in Lewiston, Idaho.

    Dad then sold it to a buddy who had to have it. Buddy proceeded to have engraving work done on it to honor Jack. Dad then buys it back a few years later. And now it has been sitting in a safe for decades.

    He contacted Browning and they said they have no record of the shotgun being sold to Jack O'Connor.

    Dad said that Jack was gifted many firearms by different people and companies, so it makes sense that there is no record of it being purchased by him.

    I love the shotgun, and think it's priceless. Dad said that if he could prove it was once owned by Jack O'Connor, then it would be worth quite a bit of money.

    Anybody ever track down the history of a firearm?
    "Luck don't live out here. Wolves don't kill the unlucky deer; they kill the weak ones..." Jeremy Renner in Wind River

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    Boolit Buddy Newboy's Avatar
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    I have not. But I would begin by searching through everything he had written, looking for references or photographs of it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Idaho45guy View Post
    My dad showed me a shotgun that he says was once owned by Jack O'Connor.

    He said he bought it from a local gun shop in 1964 when Jack O'Connor lived in the area and put the shotgun on consignment. My dad bought it for $500. Shop was Lolo Sporting Goods, in Lewiston, Idaho.

    Dad then sold it to a buddy who had to have it. Buddy proceeded to have engraving work done on it to honor Jack. Dad then buys it back a few years later. And now it has been sitting in a safe for decades.

    He contacted Browning and they said they have no record of the shotgun being sold to Jack O'Connor.

    Dad said that Jack was gifted many firearms by different people and companies, so it makes sense that there is no record of it being purchased by him.

    I love the shotgun, and think it's priceless. Dad said that if he could prove it was once owned by Jack O'Connor, then it would be worth quite a bit of money.

    Anybody ever track down the history of a firearm?

    Some years back a colleague of mine's granddad -- who resided near Detroit, Michigan -- passed, and they went to help clean out his remaining worldly goods. "Jim" saw an old scattergun which he took and gifted to me. Not too rusty, it was a Model 1897 and its barrel was pretty full of what looked like cob-webs and whatever they call those things spiders make with captured insects.
    Anyhoos, I took it to a local gunsmith to have it safety checked (and cleaned up ) who rang me four or five days later to advise he cannot legally work on it; I should ring him right before I come pick it up; and, he'll stand it outside his shop door upon seeing my pickup. "Huh?" He told me that this scattergun was such that if the trigger was held, with each pump it would fire a shell. He would have to "fix" this if he worked on it -- hence, it was not entered in his book other than "returned to customer" with nothing more...
    Gunsmith died of a heart attack a few years ago, so I'm not doing a kiss-and-tell... I contacted two different Winchester historians who each told me that this gun had at one time belonged to the city police department, for use (if necessary) during the days of rum-running and other gang activity. I checked back with Jim who immediately stated that his wife's granddad was in fact a LEO for city police in his younger days.
    I wish I still had this gun... Gunsmith had advised, too, that "pigeon loads" would be the stoutest he'd fire in it -- the serial number indicated it had been manufactured in 1906.
    geo

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    Quote Originally Posted by georgerkahn View Post

    Anyhoos, I took it to a local gunsmith to have it safety checked (and cleaned up ) who rang me four or five days later to advise he cannot legally work on it; I should ring him right before I come pick it up; and, he'll stand it outside his shop door upon seeing my pickup. "Huh?" He told me that this scattergun was such that if the trigger was held, with each pump it would fire a shell. He would have to "fix" this if he worked on it -- hence, it was not entered in his book other than "returned to customer" with nothing more...
    geo
    Yep! I don't know when the disconnector became mandatory but since that gun didn't have one, the smith wasn't touching it.
    Warning: I know Judo. If you force me to prove it I'll shoot you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by georgerkahn View Post

    Some years back a colleague of mine's granddad -- who resided near Detroit, Michigan -- passed, and they went to help clean out his remaining worldly goods. "Jim" saw an old scattergun which he took and gifted to me. Not too rusty, it was a Model 1897 and its barrel was pretty full of what looked like cob-webs and whatever they call those things spiders make with captured insects.
    Anyhoos, I took it to a local gunsmith to have it safety checked (and cleaned up ) who rang me four or five days later to advise he cannot legally work on it; I should ring him right before I come pick it up; and, he'll stand it outside his shop door upon seeing my pickup. "Huh?" He told me that this scattergun was such that if the trigger was held, with each pump it would fire a shell. He would have to "fix" this if he worked on it -- hence, it was not entered in his book other than "returned to customer" with nothing more...
    Gunsmith died of a heart attack a few years ago, so I'm not doing a kiss-and-tell... I contacted two different Winchester historians who each told me that this gun had at one time belonged to the city police department, for use (if necessary) during the days of rum-running and other gang activity. I checked back with Jim who immediately stated that his wife's granddad was in fact a LEO for city police in his younger days.
    I wish I still had this gun... Gunsmith had advised, too, that "pigeon loads" would be the stoutest he'd fire in it -- the serial number indicated it had been manufactured in 1906.
    geo
    This is sarcasm ?
    Or there is actually somebody calling himself a 'gunsmith' this stupid ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by yovinny View Post
    This is sarcasm ?
    Or there is actually somebody calling himself a 'gunsmith' this stupid ?
    sounds like a decent gunsmith to me, not somebody out to start problems that dont need to be started. I have a gunsmith friend that if needed would come to my house and work on a gun that he would not want in his shop for reasons like this. the world needs more stand up guys like this
    if you are ever being chased by a taxidermist, don't play dead

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    Not trying to be a spelling nazi but it’s provenance. I’ve luckily found a provenance for a Webley-Wilkinson 1900 revolver through Wilkinson Sword. If the manufacturer doesn’t have a record you’re pretty much at a dead end. If it was some kind of presentation weapon and you knew who did the work that might be an angle. Retailers generally don’t keep sales records. You could research stories by and photos of Jack O’Connor for mention or an image of your sg. Can’t imagine a real gunsmith that wouldn’t have known ‘97s slamfire as do M12s and Marlin pumps. Good luck on your search.
    Last edited by Baltimoreed; 01-15-2022 at 07:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rancher1913 View Post
    sounds like a decent gunsmith to me, not somebody out to start problems that dont need to be started. I have a gunsmith friend that if needed would come to my house and work on a gun that he would not want in his shop for reasons like this. the world needs more stand up guys like this
    No,, its a feature, not a defect.. So he sounds like he's pretty stupid actually.
    No Winchester 97 ever had a disconnect.
    No Winchester model 12 ( arguably the most popular shotgun in the USA for 50yrs) ever had a disconnect.
    No original Ithaca pump gun ever had a disconnect.
    What about SAA's ? Also in the refuse to touch catagory because the pins on the hammer and could be lowered on a primer ?
    I could go on,, but I think you should be able to grasp the issue from this,, or your just being obtuse.

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    I have several shotguns and have had pump 22 rifles that had no disconnect , perfectly legal , just like firearms pre 1968 no serial numbers still legal .

    Rossi copy of a winchester 22 no disconnect on the one I owned , pumps have to be cycled they are not semi auto or full auto .

    As to the engraving that being done after ownership shows nothing and changes firearm in my eyes , many a story on who owned a firearm that can not be proven .

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    Quote Originally Posted by rancher1913 View Post
    sounds like a decent gunsmith to me, not somebody out to start problems that dont need to be started. I have a gunsmith friend that if needed would come to my house and work on a gun that he would not want in his shop for reasons like this. the world needs more stand up guys like this
    He sounds like a a decent guy who knows his limitations. He also sounds like the very last guy you should ever be asking about a shotgun. Infact it's tough to imagine anyone with the title not knowing anything about them.

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    The firearms museum in Cody, Wy. does point of sale tracing on some guns. Membership supports the museum and the service is for members. It's a good thing to support this museum in general and the services it offers are a nice bonus.

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    Going on the facts you've given-- first, is Lolo's still in business? If so, they would have a record of where they obtained the shotgun. Next, locate close relatives of Jack and see if any of them remember the gun. Also, as he was a famous writer, perhaps you might find another writer of that era who is still alive, or one of his hunting associates to ask about the gun. Although he is most remembered for his advocacy of the .270 Win. rifle, reading through all his many articles and books might turn up a reference to the shotgun or its use. In other words, detective work.

    DG

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    Having worked with museums and collectors for several decades, one thing that was universally agreed to, was provenance is the easiest thing to fake for any item. One local shop years ago sold Jesse James revolver over and over. Different gun each time.
    Gun writers are sent many guns for review. Some pretty much extort a company for one. We experienced that with a writer going to Africa, who demanded a rifle immediately, or promised to bad mouth the company.
    So, just so you know, the writers never, or seldom return a reviewed gun to a company. There may be a chance a particular gun passed through someones hands, but that doesn't necessarily make it special or more valuable. I traded a revolver from Patrick McManus years ago, and it was priced as any other gun would have been. It went for regular market price when I sold it.
    On the other hand, I looked at an O3A3 last summer that has Elmer Keith's inspectors stamp on it. The owner thought it was made of gold and had it priced hundreds over many other rifles in much better condition. I sure wouldn't pay a premium for it.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
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  14. #14
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    Think Winchester 61 pump 22's are the same way, just like the Model 12 shotguns

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    Lolos is indeed still in business , changed hands at least once I am sure , but there was no requirement to record acquisition or disposition of any firearms prior to the GCA of 68 , Lolos was pretty nice when I was there a long time ago now , they do sell on Gunbroker and some years ago there was an article in the liberal paper of Lewiston about the owner at that time being busted for selling meth and his story of he was a snitch for the local law , which they said he had been but was not at the time in question .

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    Quote Originally Posted by yovinny View Post
    No,, its a feature, not a defect.. So he sounds like he's pretty stupid actually.
    No Winchester 97 ever had a disconnect.
    No Winchester model 12 ( arguably the most popular shotgun in the USA for 50yrs) ever had a disconnect.
    No original Ithaca pump gun ever had a disconnect.
    What about SAA's ? Also in the refuse to touch catagory because the pins on the hammer and could be lowered on a primer ?
    I could go on,, but I think you should be able to grasp the issue from this,, or your just being obtuse.
    its only a feature in the hands of law enforcement, just like a full auto, in the hands of a private person or more importantly in a ffl's shop, it could get you into trouble, and a lot of gunsmiths will "confiscate" an unsafe or illegal gun and you are out everything. I was under the impression this was what you were talking about
    if you are ever being chased by a taxidermist, don't play dead

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    Quote Originally Posted by yovinny View Post
    No,, its a feature, not a defect.. So he sounds like he's pretty stupid actually.
    No Winchester 97 ever had a disconnect.
    No Winchester model 12 ( arguably the most popular shotgun in the USA for 50yrs) ever had a disconnect.
    No original Ithaca pump gun ever had a disconnect.
    What about SAA's ? Also in the refuse to touch catagory because the pins on the hammer and could be lowered on a primer ?
    I could go on,, but I think you should be able to grasp the issue from this,, or your just being obtuse.
    Spot on with your analysis. Since the so-called gunsmith has passed that would indicate he was old enough to have worked on older firearms, and he should have been aware of the 10's of millions of manual operated firearms that were designed without a disconnector.

    I started doing trigger jobs on mostly model 12's for trap shooters at the age of 14 in 1974. I have done a couple 97's. Total it's well over 50. I heard about the disconnector "defect" for 50 plus years and yes, it is 100% BS and ignorance. If a 14 kid knows about some firearms not having a disconnect it's truly sad a so-called gunsmith doesn't have the same knowledge level of a 14-year-old gun geek back in 1974.

    As to the provenance trail that is long past being viable.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 01-16-2022 at 08:13 AM.
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    "Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point."
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    Quote Originally Posted by rancher1913 View Post
    a lot of gunsmiths will an unsafe or illegal gun and you are out everything.
    Not even close to being legal for a gunsmith to "confiscate" an unsafe firearm. Unsafe is highly subjective. It might be truly unsafe to fire yet 100% safe as a non-firing display. The gunsmith has ZERO legal rights to "confiscate" said firearm.

    If truly illegal like an illegally modified full auto they will contact the BATF directly. The BATF may confiscate and or make an arrest of the owner depending on the circumstances. Recently a gentleman purchased an AR in an FTF deal. He did get a bill of sale. When he went to fire it dumped the complete mag. He brought it into the shop for repair. The BATF took the FA parts, allowed the owner to take the gun back when repaired and upon turning a copy the Bill of Sale over to the BATF.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 01-16-2022 at 12:40 AM.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    "Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point."
    – Amber Veal

    "The Highest form of ignorance is when your reject something you don't know anything about".
    - Wayne Dyer

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    Thanks for the replies! Providence/provenance... Oops! Thanks for the correction.

    I figured if my dad couldn't get provenance for it, and he was actually a friend of Jack's, then it was probably a lost cause. Will still make a nice story about the shotgun, though.

    It's very beautiful...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Der Gebirgsjager View Post
    Going on the facts you've given-- first, is Lolo's still in business? If so, they would have a record of where they obtained the shotgun. Next, locate close relatives of Jack and see if any of them remember the gun. Also, as he was a famous writer, perhaps you might find another writer of that era who is still alive, or one of his hunting associates to ask about the gun. Although he is most remembered for his advocacy of the .270 Win. rifle, reading through all his many articles and books might turn up a reference to the shotgun or its use. In other words, detective work.

    DG
    That was in 1964 and 4 years before record keeping was required.

    Lots of FFL destroy the records after 20 years. Some never do.

    https://www.atf.gov/firearms/qa/how-...atf-forms-4473

    How long are licensees required to maintain ATF Forms 4473?
    Licensees shall retain each ATF Form 4473 for a period of not less than 20 years after the date of sale or disposition. Where a licensee has initiated a National Instant Background Check System (NICS) check for a proposed firearms transaction, but the sale, delivery, or transfer of the firearm is not made, the licensee shall record any transaction number on the Form 4473, and retain the Form 4473 for a period of not less than 5 years after the date of the NICS inquiry.

    [18 U.S.C. 923(g)(1)(A); 27 CFR 478.129(b)]
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    "Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point."
    – Amber Veal

    "The Highest form of ignorance is when your reject something you don't know anything about".
    - Wayne Dyer

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