Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Uncle" Dave's Fox Sterlingworth

"Uncle" Dave (as he was called by my dad) was Grandpa's brother-in-law. But it seems that he was the gunniest of the "family" before me. He must have been because he didn't have much but he spent his money on things like swords (a "wristbreaker" from Bannermans), a Remington Model 8 (new!) and this Fox Sterlingworth (also bought new). Now my dad knew Uncle Dave but he never told me who Uncle Dave was and I had to discover that for myself!

Uncle Dave must have really liked the gun because at some point he installed the rubber recoil pad. It seems from this gun and the Remington that he was wont to do such things but wasn't all that good at it. In any case, we know he took it hunting because before he died he got some snow in the right barrel and split the barrel with his next shot at a bunny or partridge (grouse). He didn't try that repair himself but sent the gun back to the manufacturer with instructions to have the barrel replaced with one with an improved cylinder choke. So it is today, a 12 ga. gun with 28 inch barrels choked IC and Full. Pretty cool and useful in the field.

When he died the gun went to my Grandfather. I think Dave and his wife had no children and so didn't have any other immediate family to whom to pass his stuff. When Grandpa died the guns went to Dad and then to me. This is a great gun. I know that Grandpa used it to hunt deer near Cooperstown, NY and was successful at least once. Dad and I used it to hunt quail and it was the bees knees as it could take them up close or a bit out and going away and was a good fit for me and tolerable for Dad. I can't say how much game Uncle Davee took with it and was never regaled with stories of his exploits. I don't know why, but nobody in the family talked about him much. I did get the idea that he was considered a bit of a ne'er do well and the guns and such were just more evidence of that. I hope my family won't forget me as I imagine I'm a lot like he was! In any case, Dad sure would get a grin when he did mention him.

The Fox Sterlingworth was the entry level grade double and is the most common of all the Fox guns. A.H. Fox started producing shotguns in 1896 working for Fox Gun Company and later Baltimore Gun company before starting A. H. Fox & Company in 1903. In 1930 Savage Arms purchased Fox and began producing guns up till 1942. The Fox shotguns are of very fine quality and compared to the LC Smith, and lower grade Parkers.

Now for the photos.

Interestingly, the right barrel is stamped, "STERLNGWORTH FLUID COMPRESSED STEEL" omitting the "I". However, this is the barrel that was replaced so I don't know if that has anything at all to do with it. The left barrel is stamped "MADE BY A.H. FOX GUN CO. PHILA. PA. U.S.A." So this gun uses the patented Sterlingworth steel barrels. I really like the fine knurling on the solid rib which is raised for part of it's length. There is only a front bead sight. There is some slight pitting and finish wear where one would grasp the barrels when shooting. There is also a small dent about 2" back from the muzzle. Nothing to worry about though you can see it. Both the under and top ribs are firmly affixed and the barrels "ring" well.
As you can see the underside of the barrels at the breach are marked with the firearm serial number. This gun has extractors only and they are shown extended, not what I usually do but that is where they were when I snapped the photo! What you can't see so well in the photo is the oval mark under the right barrel or just below the lump in the photo. That is the Fox proof mark showing the barrels have passed the manufacturer's proof test. I have no idea what caused the large circular marks on the flat. There is nothing on the gun that I can see (or as you can see in the photo of the watertable) that could cause this mark. This is yet another mystery of Uncle Dave's gun.

The watertable is also marked with the firearm serial number. Of more interest to some are the patent markings on the left side of the watertable.
"PAT'D DEC 2, 1902
AUG.6.1904 - AUG.1.1905
OCT.17.1905 - JAN.16.1906"

The only other markings on the gun are "MODEL 1911" and the firearm serial on the forearm iron. I had thought this gun was made in 1910 according to certain references but why then would it be marked Model 1911 UNLESS the forearm was replaced when the barrels were repaired. It makes sense to me that the forearm was damaged when the barrel split due to the bore obstruction and had to be replaced with a new forearm iron as well. Very interesting, and perhaps, another mystery!

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