Here’s a gun you don’t see every day — and that’s one of the reasons I featured it yesterday as one of this week’s 5 doubles you don’t want to miss. The other reason? Well, just look at it.
Auguste Francotte & Cie. was one of the world’s premier gunmakers. Founded in 1805, they built guns in Belgium and exported them around the world. Von Lengerke & Detmold brought them into the US from 1889 to 1929; Abercrombie & Fitch took over in 1930 and continued until 1971. Altogether, about 5,000 or so new Francottes were shipped to the US.
Most were high-quality Francotte boxlocks like this and this. A few were top-of-the-line sidelocks like what you see here — possibly one of these “De Luxe” models Abercrombie & Fitch offered in 1930.
Of course, the first thing about this gun that catches your eye is the metalwork. I think it uses a combination of engraving and chasing (if I have the terms right). Overall, the work reminds me of guns done by Aristide Barré, the French artist who embellished some of the finest Purdeys out there.
The proportions and lines of the gun also stand out. I like how rounded the backs of the locks are and how your eye passes from there into the drip-like drop points. The stock looks broad and substantial, and there’s a little belly in it to secure and position the shooter’s hand. But it doesn’t look cumbersome or overwhelming. Overall, the gun stands out, without screaming for attention.
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE: 28 1/2″, CHOKES .022′ AND .022″, 2 3/4 CHAMBERS, DOUBLE TRIGGER, EJECTORS, SPLINTER FOREARM, ENGLISH GRIP, CHECKERED BUTT, LEATHER CASE, EXCELLENT CONDITION WITH LIGHT HANDLING MARKS, 7LBS 5OZ, 1 3/4″ DAH, 1 7/16″ DAC, 14″ LOP. Price:$16,500
For most of the 20th century, Abercrombie & Fitch was the most famous name in American sporting goods. From a retail store on NYC’s Madison Avenue, and through catalogs sent out across North American, A&F sold everything from firearms to fishing lures.
In 1938, the first spread of their Rifle-Shotgun catalog opened with the following copy:
“In our opinion the Francotte, famous Belgian gun adapted by us to the American Sportsman and improved over a period of 50 years, represents real gun value second to none. It is, in fact, an imported hand made gun at an American price.”
Three pages of Francottes followed: From the top of the line Eagle Grade Hammerless Ejector No. 45 Quality to the Knockabout Ejector. All these guns featured Siemen-Martin ‘Special’ fluid steel barrels and could be ordered with Greener-crossbolts or doll’s head extensions. They were made made on what A&F called a “Francotte lock action”, said to be an improvement on Anson & Deeley-type boxlock action, and featured Francotte-patent ejectors.
Price wise, Francottes weren’t cheap. But they weren’t super expensive, either. At a time when a Parker Quality A-1 Special Quality with ejectors was $890, a Parker Quality B.H.E. was $375 and a Fox X.E. was $165, Francotte’s Eagle Grade Hammerless Ejector No. 45 Quality was $550. Their most affordable double — the Francotte Knockabout Ejector — was $175. In between were models like the No. 30 Quality (30E) at $400 and a No. 20 Quality (20E) at $275.
Compared to their American competitors, all these Francotte’s were built on superior designs, featured better finishing and proper scaling, and were more aesthetically pleasing overall. If you had stopped into A&F’s Madison Avenue store and placed a Parker, Fox, and Francotte side by side, it would have been plain to you which one was superior.
Francotte (Abercrombie & Fitch) “30E” 28 gauge SXS Shotgun: Francotte Pre-war (Abercrombie & Fitch) SXS Shotgun. Side plated 28 GA. Ejectors, side clips, 26 inch BBL, Full and Full, Double triggers, 14 1/2 inch pull to horn butt plate with Abercrombie and Fitch Leather case. Bores like new. Price:$17,995
FRANCOTTE MODEL “20E” DOUBLE 20 GAUGE SIDE-BY-SIDE SHOTGUN RETAILED BY ABERCROMBIE & FITCH: 28″ barrels choked R: .009″ L: .030″. Engraved sideplate action with auto ejectors, side clips, hiddend third bite (crossbolt with rib extension), double triggers, top lever. Checkered splinter forend and semi-pistol grip buttstock. Stock measurements: Comb: 1 1/2″ Heel: 2 1/2″ LOP: 14 1/4″ to a horn buttplate. Weight 5lbs 13oz. In beautiful original condition retaining nearly all of the casehardened finish on the action and sideplates. Trigger guard and top lever have all of the high polish charcoal blue remaining. Barrels showing 98% original blue with the maker’s and A&F’s names engraved on top. “A FRANCOTTE MAKER” and patent info on the left sideplate at the bottom. Excellent wood and checkering. 1949 mfg. Price:$8,750
EARLY FRANCOTTE 12 GAUGE DOUBLE EJECTOR GUN: 26″ damascus steel barrels, auto ejecgtors, beautiful scroll engraved sideplates and relief engraved fences. Double triggers, top lever, double underlocking lugs with Greener type third bite. Bores measure .729″ both barrels with walls over .030″ Chokes: R: .003″ L: .033″ Weight: 6lbs 7oz. Stock measures Comb: 1 1/2″ Heel: 2″ LOP: 14 1/2″ over a thin English hardrubber pad. The barrels retain all of the beautiful damascus pattern, The action showing lovely subdued case colors. Mint bores, excellent checkering and varnish. This would make a perfect bird gun. Price:$5,950
OK – here’s a late one. Carol Watson’s Orange Coast Auctions is having a sale today, January 25. There are bunch of good looking doubles coming up, everything from Purdeys & Francottes to American stuff. The auction starts at 10 am – Pacific time. So if you jump on it now, you should be able to get some bids in.
Lot 446: Francotte Pre-War VL&D mkd 20g Boxlock SxS Shotgun: #36563, 20 ga., 26” matte game rib blue barrels choked IC/Cyl. with one steel bead, tightly banknote and foliate engraved, case hardened boxlock frame, auto thumb safety with gold inlaid ”S” to upper portion, single select trigger, auto ejectors, Greener crossbolt safety, checkered Prince of Wales pistol-grip walnut stock and forend, with Pachmayr Old English butt pad with black spacer. Gold ovoid plaque to bottom of stock with initials ”EWB”. In more modern Brady shotgun case. Condition is excellent. Barrels retain approx. 80% original blue with thinning to both left and right tubes between recoil shield and top of forend. Case colors have thinned and silvered yet still retain approx. 40%. Checkering remains sharp. Action is crisp, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of wood: 13”; 13-1/2” to end of pad. Est.: $3,500-$5,000.
Lot 453: Parker 12g VHE Grade SxS Shotgun, 32″ bbls:#172765, 12 ga., 32” blue barrels choked Full/Full, game rib with double ivory bead, case hardened frame, ejectors, checkered straight walnut stock and splinter forend, with later added black Pachmayr butt pad. Mfg’d 1917. Condition is excellent. Barrels retain approx. 98%+ inky blue and may have been redone at one point. Frame with 20%-30% vivid case hardened hues in protected areas. Checkering is crisp and stock exhibits some very minor refreshing. Action is crisp, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of wood: 13-5/16”; 14-1/4” to end of pad. Est.: $3,500-$5,000.
Lot 459: Parker 16g CHE Grade SxS Shotgun: #148460, 16 ga., 28” game rib barrels choked Full/Mod., engraved game scene case hardened frame, double triggers, ejectors, manual safety, select imported pistol-grip checkered walnut stock with splinter forend and silver ovoid marked ”From Westminster Gun Club to WRL” to bottom of stock just forward of toe area. Originally mfg’d in 1908. Watertable marked with patent dates, and ”CH/148460/4”; central barrel lug marked ”1” for frame size; bottom of right barrel marked ”(clrcle)/A/3/8”. Condition is about fine. Barrels retain approx. 94% what appears to be original lightly thinning and toning blue. Engraved case hardened frame retains approx. 30% case colored hues mostly in protected areas, with sides and bottom of frame toning a silvery gray. Stock remains in very good condition with moderate flattening to checks, light scuffs and pressure dings, with later added red rubber butt pad. Wear to forend is slightly more pronounced. Action is smooth and fine, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of stock: 13-3/8”; 14-1/8” to end of pad; 1-9/16” drop at comb; 2-1/2” drop at heel. Est.: $10,000-$15,000.
Lot 460: Parker 12g BHE Grade SxS Shotgun: #127771, 12 ga., 30” game rib barrels choked Mod./Mod., engraved game scene case hardened frame, double triggers, ejectors, select import straight grip checkered walnut stock with splinter forend and gold ovoid to bottom of stock just forward of toe area. Originally mfg’d in 1904. Watertable marked with patent dates, and ”5/127771/B”; central barrel lug marked ”2” for frame size; bottom of right barrel marked ”K” and ”4/5”. Condition is fine to near excellent. Barrels retain approx. 96%+ original lightly thinning blue with one small clean spot to left tube. Engraved case hardened frame retains approx. 85% lightly thinning colors with most of the losses at balance point and triggerguard tang. Stock remains in very good condition with light scuffs, moderate impressions, slight flattening to checks, and modified with a red rubber butt pad. Action is smooth and fine, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of stock: 13-1/4”; 14-1/4” to end of pad; 1-9/16” drop at comb; 2-1/2” drop at heel. Stock appears to have neutral cast. Est.: $18,000-$24,000.
Lot 463: Boss & Co. Best Quality 20g SxS Sidelock Shotgun: #6656, 20 ga., 28” smooth ribbed blue barrels choked IC/Cyl., chamber depth of 2-5/8”, single bright bead sight, tight scroll and rosette engraved case-hardened sidelock frame, with gold-inlaid cocking indicators and safety markings, auto safety and ejectors, highly figured checkered straight walnut pistol-grip stock with teardrop flats and splinter forend, with original leather butt pad. Top of rib marked ”Boss & Co. 15, Dover Street, Picadilly, London, England”. Mfg’d 1920. Condition is excellent. Barrels appear to have been re-blackened at one point. Frame and sideplates retain approx. 90%+ case hardened hues. Stock is excellent with fine tight checkering. Action is crisp, bores are bright. In original leather-covered oak case with large format Boss label, original snap caps and oiler, and initials ”WCP” embossed to top; case shows scuffs, scratches, and some staining. Length of pull to end of wood: 13-5/8”; 14-1/2” to end of pad. Drop at comb: 1-1/2”; drop at heel: 2-1/4”. Est.: $30,000-$50,000.
Lot 465: Best Quality James Purdey & Sons 12g SxS Sidelock Shotgun: #23153, 12 ga., 30” matted game rib barrels choked IC/IC with 2-3/4” chambers, case hardened banknote and rosette engraved frame and sideplates, finely checkered English straight-grip walnut stock with splinter forend, and later added red rubber butt pad. Top of barrel marked ”J. Purdey & Sons, Audley House, South Audley Street, London”, and ”Made of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s Fluid Pressed Steel”. White ivory front bead, double triggers, manual safety with ejectors, cocking indicators, and ovoid plaque at bottom of stock. Mfg’d 1925, with only 97 produced that year. Condition is excellent. Barrels retain approx. 97%+ English rust type blue. Case hardened frame and sideplates show 92% vivid case colors, with the balance point toning and silvering slightly. Stock and forend appear to be refreshed somewhat, with forend checkering being of a slightly coarser pattern. Stock with only light marks from handling. Action remains crisp, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of wood: 13-5/8”; 14-1/2” to end of pad. Stock with very minor right-hand cast-off. Drop at heel 2-1/8”; drop at comb 1-5/8”. Est.: $20,000-$30,000.
Lot 466: Francotte 20g Abercrombie & Fitch mkd SxS Shotgun: #88627, 20 ga., 26” matte game rib blue barrels choked Imp./Mod., case hardened boxlock frame with sideplates, gold-inlaid ”S” at auto safety, auto ejectors, Prince of Wales grip with checkered walnut stock and splinter forend, with red Old English butt pad. Barrels marked ”Abercrombie & Fitch Co., U.S. Agents New York”. In what appears to be its original Abercrombie & Fitch marked brown leather burgundy-lined case, with two A&F 20 ga. snap caps, and original hang tag with specifications, including weight (5.5 lbs.), drop: 2-1/2-1-1/2-14-3/8”; chamber length 2-3/4”; with existing length of pull now 14-5/8” . Condition is fine to near excellent. Barrel assembly shows only minor thinning, with minor thinning at balance points of frame. Case hardened frame and sideplates retain approx. 80% silvering tones. Stock with light to moderate flattening to checks and minor scuffs from handling. Est.: $4,000-$6,000.
Lot 468: Francotte 20g SxS Shotgun: #3218, 20 ga., 27” matte game rib blue barrels choked Full/Mod., case hardened boxlock lightly engraved with hunting dogs and game scenes, straight-grain checkered oil-finished English walnut stock with red Pachmayr butt pad and splinter forend. Condition is excellent, appearing new and unfired, with only light marks from handling. Nicely presented in a contemporary suede-lined Italian leather case. Length of pull to end of pad: 14-3/4”. Est.: $4,000-$6,000
Lot 472: Win.-Parker Repro. 28g DHE Grade 2-Bbl SxS Shotgun: #28-3259, 28 ga., 26” game rib blue matte barrels choked IC/Cyl.; and 28” game rib blue matte barrels choked Full/Mod.; roll-engraved game scene case-hardened boxlock frame, checkered straight-grip fancy walnut stock with engraved steel skeleton buttplate and splinter forend. All features are standard to this model, including auto safety, auto ejectors, single brass bead front sight, and double triggers. Condition is excellent, appearing new and unfired, in original leather case, with Parker marked snap cap, instructions, and warranty card. (For purpose of photography, the original dried factory grease was removed from the exterior barrel assemblies.) Length of pull: 14-3/4”. Est.: $4,000-$6,000.
A great shotgun deserves great gun case. Here are three great gun cases on Ebay now. If you’re looking for the perfect vintage case for your favorite double, one of these may be it. All three were made in the UK for American sporting good companies.
These Abercrombie & Fitch cases are from the 1950s, and they were best-quality lightweight leather models in their day. These two are especially nice because they come with their original A & F snaps caps, two-piece cleaning rods and cleaning accessories.
HOLLAND & HOLLAND ROYAL SXS 12 GAUGE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH: MADE 1963 SPECIAL ORDER ABERCROMBIE &FITCH NON SELF OPENER ROYAL WITH A LETTER 26 1/2″ 011 AND 021 2 3/4 DOUBLE TRIGGER EJECTOR SPLINTER FOREARM ENGLISH GRIP CHECKERED BUTT MAKES CASE NEW CONDITION 6LB 6 OZ X 2 3/16 X 1 1/2 X 14 1/2 Price: $35,000.00
Holland & Holland Royal Sidelock: 12 gauge, 26: bbls, MOD/FULL. London best gun specially made for Abercrombie & Fitch Co. New York — Full sidelock with 99% color case remain. Abercrombie & Fitch’s factory logo inlayed in gold on bottom of action. Straight grip stock measures 1 9/16″ x 2 9/16″ x 14 1/2″ over checkered butt, double triggers, splinter forend. 6lbs 9oz. Mint condition. Pricing: $31,995.00
It’s hard to believe, but Abercrombie & Fitch used to be one of America’s premier outfitters. Their old flagship store in Manhattan used to have an entire floor dedicated to shotguns and rifles.
They also carried leather shotgun cases like this one on Ebay now. This A&F case is what’s know as a “VC” or compact, and it was made by Bryant – a well know English leather goods maker. It’s a nice, solid case, fully wool lines, and pretty rugged. On top of that, it has a great vintage look. This is a double-clasp model, which makes it a bit harder to find. It also has it’s original – another plus. To give you sense of what this one is worth, here’s another one that a dealer has listed for $895.
BTW: the other case that the seller is offering in the same listing is way too small to be for a fly-rod. It looks like a scope case to me.
Old shotguns with tons of condition spook me. I love original condition, so I’m excited to see any vintage side-by-side that looks brand new. At the same time, I wonder if what I’m really looking at is an excellent restoration. Unless I have the double in my hands, it’s hard to tell.
So when I saw this 12 gauge Francotte Knockabout I was intrigued, but then put off. Part of me thinks that this side-by-side is all original. But another part says no ‘friggin way.
Up until they were purchased by Abercrombie & Fitch, Von Lengerke & Detmold was a major importer of Francotte shotguns. The Knockabout was the lowest grade they offered. Shotguns like this were bought by guys who wanted a quality double that they could really use. That’s why so most of the ones you see today look more like this one: decent, but definitely used.
The one shown here looks like it spent more time in a closet than in a marsh or field. For a shotgun that’s 85+ years old, it’s just not showing it’s age. That’s what worries me. Did the owner really buy it, shoot it for a couple years, and then put it away for a lifetime?
Or was it restored 20- 30 years ago by someone who knew what they were doing, and then used gently since then? I just can tell from these pics. I have seen brand new, honestly 100% original shotguns that are even older. And those are the ones that keep me hoping to find more.
James Julia’s annual fall firearms auction is on October 1st & 2nd this year. As always, the sale is full of nice double barrel shotguns. This 20 gauge James Purdey side-by-side is one of the nicest by far. Just check out the condition — all original and almost brand new. On top of that, it was made by the hands of Ben Delay and J Aldous, two of the finest craftsmen this famous London maker has ever had. That makes this more than just a nice shotgun, it makes it a link to a part of this gunmaker’s most cherished past.
Here’s the complete listing on the gun from Julia’s website:
SN 26697. (1957) Cal. 20 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 26″ Chopper lump bbls with flat, narrow, matted game rib, are engraved “J. Purdey & Sons Audley House. South Audley Street. London. England.” on tops. Bbl flats are stamped with post 1954 London nitro proofs for 2-3/4″ – 3 1/4 ton – 1oz shells. Bottoms of bbls are stamped with SN. Barrel maker’s initials “J.A” (J Aldous) are on bottom of left bbl. Tube nos. 65905 and 65906 are on loop. Case hardened, Beesley patent, self-opening, sidelock action features non-automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), bushed strikers, raised rib tumbler end cocking indicators, and Purdey non-selective single trigger. Action is beautifully engraved with best quality, house style, small scroll with rose bouquet highlights. “J. Purdey & Sons.” is on the bottom of each lockplate and action, which is also engraved “London England”. Scroll engraved small bow trigger guard extends to composition grip cap. SN is at grip. Nicely marbled, dark European walnut full pistol grip buttstock measures 14-5/16″ over checkered wood butt with classic scroll engraved heel and toe plates added by A & F at customer’s request. Stock also features well executed drop points, point pattern checkering with mullered borders and a gold oval on toe line engraved with a very fine rendition of flying woodcock surmounted by “Pierce”. Matching splinter ejector forend has Anson release. Actioner’s initials, “B.D” (Ben Delay) are on iron. Messrs Delay and Aldous were two of Purdey’s most skilled craftsmen of the day. Their talents are on display with this gun.
Bore diameter: left -.615, right -.615. Bore restrictions: left -.024, right -.004. Wall thickness: left -.031, right -.030. Drop at heel: 2-5/8″, drop at comb: 1-7/16″. Weight: 5 lbs. 14 oz, LOP 14-5/16″. High quality oak and leather case with brass corners and central medallion is embossed “Pierce” on top. Case is lined with burgundy cloth with gold embossed black leather label on lid, and contains an assembly of unmarked accessories incl. a pair of turnscrews and striker key with black handles, bone striker bottle with spare strikers, 2-pc brass and rosewood cleaning rod with mops and brushes, broken case extractor, black Morocco wallet with pull-through cleaning equipment, brown leather wallet with action cleaning brushes, Purdey marked square oil bottle and snap caps, as well as 1929 edition instruction manual entitled “Purdey Guns”, and the key.
PROVENANCE: Factory records indicate that it was completed for A & F in Oct. 1957. A & F records indicate it was sold to Grant Pierce in 1957. All other specs match except weight, which was originally 5 # 15-1/2 oz. (Most likely gun was ordered for “stock” with very long unfinished butt to be completed to customers specifications at A & F.)
CONDITION: Exceptionally fine, retaining nearly all of its orig finishes on wood and metal. Bbls are slightly silvered at muzzles with a few inconsequential marks. Action is very slightly silvered on beads and fences, and retains nearly all of its orig varnish. Hinge pin retains a considerable amount of its orig fire blue, as does safety button. Trigger guard bow and thumbpiece of top lever are slightly silvered. Stocks have some minor marks. Bores are excellent, bright and shiny throughout, with no visible imperfections. Ejectors are perfectly timed. Trigger works flawlessly. Case leather is very fine with a number of slight bumps and rubs. Straps and handle are very fine, as is interior cloth, with some slight soiling and compressions. Accessories are excellent. An investment quality, beautifully balanced, lightweight upland gun, barreled and actioned by two of Purdeys long time employees, both were building Purdey guns during the halcyon days of the 1930’s. 4-46132 MGM157 (35,000-55,000)
There are sleepers in every gun auction. Smart buyers sit through sales and wait for them. When they comes up and the bids don’t appear, the smart buyers pounce in and get a great deal.
At Rock Island’s upcoming sale, I’m sure a few smart buyers will have their eyes on this Otto Seelig 12 gauge Over & Under. It’s definitely a sleeper, and I think it could end up being a great deal.
Otto Seelig was based in Weisbaden (a city in southwest Germany) at the end of the 19th century and up to around World War II. He is recorded as being gun dealer and gun supplier and clients included the Danish Royal Court. He probably had his guns made by other German craftsman and then sold them to customers throughout Europe.
Today, shotguns, rifles, and drillings bearing his name pop up from time to time and they very from well built, workmanlike pieces to beautifully crafted, exhibition grade firearms.
The over-and-under shotgun you see here must of been one of the finest doubles he sold. This double was “made” by his firm around World War I –maybe a bit before or just after. The Germans like their shotguns to be stout and this Seelig is very Teutonic – thick horn triggerguard, full pistol grip, the Kersten locking system. A ton of time and skill went into making it, too.
The “Made in Germany” engraving on the side of the rib and the 30″ bbls are a good signs that it was made for the US market. It was probably brought into this country by a top American gunshop like Von Lengerke & Detmold, Abercrombie & Fitch, or Sloan’s Sporting Goods.
When new, this Seelig must have been very expensive. In the 1950s it was bought used from Abercrombie & Fitch for $600. At that time, a new Winchester M21 in the “Deluxe” model cost $419 and a Webley & Scott M700 was $295. Most new cars cost around $1500.
Today, German doubles are extremely under appreciated–especially ones with all the Teutonic bells and whistles like this Seelig. Even though this over-and-under is on par with the finest shotguns ever made in America (and probably superior), most people fail to recognize the quality and skill that went into making it. If you do, put in a bid. You just may come away with a steal.
Description: This is a nice example of a relief engraved and gold inlaid Otto Seelig shotgun. The shotgun features double red bead sights on the matte solid rib marked “OTTO SEELIG, WIESBADEN” in a panel near the breech and “MADE IN GERMANY” on the left side of the rib. 2 3/4 inch chambers, chokes gauge at full/extra full, (an attached Abercrombie & Fitch tag lists the chokes at strong modified/full), with ejectors.
The left rear of the upper barrel is nitro proofed and the side feature relief floral vine engraving. The scalloped box lock action, break lever and forearm latch assembly are engraved with a relief floral vine design with twenty gold inlaid game birds and a fox on the sides and bottom. Double cross bolt, cocking indicators, tang mounted automatic safety, double triggers with hinged front trigger and horn trigger guard.
Blue barrels and casehardened remaining parts, and mounted with a nicely figured, checkered walnut two piece forearm and pistol grip stock with relief engraved grip cap, checkered flats, cheek piece, leather covered English recoil pad and gold initial oval inscribed “P”. Length of pull is 14 3/4 inches, drop at the heel 2 3/8 inches and drop at the comb 1 3/8 inches.
Condition: Excellent. The barrels retain 95% original blue finish with some thinning to a smooth plum on each side of the lower barrel at the muzzle. There are some flashes of the original case colors on the top of the engraving, otherwise the action has a dark brown appearance. The wood is also excellent with some overall scattered minor dings and handling marks. The engraving is sharp. Mechanically excellent.
It’s hard to believe, but Abercrombie & Fitch used to call itself ‘The Greatest Sporting Goods Store in the World”. Judging by the inventory of fine guns they use to carry, that claim is easy to believe.
Along with new double-barrel shotguns by everyone from Parker to Purdey, Abercrombie & Fitch also stocked a number Francotte side-by-sides. This 20 gauge Francotte 14E on Gunbroker.com now is an excellent example of one of those shotguns.
Even though the Grade 14 was the lowest grade Francotte that Abercrombie carried, these guns were fantastically well made. They weren’t cheap, either. In 1951 a 20 gauge Francotte 14E cost $550 (a Winchester Model 21 was $329.20). And that’s without the case and accessories.
This 20 gauge Francotte 14E on Gunbroker.com looks like it’s in excellent, all original condition. With it’s 28″ barrels, double triggers and modern dimensions (1 3/8 x 2 1/4 x 14 1/2) and sub-six pound weight, I think it would be a perfect shotgun for grouse and woodcock. Best of all, it’s pretty much brand new.
Here’s an interesting look into what double barrel shotguns used to cost. Back in 1951, Abercrombie & Fitch’s store on NYC’s Madison Avenue carried all types of side-by-side shotguns, from Purdey to Parkers. They also sold Winchesters and Francottes. This ad shows what those guns cost. From the ad:
Winchester Model 21 Shotgun: An outstanding American-made shotgun noted for its dependability and balance. Factory tested with excessive load proof charges. Standard Grade. 12 to 20 gauge in various barrel lengths and borings: $329.20
Francotte Shotgun: In durability and beautiful balance, these guns are in a class by themselves. Hand made by August Francotte et Cie. of Belgium. Grade 14, 12 to .410 gauge in barrel lengths from 26″- 30″. $550.00
Today, the prices on these guns are a little higher. Here are two listed as being in excellent condition.