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Old May 1, 2009, 11:20 PM   #1
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J. Manton & Co 12 ga. English, Belgian, or Indian?

I have this exposed hammer 12 ga. double barrel shotgun that has J. Manton & Co on the sides of the receiver, crossed swords with a crown above 4 places on the undersides of the chamber, barrels marked 13 and 14 respectively (also on the underside), top rib marked "London Fine Twist" and a notch in the very end of the left barrel. Possibly chambered for 2.5 in shells- not 2.75. No serial number that I can see.
What the heck is it?
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File Type: jpg ZManton 1.JPG (151.7 KB, 1752 views)
File Type: jpg ZManton 2.jpg (250.3 KB, 1316 views)
File Type: jpg ZManton 4.jpg (134.0 KB, 1140 views)
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Old May 2, 2009, 07:15 PM   #2
32 Magnum
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Shotguns marked as such are more than likely Belgian made and imported by H&D Folsom Co. of NYC between late 1890s and 1920. The name was a play on the Manton & Co firearms made in London and of much higher quality.
If you can, dismount the barrels from your piece and inspect the bottom side of the barrel set for an oval or diamond shape with the letters 'ELG' inside. This is a definite indicator of Belgian manufacture. If not, then describe any "proof" or manufacturer's marks that you do find.
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Old May 3, 2009, 12:19 AM   #3
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More Pictures

These are all the markings I could find. One thing I did notice was a faded "3" or possibly an "8" in between the barrels on the underside. Als took a picture of the gold shield on the bottom of the buttstock. Last picture is inside the receiver.
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File Type: jpg IMG_4235.jpg (149.9 KB, 1157 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4236.jpg (146.3 KB, 1119 views)
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Old May 3, 2009, 03:11 PM   #4
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i have a shotgun very similer to yours, same markings only 13and13 under barrels and 16852 under each barrel,receiver andtriger guard. the same london fine twist between barrels, looks like same person made it, mine has the barrel realese on the left side and has CHARIES WEBLEY on both sides with birds engraved on both sides and has a brass oval under but stock. maybe some one here can tell us both something about them?
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Old May 3, 2009, 04:15 PM   #5
Jim Watson
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The proofmarks look like Birmingham Eng., pre 1904.

Greener describes the practice of Belgian gunmakers sending guns to Birmingham to be prooved so as to avoid foreign markings. They would apply any brand name specified by the seller. The fine old Manton family was likely out of business by the time this gun was made.

And the boss of Webley guns was Philip, not Charles.
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Old May 3, 2009, 10:50 PM   #6
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That isn't a "3"

Looks like the letter "S" the more I examine it under strong light.
So this is a Birmingham-proofed, Belgian-made 12 ga. shotgun made before 1904?
Sure wish I could put an exact date of mfg on it.
Was I right in guessing it takes 2 1/2 in. shells?

Am I correct in saying the notch in the muzzle of the left barrel indicates a different choke than the right? The metal is definitely thinner around the left muzzle. That might account for the different numbers on the underside of the barrels too (13 and 14).
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File Type: jpg ZManton 5.JPG (214.6 KB, 743 views)

Last edited by cruisair; May 3, 2009 at 10:51 PM. Reason: Added content about barrel numbering.
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Old May 3, 2009, 10:55 PM   #7
Jim Watson
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I would say the notch is a chip from rough handling in the past. Maybe a seam in the Damascus. The numbers don't appear on the British or Belgian proof mark charts.
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Old May 3, 2009, 11:01 PM   #8
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I think so too, but it's a very clean and even notch and it is interesting the barrels seem to be of different chokes. I guess the only way to see if they're different is to fire at some card and look at the shot spread. I'd be a little scared to do so however.
When did the practice of notching chokes first begin anyway?

Man- I sure wish I could find out something definite on this. I LIKE this shotgun!
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Old May 3, 2009, 11:50 PM   #9
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The crown symbol over two crossed scepters with the letters B P C at the nine, six and three o'clock positions is the Birmingham "difinitive black powder proof for shotguns". It was used from 1868 to 1925. However, the generally crude engraving and fit of the gun makes me think it is Belium made. There was an English maker by the name of Joseph Manton in the same time period but his guns were of a much higher quality. I believe he also signed his guns with his full name and address. The gun you have was likely massed produced and meant to be sold cheaply. Today it should probably just be retired to hang over the mantlepiece.
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Old May 4, 2009, 09:28 AM   #10
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Letters in the crossed swords

Looks like an "E" and a "V" at the 9 and 6 o'clock positions. Nothing in the third 3 o'clock position.
Anyone want to buy a shotgun? Cheap?
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Old May 18, 2009, 08:07 AM   #11
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In the book I'm referencing, "Vintage British Shotguns" by T Wieland, Manton and Co is refered to as more of gun seller than a gun maker. Their main store was in Calcutta India and they sold mostly to British military and civil service stationed there. They also had a store in London for some time. They sold arms of all types made in Birmingham. By the time any cartridge guns were made, the "Manton" brand name was no longer under the Manton family. Most of these guns were considered low to medium grade, and found at the far reaches of the British empire.

You may have an inexpensive Manton an Co export gun; or you may have a copy as suggested. You don't have a high grade gun made by Joseph Manton himself.
Don't focus so much on who is driving the bus, but pay attention to what bus you're on and where it's going.
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Old June 1, 2009, 11:51 AM   #12
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Reiterating what Snow Dog said, find a nice place to hang your shotgun on the wall and admire it from there. It is not safe to shoot. The laminated steel barrels aren't suitable for today's ammunition, even if you can find a shell that will fit. I've got a similar Belgian-made gun that was imported by the thousands in the early 20th century. Totally unsafe to fire, but a very pretty gun and it looks quite nice over the mantle of the fireplace.

Shotguns like that were cranked out like crazy from the late 1800s to the early 1900s and sold by all sorts of outfits for $9.00 to $20.00 (not chump change for the time, but not terribly expensive). Lots of farmers and casual sportsmen bought them. There are quite a few around, but nothing like the quantities that were originally made - they just didn't last.

I always thought that it was interesting how they made the barrels: they wound steel wire around a mandrel, then heated and hammered it to make a solid steel tube. Not the strongest thing around, but capable of handling the loads of the time, at least for a while. And cheap to make.
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Old November 1, 2009, 10:21 AM   #13
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i have a gun very similar to your and i want to know some more info about it. it is a j manton double barrel with exposed hammers but, on the butt stock its a solid circle not a shield and between the barrels it says laminated steel instead of fine London twist. mine also has numbers on the underside of the barrels but this time its 14 and 14. it still has the swords on both sides of the numbers. the serial number on the barrels is 27978 and from the pictures you've provided the rest of the markings are exactly the same. if you can tell me what i have
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Old November 1, 2009, 11:00 AM   #14
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Laminated Steel is just another name for Damascus, the information above also applies to your gun.
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Old June 30, 2010, 11:09 AM   #15
buford sparrowgrove
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manton shotgun

i have one that belonged to my GG grandfather he passed in 1933 at age 85 it is very worn you can tell it was handled and the stock was repaird by wire and it just says Manton with some designs on it. the hammers have hit the pins so much that the pins are mated over my grandfather was the last to fire it what do you think it is the stock looks like the first post but that is it.
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Old July 1, 2010, 06:09 PM   #16
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[So this is a Birmingham-proofed, Belgian-made 12 ga. shotgun made before 1904?]
[Was I right in guessing it takes 2 1/2 in. shells?]

Today (2010) ? Only once.

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Old July 1, 2010, 07:09 PM   #17
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Actually damascus will hold more pressure than forged barrels as long as they're in good shape. I shoot damascus a lot with bp. Just don't try 2 3/4 shells in a 2 1/2 inch chamber. I did it a lot as a kid with no harm but it does raise pressure dramatically.
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