View Full Version : British shotgun history sought
April 15, 2002, 09:20 AM
I recently came into possesion of a British double barrel 10 guage shotgun when my great uncle passed away. We came across it when we were cleaning out his attic and my father gave it to me. I have searched the web for information on the company, but could not find anything. I am not planning on selling it. I do plan on taking it to a gunsmith to find out if it is can still be fired safely. If so, I may see about getting it refinished (Yes I realize this can destroy the value) since the orginal finish is now gone. Any information on the history of the shotgun would be most appreciated. Description follows:
10 Guage side by side shotgun. Along the top rib is engraved: "Treble Wedge Fast" (just in front of the locking lug) and "J.P. Clarrough & Bro's. London." in front of that. It also has "J.P. Clarrough & Bro's. London" in small banners on the left and right side just in front of the hammers. The only other marking I can find is the serial number on the front strap if the grip. It is 17X. The shotgun has double triggers and exposed hammers (front trigger fires right barrel). There is a fair amount of engraving on the receiver, but nothing notable on the barrels. The original finish was almost completely stripped away sometime in the past. The few traces that I can find remaining are a brownish coloring (no it's not rust or cosmoline) with a swirl pattern that reminds me of a Damascus finish. The stock is a straight comb Montecarlo style with a checkered handgrip in a dark walnut finish. The end cap and but plate are made of what appears to be some type of bakelite material. The shotgun is about 4-1/2 feet long overall. I have no information on even a possible date of puchase. The last time that it was known to be fired was in 1967, but no information on how long it was owned before that is available.
Any information on this would be most welcome. I am particularly interested in finding out if this will take a modern shotshell or if it was a black powder shotgun. (Assuming that the gunsmith gives an OK, I do plan on using it.). Also, any information on date of manufacture, and possible worth would be welcome. Please feel free to ask me for any further information on the gun.
April 15, 2002, 11:52 AM
There was a J.P. Clabrough & Brother gunmaker in England. I found references to Birmingham and London, they may have moved, more likely made guns in Birmingham and had a sales office or just a representative in London for the prestige value.
I suspect your J.P. Clarrough & Bros. is a copy with the name misspelled to confuse the careless buyer. There were many versions of this scam, like W.R. Richards on a fake Westley Richards. Another point in that direction is that "Treble Wedge-Fast" was a Greener trademark.
You do not mention proof marks. Look on the underside of the barrels over the action flat and on the action flat itself. Even the cheap copies will have been proofed where actually made, usually Belgium.
That long a gun was probably a waterfowl gun. Traces of Damascus pattern mean Damascus barrels. Use black powder or modern substitute (Pyrodex, Clean Shot, Clear Shot, H777) only and that only if the barrels are not rust pitted or the action loose. Have the chamber length measured. It might be a 2 5/8" or it might be a 2 7/8". There is loading information somewhere on the net for BP 10 ga.
April 15, 2002, 11:29 PM
I can find nothing on Clarrough, but a Google web search hit a Canadian auction service (Lunds) that has two Clarrough guns, one percussion and one cartridge; the latter sold for $90 Canadian, about $65 U.S., so they don't seem to be very valuable. It is possible that the guns were sold mainly in Canada.
Jim Watson may well be right about the name, as such deception was common, but the description sounds like a fairly decent gun. Treble Wedge Fast was invented (or at least claimed) by Greener, but AFAIK others used it. The "treble" came from the two locking bolts under the barrels plus the cross bolt through the dolls head. It is an extremely strong action, but the barrels are more of a concern.
If the barrels look to be Damascus, they probably are. I would recommend the gun not be fired, even with black powder loads.
I might note that Belgian makers often marked the guns they sold in the U.S. with British sounding names and "London". You might check the proof marks (bottom of barrels and top of "water table") to determine if the gun really is English or if it was made somewhere else. If you are not familiar with proof marks, describe them and we will try to help.
April 16, 2002, 10:48 AM
First, I would like to thank both of you for the assistance. It is certainly welcome on the issue.
To clarify, I have added the proof marks that I found on the bottom of the barrels and in front of the breech face. I apologize for the crude quality of the renderings, but i don't currently have a digital camera.
April 17, 2002, 10:07 AM
Sorry I didn't reply earlier but according to Side by Sides of the World by Charles E Carder;
CLABROUGH & BROS, J.P.: These firearms manufacturers and dealers were located in Birmingham, England in the late 1800's. They sold guns and accessories made by themselves and other makers. They were in partnership with American gun maker William J. Golcher, who managed their business in San Fransisco, California. In their 1895-6 catalog, they pictured many side by side shotguns, including four from Clabrough and one from Golcher. Their SxS's offered many different options and prices.
No. 4 Sidelock, double triggers, automatic ejectors, steel/damascus barrels, fancy checkered wood, engraved, crossbolt, top lever open
No. 3 As above, less ornate
No. 2 Special Pigeon gun: sidelock, hammerless, double triggers splinter forearm, top lever open
No. 1 As above, very plain
Field As above with light engraving
As for the markings, did you simplify them for brevity's sake or were they somewhat unreadable? Not meaning to be rude but I can't find anything exactly like what you have pictured. I did find some similar though.
Top right- similar to a crown over crossed "riding crop?" with a V in between the lower legs. This is an inspection mark, Birmingham from 1812-1904 and London since 1672.
Lower left (with squares) similar to a crown over crossed "riding crops?" with a B on the left side, a C on the right side and a P on the lower part between the legs. This is the proof mark used for choke-bored barrels between the years 1875-1887. Also it should be resting on it's right side.
There may some other marks also.
I believe the shotgun in question was made in Birmingham between 1875-1887 if these details are correct.
April 17, 2002, 11:02 AM
Thank you for insight. The gun looks like what you describe as a number 4 or number 3. Most likely the Number 4 due to the amount of engraving on the receiver.
Yes, the proof marks are a bit simplified due to my lack of artistic skills with a mouse and the marks are fairly worn.
The lower left proof mark is indeed resting on its right side.
Thank you all for the responses. I have corrected my earlier thoughts on using this shotgun and will probably relegate it to the role of "Mantle Gun"
Once again, that you all for the help.
April 17, 2002, 09:09 PM
Hi, Marine Tech,
Get out a magnifying glass and if the "X" figures are crossed scepters under a crown, those are old British black powder proofs, so the gun is English.
The "NOT FOR BALL" mark was used 1875-1887, so the gun is perhaps older than you thought, and it is a certainty that it has Damascus barrels. I would clean it up and display it, as it sounds like a nice looking gun. You might hate to do so, but it might be better to remove the firing pins or otherwise deactivate it, just in case someone gets hold of it and decides to try firing it. An alternative is to put pieces of paper reading "Do not fire" in the chambers, but even that might not discourage a determined person.
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