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(Forum Home)--->(GunTalk)--->(John Hopkins & Allen Falling Block Shotgun)
Thread Admin: bhornbeck (122-0-0) (Last 10 Posts) Posted: 03/12/2008 at 19:15:39
Total Posts: 17
Thread Title: "John Hopkins & Allen Falling Block Shotgun"
(no avatar) Guys I NEED your help I had a person ask me today to place a value range on a John Hopkins & Allen 12 Ga. shotgun that he told me was a falling block. I went to look at the gun and it is a 12 ga. falling block. I can find no reference material on this gun in a shotgun. The barrel markings are John Hopkins & Allen - Pat. June 28-85 and Oct 2-88. The serial number is 24X. It has a 28 1/2" barrel that appears to have not been cut. Steel front bead, Shotgun butt with steel butt plate but also pistol grip with checkering on the pistol grip and the fore piece. Now the strange part is it contains a saddle ring on the right side of the receiver. Everything appears to be factory original but I would say that the checkering could be non factory and done later. The bore is mint so it has not been fired much and contains no rust. The barrel blue is 90%+. The person is in his early 70's and told me that the gun belonged to his grandfather who worked for a railroad company out in the west in the late 1800’s. He said that the railroad company gave his grandfather the gun to shoot coyotes when he was working on the train. I can find no other markings on the gun other than what is on the barrel. What are your thoughts?
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Buyer: TBBD(3-0-0) Post#1 - Posted: 03/13/2008 at 10:26:18
(no avatar) The "saddle ring" on right side is on the end of a takedown bolt, and it's just Hopkins & Allen, not JOHN Hopkins. They are fairly common and here are details and values posted by someone on another site: H&A produced a "falling block" shotgun in most gauges circa 1887 - early 1900s. Falling Blocks (FBs) in 12 ga. were built on heavy frames with the 20 and 16 gauges sharing a medium frame. Prior to 1902, some FBs were chambered for .45-70 shotshells and, today, these are rare if in good condition. From the 1890s through 1914, 38XL, 44XL shotshell guns were periodically offered in the Junior frame. After 1902, "tip-over" single shotguns were offered in Forehand designs and, later, the Davenport designs. FALLING BLOCK - lever operated, outside hammer. Grading 100% 98% 95% 90% 80% 70% 60% $275 $235 $210 $180 $160 $145 $125

Buyer: greg4(242-0-0) Post#2 - Posted: 03/15/2008 at 04:57:25
(no avatar) I have a collection of these old shotguns. 90% of the ones you see are 12ga. The 16s and especially the 20s are harder to come by. Most of them have a 30 1/4 inch barrel. They were made in 2 basic designs. One has the takedown screw on the right side of the frame and the other has the takedown screw on the bottom of the frame. The bottom screw always has a ring on it. The side type either has a ring or a screw with a thumb piece. Most of them were factory checkered and had either a straight forearm or a schnabel type. Its hard to find one that doesnt have alot of pitting in the bore as these used the black powder shells.

I have seen them for sale from $75-$750 depending on condition. $200-$300 is about the norm for a 12ga in nice condition. Most every part is numbered so its easy to tell if its all original. Even the buttplate is stamped with the ser#. Most all had steel crescent shaped buttplates. I have a 20ga though with a crescent shaped plate made of horn with the H&A logo on it. The only one I've ever seen like that.

If your friend is interested in selling his let me know. Always looking for more plus any parts for them too. Thanks--Greg

Buyer: b.goforth(6-0-0) Post#3 - Posted: 03/15/2008 at 14:42:06
(no avatar) i did a patent search on the two dates you gave and turned up some interesting information. i could not find any firearms patent dated june 28, 1885. i did find one dated june 23, 1885 #320637 issued ot w.h. davenport (a noted shotgun manufacturer). this patent is for a screw type barrel takedown system. the october 2,1888 date is for patent #390286 also issued to w.h. davenport it covers a set trigger for a firearm. both of these patents show drawings of a falling block type firearm that could be either a rifle or shotgun. we have a falling block type shotgun marked with patents issued to w.h. davenport marked with a name simular to Hopkins & Allen. i for one would like to see pictures of this shotgun. i believe this is an early davenport gun made for some unknown (for now) wholesaler/retailer, or davenport licensed these two patents to an unknown (for now) small manufacturer who either was trying to trade on the H&A name or was a partnership between john hopkins and someone named allen and totally unrelated to H&A. i have seen this before is a single barrel shotgun marked 'HENRY'. it is based on a patent issued to Granvile Henry and no releationship to B. Tyler Henry. bill

Buyer: greg4(242-0-0) Post#4 - Posted: 03/16/2008 at 03:39:26
(no avatar) Bill--the June 23,1885 & Oct 2,1888 are the dates on all the Hopkins I have. I do have a 12 ga Davenport falling block shotgun(totally different design than the Hopkins)that is marked W.H.Davenport Firearms Co. Norwich, Conn. USA patent date Dec. 15,1891 marked on the barrel. Its the only one I've ever come across. Dont know if its a rare bird or what. Do you have any info on it? Thanks--Greg

Buyer: b.goforth(6-0-0) Post#5 - Posted: 03/16/2008 at 09:43:02
(no avatar) greg, the 12-15-91 patent date is for patent #465354 also issued to w.h. davenport. the first page of this patent is missing (drawings). the description of this patent states it covers an adjustable coil hammer spring on a shotgun having a vertical sliding breech block. the other two patents 6-23-85 & 10-2-88 show a falling block action that is not like the one seen on H&A shotguns (of a more streamlined appearence). i have never thought about a connection between davenport and hopkins and allen other than H&R eventually took over davenport in the early 1900's. i only have general dates of his operations starting about 1880 in Providence, Rhode Island and ending about 1902 in Norwich, CT. i am not sure of this end date as i have seen some modern looking top lever single barrel shotguns marked davenport, norwich. i don't think i have uncovered all of davenport's patents yet but i do have a list of about 25. bill

Buyer: greg4(242-0-0) Post#6 - Posted: 03/16/2008 at 10:40:53
(no avatar) Bill--that must be the hammer spring thats in the Davenport falling block I have. Its heavy and has one coil with a long and short tail on each end of it. The Davenport is a smaller frame than the Hopkins. The whole top of the receiver is open and the barrel sets down into it held in place with a screw thru the side of the frame. It makes the top of the barrel actually the top of the receiver. Does that make sense? The Hopkins receivers are all made for the barrel to slide into them.

I've got some other Davenports that I will look at for dates. They are the standard break open type. I'm ordering a few catalogs from Cornell publishing on the Davenports and Hopkins. Maybe there will be some info in them. The 1911 Hopkins parts catalog lists a Hopkins and Davenport single gun.I sure would like to know more about the Davenport I have. I cant believe there are many of them around. Greg

Buyer: Southpaw_Dingo(0-0-0) Post#7 - Posted: 12/03/2008 at 19:26:17
(no avatar) greg4 or anyone interested... I just happened upon this thread in a search and decided to post. I have a 12 Guage Davenport faliing block shotgun like the Hopkins and ALlen mentioned. Mine makes no mention of Hopkins and Allen although I researched it years ago and realized that it's the same gun. Not sure which came first but the design is Davenports. It is also interesting to note that these guns have a forward coil spring as a mainspring, rather ahead of it's time. I also have 2 other Davenport shotguns (break breech type) that I got for parts, always intended to replace the wood on my falling block with that from one of the others. Anyway, they are all for sale since I doubt I'll ever get around to the project. ... so if anyone is interested...

Buyer: brainaxe(6-0-0) Post#8 - Posted: 12/04/2008 at 06:04:58
brainaxe Post the Auction number here when you list it.

Buyer: greg4(283-0-0) Post#9 - Posted: 12/06/2008 at 04:50:47
(no avatar) Yep, I'm interested too. If you list them on the auction let me know. Greg

Buyer: jake10017(1-0-0) Post#10 - Posted: 03/30/2009 at 21:14:09
(no avatar) I recenty purchased a Hopkins & Allen falling block 12 ga with the takedown ring on the right side, checkered walnut stock and schnabel tip to the forend. It is in terrific original condition and has not been monkeyed with in any way, including the blueing. The serial number is 5554 and I found it inside on the stock, inside the buttplate, on the receiver (when taken down), and on the side of the hammer. It has 'made by the Hopkins & Allen manfg.Co. Norwich Conn USA' and 'Pat.June 23.85 Oct.2.88' on the top of the barrel. I have been able to find very very little about this neat little shotgun, and would like to know how collectible it is, any thoughts on value (other than BlueBook, since I'm not as convinced as many others as to the reliability of all the info in that book, and yes, I do understand it is to be used as a guide, not a definitive statement as to value on a particular item.) I just really like it, because first, it's old and I like older stuff. Second, it's in original condition, and regards this particular one, it has all the things I like about older rifles and shotguns: great profile -- it just looks what an old gun should look like! Absolutely love the wood including that half-circle inlet around the receiver, the hand-cut checkering, and the schnable tip. I would rate the gun excellent+ Any thoughts would be appreciated, as to where I might look to find out more. Thanks

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