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Midland gun history


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The gun pictured below belonged to my late father, he bought it around 25 years ago but because of ill health he never really used it. Its a 30" half and full box lock non ejector. I've tried googling the Midland Gun Co but it appears to have ceased trading in the 60s, some say as late as early 70s.

 

Despite having what appears to be a long stock extension it still feels very short to me.

 

Are there any ways to trace its history through the serial number, does anyone know what model it is?

 

Thanks in advance for any info.

 

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The engraving strikes me as reminiscent of that found on a Webley 500, which was a 1920s gun, I believe. Wabbitbosher has one of the latter for sale currently on Pigeonwatch. Have a look. Anyway, your gun appears to be in very good condition, with nice wood, and just look at that top lever position, well over to the right, and the screws have not been ******** up, all very healthy, I would say.

Edited by Cumbrian
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Thanks Cumbrian, I'll have a look at Wabbitbosher's post later.

 

It'd be nice to find out the guns history, age and where it was originally sold etc. Apparently when my father first seen the gun it had a sizeable dent in the right hand barrel, the gunsmith removed this (And had the barrells re-blue'd) and tbh he done such a good job I can't tell where the dent was now.

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The Midland Gun Co appears to have been first recorded in Bath St, Birmingham in c1889. The firm appears to have specialised in the medium to cheaper grades of rifles and shotguns.

They had various addresses in the gun making quarter over the years and it is this address which will most probably give a better date indication as to when your gun was built. This is assuming the address features on the top rib. A number of their guns featured `names` such as `The Demon` & `The Perfection`

 

The serial number records are incomplete, however 91105 (if I have read the number correctly) dates from between 1925 - 54.

The firm was taken over by Parker Hale in 1952, however the original serial number records were not recovered. Parker Hale imported a number of shotguns and produced rifles bearing the Midland name.

 

If your gun has an address (Street) on the rib, let me know and I can look further for you.

 

References: British Gunmakers by Nigel Brown

Edited by JJsDad
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If your gun has an address (Street) on the rib, let me know and I can look further for you.

 

References: British Gunmakers by Nigel Brown

 

Thanks for the reply, any info you can find would be great.

 

On the top rib it simply says 'Midland Gun Co Birmingham & London'

 

<edit> You read the serial number correctly.

Edited by tullyhubbert
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There should be a proof date mark .It will be either on the barrel flats or on the barrel tube just in front of the flats .It will consist of crossed pikes and a letter . That will be the proof date not necessarily the date the gun was sold from the factory or shop it went to .

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There should be a proof date mark .It will be either on the barrel flats or on the barrel tube just in front of the flats .It will consist of crossed pikes and a letter . That will be the proof date not necessarily the date the gun was sold from the factory or shop it went to .

 

Thanks Gunman, some more pictures if its a help?

 

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Two marks on the choke barrel, one looks a bit like a capital A & S touching and the other is an M and a squiggle that looks like but isn't a 6 or 9.

 

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Two marks on the barrel tubes just before the flats, no idea what they are.

 

Thanks

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I can't give any additional detail, but I can add that Midland Gun Co were a very respected company for making good sound well made guns that lasted - and at fair prices. Not Purdey, Holland & Holland or Boss perhaps, but a very respected name none the less.

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II am just finishing off the renovation on a gun very similar to yours, although it's got 30" damascus barrels and also an ejector, it's been in a loft off ticket for around 40 years.

After speaking to a Birmingham gunsmith he said a well known author had bought the midland company name and had some records, I can't remember his name but am sure he writes for the countryman weekly? It might be worth some investigation I will try and find his name.If you get any luck let me know,

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Cant see a date stamp but it was proofed under the 1925 rules of proof so that will be its earliest date . Marks on the tubes in front of the flats are the provisional marks . Other numbers or letters will mean nothing except they are probably the marks of barrel makers . Midland had there own workforce but also used "jobbers" often men who worked for them selves within the Midland building ,building and working for the Midland but also doing work for others . The Kelly Brothers being an example Tommy jointed and fitted lever work Jack fitted inside work and filed up actions .

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Thanks all, I've went over every inch with a magnifying glass and any marks are now pictured in this thread (The M and 6 or 9 I'll try to get a close up of as I'm sure its neither a 6 or 9 as its made of two parts if that makes sense)

 

I'm stumped, looking at the proof marks JJsDad provided doesn't make me any wiser.

 

Maybe shootthepigeon can remember the author who bought Midlands company name, that could be the best route.

 

I wish I had asked this question a year ago, I'm sure my father would have been very interested to know.

 

Thanks.

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I am afraid you might be going down a blind alley concerning the serial number records. When Parker Hale bought up the Company in 1952 there was apparently considerable effort put into tracing the holder of the firms records without success. They were apparently held by a director or shareholder of the company but were never actually traced. This of course does not mean they dont exist but they do not seem to have materialized since Parker Hales aquisition. The use of a cross bolt suggests to me it would be nearer the year 1925 than 1954 as this locking feature all added to the cost and was almost universally discontinued by the 1950s.

Fraid I cant help further; good luck with your research. You never know, someone may just pop out of the woodwork and reveal that they are the holders of the records.

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I called into a local gunshop today to see if he could enlighten me any, he confirmed the proof mark is indeed from 1925 but could only say the gun was manufactured after that.

 

Something interesting though, he thought that perhaps the forend either isn't original or has been repaired or rewooded (Is that even a word?) at a time. The checkering on the stock is well done, good quality you might say. But the checkering on the forend is pretty poor, if you look closely there are whole lines missing and diamond size is inconsistant. Also the wood is darker.

 

Anyway I decided to take the old gun out for a shot this morning. I missed a high duck at first light but dropped a fairly distant grey crow (Over water) and pheasant to get my young Lab Bruce a couple of retrieves.

 

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Edited by tullyhubbert
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Forends often wear and end up darker , it looks to me if someone has had a go at re-cutting the checkering . From the photos I in my professional experience would say its in pretty good original condition ,apart form that . Plus it has the benefit of 2&3/4" chambers a bonus these days to any gun of that age .

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  • 2 weeks later...

His name is Guy N Smith, I dont know what records he has available, I read somewhere that most were lost in a fire.he has a website but nothing is mentioned on midland guns,although decent contact details, hope this helps and let us know how you get on.

 

A bit of an update, I emailed Guy N Smith and he got in touch with me a few days ago.

 

He does indeed own the Midland name but has little in the way of records. From photographs his best guess is that the gun may be a 'Universal' model which was manufactured up until the start of World War 2 and cost £16 in 1938. Similarity in models, shared components etc make identification difficult.

 

He has filed my case and will contact me if any more information becomes available.

 

Thanks everyone, its been interesting.

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What a great post tully and the usual fantastic response from forum members. As an aside I have a copy of Guy N. Smiths book,'Gamekeeping and Shooting for Amatuers' first published in 1976 reprinted in 1981 and 1983. Guy Smiths other publications include 'Ferreting and Trapping for Amateurs', ditto 'Ratting and Rabbiting', and' Moles and their Control'. In your Midland you have an honest gun likely to serve many further years of sport.

 

Blackpowder

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What a great post tully and the usual fantastic response from forum members. In your Midland you have an honest gun likely to serve many further years of sport.

 

Blackpowder

 

Thanks for the kind words. It will propably never be possible to know the guns exact history, but with the forum members help I know a lot more than I did.

 

I'd like to see some close ups of Penelopes gun if possible?

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I'll take some photos this evening and post them for you. It has a beautiful piece of wood.

 

 

Thanks for the kind words. It will propably never be possible to know the guns exact history, but with the forum members help I know a lot more than I did.

 

I'd like to see some close ups of Penelopes gun if possible?

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I'm glad the info was of some interest, I have been meaning to find as much history on mine as possible,I've just refinished the stock and cleaned probably 30 years of grime and oil from the metal work, it has got a 4 digit number stamped on the underside of the stock I have been told by a gunsmith who checked it out it was probably been in some kind of military use but if anyone has any other theories please let me know.

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Number could be one of the following , it could od course be none of them so any guess will do .

 

Forestry Commission

An estate reference number

Dealers stock number

Home guard reference , guns appropriated by them

Department of Agriculture

British Waterways

Water board

ETC. ETC.ETC.In fact just about any official body [i have worked on guns built for the Forestry Commission] that owned land and needed to employ people in land management and vermin control at some point in the past.

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