The Spencer Repeating Shotgun was patented by Christopher M. Spencer of Spencer repeating rifle fame in 1882 and was the first successful American slide action repeating shotgun. These innovative shotguns were initially manufactured by the Spencer Arms Co. c. 1882-1889 and gained a lot of attention. They were advertised as being able to shoot six shots in just three seconds. Due to debt, the rights were later acquired by legendary dealer Francis Bannerman around 1890, and his company continued to market them until 1907. This example of was manufactured by the Spencer Arms Co. fairly early in production and features stunning factory exhibition quality engraving. The factory offered this model in multiple grades. This shotgun would be the highest grade, Grade A, listed as having fine Italian walnut pistol grip stocks, Turkish Damascus barrels, and "extra engraving for $100. Newspaper accounts indicate "Spencer Repeating Shotguns" were being displayed by agents and dealers in the early 1880s to draw attention to the new design, including at major tournaments. Spencer himself put on a demonstration for General Oyama, Japanese Minister of War, during his visit in 1884 and allowed the general to try the gun out, and he hit six thrown balls in a row. They were also tested at Springfield Armory and received endorsements from the staff, and the U.S. Ordnance Department purchased some of these shotguns, including 70 in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1893. As Spencer was working to market his new design, this beautiful engraved shotgun would certainly have got sportsmen's attention. The receiver and trigger guard feature near full coverage floral scrollwork on stippled backgrounds. The scrollwork is executed in elaborate entwining patterns typical of those executed by Gustave Young and even extends onto the slide bars. A comparison should be made to the patterns shown on the bottom of page 144 of "Colt Factory Engravers of the 19th Century" by Houze which shows very similar scroll patterns. Note the use of a ringlet around the scroll design in the center of the pattern, a feature also seen on this shotgun. Houze notes this ringlet "consistently appears in Young's work." The "PAT. APR. 1882" marking is engraved amongst the scrollwork on the lower tang. The skeletonized slide arm is engraved with a zig-zag line pattern. The barrel and magazine tube are Damascus. The multi-point checkered forearm is hard rubber. The round knob pistol grip stock is nicely figured walnut, has checkering in the grip area, and is fitted with a checkered hard rubber shotgun buttplate. Other Spencer shotguns are also known with simpler scroll patterns more typical of the work of Oscar Young suggesting the Young family worked as engraving contractors for the firm.
Exceptionally fine overall. The engraving is crisp throughout. The receiver and trigger guard retain 85% plus bright, original, high polish blue finish with thinning to brown on the balance and a smooth gray patina on the lower tang. The engraving is crisp. The barrel and magazine tube retain 80% of the Damascus pattern and have a smooth brown-gray patina. The original case colors on the slide arm have mostly silvered out. The slide handle is excellent with crisp checkering. The stock is very fine with minor dings and scratches and overall crisp checkering. Mechanically excellent.
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