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Research Completed on Early Ithaca Knick 5E

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by pdq, Jul 8, 2010.

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  1. pdq

    pdq Member

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    Given we're all gun lovers on this site, I thought Id share with you some research I've completed. Sorry for the length of this post, but this is actually the 'Readers Digest' version -- much detail left out.

    Back around the beginning of the year I bought an Ithaca Knick 5E from my neighbors. Gun was in great shape, only thing odd about it was a shorter than usual LOP. I was put in contact with Walter Snyder who was able to provide me a color copy of the shipping invoice from when it left the factory. It was shipped on December 2, 1930, the height of the Depression. Cost from the factory was $115, plus another $5 for the 3 gold initials on the trigger guard "EFR". The gun was delivered to a sportings goods shop in downtown Philadelphia, about 20 miles from where I live.

    Now -- why would someone buy a gun so that it was delivered in early December, and why go to the extra expense of upgrading it with gold initials? Answer -- I believe it was a Christmas present, and due to the shorter length of pull, possibly for a woman.

    So, I now knew everything about the gun, except who was EFR? My neighbors had owned the gun for 40 years and had no memory of who they bought it from, so no help there.

    Then, a few weeks ago I was over helping them with something and the wife said she had been cleaning out a closet and found the leather gun case the Knick had come in, and had it for me. It was in pretty sad condition. But, as I looked at it, if I held it at exactly the right angle to the light I saw the faint appearance of a block letter "R". Was this the R in EFR? I asked them if they'd ever noticed any lettering & they said no. As we looked at it further, we saw glimpses of 1 or 2 other letters.

    So, I took it home, put it out in the sunlight and took a digital picture, ran it thru PhotoShop to enhance the contrast of the letters and bingo! I had a full last name.

    So -- knowing the gun was made in 1930, I went on-line to the Federal Census Records for 1930 and did a search for the Philadelphia area to see if I could find that last name. Another Bingo -- a grand total of 1 family with that last name lived in Philly, and in a very expensive neighborhood, which explained their ability to afford such a gun at the height of the Depression. Then another Bingo -- they had a 14 year old son whose first name started with an E, and a middle initial of F. I now knew who EFR was, and instead of this being a gift to a woman with a shorter LOP, it was for their 14 year old son.

    I'm now in the process of restoring the leather gun case. It's going to be a slow process. But, after removing the first layer of accumulated grime, I found a makers stamped emblem for a company based in Denver named H. H. Heiser who was originally in business from 1850 until WWII, specializing in saddles and gun related holsters, cases, etc. The company has since resumed doing business. It makes sense, as the way the case was constructed and the quality of leather & stiching indicated to me that it was very well made.

    So, while all of this doesn't add a nickle of value to the gun (which shoots great BTW), it adds personality that is hard to value.

    Sorry for the length of the post, but to me, this is like stepping back in time.

    Pete
     
  2. Big Heap

    Big Heap TS Member

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    Heiser made fine cases. The company made them by hand. This one was bought at the Grand in Vandalia in 1936 for $36.
     
  3. Singleshot

    Singleshot Member

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    Pete, did you post this here, or somewhere else, recently? Or was the story featured in a magazine? I'm certain I saw something about this gun not too long ago, either on the internet or in a magazine. It stuck in my mind at the time because of those exact initials - I immediately thought Elliott Roosevelt or Elliott Forbes-Robinson when I saw it before, and of course it was neither.
     
  4. pdq

    pdq Member

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    Singleshot: When I first was considering buying the gun at the beginning of the year I posted pics here asking people to help me identify what it was. I very likely posted a pic of the trigger guard showing the gold initials.

    Big Heap: my case is 6 years old than yours and much plainer in design, However, the overall design, the design of the end caps, the strapping is virtually identical. Very pretty case you have there.

    Pete
     
  5. MOP

    MOP Active Member

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    I am a big Knick fan, and own a very nice 4E and 5E, both circa 1926. This is a great story about a historical gun. It's too bad there's so little appreciation today for these fine guns. I was on a trolley at Vandalia several years ago with my 5E, and a younger shooter inquired as to what kind of gun it was. I told him, and his reply was,"they never really caught on, did they?" Pretty sad commentary.
     
  6. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Member

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    MOP: I wonder if whatever brand of gun this young man is shooting will still be breaking targets 84 years later.

    pdq: I have a similar history story about my Model 12 built in 1932. I know who bought it brand new and when Dad bought it, upgraded it and made it his trap gun. When he passed, it became mine. I love it and already promised it to my son when I'm done with it.

    At the Grand last year, I sit it in the gun rack beside 2 Kolars, a Krieghoff and a Perazzi. I apologized to my squad for sitting my old antique in the same gun rack with all those beautiful new guns. One of my squad mates looked up at me and said "always beware of the guy that shoots an old Model 12".

    I finished with a 98 that day. I think I will shoot it again in this years Grand.
     
  7. pdq

    pdq Member

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    Dark Horse:

    I'm with you. I've had the 5E out to the club a few times after buying it. I spent some time on the pattern board with it, and then started shooting it. The gun shoots very well. My wife is also interested in trying trap, and she has shot it 2 or 3 times. Very easy gun to shoot.

    A friend thought it was great breaking targets with an 80 year old gun and asked if he could give it a try. Despite gusting winds, he went 25, 24, 24.

    Pete
     
  8. acorange

    acorange Well-Known Member

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    How cool is that....

    I also have an affinity for shooting the old and useless odd trap gun.
    Would love have an old Ithaca someday but for now the 1955 M-12 trap will have to do.

    Thanks for the history lesson.
     
  9. eightbore

    eightbore Well-Known Member

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    PDQ, have you researched the shooting records of the person who owned your 5E? Can you explain your comment about Heiser resuming production? They were in business way past the end of WWll.
     
  10. pdq

    pdq Member

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    eightbore:

    I placed a call a few weeks ago to the ATA, and have followed up with a voice message, but so haven't heard back from them.

    The info I related came from their web page:

    http://hhheiser.com/history.php

    I re-reading that page I realized I mis-stated; I said they were in business until prior to WWII, and I see they were in business until "just after WWII". They then talk about the 're-established' company, and from their home page, that happened in 2004.

    Pete
     
  11. darl

    darl TS Member

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    I started shooting a knick in 1990. After shooting a 90T rem for 2or 3 years I went to knicks only. The thing that knocked knicks off their lofty perch was the cost and low inventory, only 5737 made. All hand made.
     
  12. darl

    darl TS Member

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    The 100x100 at handicap by a knick in 2003 was at the Michigan State Shoot
     
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