With Model 21's--you cannot easily pin down the date of manufacture. You need to go to the Cody Museum and have the number checked--for a fee. Model 21 frames were made in huge batches early on and numbered. Frames were picked at random, many times, and you will find years of manufacture vary greatly. In other words you can have a lower numbered gun made years AFTER other higher numbered guns. If your gun has the standard kidney shaped checkering on the forend, it's most likely a pre-1952 gun. If it's got the diamond pattern, it's a later 50's gun.
mine was #20793 (single trigger/selective ejectors/30" matted rib...Full&Mod...sweet gun)...never did nail down when it was produced....should have...seems to me there is a book of Winchester serial #'s and manufacture dates...someone may have one collecting dust...
All this information is correct about serial numbers and completion dates. It can really get confusing. The link above will take you to a website where a guy has compiled some serial numbers and completion dates from the Cody records. While not complete, it gives you some ideas on how the numbers jumped around.
There is a whole lot of variables to consider when pricing 21's. I know that they have gone up a great deal in price over the past few year. I have bought 21's for $2500 that I now see selling for $6000. Their prices have pretty much put me out of the market.
I have bought and sold several of them over the past few years. I have sold them all except for the two I plan on keeping. A nice 12 gauge 30" Trap grade and a nice 20 gauge Tournament Skeet two barrel set.
Wish I had the money for more of them as I really enjoy shooting them. Hopefully I will find a reasonably priced 28 gauge somewhere down the road.
Assuming the gun is in vg to exc condition and not altered, the standard grade field guns sell for 3-6k in 12 ga. and 5-8k in 16/20 ga. 28's and 410's are off the charts. Skeet and trap guns will bring a little more. Cuatom ordered guns with flat sided receivers have to be evaluated individually. These are values for guns made up to 1960. After 1960, they made only custom guns in A grade 1, Pigeon Grade and Grand American. This is a simplification and I recoommend Schwings book on the M21. You can get it now in paperbaack on Amazon for $25. A very worthwhile gun book.
I realize all the variables, esp. condition, make it impossible to estimate value precisely, but how about a ballpark estimate? 16 ga., 4 digit serial #, 26" IC/M, straight stock, field grade. The gun is by no means a closet queen, it shows what gun dealers like to call "honest wear" from being carried in the field, but it has not been abused and is still sound as far as I can tell. Still original, not restored. I know what the Blue Book says, but I don't know if that is an accurate reflection of reality. Where is the best place to sell such a piece? Thanks in advance. James Fawcett
Edit to add: single trigger, no vent rib.
I sold mine last year for C$2500. It was an unshootable basket case when I bought it in the late '70's. I sent it to the Winchester Custom shop and they resoldered the bbl's and rebuilt the triggers and I restocked it to the original dimensions in English Walnut. It was a great shooter and I sold it as such. I saw a 4 gun set (12,20,28,.410) listed on one site for US$185K!! Lots for sale in the $4000+ range. New guns list for $10K and up. Grand Americans and sub-guages bring the big $$'s.
The gun I'm trying to age was bought from a guy at the Grand 3 years ago. 32" traps aren't what I'd call "rare" but there tough to find. I had new wood put on it, that was fitted, engraving done, and had it reblued by Giacomo.
If I can get around to it, I'll put a pic on this thread. I wanted the 32" vented barrel for sporting clays. I had Briley tube it as well. Some people might think I messed up an old classic. You won't say that when you see it, and I don't care. It's one of those I'll never sell.
Setterman...you're a man after my old heart!...I buy a shotgun, modify it fancy it up or whatever because I'm doing it for me and me alone. I give no thought to what effect it may have on the value. I do my own stockwork and I am proud of what I do and when and if I sell something, it's worth what someone is willing to pay. I will have had my enjoyment out of the piece which was the original idea anyway.