Wells Fargo coach gun

Ian

Well-Known Member
#1
A while back, KeithB had a thread going on lining a Damascus double. I mentioned this WF coach gun and it came up that there were some counterfeits. I'm at our vacation house where it resides as a wall-hanger now, and can get more info to find out what it is if I knew what to look for exactly.

The bores are badly pitted, it needs to be completely rejoined, is missing the bead and one firing pin, has had the forearm remade crudely, the list goes on and it will never be more than decoration. The side locks are stamped "Belgium" and are engraved "ACME ARMS Co.". Bottom of the receiver is stamped "W.F.& Co.", left butt stock is stamped "23" and someone may have carved the initials AM by the toe, or it may be scratches.

Here are some photos
20180522_160933.jpg
 
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smokeywolf

Well-Known Member
#4
Very nice Ian. Have seen them both with and without the badge. Have also read that there are counterfeits floating around. Wish I knew how to differentiate between the real deal and the fakes.
 

fiver

Well-Known Member
#5
that sounds typical for the period.
the good news is Belgium was actually one of the better shotgun making country's in the latter 1800's.
there should be some proof marks on the barrels under the fore stock [something like a crown]
showing the gun is from Belgium.
Europe and Britain especially was quite strict on the proofing during that time frame, and it was common for the Brit's to re-proof a whole shipment of guns coming into their country.

airc WF contracted with someone in the later years and they made more guns for WF than they did for the civilian market for some time.
 

Ian

Well-Known Member
#7
I did a little research on the web and the consensus is that there are more fakes than real ones, and no way to tell the difference. The only for-certain examples come from a couple of documented contract buys from Ithaca. No doubt WF local offices purchased additional arms as needed, but documentation is very thin. Lots of cheap Belgian doubles came in to the US in the 1890s and were rendered useless to most people with the passing of black powder, so it makes sense that many of them were converted to decorative wall-hangers, probably the only practical way to squeeze any value out of them. I read a post on a shotgun forum that stated the WF coach guns were the most faked gun in history, and this example of ours appears to be a perfect example of that, since Acme Arms is likely from a Belgian importer of that name, or a Stevens retail brand, both from a later era than when WF was buying them.

I'm not big on non-functional guns, but it does look appropriate over the fireplace of a vacation cabin in an old Colorado mining town, in any case.
 

fiver

Well-Known Member
#8
Stevens has probably put out more SXS shotguns than any other maker out there.
they got re-branded and stamped by good lord just about everyone at one time or another for 50+ years.
some of the quality gun makers would re-brand the Stevens guns as their bottom end [make the buyer happy to have a fox] hunting type guns.
 

Pistolero

Well-Known Member
#9
Kinda cool "artifact', real or not. do you have wild irises up there, Ian?

We have a lot in the front range area at 9600 MSL, blooming about now until
first or second week of June, depending on the year.

Bill
 
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Ian

Well-Known Member
#10
We came across the passes at night and we haven't been out much. Lots of dandelions and choke cherry, and beetle-killed firs everywhere at 8.5k and below.
 

smokeywolf

Well-Known Member
#11
Some of the "L.C. Smith", (later known as "Hunter Arms") manufactured side-by-sides also got stamped "WF & CO EX".
Most everything manufactured after 1869 would likely only have been for protection in the Wells Fargo Express offices. As, after the railroads joined at Promontory, UT, Wells Fargo discontinued it's own stageline and contracted out to smaller independent lines.

Ian, I very much like your "W.F. & Co" shotgun. The badge makes it particularly appealing.