Avatar
Search
Forum Scope




Match



Forum Options



Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters
Lost password?
sp_Feed sp_PrintTopic sp_TopicIcon
Andrew Burgess, Inventor
sp_NewTopic Add Topic
Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 4344
Member Since:
November 19, 2006
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
1
June 25, 2021 - 6:51 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

We were talking about some of the Winchester competitor in another thread (“Another Pair of .32 Specials”) and I thought this topic might interest others here.  That is, other’s who don’t like .32 specials so probably wouldn’t know this was being discussed in that thread.

Andrew Burgess was a prolific genius.  He was a firearms inventor and had a major impact in the later 1800’s.  He certainly caught Winchester’s attention and they ultimately bought him out.  Here is a good summary I pulled from a Morphy description of a Burgess .45-70 wrist action repeating rifle:

This pump action is unique among firearms and is only one of the over 500 firearms & improvements upon firearms patented by Andrew Burgess. Mr. Burgess was born Jan. 16, 1837 in Dresden, NY and died Dec. 19, 1908. As a young man he & his brother were hired by Matthew Brady, the renowned photographer in about 1855. Brady’s eyesight was failing and most of the famous Brady photographs known today were taken by Andrew & his brother, William, including some of the more famous Lincoln photographs, especially the one on today’s $5.00 Bill. The Burgess brothers were photographers under the Brady name through the Civil War until war between the French & Mexico broke out in late 1864. Andrew traveled to Mexico to photograph that conflict and returned to the U.S. in 1867 resuming his partnership with Brady. In 1870 he was the photographer for a team of scientists sent to Sicily to observe a solar eclipse where he became seriously ill but still managed to do the photography. He remained in Italy for a length of time after the Sicilian expedition and toured Europe extensively during which time he probably filmed the Franco-Prussian War. During his tours he visited and discussed firearms design with a number of European manufacturers and upon returning to the U.S. in 1871 began seriously designing and re-designing firearms. His first patent, an improvement on the Peabody rifle, was issued Sept. 19, 1871. From that point forward the tremendous volume of his patents all involved magazine rifles and primarily lever action and pump action rifles. On Jan. 7, 1873, Mr. Burgess was issued patent #134,589 which was to have great repercussions throughout the firearms world which was incorporated into a number of different designs, including the now famous Marlin Model 1881. That patent is still in use in Marlin firearms today. Mr. Burgess also had patents that were incorporated in a number of Whitneyville rifles and the Colt-Burgess Lever Action rifle, all of which, in one manner or another, were either purchased or persuaded to stop production by the overbearing Winchester Company. One of the designs Mr. Burgess had patented was the locking mechanism used in the 1881 Marlin and a similar lock, apparently redesigned by prolific inventor John M. Browning was being introduced by Winchester as their Model 1893 pump action shotgun. With the acquisition of Mr. Burgess’ designs when Winchester purchased the Whitneyville Company, Mr. Burgess’ income was greatly reduced so he organized & built the Burgess Gun Co. of Buffalo, NY and began manufacturing in 1893. His first product was a 12 ga. shotgun based on the design found in this rifle which was extremely efficient & fast. When the shotgun, or in this case the rifle, is fired, just at the instant before the gas pressure in the bore is relieved, the breech block unlatches and the pressure forces the slide to the rear ejecting the empty and all the shooter has to do is move the slide forward for the next shot making this rifle/shotgun a sort of manual semi-auto. The rifle on this design was introduced in 1896, initially in calibers 30-30, 44-40 and 30-40 Burgess. Winchester, apparently feeling the pinch of competition to their new Model 1893 shotgun, and later the model 1897 by the Burgess shotgun, began negotiating to purchase the Burgess Gun Company and, with Mr. Burgess’s ill health, ultimately were successful in buying him out in 1899. Winchester may have produced a few more Burgess firearms out of leftover parts but quickly shelved the design and this great Burgess product ceased to exist. The saga of Andrew Burgess does not stop there however. His designs continue in almost every Marlin lever action firearm produced to this day.

Here’s the link for those who care to see the rifle:

https://www.morphyauctions.com/jamesdjulia/item/lot-2135-extremely-rare-burgess-pump-action-magazine-rifle-40259/

Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 4679
Member Since:
March 31, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
2
June 25, 2021 - 9:05 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

I recently bid for someone else trying to get one of the Burgess shotguns.  I didn’t get it for him.  The shotgun hammered at $14,000.  The best one I had ever seen.  Usually, if you can even find one, they are used up.  Extremely cool shotgun.

Avatar
Northern edge of the D/FW Metromess
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 5197
Member Since:
November 7, 2015
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
3
June 26, 2021 - 12:18 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

I believe much of that was taken from Maxwell’s book Lever Action Rifles -Derived From The Patents Of Andrew Burgess. Shrapnel told me a little about Burgess awhile back and told me about this book. It’s a bit hard to find but it’s a rather handsome leather bound book, mine is a first edition printed in 1976. The first chapter is pretty awesome and the second chapter about Eli Whitney et al brought back my days spent chasing a business degree. I made my living in the auto industry and most people have no idea how much influence Whitney had on the firearms, auto and the manufacturing industry in general.

 

Mike

Life Member TSRA, Endowment Member NRA
BBHC Member, TGCA Member
Smokeless powder is a passing fad! -Steve Garbe
I hate rude behavior in a man. I won't tolerate it. -Woodrow F. Call, Lonesome Dove
Some of my favorite recipes start out with a handful of depleted counterbalance devices.-TXGunNut
Presbyopia be damned, I'm going to shoot this thing! -TXGunNut
Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 4344
Member Since:
November 19, 2006
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
4
June 26, 2021 - 1:38 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Chuck said
I recently bid for someone else trying to get one of the Burgess shotguns.  I didn’t get it for him.  The shotgun hammered at $14,000.  The best one I had ever seen.  Usually, if you can even find one, they are used up.  Extremely cool shotgun.  

I assume it was a folder?

Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 4344
Member Since:
November 19, 2006
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
5
June 26, 2021 - 1:46 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

TXGunNut said
I believe much of that was taken from Maxwell’s book Lever Action Rifles -Derived From The Patents Of Andrew Burgess. Shrapnel told me a little about Burgess awhile back and told me about this book. It’s a bit hard to find but it’s a rather handsome leather bound book, mine is a first edition printed in 1976. The first chapter is pretty awesome and the second chapter about Eli Whitney et al brought back my days spent chasing a business degree. I made my living in the auto industry and most people have no idea how much influence Whitney had on the firearms, auto and the manufacturing industry in general.

 

Mike  

I had talked to Sam Maxwell on the phone on a couple occasions.  Nice guy,  LOTS of knowledge.  Funny, as I write this, I recall the last gun I talked to him about was a Winchester M1892 he was eagerly awaiting to arrive.  If I recall correctly, it was a SRC in .25-20.  He was very excited about it. I think it was also a way to take his mind off his illness.

His book is a wonderful book.  I’ve had one for a couple decades.  An elderly Burgess/Whitney collector passed away four years ago.  I know he had MANY copies of this book in boxes in his garage.  He and Sam Maxwell were close friends.  He probably bought out the remaining inventory of books.  His collection sold over four consecutive Amoskeag auctions but I don’t know what happened to all of the books.  

Avatar
NY
Member
WACA Guest
Forum Posts: 6527
Member Since:
November 1, 2013
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
6
June 26, 2021 - 1:48 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

TXGunNut said
I believe much of that was taken from Maxwell’s book Lever Action Rifles -Derived From The Patents Of Andrew Burgess. Shrapnel told me a little about Burgess awhile back and told me about this book. It’s a bit hard to find but it’s a rather handsome leather bound book, mine is a first edition printed in 1976.

Uh, make that fake leather (i.e., plastic), which I particularly detest.  (Publishers, however, love it, because it’s cheaper than a more durable cloth binding.)  Nevertheless, I’d like to have the book, though not quite this much:

https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=30644965051&searchurl=bi%3D0%26ds%3D30%26bx%3Doff%26sortby%3D17%26tn%3Dlever%2Baction%26an%3Dmaxwell%26recentlyadded%3Dall&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title1

Avatar
Northern edge of the D/FW Metromess
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 5197
Member Since:
November 7, 2015
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
7
June 26, 2021 - 3:04 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

clarence said

TXGunNut said
I believe much of that was taken from Maxwell’s book Lever Action Rifles -Derived From The Patents Of Andrew Burgess. Shrapnel told me a little about Burgess awhile back and told me about this book. It’s a bit hard to find but it’s a rather handsome leather bound book, mine is a first edition printed in 1976.

Uh, make that fake leather (i.e., plastic), which I particularly detest.  (Publishers, however, love it, because it’s cheaper than a more durable cloth binding.)  Nevertheless, I’d like to have the book, though not quite this much:

https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=30644965051&searchurl=bi%3D0%26ds%3D30%26bx%3Doff%26sortby%3D17%26tn%3Dlever%2Baction%26an%3Dmaxwell%26recentlyadded%3Dall&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title1  

The value I place on this book has little to do with the cover, but I find it rather attractive. I don’t recall what I paid for this book but it was probably only a little less than today’s prices. My copy came from the library of Paul D. Berkowitz through a reseller. It’s a good quality book and an essential element of my modest reference library. I don’t know if it went to a second edition, maybe it had a more tasteful cover. 

Steve, I envy your conversations with Maxwell. I sense from his writings he was a gifted man who truly understood another truly gifted man, Burgess. 

I’m sitting here imagining Burgess and Browning bouncing ideas around a workshop with Maxwell taking notes. Talk about a Dream Team!

 

Mike

Life Member TSRA, Endowment Member NRA
BBHC Member, TGCA Member
Smokeless powder is a passing fad! -Steve Garbe
I hate rude behavior in a man. I won't tolerate it. -Woodrow F. Call, Lonesome Dove
Some of my favorite recipes start out with a handful of depleted counterbalance devices.-TXGunNut
Presbyopia be damned, I'm going to shoot this thing! -TXGunNut
Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 4679
Member Since:
March 31, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
8
June 26, 2021 - 10:11 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

steve004 said

I assume it was a folder?  

Yes it was.

Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 4344
Member Since:
November 19, 2006
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
9
June 26, 2021 - 10:26 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory sp_QuotePost

Chuck said

Yes it was.  

Cool.  Did it have the holster?

Here’s one with the holster:

https://www.gunbroker.com/item/897420604

Avatar
NY
Member
WACA Guest
Forum Posts: 6527
Member Since:
November 1, 2013
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
10
June 27, 2021 - 12:07 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

steve004 said

Chuck said

Yes it was.  

Cool.  Did it have the holster?

Here’s one with the holster:

https://www.gunbroker.com/item/897420604  

Puts Josh’s Mare’s Leg in the shade.  Think of the TV series that could have been built around a character who toted one of these!

Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 4344
Member Since:
November 19, 2006
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
11
June 27, 2021 - 2:08 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

The Burgess folder is cool.  I’ve never fired mine however I have fired some of my other Burgess shotguns.  The wrist action is really cool.  There were a very limited number of wrist action rifles made.  Shrapnel has a very neat two barrel set in .44-40.  I know he has shot rabbits with it.  

The Burgess folder shotgun is very unique.  You could carry it (folded) in the holster with the tubular magazine full of shells and a shell in the chamber and it would be perfectly safe.  It is FAST too. The coolest aspect about the Burgess folder is you can draw it from the holster in one smooth move and as you raise it to your shoulder the front end will swing forward through inertia and snap crisply into place, ready to fire.  And this can be done with one hand! This link has some great information and includes a very short video where the drawing move I described is demonstrated:

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a17376/folding-shotgun/

For me, the greatest moment in firearms demonstration history is described in the link (it was done in front of a startled Teddy Roosevelt when he was then New York City Police Board President).

Avatar
NY
Member
WACA Guest
Forum Posts: 6527
Member Since:
November 1, 2013
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
12
June 27, 2021 - 3:30 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

steve004 said  The coolest aspect about the Burgess folder is you can draw it from the holster in one smooth move and as you raise it to your shoulder the front end will swing forward through inertia and snap crisply into place, ready to fire.  And this can be done with one hand!

Seeing the fast draw in the video makes me realize that writing it into a TV series was no joke at all, since during the heyday of TV Westerns, producers were always looking for some gimmick to set their show apart from all the others, like Josh Randal’s Mare’s Leg, or Paladin’s “Black Knight.”  But that was fiction, whereas Burgess’s folder was the real thing. 

Can’t believe you’ve never fired yours!

Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 4344
Member Since:
November 19, 2006
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
13
June 27, 2021 - 1:31 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory sp_QuotePost

clarence said

steve004 said  The coolest aspect about the Burgess folder is you can draw it from the holster in one smooth move and as you raise it to your shoulder the front end will swing forward through inertia and snap crisply into place, ready to fire.  And this can be done with one hand!

Seeing the fast draw in the video makes me realize that writing it into a TV series was no joke at all, since during the heyday of TV Westerns, producers were always looking for some gimmick to set their show apart from all the others, like Josh Randal’s Mare’s Leg, or Paladin’s “Black Knight.”  But that was fiction, whereas Burgess’s folder was the real thing. 

Can’t believe you’ve never fired yours!  

Clarence – I agree – I have often thought how cool it would be for a Burgess folder to be featured in a western movie or series.  They built quite the series around Josh Randall and his mare’s leg.  The Terminator spinning his saw-off lever-action Winchester shotgun became an iconic image in movie history.  

As far as shooting mine, as I mentioned I have other Burgess shotguns to shoot (which I’ve done minimally).  I would never snap mine closed like shown in the video.  Rare and valuable antique pieces and careful handling go together in my book.  

I would love to see a Burgess folder reproduction.  For years I’ve had the fantasy that if I came into, “Powerball” kind of money, I’d start a company up and build them.  Had the Burgess folder made it into a big movie, this would have already happened.  There’s many mare’s legs reproductions out there and one can also buy a reproduction M1887 made up like the Terminator piece.  

And Clarence, you are right, the Burgess folder was the REAL THING.  I’ve read that Pat Garrett was packing a Burgess folder the day he was assassinated.  I sure would like to hear about what he did with that folder while he was alive.  Pat Garrett was the one who killed Billy the Kid but he didn’t use his folder. 

There’s not a lot of references to Burgess folder use in the, “wild west” but I did find this regarding John Wesley Hardin:

It didn’t help Hardin’s chances any that El Paso authorities anticipated his arrival with both concern and trepidation. Most lawmen feared him, a few envied his nerve, skill and reputation…. and all expected that sooner or later there would be trouble. The respected Chief of Police Jeff Milton secreted a number of Burgess folding shotguns in strategic location around town, and sometime deputies John Selman and George Scarborough were probably already making plans for how to deal with him if the time ever came. And John Wesley didn’t help ease the authorities’ apprehension by showing off his gun handling abilities and impressive marksmanship almost from the day of his arrival.

I really enjoyed the image of, “secreted” Burgess folders in, “strategic location around town…”

Here’s the link the above paragraph came from.  It’s a very fun read:

https://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-johnwesleyhardin/

 

Avatar
Member
WACA Guest
Forum Posts: 182
Member Since:
January 13, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
14
April 5, 2022 - 4:47 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory sp_QuotePost

I didn’t see this topic when it was live, but found it today. I have several Burgess guns, all of them are rare, some more rare than others.

I thought I would post some pictures, as few people are aware of these guns and just how inventive Andrew Burgess really was.

Here are some Burgess guns of different variations of the wrist slide action that he invented. They are amazingly simple and function quite reliably.

 

https://i.imgur.com/JQGwQtW.jpgImage Enlarger

 

The gun that was referred to in an earlier post that sold for $16,500.00 at Morphy’s auction is similar to the one I have, but mine has 2 barrels…

 

https://i.imgur.com/XKafc2p.jpgImage Enlarger

https://i.imgur.com/B05KgXI.jpgImage Enlarger

 

Then the takedown shotguns are unique, but more common and I also lucked out to get a factory cut-away model. The folding shotgun is quite unique as well and I have one of those with the holster…

 

https://i.imgur.com/6SluEjx.jpgImage Enlarger

 

https://i.imgur.com/xMZzZhi.jpgImage Enlarger

Avatar
NY
Member
WACA Guest
Forum Posts: 6527
Member Since:
November 1, 2013
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
15
April 5, 2022 - 12:46 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Shrapnel said
The gun that was referred to in an earlier post that sold for $16,500.00 at Morphy’s auction is similar to the one I have, but mine has 2 barrels…
  

His name may not be recognized by all, but that price shows Burgess is far from having been forgotten.  Very impressive collection of hard to find guns, & nice to see one of them is still being put to effective use.  Is that a Merriam’s subspecies?

Avatar
Member
WACA Guest
Forum Posts: 182
Member Since:
January 13, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
16
April 5, 2022 - 2:04 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

clarence said

Shrapnel said
The gun that was referred to in an earlier post that sold for $16,500.00 at Morphy’s auction is similar to the one I have, but mine has 2 barrels…
  

His name may not be recognized by all, but that price shows Burgess is far from having been forgotten.  Very impressive collection of hard to find guns, & nice to see one of them is still being put to effective use.  Is that a Merriam’s subspecies?  

That turkey is a piebald of some sort.

 

Burgess was an interesting guy. The first paragraph on this thread mentions a lot of his earlier life and accomplishments, surpassing even Browning in the diversity. Burgess did work with many gun companies before he started his own around 1890. Although he didn’t last long in that venue, his mark in the firearms industry is only a close second to John Browning.

I always compared him to Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Both were very influential in the advances of electricity and everyone knows Edison yet few know Tesla.

 

More rare Burgess artifacts…

 

https://i.imgur.com/lnT8Svs.jpgImage Enlarger

https://i.imgur.com/1AaLGnS.jpgImage Enlarger

Avatar
Member
WACA Member
Forum Posts: 4344
Member Since:
November 19, 2006
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
17
April 5, 2022 - 6:09 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Kirk – 

Thanks for reviving this thread.  I never get tired of seeing that .44-40 two-barrel set of yours.  From what I recall, it’s hell on rabbits!  I always enjoy running across Burgess folders.  I still don’t have a holster for mine.

Forum Timezone: UTC 0
Most Users Ever Online: 778
Currently Online: antler1, Steven Gabrielli, Douglas Johnson
Guest(s) 48
Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)
Top Posters:
clarence: 6527
TXGunNut: 5197
Chuck: 4679
steve004: 4344
1873man: 4330
Big Larry: 2359
twobit: 2323
mrcvs: 1773
TR: 1732
Forum Stats:
Groups: 1
Forums: 17
Topics: 12931
Posts: 112789

 

Member Stats:
Guest Posters: 1793
Members: 8941
Moderators: 4
Admins: 3
Navigation