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M97 Question: what do I have here.
December 7, 2020
4:06 pm
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My father worked in a small, east central Indiana, bank for 25+ years before retiring in 1984.  When I was young I would sneak into the vault to look around and the only thing that ever caught my attention was an old shotgun that was stashed in the corner.  I’m sure the gun was placed there in  the 30’s when small banks like the one dad worked at were the target of bank robbers.  There are records of some of the usual suspects robbing banks in the area.  When my dad retired he ask for the shotgun and they gave it to him as a retirement gift. 

First, the gun appears to be in original condition.  My dad took possession in 1983 and kept in in the back of his closet.  I first remember seeing the gun in the vault in the mid-1960’s.  I can not imagine a scenario where someone invested in having it restored given it was kept at the bank. The barrel is short, as would be the case with a riot or trench gun and it is marked Cyl, so I doubt it has been cut back and there is a front bead.  To me, the gun looks to be original.

My question is: what exactly do I have here and ( of course) what is an approximate value. 

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December 7, 2020
6:18 pm
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Kingston, WA
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Your Model 1897 is a factory original Riot Gun, and was manufactured in December of the year 1918.  It is rather odd/strange that the original bluing on the receiver frame is so disproportionately worn in comparison to the rest of the gun.  In regards to the value, approximately $900.

Bert

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December 7, 2020
6:43 pm
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Bert;

Thank you for the info.  The lack of finish on the receiver is puzzling to me, however it doesn’t appear to de due to wear.  There are no areas where the finish is worn thin, the finish is just gone.  What was the original finish on the receivers?  This one does not appear to ever have been blued.  

Jay

December 7, 2020
7:50 pm
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Curmudgeon said
Bert;

Thank you for the info.  The lack of finish on the receiver is puzzling to me, however it doesn’t appear to de due to wear.  There are no areas where the finish is worn thin, the finish is just gone.  What was the original finish on the receivers?  This one does not appear to ever have been blued.  

Jay  

Jay,

If you look at the area immediately surrounding the elector spring (on the left side of the receiver), you can clearly see the bluing encircling it.  Additionally, there is still some bluing surrounding the left and right side magazine release buttons.  This gun was manufactured during the time period when Winchester had issues with the bluing flaking off of the receiver frames on a number of different models, and I suspect that is what caused the bluing loss on your gun.  That stated, I have not seen one with that level (amount) of bluing loss before today.

Bert

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December 7, 2020
7:56 pm
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It may just be the photo, but the “CYL” bore mark on the barrel looks a bit faint to me like the barrel was refinished.

Jay, can you take a photo or two of the Winchester proof mark on the top of the barrel next to the receiver?

December 8, 2020
12:44 am
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To me, it looks like the blue was deliberately removed on the receiver.

December 8, 2020
2:54 am
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Tom D said
It may just be the photo, but the “CYL” bore mark on the barrel looks a bit faint to me like the barrel was refinished.

Jay, can you take a photo or two of the Winchester proof mark on the top of the barrel next to the receiver? 

I wondered about the way ” CYL” looks a little soft as if the barrel had been polished but but the other barrel stampings are sharp as you would expect from an original gun.  Also, no one would have gone through the trouble of having it reblued and why would they not have the receiver redone at the same time?  This I know with 100% certainty: the gun is exactly as I remember seeing it 55-years ago.  Atached is a photo of the proof mark. 

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December 8, 2020
3:03 am
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steve004 said
To me, it looks like the blue was deliberately removed on the receiver.  

That’s my thought as well. There are some horizontal lines on both sides of the receiver that could be from a metal brush but the borders of where there is/is not finish are pretty feathered in, like natural wear.  Sharp edges from a brush or wheel and not splotchy as would be the case with some sort of chemical process. Also, screw slots do not appear buggered so no one has tried to get into the gun.  What ever happened, happened while the gun was intact.

Is it possible the barrel is not original to the gun?  After WWI did Winchester or the Army cobble together parts to sell to police departments?

December 8, 2020
3:13 am
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For comparative purposes only, this is the only firearm my dad ever owned (besides the M97).  Typical $3.99 Springfield sold in every hardware store in the 20’s (although I’m surprised the receiver was case hardened)  This gun is 100% original.  Notice how the coloration has all but disappeared and the metal looks a little mottled?  At the same time, the barrel is in about the same condition as that of the M97.

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December 8, 2020
8:20 pm
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Curmudgeon said
For comparative purposes only, this is the only firearm my dad ever owned (besides the M97).  Typical $3.99 Springfield sold in every hardware store in the 20’s (although I’m surprised the receiver was case hardened)  This gun is 100% original.  Notice how the coloration has all but disappeared and the metal looks a little mottled?  At the same time, the barrel is in about the same condition as that of the M97.

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

I’ll state the obvious – the finish was not deliberately removed on this single-shot receiver.  As far as finish wearing off, we are talking apples and oranges as the ’97 receiver was blued and this one was case colored.  

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