This Spencer was the very first successful pump action shotgun to hit the market back in the year 1882. It was invented by Christopher Spencer, the same man who designed the Spencer rifle and carbine used in the Civil War. Spencer's design of a repeating shotgun was so advanced that it was more than a decade before Winchester or Marlin had a similar design to put on the market. This new design signaled the end to the dominance of the double barrel shotgun but due to financial troubles, Spencer sold his company in 1890. Still his shotgun was produced for another 17 years by Francis Bannerman. Over the years, we've found that the earliest examples made by Spencer are of considerably higher quality than those produced in later years. No doubt, he made these early guns with the intentions of competing directly with fine grade double barrels.
This particular gun happens to be one of those early examples, possibly even a salesman or dealer sample given the workmanship and quality. Its a 12 gauge with a 30" barrel. The serial number is in the low 300 range and features fine scroll engraving and checkered walnut. Today, we think of modern pump shotguns as a lower quality mass-produced item, however this gun is built much more along the lines of a fine grade double barrel shotgun. While it was a vast improvement over the double barrel shotgun, it's constructed of the same materials and quality of workmanship as a high grade double barrel shotgun would have been during the 1880's.
For starters, the barrel is a fine pattern damascus steel similar to a Parker or Colt Double barrel. You can still see all of the pattern in the barrel. If that wasn't enough, the magazine tube is laminated twist steel as well....just incredible as it shows nearly all the original browning intact...I've never seen anything on a pump shotgun like this. This shotgun has the earliest style forend, about half as long as what Spencer later introduced....most of these early small forewood guns by Spencer were made of Gutta Percha, a 19th century product that is much like plastic...however this gun has a very nice checkered walnut forend. This is the first time I've ever seen a Spencer shotgun with the small forewood actually made of wood. I'm sure this was so costly to build, that they quickly realized that materials would have to be cheapened in order to turn a profit. Both stock and forewood are in VG+ to Fine condition retaining most of their original varnish along with a few handling marks and dings on the stock...no chips or cracks. Checkered Hard rubber/gutta percha buttplate is solid with no chips or cracks. The frame is case colored which 120 years laters are more light mottled colors that have mostly turned to silver in the most exposed areas while the more protected places still show bright colors, especially the loading block The receiver features fine scroll engraving is in the English style of tightly wound scroll floral vignettes with the company logo "Spencer Arms Co" engraved on the right side of the receiver in the middle. The left side features an engraved scene of a bird standing in front of a thicket. Fine floral patterns surround most of the screws, triggerguard, and borderline areas. The action arm cover still retains 75% original fire blue with traces of fire blue on a few of the screws. Screws overall are in very good condition. The action functions just like new...tight and precise like a finely tuned watch with an excellent bright shiny bore. For a gun built in the 1880's this old Spencer is in remarkably nice shape considering many of the ones you find nowadays are often complete wrecks showing decades of hard use and severe neglect. Given the high quality of workanship and materials found on an early production gun, the fine engraving, and the high condition, this is a truly unique example of the world's earliest pump shotgun.