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Thread: ID Auto 5 Engraving

  1. #1

    ID Auto 5 Engraving

    Good evening!

    Jim P. from Fairbanks suggested that I post some images here of a 1959 Browning Auto 5 that I purchased last year.

    This is how it looked when I bought it:

    A5e3.jpg

    As you can see, the bluing was worn, and several of the inlaid silver pieces were missing. I sent it off to Art's Gun Shop for restoration, and here is what it looks like now:

    A5_Art03.jpg
    A5_Art05.jpg
    A5_Art08.jpg

    The Browning historian says the gun was originally shipped as a plain, Grade 1 gun. Aside from that, all I know about what happened to it between 1959 and 2012 is speculation. (If you're interested in that speculation and some additional photos, visit http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/view...354768&start=0)

    Does anyone have any thoughts as to who or where this engraving may have been done?

    Thanks!
    Dave Buffington

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Northern Kentucky
    Posts
    45
    Dave,

    We see lots of these Japanese engraved GI guns here. Extensive use of silver inlay on an otherwise field grade gun is the first clue. The Japanese engravers have a distinctive way of cutting German style scrollwork which is the main determinant in identifying their work. These guns were usually purchased through the PX/BX in Japan and taken to a Japanese engraver for embellishment. This was also a common practice in occupied Germany as well but the German engraving shows greater finesse and refinement. These post war engraved field grade guns are sometimes referred to as "cigarette guns" because in the desperate days after the war the craftsmen would trade their work for cigarettes that were purchased cheaply at the BX by GIs.

    Regards,
    Roger
    C. Roger Bleile
    FEGA Founding Member
    NRA Benefactor
    http://www.engravingglossary.com/

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by C. Roger Bleile View Post
    We see lots of these Japanese engraved GI guns here ...
    To me as an engraving newbie, it certainly has a different look than the FN/Brownings I've seen that were engraved in Belgium or the Remingtons I've seen that were engraved here in the States.

    And there's an odd contrast between the scroll work and the game scenes, almost as if they were done by different engravers. Or perhaps the engraver felt more confident about his scroll work. It has a more decisive, less tentative look, if that makes any sense at all.

    Still, the logistics of the whole thing puzzle me. How does an A5 made by FN in Belgium and imported into the U.S. by Browning get to a PX in Japan?

    Many thanks!
    Dave

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    21
    These were guns meant for the American market so that is why the PX/BX had them. The GIs would buy them and get them engraved. I've been in a family gun business started in 1947 and have seen many of these and a good majority were paid with cigarettes. It was an common barter item and the US smokes were highly sought after. I'm not so sure I may be responsible for the term Cigarette Guns as I have referred to this many times.

  5. #5
    Thanks to all!
    Dave

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles area, California.
    Posts
    55
    There was also a couple of Japanese engravers that came to the United States in the '70 and '80.
    They often traveled around to the gun shows with a couple of "apprentices" in tow and would engrave guns on the spot or in their motel room. Often two or three people worked on the same gun and it went fast.
    I ran into them several times at the old Great Western show in Pamona, CA.
    At that time we were all engraving a lot of Model 12's and upgrading Browning Superposed for the trap and skeet shooters.
    At that time they were not working for cigarettes but would engrave a long gun for $4-600 and do one with silver inlays like the one shown for $8-$900.00 cash. Pistols $100-$400 and cut through the blue.
    They probably didn't have a US work permit, but who knows.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by John Barraclough View Post
    They often traveled around to the gun shows with a couple of "apprentices" in tow and would engrave guns on the spot or in their motel room. Often two or three people worked on the same gun and it went fast.
    On the spot? Wow. So they didn't reblue them?

    Thanks!
    Dave

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