The life of my Winchester Model 21

31 posts in this topic

I have been meaning to post this for a while, First a huge thanks to Jessica Bennett of the Buffalo Bill Center Of The West/ Cody Firearms Museum and Robert Beach of Griffin & Howe.


Backstory- When I was 12 and got my hunting licenses my grandmother wanted to give me one of my grandfathers guns to hunt with. She opened her gun safe and told me to pick a gun I'd like (cool grandma, I know) I picked a 20g side by side (legally transferred to my dad) and took it to a gunsmith to be checked out. the front bead was chipped so I asked if he could put a new one on. He looked me and asked me if I knew anything about the gun. I knew nothing about guns and told him so, he laughed and told me that it was a valuable shotgun and he would not put a new sight on it because that was the original sight. He said it was in good working order other than the sight and that I should be careful with it if I take it hunting. I decided not to hunt with it but shot allot of clays with it over the years but It developed a small crack in the hand guard so it was retired to the safe. when I got my FID card I took legal possession of the shotgun. According to my grandmother the shotgun was my great grandfathers who was an avid small game hunter.


The search- A few years ago I inherited the rest of grandmas guns and began to learn as much of the history about each of them as I could. I pulled the Model 21 from the back of the safe one day. I had heard of the Cody museum so for my birthday my wife paid to get the info from the original build sheet if they had the info for my serial number which was a low one, #6263. To my surprise they did in fact have the build sheet, they printed all the info out on a really nice paper and sent it to me. This was great but it lead to more questions than it answered. My Great Grandfather, Art Hall of Bedminster NJ was not a wealthy man, just a painter and a baseball player, but it turns out that this Model 21 was made in 1933 and was a trap grade skeet gun and included all the factory measurements and specs for the gun. I wondered what great grandpa was doing with a shotgun like that back then, everything else was either hunting or military type guns. Another surprise to me was that the gun was made for by a company I've heard of but didn't know the history of, Abercrombie and Fitch of Madison ave NYC. Turns out they were like a high end LL Bean back in the day. So while researching Abercrombie and Fitch I learned that Griffin & Howe was involved with importing guns for the A&F store. I contacted Robert Beach of the archives and research dept  at Griffin & Howe, I figured it was a longshot but it couldn't hurt to ask if he could find any info about the gun for me. Well I hit the mother load of information, everything I was looking for and then some! I was sent a packet with all the info on the entire history of the gun. included was a 2 page story of the history of the gun printed on very nice Griffin & Howe letterhead, Any info from all 3 previous owners, photos of pages A&F inventory books pertaining to both sales of the gun, and a reproduction of the A&F catalog ad selling model 21's for 145 bucks in 1933.


The life of Winchester Model 21 #6263

1-Left Winchester Repeating arms on September 20, 1933. Received by Abercrombie & Fitch on Sept 20 1933 at a cost of $100.93


2-First sold to Frederick Wilson Ingalls a stock broker and resident of Pelham Manor Village in Westchester county NY on Sept 22 1933 for $145.30.


3-On 1/23/1937 the shotgun was brought into A&F by Chas J Wicks of Thornwood, Mt Pleasant Twp Westchester county NY to be sold on consignment. Chas was an employee of A&F in the gun dept during this time. It looks like the gun was sold privately from Mr. Ingalls to Mr. Wicks especially because they were residents of the same county. One could guess as to why a stock broker is selling off guns between 1933 and 1937.  


4-On 1/24/1937 the shotgun was bought by Dr. Augustus Smith Knight who was a Medical doctor and served as the medical director of the Metropolitan Life Insurance company for $100.00 with a payout to the consigner (Mr. Wicks) of $80.00. Dr. Knight was a resident of Manhattan NY and also had a farm in Bedminster NJ. This is where the A&F info stops but from knowing my family history I can take it from here


5-Art Hall (my great grandfather) was a painter in Bedminster NJ and he did all the painting at the Knight farm in Bedminster. Dr. Knight and Mr. Hall were also hunting buddy's. After Dr. Knight died on March 21, 1948, Art Hall still continued to help out Dr. Knights widow, Anita Knight with anything she needed around the farm. When I say anything I do mean anything, its family rumor that Anita Knight was Art Halls mistress. So it is my guess that Dr. Knight either gave Art Hall the gun as a payment or a gift or Anita Knight gave it to him as a gift or a "payment" LOL. When Art hall died his daughter Jane Luhmann (aka my grandmother) inherited the gun along with the rest of his collection. My grandfather Richard Luhmann was a hunter and gun guy so it was used by him until he died and then a few years later I was 12 and you know the rest.


So about the small crack in the hand guard. ill try and post pics later. its small but its there and its all the way through. what do you guys think should I have it repaired to stabilize it. I would really like to shoot it again but I don't have to its been a few years already and id rather not do something to the gun to devalue it just so I can shoot it. Hopefully my daughter my future grandkids can sell if for a good amount if they don't like to shoot. LOL.


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Have it repaired or it may continue to crack.  Repaired stocks are common with old used firearms. Up to you to use or not.  Great history find.  In today's dollars that  $145.30 would be $2;624.12 .

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Ed Yanchok is the Stock Dr. 

He is located on Roseland ave in Warren Township. I lived there almost all my life and have heard many great things about him. Very big sporting clays circle! 

Good luck 

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Some of them are worth into the 10's of thousands...and yours looks like a BEAUTY!

Thanks, I found one for sale almost identical to mine except 28"barrels, made in 1935 and factory rebuilt. Asking price is 10k

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13 hours ago, W2MC said:

Just curious - any further updates?


Still love the story!



My indecision is my decision I guess. Lol. I haven't had the crack repaired and I have not shot it. She just sits in my display cabinet with a few other guns that almost never get shot. 

Hmm pheasant season is approaching though...........

Maybe I'll bring it to the shotgun shoot if you guys are coming and want to check it out. 

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