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Login Name Post: Reproduction Vintage and Italian Proof Marks        (Topic#71679)
Posts: 26193
01-22-05 11:28 PM - Post#71679    

I went to the local gun show today and saw the usual assortment of plastic stocked ammoeaters and worn out Winchesters. Few BP guns and most were the worse for wear however I did find the Third Edition Blue Book of Modern Black Powder Values for $20.

They had the Forth Edition too, but I figured I would save $5 and get last years book.

An interesting area in this book shows a number of color photos of Flintlocks by "America's Artisan Gunmakers". Beautiful work!
A even more interesting chapter deals with the Italian Proof Marks and the code letters which give the year of manufacture for the gun.
The Italian Proof marks are the Star in a circle over the letters PN, and a square shield with crossed rifles in it and a circled star on the top.
Both of these marks are required on Italian BP guns.

The older guns, starting in 1954 were marked with roman numerals starting with X in 1954 and going thru XXVI in 1970. XX7 thru XX9 and XXX represent 1971 thru 1974.
I own a few of these old guns so I can say these roman numerals are not in a box or anything.

Newer guns use a rectangle with two letters in it.
These started with AA in 1975 thru AF in 1980 and skipped AG so AH is 1981.
AI,AL,AM,AN,AP,AS,AT,AU,and AZ is 1982 thru 1990.
BA,BB,BC,BD,BF,BH,BI,BL,BM,BN,BP,BS and BT is 1991 thru 2003.

I thought it interesting that my oldest Italian Replica is my Colt Walker, made in 1967 by S.Marco and still shoots great!

Have fun with your new found information

40 Cal.
Posts: 350
01-23-05 07:23 AM - Post#71751    

    In response to Zonie

This is really useful, thanks! I now know my Pedersoli was proofed in 2003.

Do you know what is entailed for a barrel to pass Italian proof nowadays? Does it really mean these barrels are more, or less safe than American BP barrels which are not proofed? When I first visited this forum I remember seeing a thread on this, but can't seem to find it.

How does the law in the US operate with respect to proofing BP barrels?

Posts: 26193
01-23-05 02:16 PM - Post#71885    

    In response to strider

Strider: Glad the information was useful to you.

I really don't have any idea of what is envolved with proofing a gun in Italy. I wuold guess that the original production gun had to go thru proof testing, and perhaps every so often it has to be redone to a currently produced gun. I doubt that every gun is actually proofed though.

IMO, because modern production BP guns are using modern steel for the barrel (and cylinder) they are usually what we could call, "overdesigned", that is, the original design was made for materials we would consider today to be very poor quality.
In fact, some of the current Black Powder guns are based on originals which were made out of soft iron which is much weaker than todays poorest quality of steel.

This is not to say people would be safe using smokeless powder in a BP gun. These guns were not designed for the pressures smokeless powder can generate so even with modern steels they can be deadly to the shooter and bystanders if someone is foolish enough to use even a little smokeless powder in one.

IMO, although the modern guns made in the USA don't carry proof marks, you can be sure they are repeatedly tested using proof level loads before they are ever put on the market.

I cannot speak for the firearms industry but I can for the designs I make in my area of work (Aerospace, jet engines). Our parts are designed to have a safety factor well in excess of 200%. (The part is more than twice as strong as it needs to be).
I would expect the firearms industry to work to these same levels of design criteria for newly designed guns as both companys are dealing with Life/ Death situations.

Happy Shooting!
Just Jim...

40 Cal.
Posts: 205
01-23-05 02:37 PM - Post#71894    

    In response to Zonie

Thanks, for the info Zonie!

By the way, my brother was in town this weekend and I had planned to show him pics of your guns when he arrived but the pics are nowhere to be found in the Photos section. I also did a search for them but I couldn't find them. I assume that pics can only be made available for a certain amount of time b/c of storage concerns. Would you happen to have a link to them?


36 Cal.
Posts: 97
01-23-05 06:29 PM - Post#71958    

    In response to TexasMLer

Now, that's some useful data! Turns out that my newly acquired "Fara" (?) manufacture Navy Arms Zouave was made in 1965. It's one year younger than I am!

Posts: 26193
01-23-05 10:03 PM - Post#72076    

    In response to TexasMLer

TexasMLer: The posts are still there in the photo section but you have to change some things when you open the Photo Forum.
It is set up to only show recent posts so.....
At the bottom of the posts over on the left side is a box that starts by saying "SHOW" with a window behind it. Click the window and change it to show the posts from "last year". Click the "change" button.

At the bottom of the posts it now shows 4 pages of posts to choose from.
If you click the 3, you will see my posts called:
Thats No Kentucky. This shows my Schuetzen
Older Lancaster Style Rifle. This shows my attempt at a Dickert.

If you click on the 4 at the bottom of the posts, you will see:
Reading County Pa Flintlock. This is self explanatory.
Boys Squirrel Rifle. A .36 cal flintlock
Late Lancaster. Inspired by M. Fordney
A Southern Style? A plain .54 Flinter
A Transitional Kentucky. This is self explanatory.

Also shown on page 4 is
First Try at Pictures
Click the hot link to get to it.
This post is oversize and the Forum will not allow pictures this big to be posted anymore. The older posts were "grandfathered" in so they are still viewable.

Thanks for the interest in my pictures but remember. Now that we have some Real Builders on this site, my work looks like it was done by someone with no training. Come to think of it, it WAS done by someone with no training.
Just Jim...

40 Cal.
Posts: 205
01-24-05 04:42 PM - Post#72344    

    In response to Zonie


Oooooh, I see now. Thanks for the direction.

"Real Builders"? I would definitely consider you a real builder. No offense to anyone on the forum...but I haven't seen any guns yet that come close to yours. Although, I did find a maker on the www named Tim Brown (T.A. Brown) who comes pretty close.

Oh, and if you think about many of the original Pennsylvania makers had training? I don't know the answer to my own question, but I'm guessing that many of those guys had no training.

Thanks again for the tips!

Posts: 26193
01-24-05 10:54 PM - Post#72491    

    In response to TexasMLer

TexasMLer: From what I've read, actually the gunsmiths had a lot of training. In fact, they used a system we should still be using on some of the kids I've known. Might keep them off the streets.

They used a lenghty apprenticeship where the kid was more or less "sold" to the smith for a period of years by his parents. This often began with the apprentice being about 14 or 15 years old. It often lasted until the kid was almost 20.

The kid had to do anything and everything he was told to do, and his pay was room and board, seldom more.
After pumping the bellows, sweeping the floor, shoveling the horse crap etc for some period of time the master would start to show promising students his tricks of the trade.

These apprenticeships obviously lasted several years before the contract was complete but a good student was almost a master in his own right.
Many of the "Great" gunsmiths learned their craft from equally Great smiths.

Those who study Kentucky rifles often use small details on the guns to figure out who made the gun.
Some of this is a shot in the dark, but it's based on the idea that gunsmith A had apprentice B. Gunsmith A did his patchbox or trigger or trigger guard like this. This gun is from a later period and was done the same way so this must have been made by apprentice B after he became a gunsmith in his own right.

Anyway, I'm boring folks so I will thank you for the compliments and wish you a great coming year!
Just Jim...

Passed On
Posts: 10652
01-25-05 09:56 AM - Post#72609    

    In response to strider


This is really useful, thanks! I now know my Pedersoli was proofed in 2003.

This and many other proof mark codes can be found in our links section under "Proof Marks"...

Posts: 26193
01-25-05 08:03 PM - Post#72844    

    In response to Musketman

"This and many other proof mark codes can be found in our links section under "Proof Marks""

Boy, ain't that jus like ole Mooskeetman? Har Ah'm a gettin pats on tha bak un he coms alon an spils tha beens.
Ah ackully did fin this infermation in ma new book

Anyhoos, us havin that good stuf in tha lynks secton are nice ta kno two.
Just Jim...

40 Cal.
Posts: 205
01-26-05 07:18 PM - Post#73199    

    In response to Zonie


That is very interesting. Thanks for the history lesson. I didn't realize that the early gunsmiths had that much training. I didn't realized when I posed the question how wrong I was!

I definitely agree that the kids today could benefit from such an apprenticeship. Heck, I could probably have benefited from one myself!

My knowledge of the Kentucky rifles is lacking, but I'm beginning to understand some of the unique features. The more I learn the more I realize I need to learn, like many other things in life. I haven't learned enough yet to know which is my favorite. It is a fun journey.

When I started muzzleloading it was simply a way to add challenge to one of my favorite hobbies - hunting. It has evolved into an appreciation of the old ways and I find myself reading more and more about early American life. Historical trekking is on my mind quite often these days, but I need to learn more before I'm ready for trekking.

I would also love to build a nice rifle or smoothbore one day, but, to be honest, yours and others' guns are pretty intimidating. Hmmmm...maybe I'll build a broom first and work my way up!

Thanks again and take care!

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