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Parker's Invincibles: The Finest American Shotguns (3 of 3)
One of three Parker Invincibles, this engraved shotgun features three bird inlays in gold and a gold plate bearing the initials of a former owner. It also has an ivory front sight bead. This shotgun model was the flagship of the Parker product line.
Parker shotguns are prized by both collector and hunter as being among the finest in the world. These handcrafted sporting arms trace their origin to Meriden, Connecticut, where in 1832, Charles Parker established a shop for the manufacture of hardware and various household goods, including coffee mills and waffle irons. As the Civil War approached, Parker became interested in other ventures, including the manufacture of steam engines and machine tools. Next came the establishment of the Parker Snow Co., which produced Model 1861 Springfield rifles under contract for the U.S. Army. Parker, in partnership with William and George Miller, formed the Meriden Manufacturing Co. for the production of Triplett and Scott repeating carbines.
In post-war years, this firm altered muzzle-loading military rifles utilizing the Miller's breech-loading patent of 1865. Soon afterward, Parker brought his sons Wilber and Dexter into the business, forming the firm of Parker Brothers for the purpose of manufacturing side-by-side sporting shotguns featuring a lifter-type action. Charles A. King, a former designer with Smith & Wesson, later reworked the earlier Parker designs and replaced the lifter action with one that featured a top latch. King also designed the first hammerless Parker.
Another series of design changes occurred in the early years of the 20th century, when James Hayes patented a revised cocking system that greatly reduced the number of parts used. The addition of a single trigger, a ventilated rib, and a beavertail fore end, all took place during the 1920s, virtually completing the evolutionary process of the Parker. Parker Brothers remained in business from 1867 until 1934, when the firm was acquired by the Remington Arms Co. Parker shotguns continued to be manufactured in Meriden until 1938, when production moved to Remington's Ilion, New York facilities. Both the Parker name and line were discontinued in 1942. Nearly 243,000 guns were produced during this period.
Parker Brothers shotguns are well-known for their quality and craftsmanship, as well as for their fine appointments, including engraving and checkering. Noted engraver Gustave Young is known to have embellished some Parker guns. Although many Parkers featured external hammers and Damascus barrels, hammerless models with modern steel barrels command the highest prices among collectors. These fine guns are also found with a variety of barrel and stock lengths, styles, and chokes, markings, lever placement, locking systems, and other features. The Parker Brothers reputation, as well as their rarity, make these sporting arms much sought after among collectors, shooters, and enthusiasts.