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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:18 pm 
Diamond Grade

Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:03 pm
Posts: 1135
Location: DFW, TEXAS
Awesome pics, thanks for posting!
The Pigeon Grade is special; without the deep engraving, it looks polished, smooth, and delicate. Like fine China, with luster. Such a wonderful gun for the new collector stepping up into the High Grades.



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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2020 10:53 am 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 2:08 pm
Posts: 111
Great Camera work and Pigeon b79holmes

Here is my, a good bit earlier-1957 Pigeon, signed both sides F Funken.

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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:58 pm 
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Thanks for posting two very nice samples of the Pigeon Grade.

The Pigeon Grade Superposed is a very classy gun, IMHO.

To have a Pigeon Grade signed by Funken is a bonus! Congrats Dave-K!! {hs#

CFB

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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:23 pm 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 2:08 pm
Posts: 111
Thanks CFB,

I think I bought that gun, my first "graded" Superposed over 25 years ago at a gun show in Allentown PA.Had quite a few come and go,many worth a good bit more the a Pigeon, but that one I probably will not sell.
Great thread, good to see all Brownings.


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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 11:07 am 
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Hey Guys:

Dave-K's Funken signed Pigeon got me to thinking . . .

IMHO the Pigeon Grade is sooo classy. It is simple elegance. However, of the production high grades, it is entry level.

Questions for your thoughts and opinions:

- Why would Felix Funken (as Chief Engraver) even sign a Pigeon Grade? It seems beneath him.

- Did he routinely engrave Pigeon Grades himself?

- Or, as suggested by Schwing, when an especially nice Pigeon Grade engraved by one of his apprentice engravers would meet his approval, would he stamp his name on it to give it his special blessing?

- Most Pigeon Grade guns were unsigned by the engraver. Probably because Funker didn't allow apprentices to sign their work. Have any of you seen a Pigeon Grade signed by anyone other than Funken? I haven't. If they're out there, they must be rare. If any of you have one, we would love to see pics on this thread! :s

Regardless, a Funken-signed Pigeon is a special thing!

Thanks in advance for your considered thoughts. {hs#

CFB

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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 3:29 pm 
Diamond Grade

Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:03 pm
Posts: 1135
Location: DFW, TEXAS
Excellent question CFB. I would concur with Schwing; M. Funken, as Chief Engraver, certainly worked on the high grades, but most likely dedicated his time to teaching and mentoring his flock. It would be a poor use of his time to engrave a Pigeon, however not beneath him per se. I just think he focused his efforts on the more demanding tasks.

Now to further run down this rabbit hole...Let's assume he did use his signature as a stamp of approval on his students best efforts. Does that mean a double signed Funken was engraved on each side by a different student??? Are their very slight differences in these double signed guns?

Survey says...

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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 9:05 pm 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:27 pm
Posts: 880
crazyforbrownings wrote:
Questions for your thoughts and opinions:

- Why would Felix Funken (as Chief Engraver) even sign a Pigeon Grade? It seems beneath him.
- Did he routinely engrave Pigeon Grades himself?.

Good questions to ponder – here are my thoughts (unsubstantiated conjecture).

Pre-war: He did in the pre-war era but I haven't encountered a signed Pigeon example. I believe Funken engraved the birds, perhaps leaving the scrollwork and basic details to others, or engraving the whole gun depending on time constraints and production demands. The only 'signed', graded guns I HAVE encountered from this era are a '35 Diana and a very early FN D4 – both 4-digit serial numbers in 'dogs and birds'. I believe Funken's highly detailed dog renderings were heavily influenced by and approached those of Léon Lemaître (1836-1934) and extremely worthy of signature. The Dianas in 'boars and stags' and 'ducks and pheasants' (comparable game scenes to the FN C2 and B2 Grades) are typically unsigned, and I believe they were within the capability of a couple of the other 7 engravers under Funken at the time – (Sylvan Dorval and Joseph Gerard). I am not aware of any Midas Grades that are signed nor have I seen any examples of the 5 D-Grade FN's from this era to know whether they were signed or not.

Immediate Post-Lib: Period of recovery and engraving design transitions. I have an FN post-lib 'Thank You' gun that is an amalgamation of the pw FN C2 and Diana – 'dogs and birds' and 'stags', yet it is unsigned. The 1948 'Special Order' 2-bbl set on page 102 of Schwing is also unsigned – basically a pw FN B2 engraving pattern and very similar to a pw Diana 'ducks & pheasants' (or pw Gr III). As a point of reference, many of Funken's best engraving students began in 1946 (Vrancken, Watrin, Magis, Delcour) and 1950 (Dewil).

1950's: My theory about signing Grade II's (starting in the early 50's) – this precedent may have served as motivation for students to attain the highest level of skill and proficiency – to instill competitiveness – aspiring to succeed their mentor one day. Also, as was the practice on the higher grades with multiple engravers (even into the 60's), the engraver that executed the game scenes (and/ or final shading) signed the gun. During the early to mid 50's Funken may have been the only engraver capable of rendering the pigeons (game scene) and oak leaf details (on the Gr II) to his quality standard, while some of his students could complete the scrollwork and other details of that pattern. Funken’s early Pigeon renderings are fairly recognizable and distinguishable (in my view) from those that may have been rendered by students, just as his Gr III’s have become.

Quote:
- Or, as suggested by Schwing, when an especially nice Pigeon Grade engraved by one of his apprentice engravers would meet his approval, would he stamp his name on it to give it his special blessing?
…...perhaps in the early to mid 50's. Then that student might look-ahead to meeting the requirements of the next level of difficulty, giving less and less credence to a 'signed' Grade II they may have completed in its entirety. By 1960, it may not have meant anything to them, to be able to sign a Pigeon Grade. (Each higher level of difficulty meant better compensation). Like riding a bicycle without training wheels, finally.

Quote:
- Most Pigeon Grade guns were unsigned by the engraver. Probably because Funken didn't allow apprentices to sign their work. Have any of you seen a Pigeon Grade signed by anyone other than Funken?
1960's: The earliest engraving examples (higher than Gr II and FN B1) signed by students appear around 1959. I have only seen one Pigeon Grade signed by a student – a 1961 20ga (#210xx) double-signed by Nelly Watrin who had already executed several signed examples of Gr III's, FN B2's Pointers, and Diana Grades in 1959-60. I have only seen one ‘signed’ FN B1 Grade - a 1963 by Angelo Bee. ‘captjsjr’ posted photos on page 21 of this thread. In an interview he said he preferred to engrave all the elements on his guns from relime (filing) to finish. So, finally allowed to sign their work, perhaps a few engravers were proud of theor achievement and distinction.

NoDak Scotty wrote:
It would be a poor use of his time to engrave a Pigeon, however not beneath him per se. I just think he focused his efforts on the more demanding tasks.
Good thought. According to Angelo Bee, the engravers worked on Auto-V's before they were allowed to do a Gr I Superposed. A more demanding (or urgent) task for Funken may have been picking-up the slack and engraving whatever was necessary to fill the production orders for guns.....including Auto-V's. If he had to pull some of his lower-level engravers off Grade II's to fill a big Auto-V or Gr I Superposed order, he may have had to re-assign people, utilizing the full capacity of the engraving studio most efficiently.

Just my impressions - I have no way of corroborating this. But Schwing says the demand for post-war Superposed orders was not met until 1955, or so. This is why I believe a 1953 Gr III could've very-well been engraved by Vrancken or Watrin…...his 2 most- advanced students at that time. Maybe Funken had a big order for Gr IV's and V's - after all, V. Doyen engraved as an independent for FN between 1953 and 1956 - and to my knowledge all she did was Gr V's. So, Funken had to do Gr III's and IV's PLUS the higher graded FN patterns with game scenes like B2, C2, D4 and teach and design special projects or develop new patterns. It all falls on him - but he could probably turn-out Gr II's at a substantially higher pace than anyone else until his '46 students became more proficient.


Last edited by Anatidae on Thu Feb 06, 2020 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 10:50 pm 
Diamond Grade

Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:03 pm
Posts: 1135
Location: DFW, TEXAS
Thanks Anatidae, I had forgot about the letter grade guns, and they were very demanding.
Makes me wonder if my 1953 Gr IV double Funken was worked on by Vrancken or Watrin...

By the way...how many pages of posts do we have about laser engraving and CNC milling? Oh, that's right, none! :)
My how I love the story of the Superposed.

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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:12 am 
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Thanks for your thoughts, NoDak and Anitidae! {hs# I have said in the past that my knowledge is only Schwing deep (and occasional forays onto the engravers guild forum). Your comments represent an epistle of knowledge! And I learn much from all of you.

I love reading Schwing's book about the inner workings in the 50s and 60s at the Engraving Studio at FN/Browning; how Funken trained his students in the art and his management style. I have sometimes thought that he was a little heavy-handed in his methods. But who am I to judge? The results of his work and training speak volumes. Just look at how many of his students "graduated" and became legends in their own right! Heck, Vrancken and A. Watrin were so talented that Funken could not choose between them to be his successor as Chief Engraver; so he promoted them to Co-Chief Engravers!!

I agree, NoDak, there are several themes about the Superposed that spark interest, not the least of which is JMB's creation of the gun (and Val's and others' perfection of the final product, e.g., triggers, etc.) and the stories behind the engravers.

CFB

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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:59 pm 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:11 pm
Posts: 827
Thank you Anatidae for your insightful thoughts ,
If there are two signed Gr. II's that we know of it may be safe to assume ( yes , I know) that there are more. Could it be possible that Vranken and Watrin upon seeing an outstanding example decided to let the student sign his own work, at least on occasion ?
In a series of text's last night in response to my question, Anatidae informed me that ( to his knowledge) there were only two guys from the pre war period that returned after the war and one was a wood guy the rest were students. this would lead me to believe that Funken had an incredible personal work load and did what he had to do to keep up
CFB , I was quite pleased to see you mention Val Brownings contributions to the Superposed . Without his dedication and hard work who knows what we would have in our safes. NoDak's comment on laser engraving and cnc work made me thankful for JMB ,Val and FN's contribution to the fine fit and finish , the durability and the incredible artistry that embodies the Superposed


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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:56 am 
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Thanks for your comments, captjsjr. {hs#

Schwing calls Val Browning "the perfecter of the Superposed." Val's contributions to the Super were numerous; his invention of the twin-single trigger was brilliant. I have a pre-war Super with the twin-single system, and it is one of the most prized guns I own. Of course, Val also invented other guns and mechanisms, including the beloved Browning Double-Auto. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment was getting Browning/FN together and in production again after WWII. As we know, the 50's and early 60's were the Superposed best years.

Of course, other Browning family members made important contributions. Val's son, John Val, was an engineering graduate from MIT. While Val ran the company in the USA, in 1947 John Val moved to Belgium to oversee production and quality control, and worked as Browning's resident engineer at FN.

Bigelow Browning, the son of JMB's brother Matt, graduated with a medical degree from Stanford. He was practicing medicine in Ogden when his father, Marriner asked him to come work at Browning. He left his medical career and became one of the most knowledgeable men at Browning about the Superposed. He was promoted to VP, and was called a genius in his own right. In 1950, Bigelow was the main push at Browning to develop and maintain the various grades of the high-grade Superposed guns. He was behind the first Browning catalogue exclusively dedicated to the engraved high-grade Superposed guns. Since I'm a fan of the high-grades and the engravers, he was a man after my own heart. He left the company in 1955.

There are so many others who made great contributions to Browning/FN. Time for me to crack open Schwing's book for a refresher course!

CFB

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 Post subject: Re: Pictures-Discussion - Engraved Superposed & Other Browni
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:41 pm 
Utility Grade

Joined: Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:18 am
Posts: 7
According to schwing, FN started to use acid etching in the early 1970s. Anyone now more about that? What model more than P-1, P-2 and P-3 was acid etched? What about the European models?




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