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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

I'm the current custodian of my grandfather's Browning and had a few basic questions about it.

What I know about it:

My grandfather bought the gun at the Belgian Factory during WW2. According to my father, my granddad (an asst. Provost Marshal at the time) was the guy that authorized Fabrique National to reopen its peacetime production; as a result of this decision, Browing made him a shotgun as a "thank you".

My grandfather described a process of going into a cellar with one of the master gunsmiths and selecting blocks of wood for the stock, as well as returning after a period of time for a final fitting. From what little I've learned, the engraving was done by a man named Felix(?) Funken. I believe the gun is either a "Pointer" or "Diana" grade.

I'm going to post some pictures pretty soon so I can get your impressions of the gun's quality/condition.

I'm trying to get a better idea of the scenario at the time. Can somebody guess at how long it would have taken to have a custom shotgun made back then? A week or two? A month?

Sorry for my ignorance about this. I'm trying to learn, but it's hard to find good sources of information. Please let me know if I should be posting these questions in another part of the forum. I look forward to hearing from you! :)
 

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It is likely that this gun was custom made by taking a standard fram e and barrels and dressing them up with high grade engraving etc. Felix Funken was one of the better engravers on the team.

We recently had a lot of discussion about a gun made for one of the Generals in Patton's 3rd Army that was in on the liberation of Liege (among others things) and came home with a pigeon grade Browning Auto-5 with custom engraving, including a banner with his name on it.

Search for the name "Boudinot" in Shotgunworld for information on the gun and pictures, in the posts made by the owner, David Buffington. It will also give some info on how to reach the historians who may be able to help get some background on the gun.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the information, guys! I've done a little update on the Boudinot gun thread - very interesting stuff.

I'm going to give my dad a call on this one, since I'll bet my granddad probably knew General Boudinot. My granddad also served in the First Army administration at the liberation of Liege. Small world indeed!

Again, I'll post pictures of my granddad's gun once I can take some good ones. The Superposed also has a banner with granddad's name and rank.

My grandfather's story confirms what was described in the other thread on General Boudinot's gun; the folks at Browning were thrilled to be rid of the Germans and wanted to show their appreciation. The Luftwaffe apparently did make the engravers do slave labor for presentation guns during their occupation.

I agree that my granddad's Superposed was probably just a dressed-up standard frame.
 

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Goose,

Dave Buffington will probably be along at some point and chime in. If not and you find out anything of particular interest about Boudinot let me know and I'll email him and hook him up with you.

I'm sure he would like to see the engraving on your super to compare it. As I remember it we could not find any engravers signature on the Boudinot gun.

Getting a chance to shoot a couple of clay targets with the Generals gun was one of the highlites of my A5 hobby, all thanks to Dave.

Jeff
 

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Felix Funken was the head engraver for FN for many many years. If I remember correctly he set up the engraving school, designed the majority of patterns that were used on Browning shotguns from the early 30's onward, and did special presentation projects. I think he retired in/around 1959 or so and passed away in the early 60's. The Information is in the Superposed book which I just don't have in front of me at this time.

A few things to keep in mind with many of the people who worked during the earlier times is that they typically learned to do high quality work through an apprentice program. They also learned to do the work pretty quickly because quite a bit of it was paid on a piece work basis and the more you produced the more you got paid... Provided the work was of acceptable quality.

The Superposed frames and such all started out the same. The lightning model guns got some lightning cuts in the frame and lighter barrels with a slightly stronger steel alloy to make up the strength difference of thinner barrel walls.

I picked up the book about 9 years ago when I saw a mid 50's vintage Diana at a local shop with a $1700.00! price tag. I didn't know enough to know just what a killer deal it was and let it slip through my fingers... I kick myself every time I think about it. The good thing is that I took away the lesson of learning as much as I can about anything like that so I'm less likely to make as many of the same type of mistakes. The lesson hasn't helped me with Browning firearms. But it has helped me with a couple of model 21s' and a solid rib 42.

Parris
 

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The most important part of this story, I think, is the further retelling of the story that "the Luftwaffe made the Browning engravers act as slaves".

These late war FN "thank you" guns for the Allied big shots are important pieces. But, somewhere out there, maybe there's a "liberated" Superposed that was presented to Herman Goring, or Adolph Galand, or some such Luftwaffe big shot.

Can you imagine? :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Picture update - my first try here, so hopefully this will show up...

EDIT: Okay, I guess it did show up. Here's the first of the pictures. More to follow. Feel free to share comments/questions. Enjoy!

Actually, I have a question about the trigger. What kind of finish is this on the trigger? Is it a specific kind of finish, or has the trigger just corroded in some way?

 

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Goose, is the last pic of the butt stock from the Funken Superposed? I ask because it's a different color, and it has a flat knob. Flat knobs weren't intoduced until 1967, and Funken retired in 1960, passing away in 1965.

That certainly appears to be Funken engraving to me; it matches many of the pics in my Schwing book; as for the silver colored trigger, the book states that was a "common special order option."

Can you tell us the serial number (range)? Your gun, if acquired at the end of WW II, is not a Pointer grade, which was only around for a few years in the early 60s. Funken designed the first few designs, but then retired. He did many pointer scenes from the late 30's on, but those were all special order.
If I had to guess, I'd say this was a special order gun with a Pointer design, perhaps from a left over Pidgeon or Diana frame. Serial number should be about 17000 or there abouts.
 

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Good Geezus!!!

We are getting important old "Pre War" Belgian Brownings all over this board. :lol:

Look, I'm not an expert, but here we go again with another very special Browning made up from pre war parts for Allied liberators of Belgium.

It's not a Diana or a Pointer grade. Those were production guns.

This is a special. Good Lord, it was made up and engraved by Felix himself for your Grandpa. These guys at FN were all a bunch of Nazi slave laborers until late 1944, when we liberated the place. It's a "flat knob" because the stock carver thought that would look nice. The engraving really doesn't match any other pattern because your Grandpa probably told Felix Funken he wanted a lot of dogs and birds engraved on it. Or maybe Felix just thought a bunch of dogs and birds would look nice on the gun. Browning in St. Louis didn't have anything to do with this gun, and it would be several years before Browning USA got any Superposeds.

This gun isn't just any old Superposed. It's truly special. About as special as a under 17,200 serial number "pre war" Superposed gets. :wink:
 

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I'd appreciate some more pictures of the finsih on the forend and stock. It's fun trying to read these older finishes and speculate on what they are.

The forend looks like it has less shine and more open pores, while the stock has a soft glow and looks like the pores are filled in flat.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for your kind words, guys. It's a pleasure to share something that I treasure with others that appreciate it as well.

I'll get some overall pictures of the gun posted pretty soon. The serial number is in the 16300's range. I'd be happy to share the full number, if this helps get more info about the gun.

By the way, what are the risks of posting a full serial number online? I can't believe that somebody could claim that I stole my own gun - heck, my grandfather's name is engraved on it! :) I'll never be a good criminal, I guess...

My father assures me that my grandfather aquired the shotgun in the latter stages of the war, since he was almost immediately shipped out for duty in the Pacific after VE Day.

My grandfather described Mr. Funken's workshop as a basement-like area, filled with "gnome-like fellows" (his terms). It is my understanding that my granddad dealt with Mr. Funken directly, since granddad was the person that authorized any post-war activities to resume at FN. I assume this postion got granddad "special consideration" at Fabrique Nationale!

The shotgun is as it was created; I agree with your assessment of the finish, Jeff. I would also agree that this is not a production gun, since it was produced prior to any official "post-war consumer" production. Again, I wouldn't be surprised if this gun was created from various parts they had in stock at the time, "dressed up" by Mr. Funken to my granddad's specifications.

Thanks again for your insights, as I really am still learning about this gun and the situation in which it was created. I'll be sure to post pictures that show the overall appearance as well as other interesting details. Glad you're enjoying them!
 
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