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I bought a number of shotguns from an estate about 30 years ago, and I have not looked at them in 20 years. One is a Merkel O/U, 12 gauge, 30" barrel, but with markings I have not read about. The serial # is 14088 (5 digits, once on left side of barrel, once on water table), so when was it made?

In addition, there are some unusual markings on both the receiver and the barrels. I am attaching a number of pictures. What caught my eye was the six pointed star on the right and left sides of the barrel in between "BOHLER" and "STAHL" (with "New York" underneath). On the left side of the receiver is a picture of a broken-winged pheasant, the name(?) "MARKE TAUBE", and the initials D.R.P at the bottom of the plate.

There is also an engraving "A.F. Stoeger" on the left side of the barrels. Any information about any of the above would be appreciated.

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Bohler is a German very high grade Steel manufacturer and Stahl is german for Steel. So this means Bohler Steel. This is basically in indication that only the finest steel was used for the barrels. Note, NITRO means that the barrels have been proofed for use with Smokeless Powder.

Marke Taube translates as either Pigeon or Dove. With shotguns the intent is Pigeon and indicates that the gun is suitable for live Pigeon Competitions, a very challenging and popular sport in the 1880-1920 period. There were shoots conducted where competitors were wagering 100,000 pounds or more on who would win.

As for the A F Stoeger, I suspect that is the name of the original owner and expect that was purchased in New York City. I will also note that Merkel is still building shotguns today and they have a reputation as one of the top makers.

As for value, condition Rules for value and this gun is not in the best condition. I will also note that this gun is a good candidate for a process called Conservation. This is a contactless procedure that converts red rust to black oxide by boiling in water. DO NOT use steel wool to clean up the rust. Instead find someone who knows how to properly conserve the existing finish. Much of that receiver still has the original color case hardening and you do NOT want to do anything to damage that finish. If you strip off that color hardening with steel wool you will have removed 60-80% of the value of this gun. I will also note that you will want a real professional to deal with those barrels, these are Soldered barrels and the application of too much heat can remove the solder, at which point you'll have a handful of loose tubes and ribs.

Now you are facing a bit of a quandary, spend 2000-4000 dollars to have this gun properly conserved and looking rather lovely or leave it as is and sell it to a pawn shop. My wild guess is that properly conserved this gun may be worth 6-14,000 dollars. However I know nothering about values on antique shotguns. I would suggest you spend some time reseraching and perhaps calling around and see how it shakes out. You may also want to contact Mark Novak and see if he would be interested in it as a project for his youtube site.

Spent some time poking around on the Net and found a 1935 Merkel catalog. Based on the pictures available your gun appears to be a model 401 E.
 

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The chamber depth is on the face of the extractor. A.F. Stoeger started importing German wares by @ least 1922. With the marks I can see, it was made between 1912 & 1923. A better image of marks would ferret out the date. The tube was a sourced effort by Gebhard Helmuthhauser - Gebhard Helmuthäuser or Gebhard Helmuthäuser of Haenel or Merkel sourced tubes from Hänel. It is a between the Great Wars Merkel.

Serbus,

Raimey
rse
 
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