Expert advice, appraisals and the fascinating stories behind your firearms
Readers ask about a 19th century J.E. Gage .32-20 pistol, a Marlin Model 1893 in .32-40 for black powder, a 1910 Mauser 7x57mm sporting rifle and a pair of Model 70 Winchesters
Whether you have a question about antique guns, modern firearms, ammunition or reloading, expert Dave Anderson is here with the answer. Please send your detailed questions and applicable, high-resolution photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am interested in ascertaining the value of this J.E. Gage .32-20 pistol (above). Your magazine’s expertise in this area would be greatly appreciated. I am also interested in any information you may be able to provide regarding trusted gun collectors in my area.
NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C.
This is a very interesting and rare firearm. It was made between 1884 and 1900 by gunmaker James E. Gage, who first learned the trade from William Billinghurst at Rochester, New York. Gage had a patent for a breech-loading design, in which the barrel swivels so the breech end moves to the left.
He later moved to Concord, New Hampshire, and established a business making rifles such as this one, often called buggy or bicycle rifles. They were made in .22 or .32 rimfire, featuring barrel lengths of 15 or 20 inches and a clamp-on shoulder stock. By the time Gage got his rifle into production, however, this type of firearm had largely fallen out of favour, so sales were low.
Unfortunately, I can’t find any comparable guns for sale, so estimating a value is almost impossible. Also, there are not many collectors of this type of firearm. On the plus side, they are very well made and rare rifles, and yours appears to be in very good condition. My advice is to sell it through a well-publicized firearm auction, with a reserve amount of approximately $500. I doubt it would get into four figures, but I could be wrong. It’s an interesting firearm, and one I’d be glad to own.