I’m hoping you can tell me the value of this L.C. Smith 12-gauge side-by-side I bought about 55 years ago. I was 15 at the time and had my hunting licence, but I needed a gun. My best friend’s grandfather sold it to me for a price I could afford at that age. I only hunted for few years, however, before fishing got in the way. I think now is the right time to pass on the gun to someone who can appreciate it, but prices seem to range all over the place. The serial number is R59613, and the overall length is approximately 46 inches (the barrel length is 30 inches). Thank you for any help you can give me.
I enjoyed the story of how you acquired this shotgun. L.C. Smith serial numbers are tricky to date, as they used blocks of numbers. As a result, a gun with a lower number was often made later than one with a higher number. I believe your shotgun was made in 1923. The letter R is actually not part of the serial number. Rather, it means the frame size is “regular,” and that your shotgun most likely has standard extractors rather than automatic ejectors (in which case the stamp would have been “RE”). There was also a featherweight frame.
Yours appears to be the most commonly seen L.C. Smith model, a 12-gauge field-grade gun with 30-inch barrels, double triggers and extractors, and a plain, uncheckered stock. This is by no means a criticism, as all L.C. Smith shotguns are highly regarded and collectible, and the field grades were made with the same quality of steel and workmanship as the higher grades.
The gun’s condition is critical to its value, and most collectors will want to personally examine it (or view detailed photos) before bidding. My best advice is to sell it through a firearms auction. I do see a bit of rust and possible pitting, so I estimate your gun would sell for between $750 and $1,500 at an auction. I appreciate this is a fairly wide range, but a final price will depend on the bidder’s evaluation of the gun’s condition.