||04-21-2010 09:34 PM
Excerpts from The Firing Line Forum and Firearms Forum Questions and answers from Shotgun Tom and WarPig:
The 16-bore Syracuse gun was first listed in Syracuse Arms Company catalogs in 1901 (the 20-bore in 1902), and it was offered in all grades from Grade OO, the lowest, to Grade D, the highest; and ranging in suggested retail price from $30 to $475. Major manufacturing modifications to the frame and barrels occurred in 1902, and again in late 1903 or early 1904; therefore it is difficult for the novice to determine which variation of the Syracuse gun he may own. For assistance in this regard, I suggest you acquire back issues of the Double Gun Journal having articles on the Syracuse gun; as these articles represent the most comprehensive work done to date on the various models of the Syracuse gun and the Syracuse Arms Company. Small bore SAC guns (the 16 and 20) are not very common, as these models were introduced late in the life of the company; and it appears actual production had ceased by mid-1905 (certainly by 1906). Most 16-bore examples seen today are in Grade 0 and Grade 2, both plain models will a small flourish of engraving around the lock pins. The simplest way to determine grade is as follows: The Grade 0 will be roll-stamped "New Twist" for barrel steel type atop the barrels, the Grade 2 gun will have "Improved Damascus" roll-stamped atop the barrels, the Grade 3 gun will have the same barrel steel as the Grade 2 gun but will feature 40-50% line and scoll engraving coverage. The Grade A, A-1, B, C, and D guns will feature finer Damacus barrels for each grade or have optional Krupp barrels (Whitworth with the Grade D gun); and the engraving will be as follows: The Grade A gun will be engraved very similar to the style featured on the Grade 3 gun (line and scroll), the A-1 will have finer line and scroll work and two birds on either side of the frame, the Grade B will feature lots of fine scroll and a single pointing dog on either side of the frame, the Grade C gun will feature very fine scroll with full coverage and dogs and birds, the Grade D will feature the finest scroll with double dogs and birds and unique frame sculpting. Stocks for each grade become more elaborate as to carving and checkering patterns with finer pointed diamonds in the checkering panels. The highest grades are somewhat scarce and collectible, and will bring a decent price if in good original condition (although nothing remotely close to the prices paid for Parkers, Smiths, Lefevers, and Foxes). Low grades with little remaining finish have little value; although there is a limited collector demand for low grade SAC guns with lots of remaining original finishes and no aftermarket alterations. I hope you find this information somewhat helpful.
Production records for the Syracuse Arms Company no longer exist, so there is no way to provide an exact shipping date on your gun. From personal research I can tell you the following: Triplet Steel barrels were first introduced by SAC on their Grade OO gun in 1901. Triplet Steel was SAC's moniker for the type of fluid steel barrels used on this grade gun; and they later used this same barrel steel on a limited run of Syracuse hammer guns introduced in 1904, but these were the only two models of SAC guns advertised as being available with Triplet Steel barrels. The frames of SAC guns were strengthened in 1902 (wider top strap and lengthened frame sides); and their top fastener modified to what SAC advertised as a "double cross bolt". This change occurred around serial number 24,500 (give or take a few numbers either way); adn based on that fact, I would speculate your gun was manufactured in late 1902 or early 1903. In 1902 and 1903, the Grade OO gun was the least expensive SAC gun and carried a suggested retail of $30; not an insignificant sum at the turn of the last century.
Best i can come up with