America’s oldest firearm company, Remington Arms, celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2016 with an impressive array of commemoratives. As pretty as they are, one of the most graceful 19th century firearms ever assembled by the original Ilion, N.Y., factory was the New Model 1889 side-by-side shotgun, with its twin, distinctively curved “C”-shaped hammers. This was the last of Remington’s exposed-hammer doubles, a series that started with the Model 1873 Whitmore “Hammer Lifter” that utilized a European-style, tang-mounted lever to open the breech and concluded with the Model 1889 that—while not the rarest—remains a classic example of late-Victorian American sporting shotguns.
With its matted rib, rebounding hammers, casehardened sideplates, hand-checkered pistol grip and fore-end with Deeley & Edge latch, plus sporting an extractor and choke bored for nitro or blackpowder 25⁄8" shells, the Model 1889 was the right shotgun at the right time. In 1888, E. Remington & Sons went bankrupt, and, after being purchased by firearm entrepreneur Marcus Hartley and partners, the Model 1889 was one of the first guns to bear the newly reorganized Remington Arms Co. stamp. A total of 134,200 of these popular shotguns were produced between 1888 (when the first 38 guns were shipped) and 1908.
The Model 1889 was offered in 10 and 12 gauges, with a 16 gauge brought out briefly; in addition, a few rare 28 gauges are known to exist. Barrel lengths were 28", 30" and 32". Seven grades were available, beginning with Grade 1 with decarbonized (fluid) steel barrels, Grade 2 sporting twist steel and Grade 3, and above, featuring Damascus steel barrels. Grades 4 and above had increasing amounts of engraving. The initial price for a Grade 1 was $14.95, a Grade 2 was $21 and a Grade 3 would set you back $23.
Unfortunately, this Model 1889 Grade 1 example was poorly stored, with portions of the upper barrels exposed to moisture. However, internally it is pristine, and there is enough original wood finish, casehardening and bluing remaining to indicate a judicious cleaning would result in a noticeable upgrade in condition. But even in its current state, it is easily worth $950 to $1,150. Interestingly, it was purchased at Lock Stock & Barrel online auctions (lsbauctions.com) for $880, proving that used gun bargains can still be found.
Gun: Remington New Model 1889 Shotgun Chambering: 12 gauge Serial Number: 2041XX Manufactured: c. 1900-1901 Condition: 70 percent – NRA Good/Very Good (Modern Gun Standards) Value: $950 to $1,150