Discussion in 'Browning Auto A-5' started by JohnA5UK, Jan 6, 2017.
Okay , Thanks.
I just received the following:
Congratulations on owning one of the rarest Auto-5s! I am not sure
what entitles this so-called expert to even comment on your shotgun
as he does only seem to refer to our book and does not seem to
recognize the historical importance of your gun.
I can add some information pertinent to your gun if you wish. I can
join the forum, at least attempt to.
Please let me know if this is of interest to you.
FNCentral at Wet Dog Publications
Of course, I replied that the gun isn't mine. Yet...
Thats very interesting , thank you.
Please invite him to register and join us Rudolph...
Why didn't I think of that, Shooter? I wrote this:
Hello Mr. Vanderlinden,
Thank you for your quick reply!
First, I must say that I do not own this shotgun, that honor belongs to "JohnA5UK" in England. I am "Rudolph31" on the websites and I identified the gun for him on Shotgunworld.
He reposted his experience on Browningowners and that is where the current conversation is taking place.
1929 16g A5 - Heavily Engraved by Felix Funken | Browning Owners
1929 16g A5 - Heavily Engraved by Felix Funken | Browning Owners
Hello I live in the UK and I`m a big Browning enthusiast , I`m interested in what you guys think of my 16g A5 , it an unusual one and I believe its...
He hasn't been able to locate a copy of your book in the U.K. and asked me to post a shot of the page showing his treasure. I emailed for permission to do that, but if you could join the forum that would be wonderful!
Last, let me thank you for the excellent work that you and Mr. Shirley have created. I say that despite the fact that it has cost me a considerable amount of money over the last few years. I bought a shooter, bought your book and got hooked! There are now 13 of JMB's masterpiece in my display cases and safes.
I registered just to respond to these postings. I usually do not have much time available for forums but was compelled after getting your emails and seeing the photos.
First let me state that I was alarmed by some mention of restoring this gun. From what I see, this gun needs nothing aside from maybe a professional cleaning and even that may be a stretch. Any attempt of touching or altering its condition WILL DESTROY its historical significance and its value. The skills needed to do a proper job are non-existent these days and nobody has been able to correctly replicate FN's rust bluing. Any attempt at improving this piece will effectively damage it!
I can not begin to explain what a find this is. There are a few figures in FN and Browning history that stand out as innovators, Funken was one of them. He was not just an engraver, he was FN's original Master Engraver. Some may like his work or not, but that had nothing to do with his skill level. A Master Engraver is skilled at all themes and scenes, so one day he may have been engraving dragons, foxes, or butterflies, just to do geometric designs the next, all without displaying any signs of shortcomings.
Funken did not start working at FN in 1926 or establish the FN engraving shop in 1926. The engraving shop was established in 1903, but Funken was the man who gave it structure and a apprentice system starting in 1926. Prior to 1926, he worked part-time as he suffered from war wounds which were disabling. I have studied this man for many years and plan on publishing my findings in the future.
Starting with the Paris World Fair in 1900, FN heavily relied on world fairs / expositions for marketing and establishing contacts worldwide (see FN Browning Pistols page 122-134). Funken took the initiative to showcase automatic weapons as pieces of art. A type of experiment to sway the public from SxS shotguns which were still considered the epitome of elegance. Funken did this in order to show off the work of his engraving staff and his personal skills. These exhibition guns prepared by him and his staff were part of the factory collection and were never made for sale. That said, the factory did offer / propose some of these patterns for sale but the cost was so elevated that none were put in production.
Early guns like this one started as production guns and can be numbered, this gun was made circa 1925 and made into an exhibition gun later on. This was not uncommon. Later guns usually do not have serial numbers. A typical exhibition gun can always be identified by the hand engraved factory legend instead of the typical roll engraving marking.
Funken and his team made an entire collection from the late 1920s through 1939, some were upgraded and modified for specific exhibits. In my books I show a photo of the FUSI family at the 1930 World's Fair, if you look closely you see the exhibition guns on display behind them. The display cases would have included this specific shotgun!
Each exhibit gun had a theme, these are not always easy to identify these days. Popular books, subjects, and happenings were used. I am convinced that this is a themed gun, it was modeled after something recognizable at that time, even a popular children's book. This gun would require detailed analysis and an in depth understanding of the period to identify. I have identified several themes, mostly by reading the local period paper. Some are easy, others complex. If we had this in the factory collection, I would start by looking to see if Swan Lake was popular in that era or performing in the area... or if Swan Lake was performed at the 1930 fair.
Not only is this a piece of FN history, it becomes far more interesting if you know that the Germans stole the entire collection in 1940. It was taken and rerouted to Nazi art collectors like Goering and company (I never state that these went to Goering!). The collection disappeared and has never been found. This is the third piece I know to survive, most likely brought back by a serviceman who captured or liberated it. For more than a decade I heard rumors of one having sold in Alabama, and I finally was able to locate it. That one was brought back by a G.I.
Not only is this a piece of FN history, it is one of the few known survivors from FN's factory collection!
PS: We ship our books worldwide, while it is expensive to ship just one book, it is far more reasonable to ship two or three as we can use flat-rate boxes.
Welcome to the Browning Owners Forum Anthony Vanderlinden !!
We are honored to have you here...please enjoy our community !!
Thank you! It may be odd, but a lot of authors are often not welcome on forums. This is nice!
Your expertise is recognized and welcomed here Sir...
I found this post from 10 years ago on SGW. This gun is also in the U.K., but since John has owned his for 17 years, it may be yet another gun from the collection.
It is yet another ,I've been in touch with the owner and passed his details to Anthony , this included a copy of a letter he has from FN .
Wow, I'm guessing you found out about this second gun some time ag0. I'm all ears...
Also, I did some research and found that under British law, FN has no claim on the gun. That said, the letter from FN expressing no interest should offer peace of mind.
Surprising that the factory didn't want their collection back, but thanks to S/V, interest in these guns has skyrocketed. They may have changed their mind.
I'm sure that you and Mr. Vanderlinden are furiously discussing all of this and will eventually fill us in.
Ive asked the owner to join this forum as I know a few of us will be very interested to know more about his A5.
I am constantly referring to the "S/V book". In case there's anyone unaware, this is the Auto-5 reference book; available here:
We are fortunate to have one of the co-authors, Mr. Vanderlinden, on this site.
Wow, what a great story..... I was compelled to buy the book!
The history and people behind the guns are as (if not more) interesting as the guns themselves.
Felix FunKen had a profound impact on FN and engraving. I am fascinated by his works and study every example I encounter.
My primary interest is the Superposed, although I purchased an FN Type V Auto-V a few months ago JUST for the engraving. Some of the themes, scenes, and motifs appear on various Superposed Grades (both FN and Browning) for years after this 1929-ish example. I'm not even an Auto-V guy, but this one intrigued me.
It is difficult to term what I do as 'collecting', rather it is more aptly viewed as expensive research and study. My basic knowledge is 'Schwing-deep' but I have learned so much about the various engraving patterns, engravers merely by studying the details and engraving. The various influences and fluid design concepts used interchangeably across both product lines through Funken's tenure and beyond, is remarkable. Funken's impact on his students and subsequent generations of the Belgian artists and engravers is evident in the tradition they continue to uphold.
I am excited about the prospect of exchanging information and photos with other students of this art through sites like this. I anxiously await Mr Vanderlinden's publication of his findings on Funken and other early FN engravers. Mr V's knowledge, research, and writings are without question, valuable resources. I also value the work, interest, and input of fellow collectors/researchers like Rudolph31.
Funken's works are one of my primary interests. I am fortunate to have acquired (in addition to the unique Type V) a very scarce pre-war FN D4 Grade, a unique '53 Gr III 'Calling Cock' variant, and most recently, another scarce 1954 FN D5 2-bbl 30" live pigeon combo, all unmistakably engraved (and signed) by Monsieur Funken. The D5 is the earliest example I have encountered outside of a book or FN catalog.
So it is a thrill to learn something of the Exhibition guns in this thread and make a casual acquaintance with the various contributors, here. Thank you for sharing these examples, stories, and information.
My Best Regards,
'le petit poisson'
That is a beautiful Funken gun!
Wow... careful not to say that out loud. ;-)
Pictures have been restored.
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