We all have heard or asked questions like, “How much is that gun worth?” or “What is the value of that gun?” Value is ultimately in the eyes of the beholder, and to most folks, this gun, with its sawed-off 20-inch barrels, is probably not worth much dollar-wise. However, to me, getting it back after all those years, listening to my dad’s stories about hunting with it and he and I actually being able to shoot it together, that old Springfield-Stevens hammer gun is absolutely priceless.
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My Dad, who enjoyed hunting and shooting sports all of his life, passed away on June 5, 2013 at age 95. Franklin Lee Marten was living on the farm in the same house where he was born. He was still shooting skeet and hunting doves by his grandson’s pond the year before he died. When I was a little kid, my dad had a 16-gauge Stevens hammer gun. I remember handling it, but Dad sold it to his good friend and hunting buddy, Harry Moore, in 1949 or 1950 before I was old enough to shoot it.
One morning in October 2009 when my wife and I were back in central Illinois visiting our respective families, Dad and I ran into Harry while having coffee at the local restaurant. (Harry was in his early 80s at the time, but has since passed away.) In the course of our conversation, I asked about that Stevens. Harry said he still had it, although he had cut off the barrels to 20 inches many years ago “to shoot rats” at the local grain elevator where he worked. I let Harry know that if he ever wanted to sell it, I’d like to buy it.
A few weeks later, I got an email saying it was not for sale, but if I still wanted it, he would be happy to give it to me. I offered to pay him, but he refused to take anything for it. I sent an email to Harry’s son, Greg, expressing my desire to at least give Harry what he had paid for the gun. Greg replied, “If you are going to try to pay dad for this gun, he is not going to take it. His sole intent is to see that you get the gun. That is what will make him happy!”