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marlinguy
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Re-starting the BGI topic
Jan 16th, 2019 at 1:32pm
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Thought I'd start the discussion of BGI (Bridgeport Gun Implement) here, so as to not clutter up Al's thread on his fine Pacific Ballard.

Start with my last post over on that thread.


BGI seemed to have a niche market in supplying sights and loading tools to manufacturers, and those sales were likely much higher than direct to customers sales. Especially as it concerns sights, since not many people would be looking for the same sights as replacements if their gun came with those sights.
I've seen and own loading tools marked BGI, and have the same exact tools marked MFAC for Marlin. No doubt that Marlin and Winchester had tools made for them by BGI as I've seen tools just like my MFAC marked tools with WFACo. markings on them also. BGI also sold tools to C Sharps, and probably sights too them also.
But unlike Marbles and Lyman, BGI didn't seem to mark their sights at all. My own opinion is the sights weren't marked because they almost exclusively went to gun makers, and any others that might be sold would just be a bother to put their own mark on.
Since Marcellus Hartley owned BGI they had a very close relationship with Remington. Hartley being the owner of Remington after bankruptcy had already been selling tools and sights to Remington through BGI prior to bankruptcy. I'd guess that with bankruptcy Remington left a debt owed to Hartley, and BGI, so buying Remington helped resolve the debt.
Dick Chamberlain and Tom Quigley documented much of the relationship between BGI and the various gun makers in their fine book, "Cartridges, Reloading Tools of the Past". The two gentlemen had decades of research combined to make their book a great reference. Of course Dick had done a previous book titled, "Early Loading Tools and Molds" that was the basis of the 2nd book, and covers BGI also.
What I've always been puzzled by was Gerld Kelvar's lack of mention of BGI in his book, "Reloading Tools, Sights, and Telescopes for Single Shot Rifles".
It's written as if the gun makers were responsible for making all their tools and sights. At least he gives no credit to BGI, and not even a chapter for BGI among all the other makers?

  

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Bill Lawrence
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Re: Re-starting the BGI topic
Reply #1 - Jan 16th, 2019 at 4:02pm
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An excellent start, Vall.  As you've probably guessed, BGI was and still largely is my first choice for the identity of the "same other company".  However, the two things that still need resolving in my mind are the claims that BGI was actually only a distributor and and that BGI and Bridgeport Hardware were just the two sides of the same (Hartley?) coin.  The gist of these claims is the extreme diversity of their products - i,e., gun accessories of every ilk from BGI and hand tools and general hardware for every trade and application from BH.

In other words, was BGI an actual manufacturer or just a reliable, convenient source/middleman?

Bill Lawrence
  
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August West
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Re: Re-starting the BGI topic
Reply #2 - Jan 16th, 2019 at 4:29pm
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It seems that BGI and BPT Manu. CO were different entities

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BGI made a bullet whistle:
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« Last Edit: Jan 16th, 2019 at 4:48pm by August West »  

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BP
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Re: Re-starting the BGI topic
Reply #3 - Jan 16th, 2019 at 6:06pm
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Bill Lawrence wrote on Jan 16th, 2019 at 4:02pm:
An excellent start, Vall.  As you've probably guessed, BGI was and still largely is my first choice for the identity of the "same other company".  However, the two things that still need resolving in my mind are the claims that BGI was actually only a distributor and and that BGI and Bridgeport Hardware were just the two sides of the same (Hartley?) coin.  The gist of these claims is the extreme diversity of their products - i,e., gun accessories of every ilk from BGI and hand tools and general hardware for every trade and application from BH.

In other words, was BGI an actual manufacturer or just a reliable, convenient source/middleman?

Bill Lawrence

Good questions, Bill.

I'd like to know the BGI catalog # and especially the date of that catalog that Vall saw the sights depicted in, as well as what specific sights.

It seems that if anyone is going to make the claim that BGI (or some other unknown subcontractor/supplier) was a MAJOR supplier of sights to the big name firearms manufacturers on a continual and long-term basis, then we need a list of those particular sights that were exactly the same (including the transitional modifications made to the sights over time... such as the change from the v-notch to the u-notch in the rear dovetail sights), and which were used during the same time periods by all of the big name firearms manufacturers.


  

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Bill Lawrence
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Re: Re-starting the BGI topic
Reply #4 - Jan 16th, 2019 at 6:27pm
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Thank you, August West.  It also appears from your documents and examples that BGI and BH were also contemporary entities, if only for a few years in the early 1900s.

Still, as I also collect things that are not gun related, I know that both firms marketed at least some items under their imprint that they did not make, and I say "know" because in those cases I know who the real maker was.

So I'm going to refine my question: Did BGI only job out some (non-key?) things (like the Forstner auger bits), or like Sears, Wards, and the like, did they job out very nearly everything?

Bill Lawrence
  
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marlinguy
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Re: Re-starting the BGI topic
Reply #5 - Jan 16th, 2019 at 7:49pm
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Afraid it's been far too long ago when I saw the BGI catalog, so I can't tell you if it even had a number or what models the sights were now.
I will likely be seeing Tom Quigley soon, and will ask if he has a BGI catalog, and if he will give some input on BGI and what things they supplied.
Not sure if everyone knows this, but BGI was started by Union Metallic Cartridge Co. and Marcellus Hartley owned UMC. UMC started BGI initially to provide cartridge reloading tools according to the late Dick Chamberlain and his book. BGI also built the live traps used when trap shooting involved live pigeons!
According to Chamberlain and Quigley BGI Co. produced a catalog in 1882 that was reprinted in the Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting in 1966, so maybe it can be located by a search on the internet. Some early tools were marked both BGI and S, D, & G for Schoverling, Daley, and Gales; the other big sporting goods Co. and owners of the Ballard patent. So besides Schuyler, Hartley, and Graham Sporting Goods, it seems BGI made tools for their competitors and the gun makers.
  

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Redsetter
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Re: Re-starting the BGI topic
Reply #6 - Jan 16th, 2019 at 8:02pm
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marlinguy wrote on Jan 16th, 2019 at 7:49pm:
According to Chamberlain and Quigley BGI Co. produced a catalog in 1882 that was reprinted in the Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting in 1966, so maybe it can be located by a search on the internet.


I've tried that, coming up only with one, 1882, in the collection of the Smithsonian, but not available on-line.
  
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Re: Re-starting the BGI topic
Reply #7 - Jan 16th, 2019 at 10:02pm
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marlinguy wrote on Jan 16th, 2019 at 7:49pm:
Afraid it's been far too long ago when I saw the BGI catalog, so I can't tell you if it even had a number or what models the sights were now.
I will likely be seeing Tom Quigley soon, and will ask if he has a BGI catalog, and if he will give some input on BGI and what things they supplied.
Not sure if everyone knows this, but BGI was started by Union Metallic Cartridge Co. and Marcellus Hartley owned UMC. UMC started BGI initially to provide cartridge reloading tools according to the late Dick Chamberlain and his book. BGI also built the live traps used when trap shooting involved live pigeons!
According to Chamberlain and Quigley BGI Co. produced a catalog in 1882 that was reprinted in the Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting in 1966, so maybe it can be located by a search on the internet. Some early tools were marked both BGI and S, D, & G for Schoverling, Daley, and Gales; the other big sporting goods Co. and owners of the Ballard patent. So besides Schuyler, Hartley, and Graham Sporting Goods, it seems BGI made tools for their competitors and the gun makers.


Looking at the BGI whistlegalley link provided by August,
that shows the C.D. Leet & H.A. Chapin patent No. 208,247 for the "ballon-head" cartridge case...  that particular patent sure would have been real handy for UMC to have control of and utilize.    Wink 

  

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Re: Re-starting the BGI topic
Reply #8 - Jan 17th, 2019 at 10:03am
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I have the Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting, V.4 No. 2, which has the BGI 1882 catalog reprinted.

The only sight they list is the No. 2500 Combination Black&White Sight, which looks like a couple of Sheard front sights that swivel on a longitudinal axle.  One has the white insert and one is solid.  $36 for a dozen, each packed in its own box.

There’s also a copy extant of the 1890 BGI catalog.  The preface to the CJAC article said that the catalog was too important to only print excerpts from both catalogs, so they would do the complete 1882 version.  They said that the Journal issue had to be expanded to print this one; perhaps they decided that the excess pages were too much expense to follow up with the 1890 version.

The preface said BGI was a manufacturer, and maintained an office in New York as well as the factory at Bridgeport.  Very little is known about them, except for mentions in the City Directory and advertisements for the tools.

A bunch of BGI employees volunteered to act as President Theodore Roosevelt’s bodyguard when he visited Bridgeport in 1902.

  
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Re: Re-starting the BGI topic
Reply #9 - Feb 21st, 2019 at 12:06pm
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In Frank Sellers' excellent book on Sharps rifles, on page 352, it states that BGI had bought molds from the ailing Sharps company in 1879.  They also picked over the remains of the bones of the dead company in 1881 buying mold cherries (and perhaps other leftovers).

Sharps collectors are aware that Old Reliable and Bridgeport stamps were spread around to a lot of dealers after 1881 when lots of "Meacham" rifles were made out of parts left over from Sharps and the recent unpleasantness.

One has to wade through lots of BGI shotgun stuff to try to find good stuff on e-bay.

James
  
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marlinguy
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Re: Re-starting the BGI topic
Reply #10 - Feb 21st, 2019 at 8:28pm
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coljimmy wrote on Feb 21st, 2019 at 12:06pm:
One has to wade through lots of BGI shotgun stuff to try to find good stuff on e-bay.

James


You sure are right there! I gave up looking for good BGI stuff on Ebay, just because of the bizillions of shotgun tools.
  

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