A unique Custom Shop Model 21
Grant Tom has told me about a unique Model 21 that Grant commissioned out of the Winchester Custom Shop.
Grant Tom has graciously allowed me to Post the history of this Model 21 along with pictures supplied by Grant.
All of the following is from Grant.
"I wrote a article on my Model 21 collecting in 1980 I'd like to share with you & the fourm. I believe that I'm the only Model 21 collector that ever met Mr. John M. Olin & had my photograph taken with him.
"Olin Model 21
1. Gun collecting was one of my many hobbies in my lifetime. When I start something I always go whole hog. I try to be the best at what I could afford. I started gun collecting in 1969 at age 35. Initially I purchased Winchester Model 42s. In a short time I had over 12 Model 42s in my collection. Winchester name was on my mind ever since I was a child growing up. It was like magic to have a Winchester in my collection. I was never interested in Rifles or Handguns. However I do have a few.
2. Going to local gun shows was a must at the beginning and getting aquatinted with collectors and dealers. One old timers by the name of John Kilgore was like the guru of fine shot guns. Everyone who wanted to buy shotguns would take the gun to his table for advice. It seems that the most popular shotgun collected at that time was the Parker shotguns. Especially the small gauges (28 & 410), another value added was who owned it and whom it was built for. I always thought that shot gun built to honor one of the Parker Brothers would be the ultimate Parker in any ones collection. However this gun was never built. This was on my mind for a long time. I looked and looked for a Parker shot gun, but never found one that I would purchase. Especially when I was looking for a double gun with single select triggers, beaver tail for-end, in small gauges and in original condition. There were many refurbished guns that looked nice, but lowered the value in collecting.
3. My first Model 21 Sn 28431 was a 20-28, which I paid $1,200 at the Great Western Guns show. I sent it back to the Winchester factory to have it reblued, stock and forend refinished with 21-2 engraved by Jasper Salerno at a cost of $400. I was still searching for the Model 21 410. At that time 12 Ga. were selling for $375. , 20 Ga. were selling for $700. 28 Ga. for $1000. And 410 Ga. for $5000. If you could find one.
4. In 1977 I finally located my first 410 which I purchase from Ed Ulrich retired Winchester Salesman and later befriended. With this gun I purchased a set of 28 gauge barrels and sent it back to the Winchester factory and had it upgraded to a Grand American. It was Engraved by Master Engraver Nick Kusmit in raised gold and many extras such as an Eagle on the trigger plate with Platinum and Gold. The only one that Nick Kusmit ever did in that way at the factory. During the work at the factory, I frequently visited the factory and got aquatinted with all the personnel at the sales office and the custom shop. Upon completion of this Grand American. I hired a professional photographer to take a picture of all the master craftsmen that worked on this gun and is held by John Brault the custom shop foreman. At this time of my collecting which consisted of over 60 Model 21s, Mostly 20, 28, and 410s, with every combination of Winchester 21 engraving possible with Gold inlays done by Master engravers John and Nick Kusmit.
5. In 1978 I still wanted the most fabulous 21 ever built, the gun to honor John Olin was still on my mind from day one of my collecting. How was I to achieve this shotgun? Mr. John M. Olin was the one responsible for the 21 to be in existence and to be still in production. He vowed that as long as he lived and Olin Winchester still owned the factory, the model 21 would stay in production.
6. On one of my visit to the sales office, I talked to the sales staff at customer service about this gun. They suggested that I talk to Carl Hummel the office Manager of Custom Service, since he had many dealings with Mr. Olin Personally. He contacted Mr. Olin and informed him of my wishes to build a Model 21 to honor him. After conferring with Mr. Olin, he suggested that I write a letter to Mr. Olin of what I wanted to do. I wrote him at his office in Alton, Ill. And informed him that this was to be the last 21 I would purchase to complete my collection. He wrote back and informed me that he would be honored to have me build this gun for my collection. He was surprised, since he was such a modest man that some one would spend $12,500. (Later much more due to the many extras that I had requested) to honor him. None the less, Mr. Olin lent his support to the gun and assured me that this would be the only Model 21 of its kind to be authorized by the Winchester factory by him. I quickly returned a letter of thanks to him and asked him what facsimile of him he would like on this special gun. He returned to me a medallion that was presented to him in 1973 for 60 years of service (attended by Pres. Richard M. Nixon) as a Philanthropist, Scientist, Conservationist, Industrialist, Inventor, and Sportsman by the Olin Corp. Being a special shotgun I designed the gun my self rather than having it as a normal Grand American. With Mr. Olin’s facsimile on the floor plate and his signature below it. On the sides rather than the normal dogs. I wanted Mr. Olin’s two champions, King Buck with a mallard duck in mouth, (Appeared in Duck Stamp, the only duck stamp ever made with a dog on it) on the left side and Saightons Sizzler on the right side with a ribbon under each champion with their names. In front of the dogs would be his two favorite game birds, California Quail and Grouse. Trigger guard engraved with a flying Wood Cock. On the top rib it would read Custom built by Winchester to honor Mr. John M. Olin. I still have all the documentation and with many correspondence with Mr. Olin and the factory on this gun. During the production of this gun I was like an expectant father, I was almost in daily contact with the office staff and production craftsman on how the gun was coming along. I personally took several visits to the custom shop during production of this gun would take pictures of each master craftsman that worked on each part of the gun. Cameras were not allowed in the plant, however the gave me special permission to use my own camera. Upon completion of this gun I again hired a professional photographer to take a picture of all the craftsmans with this gun. I was back in New Haven for this event and was surprised at how many people and Vice Presidents of Winchester Western showed up to get their picture with my gun. What a beautiful fabulous gun this turned out to be "A One Of A Kind Gun".
7. The Olin Shot Gun Sn 33131, order #N8-A22670A00, two set of barrels. 28 inch Mod/Full, 3-inch chambers and 26 inch IC/Mod, Leather cover recoil pad, B carving with 14 ½ pull, One inch of scroll around barrel at the muzzle end was one of the last shot gun completed by Winchester Western Corp. This gun was built with the help of the sales staff at Customer Service (Carl Hummel manager, Clay Cooley manager sales staff, Ron Nemmo manager sales staff, Ray Parcella, Ed Plancon and John Falk advertising. As you see I had a lots of help. Before the sale to U S Repeating Arms Corp. Upon receiving this gun I had to have the pleasure to meet Mr. Olin at NILO in 1980 for lunch and took a picture with Mr. Olin holding the gun in had and had a wonderful experience in shooting at Nilo with the guide of Cotton (Mr. Olin’s personal dog trainer). Mr. Olin sent a letter to master engraver Nick Kusmit to compliment his engraving on the gun. It was a highlight of my life to meet and befriend a Man such as Mr. Olin until his death. Prior to his death, He’d heard a rumor that somebody had stolen all my 21s. He personally called me and offered his personal Pinkerton Detective services to find them for me. To have such a friend is priceless.
8. To this day I regret that I made the biggest mistake of my life in not asking Mr. Olin to allow me to make this Grand American Gun a 410/410 Grand American. I'm sure he would have granted my Request.
Grant Tom (1980)"
Pictures to follow.-Dick
A unique Custom Shop Model 21
Last edited by budrichard; 01-24-11 at 08:38 AM.
A unique Custom Shop Model 21
What a fantastic model 21. Thank you to Grant Tom for, first of all, designing and ordering that gun and, second of all, sharing its story with us here. Also, thanks to Dick for posting it and the pictures. It is just an awesome model 21...
Great gun. There is a photo of Grant Tom posing with the custom shop (1980) in Pauline Muerrle's book The Way It Really Was.
I just saw the letter of Oct 10, 1980 to Grant Tom (see above) as part of a "Highlight" to the March, 2011 auction at James Julia... but w/ a VERY different gun! What's up?
Very interesting observation. I'd love to know what there response would be.
I think I solved the mystery! Paragraph #4 of Mr. Tom's letter reproduced above makes reference to a .410/28 set he sent back to the factory to upgrade to Grand American between 1977 and 1980. Although there is no mention of a serial number in the letter, my guess is that it's the Julia gun (#32625). Unfortunately, Cody has had a computer melt-down, and can't easily find anything on #32625. Any thoughts???
Ser. No. 32625 was engraved by Nick Kusmit for Grant Tom in 1977. It was a Grand American with numerous extras. The engraving was started on Sept. 12 and completed Oct. 31. Wood was done by John Durkin.
If you have a copy of R L Wilson's Winchester Book of Engraving, second edition, This gun is pictured with a description on pg. 420.