Ithica Guns Sep 1917

John Philip Sousa is best known as the “The March King” for the 137 marches he wrote, many while he was director of the Marine Band. But he also had a passion for trap shooting. He organized the first national trapshooting organization which became the Amateur Trapshooting Association, and authored a number of articles on the topic. Sousa registered more than 35,000 targets and was quoted in his Trapshooting Hall of Fame biography:  “Let me say that just about the sweetest music to me is when I call, ‘pull,’ the old gun barks, and the referee in perfect key announces, ‘dead’.”

This ad from the September 1917 edition of National Geographic shows Mr. Sousa holding an Ithaca shotgun. Ithaca Gun Company’s troubled history begins in 1877 when Leroy Smith went into business with William Henry Baker to form the W.H. Baker Company, manufacturing double- and triple-barreled shotguns in Center Lisle, N.Y.  They moved the company from Center Lisle to Syracuse, then in 1883, to Ithaca, N.Y. There they renamed it the Ithaca Gun Company and manufactured side by side shotguns.

In 1967 the company was sold to what would become General Recreation Inc. and in 1978 the company underwent Chapter 11 reorganization after a failed attempt to move to Colorado. The company moved to King Ferry, N.Y. in 1987 and was called Ithaca Acquisition Inc.  In 1996 the company went by the name of Ithaca Gun Co. LLC. In 2005, after a failed attempt to establish a production facility in Auburn, N.Y., Ithaca Guns USA, LLC purchased Ithaca Gun Co. LLC’s assets and relocated production to Upper Sandusky, OH.

Based on the CPI Inflation Calculator, in 2016 dollars the $24 “double gun” would be $448.61 while the $85 “single trap gun” would run $1558.84. Ithaca’s web site store currently prices their shotguns from $784 to $1350, depending on model. [Note: TTAG has a Ithaca Model 37 in the midst of review.]

11 Responses to Sousa Shills Shotguns: Blast from the Past

    • I love the 37 and I can see how a lefty would REALLY like it, but it’s damn annoying shooting trap. Always end up standing in a pile of shells.

    • My brother is a lefty, handed, and back in the day left handed guns were rare and expensive. The 37 and the remington pump, I forget model number, that was a knock off of the 37 were the answers for him.

      The cool thing about the 37 was you could slam fire it.

  1. He was also LCDR Sousa, USN, director of Navy Band Great Lakes for a time after leaving the USMC (I’m a Navy MU so have to claim him). I know a ton of great shooting sports enthusiasts/fantastic musicians in military bands carrying on the tradition today.

  2. I’m personally not much of a shotgunner, much preferring the pistol. But I did shoot my uncle-in-law’s Ithaca SxS once, and to feel it come to shoulder and point so naturally, so easily, and obliterate clays, birds, or what have you, is to completely understand why rich people spend thousands and thousands of dollars on fine bespoke English shotguns.

    Say what you will of modern gunmaking, but IMO it’s a real shame that we don’t really have that culture of craftmanship in this country anymore. Sure, we have a few brilliant individual craftsmen scattered about, and that’s great, but there’s no company extant that embodies the culture like Colt did with its Python and early 1911’s, for example.

    Tom

  3. I am originally from the Central New York area and have a Model 37 Featherlight that was handed down to me by my grandfather. Fantastic shotgun! My favorite feature is the ribbed wooden fore end.

  4. I gave my 37 to my son, as my father did for. The Rem model 10 we have is a better shotgun, but with the trigger disconecter its not as fun as the 37

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