Seymour Griffin, a cabinetmaker by profession, had a great love of guns for as long as he could remember. In January of 1910 he purchased his first Springfield rifle. This was just after President Theodore Roosevelt returned from his African safari and had written the classic book, African Game Trails. In the book, Roosevelt praised the Springfield rifle and said that with a proper sporting stock it would be ideal for a lot of the game in Africa.


Section of the old work shop
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After reading Roosevelt's book, Seymour Griffin dismantled his Springfield rifle and began looking for a well-figured piece of French walnut so he could try his hand at custom stocking. He found one for $5.00 at Von Lengerke & Detmold, which was located at 23rd Street and Broadway. He spent several weeks carefully inletting and shaping the stock until he came up with what he felt was a very good-looking sporter stock.

For the next thirteen years Seymour Griffin did his best to satisfy as many gun lovers as he could, while still holding down another job. Although there were no companies in the United States making bolt action sporting rifles, Fred Adolph, Sedgley of Philadelphia, and Louis Wundhammer of Los Angeles, had started to rebuild Springfield rifles. The limited supply of these new sporters and the appearance of many articles in the sporting press stimulated the demand. Col. Townsend Whelen, whom Seymour Griffin considered the foremost authority on all types of rifles, sporting and military, wrote some of these articles.


Section of Showroom
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In April of 1923 Col. Whelen suggested to Seymour Griffin that he could improve his custom rifles by joining forces with someone who was an accomplished metal worker.  The person that Whelen recommended was James V. Howe, who was the foreman of the machine shop at the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, and who had in 1922 designed the .35 Whelen cartridge (a 30-'06 case necked up to accept a .35 caliber bullet).

In May of 1923 Seymour Griffin got together with James V. Howe, Col. Townsend Whelen, James M. Holsworth, and James L. Gerry; and Griffin & Howe was born.

Four months later, on October 2nd, 1923, James V. Howe severed his relationship with Seymour Griffin, and went to work for Hoffman Arms Co.


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In 1925 Griffin & Howe introduced its .35 Griffin & Howe Magnum caliber, which was based on the Holland & Holland .375 case. At that time Griffin & Howe was offering custom rifles at $175.00 for standard actions, and $240.00 for calibers requiring magnum actions.

In 1927 the famous Griffin & Howe side mount was introduced.

In February of 1930 when James Holsworth left the company. Griffin called on his good friend and sportsman, Anson W. Hard, who agreed to take over Holsworth's interest. On March 17th, a new entity was formed and the name changed to Griffin & Hobbs, Inc.

On September 1st, 1930, the company became a 100% subsidiary of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and the company name was reverted back to Griffin & Howe, which was done on October 1st, 1930.

In December of 1932 Griffin & Howe moved from the loft at 234 East 39th Street to 202 East 44th Street, which had been fitted out as a showroom with adjacent manufacturing facilities.


Just as President Theodore Roosevelt was the inspiration for the founding of Griffin & Howe, famous customers have been an important part of the Griffin & Howe tradition. Ernest Hemingway was a valued customer of the company and during this period Griffin & Howe were also pleased to have Clark Gable, Jack O'Connor, and Gary Cooper as customers.


Check from Hemingway
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When the .22 Hornet caliber was developed, Griffin & Howe was a major factor in the development of the new cartridge.

When World War II started it became impossible to get material to make sporting rifles. The company decided to take on whatever defense work that could be had. The first order was for 5,000 parts for the triggers on anti-aircraft guns. Before the war was over Griffin & Howe made nearly 40,000 of these trigger pawls. As part of the war effort, Griffin & Howe also made more than fifty different parts for various airplane factories, and was very happy to be selected to supply the Griffin & Howe side mount for the Garand infantry rifle. During the war the Springfield Armory placed an order for 36,000 of the G & H mounts. By the time the war ended Griffin & Howe had delivered 23,000 of these mounts.


G & H December 1925 (Click to enlarge)

In May 1945 after the war ended the company disposed of all the special machinery not used in the manufacture of army equipment and began to produce big game rifles again.

Again the famous, including Robert Ruark, Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Ruger, continued their tradition of dealing with Griffin & Howe.

Joe Sovenyhazi , one of Griffin & Howe’s longest employees relates some funny stories from earlier days with the company. One is about the famous engraver, Joe Fugger, who just before his retirement showed up for work one day as all of the other gunsmiths were punching out in the evening. He was chewing on an ear of corn and was sure in his own mind that it was early morning!

Another story related by Sovenyhazi happened while the company was located on 13th Street. The building had a central courtyard, which was open to the street on one side. Griffin & Howe had set up a chamber in the courtyard to test fire rifles. Local drunks and winos also used the courtyard to sleep off a tough night. One morning a gunsmith went down to the courtyard to test fire a rifle. One drunk protested loudly that the noise was disturbing his sleep and that it had to be stopped. The gunsmith told him that it was his job to test fire the rifles, and if he complained again he would shoot him in the rear end. No further complaints were forthcoming.


       
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