The Baker started with the W.H. Baker Co. in Lisle, NY 1875-1877, then the W.H. Baker & Co. in Syracuse, which was financed by LC Smith and his brother Leroy, 1877-1880. Baker and Leroy Smith went to Ithaca, N.Y. and established the Ithaca Gun Co. in 1883. Baker left Ithaca early 1887 and returned to Syracuse to work with his brother Dr. Ellis Baker at the Syracuse Forging Co., which soon became the Syracuse Forging & Gun Co. They manufactured a hammer gun which was called the "New Baker."
After the factory in Syracuse burned in the summer of 1888, they moved to Batavia and became the Baker Gun & Forging Co. At the time of the move W.H. Baker was ill with TB and/or silicosis and they brought in Frank A. Hollenbeck as plant superintendent 1890-1892.
W.H. died Sept. 10, 1889.
Frank Hollenbeck had three patents granted while he was in Batavia, and two were assigned to the Baker Gun & Forging. Several different guns owe part of their designs to Frank A. Hollenbeck - Baker, Syracuse Arms Co., Baltimore Arms Co., Hollenbeck Gun Co., Royal Gun Co., and The Three Barrel Gun Co. Frank had earlier worked with Baker in Lisle, NY, and later with Baker and L.C. Smith in Syracuse.
Baker grades changed over the years, and the grade was not usually marked on the frame. Early Baker Gun & Forging guns included the B grade with "London Twist" barrels, the A grade with "Fine Damascus", and the Paragon Grade with more extensive engraving, nicer wood, and finer Damascus barrels. About 1897, the $100 Pigeon Gun was added which was essentially a Paragon but with pigeons in the engraving and steel barrels. The Baker 'C' grade was a hammerless boxlock, and the first of the Batavia grades. Later, the Paragon with Damascus barrels was called the P grade, with Krupp steel barrels the N grade, an even nicer Trap Gun was called the L grade, and the Expert and DeLuxe grades were added. Starting in 1909 the R and S grades replaced the A grade and Krupp steel guns were labeled K grades. The Paragon Grade Model 1909 and a Baker Single Barrel Trap were also introduced in 1909. The B hammerless and D grade hammer gun, both with Twist barrels, were discontinued a few years later. About 1915, the Baker bolting system was redesigned for the Paragon and higher grades to use a Greener style round cross bolt. The 1915 Dealers Price Schedule lists barrel lengths of 26-, 28-, 30-, and 32-inch for the Black Beauty ($18.85), Black Beauty Special ($34.85), Paragon ($60), Paragon-Ejector ($75), Expert ($137.50) and DeLuxe ($260). The first Baker hammerless boxlock , referred to as the C Grade, was made by Baker for Montgomery Ward in 1895, with Ward’s name on the rib. It was offered by Baker about two years later with the Baker name. Baker also produced a 'trade' gun under "New Era Gun Works" and "Clark's Imperial, Omaha, Neb." There were several variations of the lower priced "Batavia" line in the 1909 “The Baker Gunner”: the Batavia Leader with twist barrels at $25, the Batavia Special with steel barrels at $21.75, the Batavia Damascus at $28, the Batavia Brush with 26-inch Twist barrels and a straight-grip stock at $24, the Batavia Ejector with steel barrels at $35 and with Damascus barrels for $37.50. To reduce costs the Batavia line did not have the "firing pin block safety" or the "draw block" which passes transversely through the barrel lug and mates into recesses in the frame. The sidelock “Black Beauty” replaced the Batavia Special, Leader, and Damascus guns about 1916. When Baker Gun & Forging sold their gun business to H.∓D. Folsom in 1919, it was renamed Baker Gun Co., a 20 gauge gun was offered, and the Batavia Leader was reintroduced as a steel barrel gun similar to the old Batavia Special. A bit of engraving was added to the Black Beauty and it was renamed the Black Beauty Special. Page 227 of the 27th Blue Book shows the grades for the Folsum era Baker Guns as the Batavia Special, Batavia Leader, Black Beauty and Special, Batavia Ejector, Baker S, Baker R, Paragon, Expert, and DeLuxe. Folsom era catalogues listed the Black Beauty Special for $62 or $77 with ejectors, the Paragon Grade for $100 or $115 with ejectors, the Expert Grade for $215 and the DeLuxe Grade for $385. In the fall of 1928, Folsom Baker magazine ads listed a 410 bore Batavia Leader, but it is unclear if any were actually manufactured. Folsom era Bakers have an F before or after the serial number. Baker Gun Co. was closed in 1933, 44 years after the death of W.H. Baker, and the factory was converted to the manufacture of automobile parts. About 150,000 Baker guns were produced prior to the Folsom take-over; Folsom production numbers do not exist.