Norfolk based Holt’s auctioneers are holding a sale in West London on the 11th December. Lots are myriad, from a Japanese helmet to a muzzle loading bronze cannon to a pair of Purdeys - and include a goose gun belonging to none other than The Field’s Johnny Scott.
The Field spent an enjoyable and somewhat indulgent morning browsing the Holt’s sale catalogue and picked out a selection of lots that illustrate the variety within. Pair of Purdeys, anyone?
This magnificent and imposing Japanese Armour Helmet, “Kabuto” circa 1820, is complete with its face-plate ‘menpo’, the black lacquered iron helmet bowl with reeded bands and brass finial with central vent (traces of gilding), the visor with engraved brass edging and applied cloth panel with woven border, the interior lacquered red, gilded lamellar rear neck-guard joined by red and blue woven cotton bindings, brass crest with pierced and moulded fretwork to the centre, black iron face-plate moulded in the form of a grotesque, black lacquered lamellar throat-guard, complete with the original laces and chin-rope, the whole mounted on a period wood stand.
An ill-fated battle with 10,000 casualties led to the capture of this 3.5 in rifled muzzle-loading bronze cannon, manufactured in 1864-65 by the Turkish especially for the Egyptian army, with 37 1/2in. bronze multi-groove rifled barrel swelling towards the breech, moulded band at muzzle, the breech with the Khedive’s tughra (translates as ‘ISMA’IL 1281’), socket at rear right for percussion igniter (later mechanical touch-hole cap igniter included), bulbous cascabel, the whole fitted onto its original wooded cream-coloured carriage (restored 1959) with iron-bound spoked wheels, narrow trail hand operated elevation adjuster and complete with clearing and loading rods. This cannon is a rifled muzzle-loading battalion gun for the close support of infantry. It fires a hollow cast iron explosive shell of approximately 8lb in weight (a wood dummy and inert original supplied) with external studs designed to match the rifling, similar to the Armstrong system. Effective range was in excess of 1000 yards.
Beautiful African game engraving adorn this magnificent Purdey & Sons, practically unused, kulczyk-engraved .470 nitro express self-opening pinless sidelock ejector double rifle, serial no. 30259. 24in. nitro chopperlump barrels, gold-inlaid line details at breech end and muzzles, deeply matted sight rib with open sights and single folding leaf sight, gold-inlaid sight lines and marked for 40 and 100 metres, matted ramp-mounted gold bead fore-sight with flip-up moonsight and button release removable protector hood, the sunken rib gold-inlaid with the calibre designation in script, the tubes gold-inlaid ‘J. PURDEY & SONS. LONDON. ENGLAND.’
A beautiful Purdey 12-bore self-opening sidelock ejector, serial no. 15234, 30in. nitro reproved Whitworth-steel chopperlump barrels, rib engraved ‘J. PURDEY & SONS. AUDLEY HOUSE. SOUTH AUDLEY STREET. LONDON. MADE OF SIR JOSEPH WHITWORTH’S FLUID PRESSED STEEL’ and ‘1’, 2 1/2in. chambers, bored approx. 1/2 and true cyl. choke, left wall thickness at 19, toplever engraved ‘1’, removable striker discs, automatic safety with gold-inlaid ‘SAFE’ detail, arrow cocking-indicators, articulated front trigger, best fine bouquet and scroll engraving, brushed bright finish overall, 14 5/8in. figured replacement stock including 7/8in. rubber recoil pad, repair to knuckle of fore-end iron, weight 7lb., in a brass-cornered oak and leather case with Purdey trade and charges labels.
Our final pick is Sir John Scott’s E.M Reilly & Co 8-bore (82mm) single-barreled rotary-underlever hammergun, serial no 26957, 36 1/8in. nitro reproved fine damascus barrel, octagonal breech end with top flat engraved ‘E. M. REILLY & CO. 16 NEW OXFORD ST. LONDON’, and with fine acanthus scroll detailing, 82mm chamber, bored approx. full choke, Jones patent rotary underlever, carved percussion fence, rebounding back-action lock, border and fine acanthus scroll engraving, matt nickel-plated finish overall, 14 1/4in. stock including 1in. rubber recoil pad (distressed), fore-end with horn finial and insert repair to right edge, weight 9lb. 14oz.
Provenance: Sir John said: “This wonderful old goose gun has provided sterling service on foreshore and salt marsh over many years of family ownership on estuaries such as the Tay, Wells-next-Sea, both the English and Scottish sides of the Solway, at Lindisfarne and the Kent, where it comes into Morecombe Bay. Reilly specialised in big bore ‘fowling guns and although heavy, it is so beautifully made that it is as light as a feather at the point of balance.”
Read about Johnny wildfowling on Lindisfarne here – possibly with this very gun.
Look at the lots in the sale here: