There are occasionally benefits to being in London – such as when Bonhams have sales featuring some rather fabulous guns. Whether you hanker after some antique duelling pistols or a modern sidelock ejector rifle from Holland & Holland, the upcoming sales have both.
Antique Arms and Armour on 26th November at Bonhams
There is a fine choice of weaponry steeped in history at this sale, from a pair of percussion duelling pistols once owned by Lieutenant Colonel John Colby, to the Rothschild Brescian flintlock holster pistols, seized by the Nazis.
Lieutenant Colonel John Colby’s Pistols
Owned at the time of the last invasion of England, the Battle of Fishguard, the pistols featured in the short battle (three days) in 1797, won after the British, thanks in no small part to Corby, tricked the French into thinking there were far more English troops than there actually were. Something we have repeated rather successfully throughout history. Corby’s cased pair of 40-bore percussion duelling pistols by D. Egg, London, circa 1795 is estimated to sell for £3,500 to £4,500. They will be sold in the original mahogany case, bearing the engraving ‘Lt. Col. J. Colby Pembroke Militia’.
As was their wont at the time, the Nazis tended to nab stuff that wasn’t theirs. This pair of Brescian flintlock holster pistols made by Pietro Manani, (circa 1660-70) were no exception, stolen and then hidden in a salt mine for the duration of World War Two. It was not until 1999 that they were finally returned to the family, having spent several decades in the Austrian state museums. The estimated price is £60,000-£80,000
Modern Sporting Guns, Rifles & Vintage Firearms, 3rd December
Obviously, guns that can actually be used are rather more practical, and this sale has some beautiful examples.
Holland & Holland Sidelock Ejector (Lot 40)
A .375 (H&H Mag) ‘Royal’ sidelock ejector rifle by Holland & Holland, No. 35612. The treble-grip action-body with concealed third-bite, best bold foliate-scroll engraving, the hand-detachable locks inset with gold-inlaid cocking-indicators, articulated chequered front-trigger, rolled-edge trigger-guard, highly-figured stock with pistolgrip, engraved pistolgrip-cap with trap, elongated top-strap, cheek-piece and leather-covered recoil-pad, the barrels engraved Holland & Holland, 33 Bruton Street, London and .375 H&H Rimless and ‘recuerdo de mi padre in gold lettering, open-sights for 50 and 100 yards, ramp-mounted bead-foresight with fold-away moon-sight, breech-ends mounted with a Zeiss Diavari-C 1.5-4.5×18 telescope-sight with quickly-detachable mounts. Weight 10lb. 7oz. (including ‘scope), 14in. pull (13½in. stock), 24in. barrels, London nitro proof. In its brass-mounted leather case with canvas cover.
Pair of Purdey & Son 12 bores (Lot 115)
A pair of Kelly-engraved 12-bore single-trigger self-opening sidelock ejector guns by J. Purdey & Son, no. 29271/2. The toplevers, ribs and forend-tips numbered ‘1’ and ‘2’ in gold, non-selective single-triggers, best bold foliate-scroll engraving, cocking-indicators, the makers name in gold, highly-figured stocks with leather-covered recoil-pads, the chopper-lump barrels engraved J. Purdey & Sons, Audley House, South Audley Street, London, England with game-ribs. Weight 6lb. 14oz., 15⅜in. pulls (14¾in. stocks), 27in. barrels, all approx. ¼ choke, 2¾in. chambers, London nitro proof. In their leather case with canvas cover.
Purdey & Sons 12 bore over-and-under (Lot 134)
A 12-bore ‘Sporter’ single-trigger over-and-under ejector gun by J. Purdey, no. 31493. Hold-open toplever, fully-detachable non-selective single-trigger mechanism, the action furniture with best bold foliate-scroll engraving, the highly-figured stock with pistolgrip, engraved pistolgrip-cap and recoil-pad, the monbloc barrels engraved Purdey London, with matt ventilated top-rib. Weight 7lb. 13oz., 14½in. pull (13⅞in. stock), 30in. barrels, multi-chokes – I.C., ½ x 2 & ¾, 2¾in. chambers, London nitro proof. In its leather case.