J Blanch & Son,
29 Gracechurch Street, London
12 bore Bar-action Hammergun
no. 5517
Date of manufacture: circa 1888

Click on these images for more detail.

Heritage Guns' Comment


This lovely hammergun, made by one of London’s most respected gunmakers, is in quite amazing condition for its age: not only are the internals in fine condition but also the prolific engraving is crisp and clear.
This gun is drawn from Toby Barclay’s personal collection of rare and interesting Blanch shotguns.
What makes it so special are the bar-action locks combined with sidelever and very best engraving, an extraordinarily rare combination in Blanch guns made before 1900.
Until the late 1890’s Blanch used the sidelever and back-action locks as their preferred mechanisms on nearly all their ‘in-house’ guns, the more ubiquitous toplever and bar-action locks being relegated to their ‘bought-in’ guns, often of lesser quality. Some rotary underlevers and occasional thumblever will be seen but the sidelever is the norm for guns made ‘in-house’. Blanch’s engraving at this time can be divided into three distinct styles: ‘Creeping Vine’, an open pattern with around 70% coverage; classic bouquet & scroll giving about a 85% coverage and 100% bold foliate scroll on their very best guns, naturally is it the last that adorns this beautiful gun.
This is a most attractive gun with its bold engraving style and, given its fine balance, strong replacement stock and stylish sidelever, it would make an excellent gun for upland game or clays.

 

The action is of traditional design and features:
Double bite ‘Purdey Bolt’ operated by a sidelever;
Double triggers; ‘Percussion’ fences;
Low level, ‘Dolphin’ hammers;
Rebounding bar-action locks;
Broad strikers;
Modified Hollis forend lever catch. 
Gun weight 6lb 8oz  
 
Engraving style Best Bold Foliate Scroll. Forend lever engraved ‘J BLANCH & SON’S IMPROVED SNAP BOLT’.
Trigger pulls measure approximately: Front trigger 3 lbs Rear trigger 3 lbs
The replacement Whitworth steel barrels (by the Maker) are 28" in length, chambered for 2 ” (65mm) cartridges and are of brazed 'dovetail' lump construction with soft soldered ribs.
Top rib is of the ‘swamped’ type with a raised ‘shield’ between the fences.
London reproof
for 65mm nitro powder cartridges in 2002.

Approximate barrel measurements at date of publication:

 
Nominal Proof Size
Bore Diameter 9"
from Breech
Minimum Wall Thickness
Choke Constriction

RH Barrel

18.8mm (0.740")
0.741"
0.021"
0.008” (IC)

LH Barrel

18.8mm (0.740")
0.741"
0.020"
0.015" (Mod)

The replacement Straight Hand Stock is crafted from straight grain walnut whilst the original Splinter Forend is well figured walnut. The stock has neutral cast, features a vacant white metal oval and a 1 1/4” leather covered recoil pad.

Replacement Straight Grain Walnut

The 20 lines per inch chequering has been refreshed to the normal sidelock pattern. The stock is finished with a traditional linseed oil based preparation as used on best guns by one of the top English makers. This finish uses no grain fillers to achieve its deep, smooth lustre, only many hours of alternate build and flatting off of the surface.

Approximate stock measurements at date of publication:

Pull to Heel
Pull to Bump
Pull to Centre
Pull to Toe
14 3/4"
15"
15"
15 3/8"
Drop at Comb
Drop at Face
Drop at Heel
1 3/8"
1 5/8"
2"
Cast at Comb
Cast at Heel
Negligible
Negligible

For the purposes of these measurements, 'Drop at Face' is the 'drop' measurement taken on a line perpendicular to the
line joining the trigger and centre of the butt at approximately 8" from the trigger (front trigger on a double trigger gun).

Patents Exhibited include:
 'Purdey Bolt' patent no. 1104 of 1863;
Stanton's rebounding lock patent no. 367 of 1867;
Hollis’s forend catch patent no 953 of 1873.