John Lyell & Co, 128 Union Street, Aberdeen
12 bore Bar Action Hammergun
no. 1676
Date of manufacture: pre-1887

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Heritage Guns' Comment

This is an amazingly fine condition hammergun from a little known and short lived gunmaking firm located in Aberdeen, Scotland between about 1874 and 1879. Built for Lyell by the famous lock- and gunmaker Joseph Brazier in Wolverhampton, the action and lockwork is of very high quality as one would expect. Two rare and interesting features are a two part hinge pin that screws together from either side of the bar and a bolting mechanism very similar to William Powell’s famous lift-up top lever patent but operated by a broad, normal toplever. The action flats are engraved with patent details that we have been unable to trace and may refer to either the bolting mechanism or perhaps the spit hinge pin. The chokes are reversed, often referred to as ‘grouse chokes’, which is traditional for a gun intended for shooting driven Scottish Red Grouse. The gun is in lovely, shootable condition and is a very fine example of the Scottish game guns built for wealthy landowners engaged in the popular new sport of driven game bird shooting. With its beautiful bold damascus barrels and finely figured stock, this represents a very rare opportunity to acquire a fine hammergun from this innovative era.



The action is similar to William Powell’s design and features:
Two part hinge pin; Double triggers; Percussion fences;
Bar action, rebounding locks with high-level ‘Dolphin’ hammers;
Broad top lever operating a rotating single bite bolt;
Long top strap; Wedge/cross-bolt forend fastening.
The action can be opened when the right lock is cocked.
Gun weight 7lb.                  
Engraving style Lavishly engraved with Bold Foliate Scroll. Action bar and lockplates signed with ‘Maker’s name in scrolling banners, on the bar surrounded by game birds and flowering thistles. Cornucopia (Horn of Plenty) engraved on triggerguard.
Top lever engraved with stylised Maker’s initials in Gothic script.
Trigger pulls measure approximately: Front trigger 3 lbs Rear trigger 3 lbs

The rebrowned bold damascus steel barrels are 30" in length, chambered for 2 ” (70mm) cartridges and are of brazed 'dovetail' lump construction with soft soldered ribs.
Top rib is of the smooth, concave, game type.
The bores are essentially clean but do show some small marks.
Birmingham re-proof for 65mm nitro cartridges in 2018.

Approximate barrel measurements at date of publication:

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

Right Barrel

18.5mm (0.728")
0.008" (IC)

Left Barrel

18.4mm (0.724")
0.004" (Skeet)

Straight Hand Stock and Splinter Forend are crafted from highly figured walnut. The stock is lightly cast-off for a right-handed shot, features a vacant white metal oval, well defined drop points and is fitted with finely engraved heel & toe plates secured with engraved screws. The forend is fitted with a finely engraved steel tip.

Highly Figured Walnut

The 18 lines per inch chequering is freshened to the original 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 1/4"
14 1/2"
14 1/2"
Drop at Comb
Drop at Face
Drop at Heel
1 5/8"
1 7/8"
2 5/16"
Cast-off at Comb
Cast-off at Heel
3/16" (approximate)

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:
Stanton's rebounding lock patent no. 367 of 1867,
Powell’s top lever patent no.
1163 of 1864 (possibly).