Heritage Guns Update 29th March 2020
Welcome to another Update from the workshop of Heritage Guns in Suffolk, England and I very much hope you are all surviving the isolation enforced upon us by the pandemic.
It was with great sadness that I received notification that the Southern S/S Classic at Deep River, NC had been cancelled. Like many, I had naively assumed that it would go ahead and that travel across the Pond would be possible but with the travel ban implemented and outdoors gatherings banned, the show’s cancellation was inevitable and notification arrived only a couple of days later.
Before the restrictions arrived, I was very fortunate to be able to exhibit at the Beinfeld Antique & Modern Sporting Arms show in Las Vegas 28th February thru 1st March. Not surprisingly, footfall was on the light side and the show was much smaller than we have seen it in previous years but what I had not anticipated were the challenges brought about by the Mandalay Bay shootings two years back which precipitated a whole new level of firearm regulation in LV’s hotels. Firearms are now officially banned from all Las Vegas hotels which made life interesting for those of us who were exhibiting at a gun show in one!
Early morning view from my room at the Westgate Casino Hotel, Las Vegas overlooking the monorail and the infamous Strip.
Before the show opened, Heritage Guns exhibit at the Beinfeld show, Las Vegas February 2020
Just two weeks previous to Las Vegas, I exhibited at the British Shooting Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. This is my second time at the event and, even with storm Dennis threatening yet more flooding carnage in the UK, the turnout was good. We were delighted to share our stand with John Dickson & Son with both J-P and Zoe Daeschler in attendance and they reported good sales. Although my own sales were fewer than hoped, we had huge interest in the guns and cases that I exhibited and if not for C-19, I think that follow-on sales would have been excellent.
J-P Daeschler and I both chat to interested customers while another tries a Dickson Roundaction for size.
Clive Cross, who helped immensely with the delivery of the show, and I talk to Will Westlake of Barton Gunworks and Phil Cox from Country Store, Pampisford, just two of many visitors we welcomed onto our stand.
My wife, Tilly the labrador and I have been hunkered down at home for the last two weeks as the situation with C-19 has developed and, although neither of us is particularly vulnerable, the reports of otherwise healthy individuals succumbing, or at least becoming very sick, has made us realise that any kind of social interaction face to face is unwise at best. However, I have rediscovered the joy of old fashioned telephone calls and make an effort to call at least one friend or colleague every day just to chat and catch up. It has undoubtedly improved my own sense of well-being and it is a real joy to hear the lift in another person’s voice when they realise that the call is not more bad news but simply a call to catch up. I know I don’t get the same buzz out of a text, email or WhatsApp.
We are extremely fortunate in that we live in a very rural part of Suffolk (plenty of deserted footpaths), have a reasonably sized house (no need to be in each other’s body space without good cause [!]) and a generous garden (no end to the work that needs doing out there!). My heart goes out to those in city flats with no open space of their own and crowded public transport.
I am able to continue working as my home is my workshop with a 20ft commute and I have lots of work to do, bringing lovely old guns and cases back from brink. However I am painfully aware of the number of people who are now without an income, particularly the self-employed, many of whom the government have failed to find a solution for. Furthermore, I have heard of several instances of significant unpaid invoices to larger gunmaking establishments that, having closed their offices, are leaving their independent outworkers to swing. I just hope they realise that unless they support their smaller suppliers, their own business will be jeopardised when they come back to work.
On a personal level, I have decided to pay all outworker invoices immediately on completion of the work, not when I collect. Social distancing and the order against unnecessary travelling means it may be months before I can collect some work and anyway, there is nowhere for it go in the near future. With little or no interest paid on any money I have on deposit, the funds will be of far more use to a struggling family than to the bank.
On a lighter note, Tilly the labrador is enjoying having her pack at home full time and the only cloud on her limited horizon is the inadequate food ration! She loves lying in the sun in the garden room between walks and meals and I suspect that we are going to have a rather tubby Miss Tilly by the time next shooting season rolls round!
Miss Tilly in her usual evening location complete with favourite toy.
My deer stalking for this year seems in doubt, I had planned a week chasing Roe bucks in Northumberland at the end of May but that is very unlikely now with strict rules against unnecessary travel and absolutely no holiday trips allowed. Even our planned November trip to Cumbria to find some Red hinds seems improbably under the present circumstances but we will see how things go. The Game Fair which is normally the last weekend in July has been moved to September but I suspect it will have to be cancelled. People travel from all over the UK to attend and it is difficult to believe that the situation will have improved so much that there would be no risk in allowing such a mixing of diverse communities or even that there would be the will to attend in numbers needed to justify the expense of putting it on. I hope I am wrong.
On a bright note, the weather recently has been glorious in the south east of England: bright sunny days with very little rain. Admittedly, there has been a cold wind on many days but if you can get out of the wind, with the sun on your back, it is lovely! The local farmers have grabbed the opportunity to get out in the fields which were waterlogged until recently and finally get some seed into the ground. This has produced a bonanza of freshly drilled fields for our local pigeon population with few decoyers able to get out to deal with them. I guess there is always an up-side for someone or something!
Anyway, enough of me: how about some gun news?
Well, even though there is no immediate possibility of me flying to the USA, all the immediate gun shows cancelled and a big question mark hanging over the more distant ones, I am still bringing new stock forward. Fortunately, we still have domestic shipping available, albeit with extended transit times, and the Post Office is still working pretty well so jobs can be moved to specialists for their attention. Hopefully this should result in the completion of several new stock items over the next few weeks and I am in discussions with my good friend and colleague, Bob Nay of MacNab Fine Firearms, about the possibility of shipping a consignment of guns out well in advance of the Vintage Gunners Cup in September.
Guns ready to ship include the following:
Firstly we have two post-1898 guns and coincidently they are both by J Blanch & Son: a lovely SLE from 1912 built on William Baker’s ‘12/20’ patent and an equally pretty Anson & Deeley BLE from around 1900.
NEW STOCK ITEM
ANOTHER NEW STOCK ITEM
A lovely 12b SLE by James Woodward & Sons from 1896. All the Woodward styling details are present and correct from the 29” barrels and Prince of Wales grip to the unique safety slide shape and clipped fences.
On the subject of James Woodward & Sons, we next have a fine, true pair of 12b SLE’s from 1898, cased and available separately or as a pair. Both 5241 and 5242 feature great replacement wood, TIG sleeved original 29” barrels with 4 Teague thin-wall chokes each and 2nd set of 28” barrels by Chaplin, all reproofed for 2 ¾” nitro. These are real ‘shooters’ in the best sense of the word, the interchangeable chokes and extra barrels make them extremely versatile and their long, new stocks give plenty of room for adjustment to fit. No. 1 of the pair is already with Bob in Virginia and if we ship, No. 2 will join its partner there.
James Woodward & Sons 12b SLE no 5241 (already in Virginia)
James Woodward & Sons 12b SLE no 5242 (following soon)
Also travelling out to the USA will most probably be the following interesting gun:
An 1893 William Powell & Son SLE with its non-functioning hammers which is probably a completely unique gun, certainly by this highly respected gunmaker, and having the records confirm its original specification puts the icing on the cake.
New stock items not quite ready for photography but coming together well are:
16b Boxlock by Alex Henry with 30”x 2 ½” damascus barrels, lovely engraving and wood;
12b Thumblever backaction hammergun by James Purdey with 31”x 2 ¾” TIG sleeved barrels, beautiful wood and very much in Pigeon Gun weight range;
16b Holland & Holland 1st Type Royal sidelock ejector with 30”x 2 ¾” damascus barrels, long beautifully extended wood;
12b Sidelever hammergun by Stephen Grant with 30”x 2 ¾” TIG sleeved barrels, spectacular wood.
And following a bit further back down the restoration road:
12b Boss & Co 1893 toplever sidelock ejector with lovely replacement barrels freshly reproofed 2 ¾” nitro and beautiful wood;
Pair of James Purdey & Sons 12b toplever hammerguns with 30”x 2 ¾” TIG sleeved barrels, cased;
16b Lightweight Thomas Turner backaction hammergun, complete with original cut-away stock;
12b Boss & Co RUL hammergun with 30”x 2 ¾” TIG sleeved barrels;
12b James Purdey & Sons self-opening sidelock ejector, 30”x 2 ¾” TIG sleeved barrels with interchangeable Teague chokes;
12b J Blanch & Son back action sidelock ejector with 28”x 2 ¾” damascus barrels;
12b Holland & Holland 1st Type Royal sidelock ejector with 30”x 2 ¾” chopperlump steel barrels, cased.
Bob Nay of MacNab Fine Firearms holds some of my antique stock for immediate
delivery (pre-1899 so no need for an FFL – they can be shipped direct to your
An extremely rare, un-messed-with pair of 1897 James Woodward & Sons 12b SLE’s complete with original barrels and stocks and many accessories.
A classic 1st Type 12g Holland & Holland from
1891 with 28”x 2 ¾” replacement steel barrels and lovely 15” replacement stock.
1st Type 12g H&H Royal SLE no 14145
A very nice baraction hammergun by WR Pape with 30” damascus barrels.
12g 1887 hammergun by William Rochester Pape;
A fabulous sidelever 1892 12b SLE by Boss & Co, gorgeous original stock; presented in its oak & leather Maker’s case.
A very pretty sidelever 12b hammergun retailed by Army &
Navy. This gun has 30” damascus barrels with good
MWT’s and a well figured 14 ½” original stock. 2 ½” nitro reproof.
Army & Navy 12b Sidelever Hammergun no 2688
Then there is this very interesting Holland & Holland 2nd Type Royal from 1892. Filling the gap between the 1st type Royal and the later No.2 Royal, it has features from both which makes it a very rare beast.
& Holland 12b No 2 Royal no 14495 in its relined leather and brass
I also have some new additions to my guncase inventory:
There are five new additions and you can view full details and prices here.
A quick rundown is as follows:
Ref. 011468 Leather and brass case, blocked for 12b, relined in burgundy baize with a modern James Purdey & Sons black and gold leather trade label (possibly a reproduction). (Some loose blocking to allow for adjustments)
Ref. 051528 Leather double case for 12b, original ‘Rifle Green’ lining with black & gold leather Maker’s trade label.
Ref. 071676 Oak & leather Boss & Co single guncase, recently relined with red baize and fitted with an apparently original Maker’s paper trade label.
Ref. 101754 Oak & leather James Woodward & Sons single guncase, recently relined with red baize and fitted with an original Woodward paper trade label.
Ref. 371200 Canvas and leather single guncase, lined with red baize and fitted with a reproduction Boss & Co paper label.
Well, that is about it for now.
I wish you all the very best of health during the unprecedented challenges that lie ahead and would implore you to consider the risks to yourself and others when considering plans to travel away from your home base.
Very best regards,