Heritage Guns Update 4th September 2018
Yet again I must apologise for being out of touch for so long: it seems an eon since my last missive in May but with the long hot summer behind us it is time to be considering the upcoming Vintage Gunners Cup in Maryland, 21st – 23rd of this month.
As mentioned above, this summer has been blessed (or cursed, depending on your view) by record breaking heat and drought. Farmers, especially those with stock to feed, have found it terribly difficult, having to use food put aside for winter and hence dread unbudgeted for feed bills in months to come. The cattle around us barely moved from the feed and watering points as there was simply no grazing to be found. The swallows and pied wagtails that arrived to take up last year’s nests in the cart lodge also had a bad breeding season with a huge infestation of mites in the nests which drove the fledglings to leave the nest too early. Tilly discovered several barely fledged youngsters dotted round the garden, bringing them to hand without harm. They were simply crawling with mites and couldn’t be returned to their nests. None survived.
Chrissy and I escaped the heat to head north to Northumberland and then on to Isle of Mull. Of course the weather promptly broke and my Roe stalking in the first weeks was ruined by high winds and an unwelcome chill. Mull is of course one big coastline so the heat is never oppressive and we had a few glorious days of bright sun, mixed with the odd sharp shower. My Red stag stalking there was also unsuccessful: there were simply no mature stags to be found, either on the low or high ground. Plenty of young stags with groups of hinds but nothing shootable. High stock levels were mainly blamed with the suggestion that the estate has become a ‘hind forest’ which bodes well for the rut when the big boys come back for a bit of sexual tourism but makes early season stalking a non-starter. Also noticeable was the very low numbers of hinds with calves. Apparently the ‘Beast from the East’ weather system that hit the UK in late February so stressed many pregnant hinds in some areas that they aborted their calves rather that lose their lives. In the groups of hinds that we saw, probably only 20% had this year’s calf at heel and a similar percentage of yearling followers so a lot of those must have perished as well.
Tilly is her same old self, starting to show a little grey round the muzzle but behaving like a youngster! She seemed to enjoy her time up north: exploring the Roman ruins and Hadrian’s Wall with us in Northumberland and loving the chance to play in the waves off the reef below our rental on Mull. She disgraced herself on Mull by eating something unmentionable on her morning walk and then bringing it up together with her breakfast all over the back of the Discovery! It got everywhere and I had to strip out the dog cages and secure gun storage on return home to clean it all out! Yuck!
Anyway, to business:
Firstly new stock. I have uploaded the written details for all new guns and priced up gun information that had been pending. Quite a few of these guns have been in the USA with my colleague Bob Nay of MacNab Fine Firearms and these are priced in US$’s and have a link on their page and stock list to Bob’s email.
New stock items include:
A lovely 16g James Purdey, damascus barrelled 1872 BiW Hammergun. Quite amazing condition for its age with a very pretty antique replacement stock.
On consignment, a very handsome 12g BiW hammergun by the ‘Purdey of Birmingham’, William Powell & Son. Gun no 6175 carries 30” replacement steel barrels by the Pigeon Gun specialist Charles Boswell and at 7lb is a must for clays or tall driven game.
Also on consignment is an 1897 12g SLE by Joseph Lang & Son, cased in a Brady canvas & leather and fitted with replacement barrels and stock. The engraving on this gun has to be seen to be believed, quite remarkable.
Then another BiW hammergun, this time a damascus Westley Richards 12g from before 1887. A ‘Plain Jane’, she gives nothing away in terms of build and finish and with her lovely wood (forend a replacement) would make someone a very classy tool for game or clays.
The final new gun coming to the Vintage Gunners Cup is a lovely 1st Type 12g H&H Royal: 2 ¾” x 28” replacement steel barrels and 15” replacement stock make this a very ‘useable’ gun. Great for doves and upland game.
Last new offering, non-antique so not coming to the USA just yet, is a lovely 12g BLE by J Blanch & Son. Great engraving, replacement 2 ¾” x 28” steel barrels, interceptor sears and a very pretty stock would make this a great ‘shooter’ for someone discerning.
Also on show in Maryland will be:
At long last, the No 2 of the Holland & Holland pair that we have been working on for so long: No 12320 is a lovely example of the ‘1st Type’ Royal and joins its Pair, no 12319, in a fantastic double Oak & Leather Maker’s case.
Carrying the tightest bored Damascus barrels we have ever seen, this 12g hammergun by William Rochester Pape is one of the nicest examples of his work that we have had through the workshops in a long time. The dog & game vignettes on trigger guard and lockplates will make you smile and seriously ‘weight forward’ barrels will make you shoot well!
Lastly, this Rotary Underlever Stephen Grant hammergun is only the 40th number in his records after he set up on his own, having left Boss & Co. It has a grip safety, added after the gun was made, and locks converted to rebounding which was not invented for another 10 years, work most likely done in house. Now in its Leather & Brass case with some accessories.
I have also made improvements to several guns that have been listed previously. Among these is Henry Atkin (From Purdey’s) 12g SLE no 397 which has finally found a leather and brass case to live in! This gun is simply staggering quality and it is a mystery to me why no one has snapped it up yet.
Other guns held on consignment in the USA include:
A lovely 12g 1890’s Underlever SLE by James Woodward and Sons, the ‘Automatic’ model. Complete with its original 29” chopperlump barrels and replacement 15” stock, this gun has been reproofed for 2 ¾” ammunition and is a real joy to handle, cased in an oak lined case with some accessories.
An 1893 12g roundaction ejector by John Dickson & Son TIG sleeved 28” with beautiful, original French walnut stock. 2 ¾” reproofed.
An 1890’s 12g backaction SLE by J Blanch & Son. 28” x 2 ¾” TIG sleeved barrels, 15” replacement stock make this a gun for a serious shooter, not a closet queen!
I have been very successful in obtaining quite a lot of new stock over recent months and these will be appearing at exhibitions over the next 6-12 months as their restoration is completed. Included are:
J Lyell & Co 12g 30” damascus hammergun, Scottish gun with gorgeous engraving;
Woodward 12g toplever, SLE, original wood, 29” replacement steel barrels;
Boss 12g sidelever SLE, original highly figured wood, 28” laser sleeved barrels;
Pair of Woodward 12g SLE’s, original wood, 29” TIG sleeved barrels with Teague Interchangeable chokes and spare 28” barrels;
Another pair of Woodward 12g SLE’s, original 29” Whitworth chopperlump barrels and lovely wood;
Transitional H&H 12g Royal (1st to 2nd Type) with original 30” steel barrels and fine original wood;
E&G Higham 28g BLNE with 28” damascus barrels (non-antique);
Frederick Beesley 12g SLE, 28” replacement steel barrels, highly figured replacement wood;
Joseph Lang 16g hammergun, 30” TIG sleeved barrels, highly figured original semi-pistol stock;
Thumblever Purdey 12g Hammergun, 31” TIG sleeved barrels, lovely original wood, island locks;
William Powell 12g SLE WITH HAMMERS as original!
Purdey ‘B Grade’ 12g self-opening SLE, 30” TIG sleeved;
Stephen Grant 12g sidelever hammergun, 30” TIG sleeved, very highly figured original wood;
H&H 12g Scott & Baker patent SLNE, 30” damascus barrels, all original wood in great shape, Scott Premier style game scene engraving, fresh nitro reproof;
H&H 16g damascus Royal 1st Type;
Boss toplever 12g hammergun, 30” TIG sleeved barrels, great wood;
Boss RUL 12g hammergun, 30” TIG sleeved barrels, also great wood.
That little lot is going to keep me busy!
All the above (unless otherwise noted) are pre-1899 and can be shipped direct to most US postal addresses.
Well, enough for now, hopefully see you at the Vintage Gunners Cup held in Maryland USA, September 21st to 23rd.
If not, enjoy the upcoming shooting/hunting seasons and above all, keep safe.