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Holts (March)

The day began with the heaviest lot of the sale: a filing cabinet (Lot 1) used by Sir Winston Churchill both in the cabinet rooms and at his Chartwell home, and this sold for £1100. Guncases and cartridge magazines always attract much attention and a fine example by Henry Atkin (Lot 161), designed to hold 300 cartridges sold for an impressive £900. An interesting, and certainly rare, early 19th century flintlock signalling gun (Lot 301) reached £330 and took us into the antique arms section of the morning session. The next Lot was a large brass- barrelled blunderbuss (Lot 409). Once the property of the London Custom House and probably mounted at the turn of the bow on one of their fast river cutters, this interesting piece of our history sold for £3000. A good pair of cased duellers by Ketland (Lot 458) peaked at £5500 and a rather nice little blunderbuss pistol by Richards (Lot 461) fetched a well-deserved £1300.

Moving forward in history to the percussion era, Holt’s sold an unusual and easy to conceal take-down poacher’s gun (Lot 521) for £650, followed by a smart 15 bore sporting gun by Lang (Lot 523) which fetched £2400. Ordnance trials rifles are always interesting, especially the unsuccessful (and therefore rarer) variants, and we saw a Leetch patent carbine in the ubiquitous .577 (Lot 540) sell over top estimate at £2100. Also of note were the all-metal ‘Scottish’ pistols and a silver-mounted example by Wighton of Edinburgh (Lot 572) sold for £3000.

Greener’s own .577 Snider According to Senior Valuer Roland Elworthy, the obsolete calibre section was as hotly contested as ever with some rare and collectible items coming under the hammer. Of these most outstanding was a .577 Snider patent target-rifle that once belonged to Frederic Greener (Lot 808). He had finely checkered it himself and used it successfully on many occasions. It remained with the firm and was sold from the maker’s private collection for £1100. The section ended with a lightly-used .450 BPE hammer rifle by Reilly (Lot 845) that had been commissioned by King Alfonso XIII. It sold for £3000.

The afternoon session continued with some excellent bolt and break rifles. The first mention being an unusual Kepplinger patent bolt-rifle in .300WM (Lot 1105) that sold for £5000, followed by one of Sauer’s trusted ‘Mod 202’ rifles in .308 and for a left-hander (Lot 1108) that fetched a deserved £3000, Said Roland: “The left- handed market often springs a surprise; one might think that bidding would be slow, but since buyers have fewer opportunities to secure these guns, the reverse is often true. Later in the section £15,000 was achieved for a .22LR! This was no ‘plinker’ or rabbit rifle though; it was a fine Funk-engraved take-down by Schiller (Lot 1125) with superb attention to detail and employing a Blaser-type rotary magazine. Moving into break-action rifles we were fortunate in bringing to sale an excellent .470NE double by Purdey (Lot 1215) that achieved a whopping £60,000 +VAT.”

Rare and Collectable Shotguns

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Section 2 shotguns kicked-off with a very rare (possibly unique) garniture of Churchill boxlocks in .410, 28 bore and 20 bore (Lot 1300), all housed in a behemothic case. This presents a potential investment for the buyer who secured the Lot for £15,000. Also an uncommon sight was a pair of Holloway & Naughton over/under sidelocks (Lot 1315) that sold for £21,000. These were built on Boss-type actions and were completed in 2005. A pair of 12 bore self-openers by Purdey (Lot 1337) attracted much interest in spite of their rather distressed order, and sold well at £11,000. They had ‘frog-eye’ type tumbler pivots and so, on that basis, were quite unusual.

The oft-mentioned triumvirate of condition, originality and presentation came to the fore for an excellent Purdey (Lot 1403) that was quickly bid up to £10,500, followed by one of Westley Richards’ fine detachable lock models (Lot 1413) that reached £3400. “Next came one of my favourites,” reveals Roland, adding: “A superbly balanced self-opener by A.A. Brown & Sons (Lot 1415) that fetched a richly deserved £8500. A wonderfully original ‘Dominion’ by Holland & Holland (Lot 1425) sold for £5800 and I was pleased to see a beautifully elegant Woodward (Lot 1445) reach its zenith at £11,000.

The ever-popular small bores began with a fine 20 bore bar-in-wood hammergun by Purdey (Lot 1500) that was hammered down at £6500. This was closely followed by a rare single-barrelled .410 self-opener by Westley Richards (Lot 1504) that fetched £900 and then my favourite shotgun of the sale: a really sweet little 28 bore BLE by Beesley (Lot 1522). A typical family gun in its original case, pleasantly worn but allowed to age gracefully that sold for £3,600.

Of note in the over/under section was the opening Lot 1600, a fine Pasolini-engraved 12 bore by the famed Italian maker Ivo Fabbri that reached £22,000. We saw some firm prices in the boxlocks, with good examples attracting much attention before heading in to hammerguns, the final section of the sale. Of these, a presentation 12 bore by Schilling (Lot 1805) saw a flurry of bids thanks to its fine quality and intricate carving to the stock and action, and this sold for £8000.”

Holt’s next auction is on Thursday 18th June. For further information call 01485 542822 or visit the website at www.holtsauctioneers.com.

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