The Auction Report: September 2017
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- Last updated: 08/11/2017
A rare chance to own fine sporting guns with Victorian royal pedigree…
Two rare sporting guns made by an English rifle-maker employed by Queen Victoria’s son have been consigned to auction.
William Richard Leeson, who was born in Bletchingley, Surrey, in 1851, was a renowned English gun-maker beloved by the gentry and royalty. He soared to ever greater prominence in 1890 when he was appointed rifle maker to the Duke of Edinburgh. This allowed him to proudly advertise himself as ‘Rifle Maker by Appointment to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’. The Duke, named Alfred, was the second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
William, who marked his guns ‘W.R Leeson’, started trading in a shop in Kent but by 1907 he had moved to London and had prestigious business addresses in Bond Street, Regent Street and Hanover Square.
Now, a matching pair of exceptionally fine 16-bore ejector shotguns made by William Richard Leeson around 1920 have been unearthed by Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire and consigned to auction. Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “These guns have royal pedigree and will spark worldwide interest. W R Leeson was renowned for quality. He cemented his success in 1890 when the firm was appointed rifle maker to the Duke of Edinburgh.
The rifles feature 28-inch steel nitro proofed barrels with 2½-inch chambers, have barrel ribs and are engraved with ‘W R Leeson, No 3 Warwick Street, Regent Street, London’.
“The estimate on the shotguns is £8000 to £12,000. We hope, with sporting interest across Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire Warwickshire and neighbouring rural counties, these shotguns will find a new home and be looked after for the next generation.
The guns will be sold in Hansons’ Sporting Guns and Country Pursuits Auction on September 25th. For details on these items, or to consign to auction, call 01283 733 988 or email service@ hansonsauctioneers.co.uk. www.hansonsauctioneers.co.uk
A fine Williams & Powell oak double rifle case is going under the hammer…
Are you in the market for a new double rifle case or is this something you like to collect? Well in Holts Auctioneers’ forthcoming auction on September 21st, bidders have the chance to purchase a beautifully finished oak percussion double rifle case, by the Liverpool gunmakers Williams & Powell (Lot 45). Within one of the case compartments there is a railway label from Daniel Fraser gunmakers in Edinburgh, inscribed ‘Miss A Watt, Speke Hall, Garsdon Dock Station per Liverpool’, Miss Adelaide Watt being the last owner of Speke Hall and Speke Estate in Merseyside, also Spott Estate near Dunbar in Scotland.
After Adelaide’s death in 1921 Speke Hall was left in the hands of trustees for 21-years, before it was passed to the National Trust in 1942. Speke has a long history, the boundaries of the estate being set in 1334 (though reference to Speke is made in both the Doomsday surveys of 1066 and 1086, the latter survey reporting it to be held by the Saxon Thane, Uctred).
The double rifle case was likely for a small calibre park rifle, the case fitted for 26- inch barrels, blue baize-lined interior extensively blocked for a selection of ivory handled tools, each handle finely initialled ‘W’ in Victorian black type, with several further initialled threaded handles with interchangeable brushes and nipple cleaning heads, two ivory pots (one large, one small) similarly initialled and an ivory tipped cleaning rod handle, glass oil bottle with florally-engraved hinged top and glass stopper, the case also with compartments for spare percussion dolphin hammers with original colour-hardened ornate serpent and scroll engraved hammers present, and also with an isolated finely scroll engraved action breech face with top tang, the lid interior with a Williams & Powell (Late Patrick) 25 South Castle Street Liverpool address trade label (with pencilled notes ‘5 1/2lbs. 1893’), the lid outer with a circular escutcheon with a further ‘W’ initial.
The double case is estimated to sell for £600-800. www.holtsauctioneers.com
Two magnificent individually cased 8-bore Joseph Lang & son shotguns available at holts…
In Holts Auctioneers’ September 21st auction, bidders have a chance to purchase two beautifully presented and individually cased, 8-bore hammerless sidelock non-ejectors by London gunmaker Joseph Lang & Sons (Lot 920). These guns were originally sold by the maker on 31st August 1911 at a cost £78. 15s a piece.
The guns feature 34-inch nitro chopperlump barrels (no. 15062 London nitro reproved in 1980), the ribs engraved ‘JOSEPH LANG & SON. 102. NEW BOND STREET. LONDON.’ and with fine acanthus scroll detailing at the breech end, the barrel breech ends engraved with a fine beaded band, the undersides with J.L.& S. marking and barrel makers initials ‘F.S.’, and ‘CHAMBERED FOR 3¼-inch U.M.C. SHELL’, 3¼-inch chambers, bored approx. extra full choke in all, large treblegrip actions with carved fences, automatic safeties with goldinlaid ‘SAFE’ details, gold-inlaid cocking-indicators, Jones patent rotary underlevers, articulated front triggers, fine acanthus scroll engraving interspersed with floral bouquets, the actions, lockplates and furniture retaining much original colour-hardened finish, 13½-inch well-figured semi-pistolgrip stocks including ¾-inch ebonite extensions, each stock with oval gold escutcheon engraved ‘E.C.C. N.Y.’ (gun no. 15061) and ‘B.S. Jr. N.Y.’ (gun no. 15062), small insert repairs to underhorns gun no. 15062, minor damage to leading edge of forend wood (gun no. 15062), forends with engraved Anson push rod release catches, weight 12lb 15½oz., in their individual brass-cornered oak and leather cases, the lid outers embossed ‘E.C.C. N.Y.’ and ‘B.S. Jr. N.Y.’, the interiors plushly lined with green velveteen cloth, oak-bordered gold-tooled red leather Joseph Lang & Son trade labels and additional Von Lengerke & Detmold plaques, with some nickel finish accessories.
The guns are carrying an estimate of £40,000-£50,000. www.holtsauctioneers.com
A beautiful London best J. Purdey & sons 12-bore deluxe shotgun up for grabs…
Also at their September 21st auction, Holts Auctioneers’ will be selling a rare lightweight 12-bore deluxe self-opening sidelock ejector, by London gunmaker J. Purdey & Sons (Lot 1400). The hammerless game gun was completed by Purdey in June 1965 and features attractive large scroll engraving.
With an estimate of £15,000-£20,000, the gun features 28-inch nitro chopperlump barrels, the rib engraved ‘J. PURDEY & SONS. AUDLEY HOUSE. SOUTH AUDLEY STREET. LONDON. ENGLAND.’, 2½-inch chambers, bored approx. imp. cyl. and 1/2 choke, selfopening action with removable striker discs, automatic safety with gold-inlaid ‘SAFE’ detail, cocking-indicators, profusely engraved with bold acanthus scrollwork on a finely matted background, the lockplates with cartouches engraved with the maker’s name, the underside with an oval engraved ‘J. PURDEY & SONS. LONDON. ENGLAND’, retaining some original colour-hardening and finish, 14-inch highly-figured stock, weight 6lb 5oz, in its lightweight leather motor case with some accessories www.holtsauctioneers.com
The chance to purchase a pair of London best holland & holland 12-bore selfopening, hand-detachable sidelock ejectors…
Coming up in Holts, next auction, this fine quality pair of Royal game guns were completed by the makers on 15th December 1986 (Lot 1312). The guns feature sequential serial numbers, 40835/6, 28-inch nitro chopperlump barrels, the ribs engraved in script ‘THE ROYAL’ and with floral designs and gold-inlaid ‘1’ and ‘2’ at the breech ends, the tubes engraved ‘HOLLAND & HOLLAND. 33. BRUTON STREET. LONDON.’, 2¾-inch chambers, bored approx. 1/4 and 1/2 choke, toplevers gold-inlaid ‘1’ and ‘2’, automatic safeties with goldinlaid ‘SAFE’ details, hand-detachable lockplates, gold-inlaid cockingindicators, rolled-edge triggerguards, best bold Royal scroll engraving, the undersides with elaborate cartouches engraved ‘THE ROYAL MODEL’, retaining much original colour-hardening and finish, 15½- inch well-figured stocks with diamond grips and including ¾-inch rubber recoil pads, weight 6lb 11oz, in their lightweight leather motor case with some accessories and canvas and leather outer.
The estimate is at £35,000-45,000.