Hid­den trea­sures at Holt’s

Don­ald Dal­las takes a deeper look at some un­usual auc­tion lots.

Shooting Gazette - - Auc­tions -

It’s an ad­dic­tion this col­lect­ing busi­ness. There are so many ac­cou­trements to ac­com­pany guns and ri­fles and I know, that for one, seem to have amassed a large col­lec­tion of such items bought for no par­tic­u­lar rea­son.

The Holt’s Sealed Bid sale in July was full of such items at very rea­son­able prices. Most of us in the col­lect­ing world can turn our hand to a bit of restora­tion and one item I par­tic­u­larly liked was a 19th cen­tury gun­maker’s leg vice in Lot 4363, which sold for £61. Such a vice would be ideal for the work­shop.

How can you re­sist Lot 2237? Three jam jars of muz­zle-load­ing spares. Just the de­scrip­tion is enough to make you reach for your bid pad­dle, cer­tainly evok­ing child­hood mem­o­ries of tad­poles and mar­bles. How­ever, the spares were very prac­ti­cal, a large col­lec­tion of flints, a col­lec­tion of pow­der flask springs and a col­lec­tion of main­springs. Sold for £126 they were a snip when you think how much a main­spring would cost to re­place.

If we have a gun in a case with va­cant com­part­ments, then we all want to fill the case with the cor­rect ac­ces­sories as a gun or ri­fle com­plete not only looks the part, it adds value in ad­di­tion. They must be the cor­rect pe­riod ac­ces­sories though and Lot 4359, con­sist­ing of six leather clean­ing pouches, which sold for £125, seemed a wise buy. Leather clean­ing pouches con­tain­ing a pull through were in use from the late 19th cen­tury right through the 20th cen­tury and hence any one of th­ese clean­ing pouches would be ap­pro­pri­ate in a case span­ning this pe­riod as the de­sign did not change.

A use­ful pur­chase was a brand new large gold stock oval mea­sur­ing some two inches by one inch. When buy­ing a new gun or com­ing into pos­ses­sion of an old gun, many peo­ple want their own ini­tials en­graved on such an oval. This can be pricey due to the value of gold but in Lot 4405 the es­ti­mate was just £25-£35 and it sold for £45.

As far as the guns in the main sale were con­cerned, any­thing that is com­pletely orig­i­nal will com­mand a lot of in­ter­est and high pre­mium. Such an item was Lot 620, a .22 bar­rel cock­ing We­b­ley & Scott “Pre War Mk.1” air pis­tol c.1935. Not only did the pis­tol re­tain most of its orig­i­nal fin­ish, it was con­tained in its orig­i­nal dark blue car­ton with in­struc­tions in the lid, a blue card sam­ple pel­let car­ton, clean­ing brush etc. Such orig­i­nal­ity is quite hard to find. It was sold for £260.

There is al­ways a good se­lec­tion of un­usual guns and ri­fles in the sale. One un­usual side­lock that caught my eye was a Joseph Lang none­jec­tor wild­fowl­ing gun. Lang is in the top flight of mak­ers and this bor­der en­graved side­lock was very hand­some. It even sported a sin­gle trig­ger. It had 3” cham­bers and 34” bar­rels and weighed 7lbs 8oz. It was es­ti­mated at £500-£700 but sold for £1,600.

The gun I found the most in­ter­est­ing in the sale was lot 1510. This was a top qual­ity 16 bore Charles Lan­caster ham­mer gun with extra 20 bore bar­rels de­scribed in the cat­a­logue as “an un­usual gun”. It cer­tainly was un­usual as it had a left hand side lever, short 25” bar­rels, a diminu­tive fore-end, a pis­tol grip and was of light weight. As I read through the de­scrip­tion it men­tioned at the end it was built in 1874 for a Lt. Col. War­rand.

Then the penny dropped. I knew ex­actly who this was and why the gun was so un­usual. Wil­liam War­rand was an of­fi­cer in the Royal En­gi­neers and in the In­dian Mutiny at the cap­ture of Delhi in 1857 he lost his arm. He was a keen shoot­ing man and did not let his dis­abil­ity cur­tail his sport. Con­se­quently he had var­i­ous guns built for him de­signed for on­earmed use and this is one of them. The fore-end was un­nec­es­sary hence its small size, the pis­tol grip es­sen­tial for a firm hand and the bar­rels of small bore and short to cope with one-armed use.

The gun it­self is a best qual­ity Lan­caster with typ­i­cal Lan­caster hare’s ears ham­mers and pro­fusely en­graved with rose and scroll. Sold for £800, this was a gun with a in­ter­est­ing prove­nance and would cer­tainly prove to be a talk­ing point in any col­lec­tion.

A We­b­ley & Scott .22 air pis­tol c. 1935 in very orig­i­nal con­di­tion in its orig­i­nal car­ton. The es­ti­mate was £150-£250 and it sold for £260.

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