Hid­den trea­sures at Holt’s

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

Shooting Gazette - - Auctions -

The Holt’s sale in June co­in­cided with one of the hottest spells in Lon­don I have ever ex­pe­ri­enced, with the tem­per­a­ture reach­ing a whop­ping 35˚C. Princess Louise House, where the sales are held in Ham­mer­smith, is at least cav­ernous with lit­tle glass, but we did have to ask for per­mis­sion to loosen our ties.

To me, the star lots in the sale were a group of six ri­fles from the gun­room of the Wind­sorClive fam­ily. They were all high qual­ity ri­fles but what made them par­tic­u­larly ap­peal­ing was this was the first time they had seen the light of day since they were bought last cen­tury. Out of the six ri­fles, the best ex­am­ple was a mag­nif­i­cent .400/.360 boxlock ejec­tor dou­ble ri­fle by Daniel Fraser of Ed­in­burgh. It was in its orig­i­nal case and in su­perb con­di­tion. It was built for Archer Wind­sor-clive who was a lieu­tenant in the Cold­stream Guards and killed at Lan­drecles, right at the be­gin­ning of the First World War, on Au­gust 25, 1914. As Lot 1154 it was es­ti­mated at £6,000-£8,000 but it made a whop­ping £11,000.

There were more than 3,000 lots in the main sale and in the sealed bid sale. As usual, where do you start? Gems abound ev­ery­where, and one I spot­ted was a 12 bore boxlock ejec­tor by Joseph Harkom of Ed­in­burgh (Lot 3103). I know boxlock ejec­tors are 10-a-penny and dif­fi­cult to sell, but Harkom boxlocks are a cut above the rest as they were ac­tu­ally built in Ed­in­burgh and have gold-washed in­ter­nals. They are high-qual­ity boxlocks with very dis­tinc­tive fences par­tic­u­lar to Harkom. The ex­am­ple in this lot was tired and black pow­der proofed only but, at £300-£500, it was a bagatelle

“The ri­fles were all high qual­ity but hadn’t seen the light of day since they were first pur­chased last cen­tury.”

for such a qual­ity boxlock in orig­i­nal con­di­tion. Sold for £315.

Now, .410 guns are al­ways in de­mand, even more so if they are dou­ble-bar­relled. Add to this a stock of adult di­men­sions and they are very de­sir­able. In Lot 2932 there was such a gun, a dou­ble .410 ham­mer gun with an orig­i­nal fin­ish and a 14” stock. There was no maker’s name on it but it must have been built by one of the lead­ing Birm­ing­ham gun­mak­ers. With its top lever and pis­tol grip, es­ti­mated at £500-£700, it was just the job for a stroll in the farm­yard. Sold for £654.

There are lit­er­ally hun­dreds and hun­dreds of over-un­der guns in the sale but one that caught my eye was a Beretta 686 Special, in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion it has to be said. As Lot 2686 it was es­ti­mated at £400£600, a third of the price of a new Beretta. Sold for £462.

An­tique ac­ces­sories and guns abound, and in Lot 2212, six pow­der flasks were on of­fer at £100-£200. A group of pow­der flasks is al­ways a good buy – I’m sure you will have no­ticed how much in­di­vid­ual flasks fetch in an­tique shops. Sold for £126.

Another quan­tity in the sale that I have to say I found fas­ci­nat­ing was Lot 2218: six Bri­tish mil­i­tary flint­locks by var­i­ous mak­ers for East In­dia Com­pany mus­kets. They were all in sleeper con­di­tion and es­ti­mated at £200-£300, quite a find if you’re a col­lec­tor of mil­i­tary mus­kets. Sold for £366.

Any­body with an in­ter­est in firearms must surely have a li­brary of re­lated books. I find 19th cen­tury books fas­ci­nat­ing, as not only do they pro­vide in­for­ma­tion, they fea­ture high-qual­ity en­grav­ings, too. Prob­a­bly the most fa­mous 19th cen­tury book of this kind is The

Gun And Its De­vel­op­ment by W.W. Greener. This ti­tle was in Lot 2435, es­ti­mated at just £25-£30. Another 1880s’ Greener book is Mod­ern

Breech-load­ers, which was in Lot 2449 and es­ti­mated at £20-£30. Sold for £41.

The .400/.360 Daniel Fraser boxlock ejec­tor dou­ble ri­fle no. 3163. Orig­i­nally es­ti­mated at £6,000–£8,000, it even­tu­ally sold for £11,000.

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