Mystery Lincoln Jeffries
I have a Lincoln Jeffries rifle made in 1909. It has a silver braid inlaid where the stock meets the metal. On the butt plate an engraving saying ‘in memory of Nigel Grayford, AKA ‘The Skull Boiler’. Also on the stock under the BSA emblem is stamped R. A.R.C. I would be grateful if anyone has any information on this rifle. RAY
John Atkins replied:
Your 1909 L.J. rifle sounds a most interesting piece. Unfortunately, I can’t be specific over the markings because I don’t have any old registers of members’ names of pre- Great War air rifle clubs starting with the letter ‘R’ – which could stand for a town or village, or even a company or business for whom the Club members worked. It seems less likely to stand for a public house team – I’d expect that to be represented by more than one initial letter. Few pubs have just one word names, although it’s entirely possible that a pub name commencing with ‘The’ ( For instance: ‘ The Crown’, The Ship’, etc.), left off the ’The’ in the stampings, so a pub- named team should not be discounted. Because of the enormous number of air rifle clubs in those years, the ‘R.’ in ‘R. A.R.C.’ initials stamped under the BSA Piled Arms 7.5.1900 reg. trademark might never be known, I’m afraid.
A touch of added silver or German silver/white metal ornamentation to the butts of these old BSAs is occasionally seen; usually on presentation pieces, or to commemorate an important win. The butt plate engraving as a memorial is most strange. Maybe Nigel Grayford was a butcher by trade, who boiled pigs’ or cows’ heads for sale in a shop, or maybe he prepared skulls for animal skull collectors, or as trophies – let’s hope that, rather than human heads! To the best of my memory, his name never appeared among the top air rifle marksmen in the club results published in any of the sporting journals of the day, that I have personally studied. It’s possible a reader might know, should your letter be published in the magazine, but without access to possibly surviving club registers of members’ names that might include a ‘Nigel Grayford,’ I’m afraid I can’t help. Many thanks for your interesting correspondence. John Atkins.
These rifle’s from John Atkins’ collection are from the same era as our reader’s gun