Mys­tery Lin­coln Jef­fries

Air Gunner - - Your Letters -

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

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