Hid­den trea­sures at Holts

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

Shooting Gazette - - Auctions -

There was plenty of an­tic­i­pa­tion as Lot 1325 came up at the Holts Septem­ber sale — a pair of vir­tu­ally new 12 bore over-un­ders by Purdey that had been built for Eric Clap­ton. They were es­ti­mated at £150,000 - £170,000 and the bid­ding started at £120,000. The room went quiet; you could have heard a pin drop as they made £150,000 then, with a fi­nal push, they made £160,000 and the room burst into ap­plause.

Lot 230 was an his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant SAS reg­i­men­tal brass in­signia from 22 Squadron SAS (rhode­sia). Solid brass and weigh­ing 20lbs it was made to be dis­played on a wall. It bore the motto “Who Dares Wins” and was cer­tainly unique. Es­ti­mated at £3,000 - £5,000, it made £3,800.

Lot 408, an el­e­gant and ap­peal­ing dou­ble flint­lock sport­ing gun by bass of Lon­don from around 1795, made an im­pres­sive £6,100 against its es­ti­mate of £4,000 - £5,000. With its rounded fat­tish stock, square che­quer­ing and stubby front trig­ger, the qual­ity and con­di­tion were top notch.

Lot 506 was a fine late-built Purdey per­cus­sion live pi­geon gun No.7444, dat­ing from 1867. It looked sim­i­lar to Purdey ham­mer guns of this era, with its orig­i­nal padded leather cheek­piece and, as be­fit­ting a live pi­geon gun, no ram­rod. What made it stand out was the in­cred­i­ble orig­i­nal con­di­tion it was in, with loads of orig­i­nal brown and case hard­en­ing and sparkling in its en­tirety. That is why it made £7,500 within its es­ti­mate of £7,000 - £9,000.

Dol­phin ham­mers

An un­usual gun was Lot 525, a per­cus­sion gun by Daniel ross of Ed­in­burgh. Have you seen the re­stored ross Foun­tain in Princes Street, Ed­in­burgh, do­nated by Daniel ross in the 19th cen­tury? Es­ti­mated at £1,500 - £2,000, the gun re­alised £3,100. It had ex­tra ri­fle bar­rels and all were con­tained in its orig­i­nal oak case. Provin­cial per­cus­sion guns like this can be a bit quirky and this one had ex­ag­ger­ated dol­phin ham­mers.

Winch­ester lever-ac­tion ri­fles are highly col­lectible and Lot 620 was a fine 40-65 lever-ac­tion 1886 model made to spe­cial or­der. It was in fine orig­i­nal con­di­tion and, es­ti­mated at £3,000 - £5,000, it went for £7,000. I won­der what my plas­tic Winch­ester dat­ing from the 1960s would make? An­other one was on of­fer in Lot 635, an ex­tremely fine Winch­ester 45-75 lever ac­tion model 1876. Con­sid­er­ing it was made in 1877 it was in amaz­ing con­di­tion re­tain­ing the ma­jor­ity of its orig­i­nal fin­ish. Es­ti­mated at £5,000 - £7,000 it put on its spurs and gal­loped to an as­ton­ish­ing £10,500.

Hol­land & Hol­land has a rep­u­ta­tion for dou­ble ri­fles and two lots, Lot 1207 and 1208, bear out the de­sir­abil­ity of the name. Lot 1207 was a .500/465 Ni­tro Ex­press royal dou­ble ri­fle dat­ing from 1932. Con­tained in its case and es­ti­mated at £20,000 - £25,000, it made £20,000.

Lot 1208 was an­other, this time a 7x65r royal (orig­i­nally .240 Apex) built in 1928. It had much orig­i­nal fin­ish and, es­ti­mated at £12,000 - £16,000, it made £15,000.

For some rea­son pairs of guns are dif­fi­cult to sell, but not so sin­gles. Fig­ures were high and it is heart­en­ing to see the ex­cel­lent prices achieved. One of my favourite side­lock guns is the Hol­land & Hol­land No.3 or Do­min­ion with its back ac­tion locks. Lot 1406 was such a gun beat its es­ti­mated £700 - £900 by mak­ing £1,300 — still an ab­so­lute bar­gain for such a qual­ity gun.

I was also pleased to see the ex­cel­lent prices achieved by boxlock ejec­tors, de­stroy­ing the myth that there is lit­tle de­mand for these beau­ti­ful guns. Any boxlock by Churchill fetches a high price and Lot 1703, a 12 bore Her­cules, made £2,800 against its es­ti­mate if £1,000 - £1,500. An­other one, Lot 1705, this time a Util­ity es­ti­mated at £1,500 - £2,000, made £2,000. What could be re­garded as run-ofthe-mill boxlock ejec­tors were all mak­ing well over £1,000. Hur­rah!

Winch­ester 45-75 lever-ac­tion Model 1876 ri­fle. Es­ti­mated at £5,000 - £7,000 it made £10,500.

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