Step back in time
This shotgun could be termed the gun equivalent of a time capsule, and it’s a fine example of what original finish actually looks like
hey don’t turn up like this very often! Many of us buried “time capsules” to be opened in 25 or 50 years. Anyone who has witnessed the opening of such capsules often find themselves smiling at the seemingly archaic contents, almost disbelieving that we could have dressed that way or used such primitive items.
This shotgun could be termed the “gun equivalent” of one of those time capsules. It was bought by an Edinburgh paper mill owner called Charles Cowan from the gun maker Joseph Harkom, also of Edinburgh, in 1858. Remarkably it remained unfired.
Collectors should take note of these rare survivors whenever they get the opportunity to do so. They show the student of such things as what original finish actually looks like. In this instance, the wonderful collection of original accessories also serves to show what these guns were equipped with when new. The barrels are a lovely even dark brown colour with colour case hardened breech-blocks. Often refinished barrels fail to achieve the correct colour, looking “coppery” and generally just too pale. Also refinishing and the ravages of time tarnish the breech-blocks almost to the same colour and the sharp edges and engraved detail gets rubbed and worn. The same applies to the locks; the colour hardening when applied is bright and actually very colourful, containing shades of blue, purple and brown. It also often has a glossy sheen to the surface, which is more often than not a lacquer applied by the
“Collectors should take note of these rare survivors”
gunsmith for preservation, though some hardening processes can cause a similar effect. The wood to metal fit is exceptional, far better than any found today except perhaps on the finest guns produced by the top makers; contrary to popular belief the wood was not left proud to allow for shrinkage, well-seasoned wood does not shrink! The chequering is perfect with contrasting borders and no over-runs. The butt is oil finished giving a semi-gloss effect (although some gun makers, especially the continental ones did favour French polishing). The figure on a best gun such
Accessorised This shows the wonderful collection of original accessories these guns were equiipped with