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Words: Simon Grantham
Featured in the January 2017 issue

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There was a noticeable uplift in atmosphere for Holt’s December auction, both viewing days and the auction room on the day buzzing with activity – echoed by a massive upsurge of online activity (responsible for underbidding almost 50% of the sale total).

With a sale total of just shy of the £1 million mark before aftersales, it demonstrates an encouraging strength to the market, undeterred by all the recent upheavals in both political and financial circles worldwide. The lion’s share of buyers still remain in the UK, accounting for nearly 60% of purchased Lots.

‘Best of British’ seemed to be the order of the day, with all the highest prices being achieved almost exclusively by best London, Birmingham and Edinburgh makers. Holland & Holland took prime place with a rare example of a 28-bore Royal sidelock ejector, Lot 1510, making £28,000 against an estimate of £28,000–32,000, closely followed by a (late entry) stunning pair of A A Brown Supreme de Luxe 20-bore sidelocks, Lot 1331, achieving a hammer price of £25,000, meeting their estimate of £25,000–30,000. James Purdey & Sons, Boss & Co, Westley Richards & Co and John Dickson & Son filled the remainder of the list of top lots of the day.

A proliferation of best quality hammerguns in all calibres, by the likes of Purdey, Woodward and Dickson, proved that there is still a strong demand for good examples – especially those with interesting provenance. The Purdey pigeon gun made for Charles Gordon, Lot 1800, well exceeded its £5,000–7,000 estimate to sell for £11,000 and the Dickson ‘Duck gun’, also a ‘Gordon’ gun, Lot 917, realised a mid-estimate hammer price of £10,000. Perhaps the presence of the illustrious author Donald Dallas kindly agreeing to host a book signing at the Tuesday viewing (one of his many books on offer being Charles Gordon – Magnificent Madness) helped them along to achieve such results.   

A full list of the realised prices is now available on the Holt’s website.

For those who missed the auction, seeking the opportunity to purchase Lots remaining unsold, can do so via the website, where the Sealed Bid sale is also available to view and bid on until its closing at 10am on Thursday 5th January 2017.

The next auction will be held on 16th March 2017.

Simon Grantham
07860 300055

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