Enigma

Words by:
Simon Grantham
Featured in:
June 2017

After Holts most successful ever sale in March of this year I then received the largest ever number of guns on my valuation day at Walcott, some 78.
Pairs of Churchills are not uncommon in Lincolnshire, these (pictures 1-4) were made in 1930, are cased and retain some colour, they are 25’s note the xxv on the barrels.

This refers to 25 inch, barrels which were Robert Churchill’s answer to grouse and partridge shooting – a very light, fast gun indeed weighing some 6lbs, long barrels no longer needed to detonate fully black powder short barrels, became the norm.

Now of course the fashion is for long barrels – for challenging those tall birds at Belvoir or Whitfield hence their valuation at £1500 – £2000 are very good value for these stunning guns.

The enigma here is a Charles Lancaster back action sidelock (pictures 5 & 6). This fine gun comes with 2 pairs of barrels, 16 & 20 bore including (see picture) tiny fore ends for each pair of barrels.

The barrels are Damascus (discussed previously) and are very attractive as is the stock. The collector/user who buys this may well sleeve the 20 bore barrels and extend them to 30 or 32 inches, as they are a little thin – the 16’s are fine.

The gun is around 1875, is a snap action breach loader and is proofed for black powder only and would easily reproof. It has the Purdey double bolt that we are all accustomed to but not the Scott spindle, but has a very attractive side lever on the left-hand side, which I prefer (see picture). The odd thing is that the barrels are 25½ inches long and have not been shortened so the black powder may not have fully detonated in their time thus coupled with the very small fore ends makes me think this gun was a special order for someone who was perhaps wounded in battle or similar as it is quite light, £1000-1500 is the value.

Item 3 is a Westley Richards percussion 14 bore No 1218 so around 1845. It has attractive sloping hammers engraved in relief with pheasants on the locks and tang (pictures 7 & 8). This high quality item would have been a special order. Of course is a muzzle loader, so 14G was not uncommon as one didn’t buy cartridges, just used your powder flasks £4-600.

My next Valuation Day at Walcott is July 21st, call me Simon Grantham on 07860 300055 to book an appointment.



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