When it comes to collecting vintage shotgun, there are three things I focus on: condition, condition, & condition. Take a look at the hammer prices in an auction catalog and you’ll see why: original condition holds its value and sells, and I want to buy side-by-side shotguns that are going to be worth more in the future, not less.
With this in mind, here are a couple guns that really caught my eye last weekend at the Southern Side by Side. Both of these double barrel shotguns– a Charles Lancaster and a Stephen Grant–are awfully original (the buttstock on the Lancaster had been cut and the bbls on the Grant were rebrowned). But considering that both gun were made in the 1870s and the amount of original color, blueing, and wood finish they had, I still wanted both guns.
The Charles Lancaster is a very odd gun: a 16g with a sidelever. Charles Lancaster was actually Charles William Lancaster. His father had the same name and both of them were barrel men and gunmakers of the first order. Charles Lancaster, Sr., founded this firm of gun makers in 1826. He was located at 151 New Bond Street, London. His eldest son, Charles William Lancaster, joined him in about 1845. Both of them were well known for turning out fantastic guns and they were famous throughout England as barrel makers of the first order.
If there was one gun at the Southern that just stunk of class, the Stephen Grant was it. It is a quintessential British hammergun. This gun was made in 1877 and it has all the classic Grant features: including a sidelever and the Grant & Hodge’s Patent action. The gun also had toe and heel plates. It was fantastic.