In 1875, Westley Richards introduced the Anson & Deeley double barrel shotgun and revolutionized side by sides. But even though an English firm invented the A&D action, I’ve always thought it was the Belgian and Prussian makers who perfected it .
One of these makers was Francotte. The Anson & Deeley doubles they made are some of the finest boxlock side-by-sides you can buy. Because of the crazy way people value things today, they’re also some of the best deals on the market.
These three Francotte 45Es coming up at James Julia’s 10/2 auction are a great example of what I mean:
The 45E, or Eagle Grade, was the king of thebloxlock Francottes imported by Von Lengerke & Detmold. Their signature features were highly carved fences covered with game-scene & scroll engraving and a gold-inlaid eagle on the bottom of the action. On top of this, these guns were built with extras like intercepting safety sears, Greener-style crossbolts, replaceable hinge pins, side clips, and nicely figured European walnut. All the work on these side-by-sides was top notch, too.
Back when these Francotte 45Es were imported into this country, they were one of the most expensive boxlocks in Von Lengerke & Detmold’s store. Their price easily exceeded just about all the American doubles. The same was true with their quality. In fact, I think these Francottes beat them all. Today, people aren’t willing to pay the say premium for them. Most guys will put down more for a mid grade Parker than they would for any of these Eagles. That’s a shame because they will not be getting a better shotgun.