I like the old and impractical: bamboo fly rods…wooden decoys…books…and, of course, double-barrel shotguns — especially hammer guns with damascus barrels.
From about 1866-1875, centerfire hammer guns were the latest-and-greatest thing in the shooting world. Once they were introduced, hunters from the moors of Scotland to the Susquehanna flats tossed aside their slow-to-load percussion guns for the newest thing in double barrels.
William Powell & Son was one of the first British gunmakers to produce breachloading centerfire shotguns. Their side-by-sides were built on Powell’s “No. 1 patent” of 1864 and featured a snap-action, lift-up toplever design. The shotgun you see here is one of those doubles.
According to Steve Helsey at PowellsPatent.com, this one was ordered in 1869 by a Captain Cave. At that time, Powell had five hammer gun grades – Superior, Very Best, Best, Plain and Second. This shotgun is a “best”, or middle-grade gun.