The Holland & Holland Royal is one of the most iconic doubles every made. Introduced in 1885, the Royal’s design was based on a 1883 patent filed by Henry Holland and John Robertson. Throughout the 1880s, the Royal’s look & design was tweaked and refined until it evolved into the kind of gun we see here.
This Royal, coming up in James D. Julia’s Fall sale, was finished in 1894. At that time, the shooting world was transitioning from black powders to smokeless powders, and rifle makers were starting to introduced new “nitro express” loads to replace their black-powder express (BPE) cartridges.
The .450 BPE 3 1/4″ was one of the most popular cartridges of the black-powder era, and today it’s still a great round for anything you can hunt in North America. Because the 450BPE generates far less energy than the .450 Nitro Express, guns made for .450 BPE tend to be on the light side for double rifles. They ‘re also tend to be much more comfortable to shoot.
RARE EARLY HOLLAND & HOLLAND ROYAL HAMMERLESS SIDELOCK TOP-LEVER DOUBLE RIFLE WITH CASE: SN 17818. Cal. 450 BPE. 28″ Dovetailed bbls are fitted with full length file cut rib, central portion swamped, and not file cut, forming long, low ramp for white bead front sight. Rear portion of rib is fitted with one standing, two folding leaf express rear sight. Tops of bbls are engraved “Holland & Holland. 98. New Bond Street, London.” and “Winners of All the “Field” Rifle Trials, London.” Bbl flats are stamped with London black powder proofs for 450 express. Bottoms of bbls are stamped with SN. H&H Royal sidelock action with top tang extending over comb, features automatic safety with “SAFE and BOLTED” inlaid in gold. Action also has gold band tumbler end cocking indicators and dbl triggers. Action is engraved in early Holland “Royal” style with near full coverage well cut, varying sized, shaded scroll, surrounding “Holland & Holland” within broad scroll bordered device on front portion of each lockplate. Bottom of action is engraved “Charge 4 Drams” “Case 3-1/4 Inches”. Fences are engraved with exceptionally fine scallop shell central motifs, flanked by scroll and floral highlights. Trigger guard with scroll on bow has SN at grip, which extends to engraved steel cap. Lovely fiddle figured and lightly marbled European walnut capped pistol grip buttstock measures 14-1/4″ over ribbed horn buttplate. Stock is finished in classic H&H style with drop points, and point pattern checkering at grip, with mullered borders and inward curving rear line. A gold oval on toe line is engraved “W. H. C. Ll” “FROM R. W. & H. A. Ll.” “Nov 1st, 1904″. Matching splinter forend has Anson release. Drop at heel: approx 2-13/16″, drop at comb: approx 1-3/4″. Weight: 8 lbs 7 oz. LOP: 14-1/4″. What appears to be orig makers leather case with brass corners is embossed “Walter Lloyd” (matching engraving on gold oval on toe line) on top. Case is lined in royal blue cloth, and has large paper H&H label in lid, along with instruction label. The maker’s have kindly confirmed that the rifle was finished in 1894, and that in 1904 was sold 2nd hand to R. W. Llewelyn.
CONDITION: Very fine, original, as found. Bbls retain approx 60% orig blue, thinning overall, with some minor flecking. Action retains 50 – 60% orig case hardening color, strong where protected. Locks retain 60 – 70% orig color, right lock somewhat stronger. Top lever retains 80 – 90% of its orig blue, silvered on thumbpiece. Trigger guard retains perhaps 30% of its blue on bow, grip completely silvered. All engraving remains sharp and clear, no noted pitting. Stocks retain most of their fine orig hand rubbed oil finish, with some light marks and scratches, checkering lightly worn. Bores are excellent with bright sharp rifling throughout. A bit of looseness can be felt in action with forend removed, feels tight with forend in place. Bbls are very slightly off face. Case leather is darkening and has many light marks and scuffs. Straps and handle are good. Interior cloth is fine, with a bit of insect damage, and some blocks and partitions loose, with the butt block replaced and lined in green cloth. An exceptionally fine, elegant and rare, early top-lever Holland Royal rifle in a caliber suitable for almost any game with proper loads and bullets. Estimate: $27,500-$37,500