Last week, two of the rarest double barrels in the world – an incredible 28g Boss O/U and SxS set- came to auction at Julia’s Spring 2014 sale. Buyers from the around the world battled it out over the phones for a chance to own one of these tremendous shotuns. When the final bids were in and the hammer fell, the sale prices were very big and very impressive.
George Gibbs is a gunmaker we don’t hear a lot about today. Even though he helped design one of the most successful hammerless shotguns of the 19th century, and his son partnered with William Metford to create one of the finest falling-block rifles of the 1870 and 1880s, you would be hard pressed to find a hunter or shooter who recognizes the firms name today. This is a shame, because many of the guns built by George Gibbs, Gunmakers are fantastic.
This George Gibbs .450 3 1/4″ Double Rifle is one example of just how nice a Gibbs can be. The pair of sidelock shotguns you see here are two more. Graham Mackinlay has these guns now. Made as a true pair of Best-quality side-by-sides, they’re in beautiful shape.
Pair of 12 gauge George Gibbs Sidelock Double Barrel Shotguns: These are ‘best’ grade sidelocks and have been in one family from new. Both guns retain a large amount of colour hardening. The actions and locks are engraved with incredibly fine acanthus scroll. They have 29″ steel barrels with fine sunken top ribs which read, ‘George Gibbs Bristol and 35 Savile Row, London W (barrels Sir Joseph Whitworth fluid pressed steel)’. The guns are in their original leather case with named accessories, striker pot and disc key. The highly figures stocks are 14 3/4″ with leather-covered pads. The barrels of these guns are in phenomenal condition and will last several generations. It’s rare to find some fine guns in this condition. Price: £ 25,000
Mar 17th, 2014 by Gregg
When you think of “British” doubles, London and Birmingham are the cities that usually come to mind. Many of the UK’s top gunmakers worked in and around those cities for over two-hundred years. But top gunmakers were also located in other parts of the country for almost as long.
John Dickson & Son built their famous Round Action shotguns way up in Edinburgh, Scotland, while W.R. Pape built his doubles across the border in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. South of Pape’s shop was another top British gunmaker — Thomas Horsley of York.
Thomas Horsley started his business around 1830 and his firm continued on until 1959. In 1862 & 1863, as breechloading guns were appearing on the the UK’s shooting scene, Horsley patented a unique pull-back, snap action. He also came up with a patent for retractable firing pins. The bar-in-wood double rifle you see here uses these patents.
Rifle generate far more pressure than shotguns, and this pressure stresses the gun’s action in extreme ways. This is why it’s unusual to see one built as a bar-in-wood. Compared to a standard bar-action shotgun, the actions on bar-in-woods are fairly slim. This means there’s less metal to take up the twisting and flexing that happens every time the gun is fired. Judging by the condition this one is in, I don’t think it was fired very much.
Thomas Horsley .450BPE Bar-in-Wood Hammer Double Rifle: Through innovation and superior craftsmanship, Thomas Horsley earned the name the “Purdey of York,” and this remarkable example demonstrates why. Incorporating his famous pull-back top lever locking system (patent 2410 of 1863) and distinctive retracting firing pins (patent 1138 of 1867). It is in all original exc-plus condition w/ bores As New. Difficult to come by from a most esteemed provincial maker. 27 3/4″ Bbls, 13 7/8″ London proof-marks. Including 20 rnds Bell brass. Price: $9,000
Mar 12th, 2014 by Gregg
Here’s a screamer little double barrel shotgun. Brand new, these little Rizzinis O/Us retail for $3500+. This one has a very fancy, straight grip and double triggers, which make it especially nice. It’s on Gunrunner.com now, and the listing ends this Friday, 03/14/14 , @ 21:00 EST.
Rizzini Artemis Classic Small Action, 28 ga. over/under shotgun: Serial #67650, mfg. Italy. Excellent, like new condition! A real screamer with upgraded Turkish walnut with great sweeping dark strips and nice burl in the butt! Straight grip. Fine line checkering. Very light and dainty and perfect for quail, grouse or doves. 28″ vent rib barrel has bright bores. Eight (8) choke tubes, wrench and box included. Oil finished stock has no marks. 100% blue. 100% case color on receiver with engraved scenes of quail and grouse. Beautiful! Double triggers. Ejectors. Ivory front bead. Hard buttplate and Deacelerator soft pad (installed). Shot very little. Top lever way over right. Action is super tight and tight on hinge. At most test-fired. Factory paper box with manual and paperwork. Wonderful in all ways! Pop clays with it this summer and then out to the quail patches! An outstanding Italian double!
Mar 11th, 2014 by Gregg
The 1860s were tens years of change for James Purdey & Sons. The impetus was the breechloader, and at end of the decade, Purdey would step into the modern era of shotguns with the two patents which would changed sporting guns forever.
Breechloaders were introduced to the UK at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and after several years of refinements by makers like Joseph Lang, these revolutionary doubles started to catch on with shooters throughout the UK.
Slowly, London’s famous gunmakers followed this trend. According to Donald Dallas’s book Purdey: The Definitive History, the James Purdey sold their first breechloader in 1858. The following year, 68 of the 205 firearms the firm made were breechloaders (the rest were muzzloaders). By 1862, this ration had flipped. Of the 193 guns Purdey made, just 51 were muzzleloaders.
The three shotguns you see here were made in 1866, just months after Purdey made their first centerfire, breechloading shotgun (#699s, delivered in late 1865). In these guns, you can see just how quickly Purdey’s shotguns evolved, and how some shooters were reluctant to embrace all the changes going on in the shooting world.
Mar 7th, 2014 by Gregg
Here’s another nice double barrel shotgun coming up tomorrow, 3/8, @ Poulin’s auction. It’s a W. & C Scott, with a ton of original condition and — amazingly — its original hang tag and case. W. & C Scott was founded in 1840 by brothers William & Charles, and their company went on to become one of the most important gunmakers in the world. In 1897, the firm merged with P. Webley to form Webley & Scott. Up until around WW2, Webley & Scott was one of the largest gunmakers in the world.
The side-by-side Scott you see here was made around 1885. It’s a mid-grade gun. Mid- and lower-grade doubles were usually used hard, so it’s incredible to see all the original color-case hardening, bbl brown, and oil finish. on this one. The gun is beautifully made, too. Just take a look through the pics at the bottom of this post to see what I mean.
The fact that this gun also comes with its original, handwritten hang tag and case with the dealer’s label is another plus. The gun was retailed by William Read & Son, Washington St, Boston, and I can’t believe both those items have made it through the last 129 years.
W & C SCOTT SxS HAMMER SHOTGUN: Cal. 12 Ga., 2 1/2″. S# 36941. Bbls. 30″ Damascus steel. Fixed full & full chokes. Top rib marked “W&C Scott & Son. Makers & Patentees. London.” Case colored bar lock action with low style, rebounding circular hammers. Fine foliate scroll engraving featuring a swan on the left lock. Double triggers. Extractors. Splinter forend, with Scott-patent, pull down release lever. Round-knob stock of hand checkered fancy English walnut. LOP: 14 1/8″ over original checkered buttplate. DAC: 1 7/8″. DAH: 3 1/4″. Stock is cast off. Weight: 8 Lbs., 1 oz. Minimum wall thickness L. .040 & R. .040.
CONDITION: Bbls. retain 85% original brown finish having spots of light freckling & showing vivid Damascus pattern. Locks retain 90% original bright case colors with applied lacquer. Action retains 70% original bright case colors fading to patina in carry areas. Stock and forend have good original finish showing light wear with a few light marks & scratches. Very good, bright bores. UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: original W.C. Scott & Son hang tag, numbered to gun, featuring original specifications. Upper right corner of tag missing. Original case with William Read & Sons trade label. Case in poor condition. ESTIMATE: $3000-4500
Towards the end of the 19th century, America was full of gunmakers. From the big boys like Colt and Winchester to tiny guys like Krider and Tonks. Joseph Jakob was one of these tiny guys, and the 10g shotgun you see here is one of his guns. It’s coming up this Saturday, March 8, 2014 at Poulin Antiques & Auctions. The sales starts @ 10:00 AM.
Jakobs was has a shop at 1156 Passyhunk Avenue in Philadelphia, PA. Other than that, little is known about him, though and very few firearms bearing his name are in circulation today (Maybe around 12).
On the one you see here, the action, barrels, and metalwork were sourced in Prussia from H.A. Lindner, the famous double-barrel maker behind Charles Daly shotguns. These parts were fitted and finished off by Jakob, and the gun was also stocked by him (or by people he employed for the task). This was a common practice and “makers” throughout the US did it with parts they brought in from the UK and Europe.
Lot #1130: JOSEPH JAKOB SxS SHOTGUN: Cal. 10 Ga., 2 7/8″. S# 3011. Bbl. 30″ of damascus steel. Mod & full fixed chokes. Top rib marked “Joseph Jakob-Maker 1156 Passylink Ave. Philada.” Anson & Deeley boxlock action with cocked indicators & fancy fences. Bbls feature Lindner’s crossed-pistols trademarks. Unique, full coverage scroll engraving featuring mountain village scene on floor plate with hunter on bottom of frame. Dbl. triggers. Extractors. Original splinter forearm of checkered walnut with engraved, pull down latch & fancy steel tip. Replacement straight-hand stock of checkered fancy walnut. LOP: 13 7/8″ over horn butt. DAC: 1 9/16″. DAH: 2 1/2″. Stock is cast off. Weight: 8lbs 13.3oz. Minimum wall thickness L. .042 & R. .044.
CONDITION: 40% brown bbl. finish an area of right pitting on right bbl. showing good damascus pattern. Action has sm. amount of original case colors in protected areas blending with silvery patina. Forearm has darkened finish with moderate wear having a chip on left side near tip. Stock has good finish with scattered handling marks. Good bores with areas of dulled appearance. Minimum wall thickness L. .042 & R. .044 ESTIMATE: $1000-1500.
More about Joseph Jakob
I found this info online. It’s from a book on classic American gunmakers. Judging by the “War of Northern Aggression” comments, I’m guessing the author was Southern:
“It appears Joseph Jakob hung out his shingle as the War of Northern Aggression commenced and at least the firm, or some variant & maybe Joseph Jakob himself, till 1905. He made percussion dueling pistols and muzzleloaders to the customers specifications.
In the 1870s he seemed to parallel William R. Schaefer in effort as both had 2 to 3 craftsmen working in their respective shops.. He must have been an obsessive-compulsive as his shop in every detail was as clean as a pin. One could not find the shop of Messieurs Purdey any more immaculate or more organized than that of Joseph Jakob. Also his workmanship was compared to that of Purdey at the time. Upon entry to the shop, one would pass thru a portal, where a half glass door hung, noting white curtains covering the window panes, and passing across a white surfaced floor that was so clean one could take lunch off of it. A few small rugs were neatly placed in the shop. All this cleanliness was due largely to the efforts of his daughter.
Prior to say 1890, one would have found several Joseph Jakob examples in a gun case with a set of glass doors. During the 1890s the guns were replaced by sporting weapon components and sporting related items. The demise of the firm of Joseph Jakob can be attributed to the lack of embracement to mechanization. After the truce of the War of Northern Aggression in 1865, one could not find a machine made sporting weapon in the U.S. of A. and the Brits had cornered the market. But over the next decade the scales were going to tilt in the other direction with respected to partially machine made and machine made sporting weapons. This transition forced Joseph Jakob’s shop from a multi-man effort shop to a single man shop, to pretty much a repair facility peddling shell cutters and the like. By 1890 the firm was listed as Joseph Jakob & Sons and the reorganization may have occurred earlier say between 1885 & 1889.
It was either the name change, or an address change, from 1890 foward till 1905 when the shop appears to have been closed. Something occured in 1899 and it may be that Joseph Jakob retired or expired and the sons continued for about another 5 years. This is purely conjuecture but it was a bumpy road for the firm from the mid 1890s to 1905 and possibly as late as 1909. “
Mar 5th, 2014 by Gregg
Here’s an interesting double: it’s an early James Purdey 12 gauge Centerfire shotgun, and one of the first center fire shotguns made by Purdey. It’s coming up this Saturday, March 8, 2014 at Poulin Antiques & Auctions. The sales starts @ 10:00 AM.
Back in the 1860s, centerfires were revolutionary new ideas. A London gumaker named G.H. Daw introduced the first successful model to the British market in 1861. Easy to load and operate, it caught the interest of shooters right away. By the mid 1860s, other gunmakers were turning out their own versions of this design.
James Purdey & Sons made their first center fire shotgun in 1865. The gun you see here was made in 1866 – back when the company was still just James Purdey. Guns like this were the basis for every other shotgun Purdey made. Even though this one is 186 years old, it’s nitro proofed, on the face, and 100% shootable today. Check out the original oak case, too. It’s serial numbered to the gun, and information about the correct loads for the gun are handwritten on the maker’s label. Very cool.
Lot 1051: JAMES PURDEY UNDERLEVER SxS CENTERFIRE SHOTGUN: Cal. 12 Ga., 2 3/4”. S# 7244. Bbls. 30” of fine damascus steel. Recent London reproof for Nitro with 70mm chamber length markings. Cyl. & cyl. bores. Top rib marked “J. Purdey 314 1/2 Oxford Street. London.” Rnd. Body action with Jones underlever & back-action locks marked “Purdey”. Top tang between hammers marked “PATENT”. Converted rebounding, pinfire-style hammers with retractable firing pins (Purdey-patent #424 of 1865). 75% Coverage of very fine foliate scroll engraving (consignor states probably by J. Lucas). Key fastened splinter forearm of fully checkered walnut with engraved steel tip & escutcheons. Straight hand stock of checkered fancy English walnut with nameplate on toe line. LOP: 14 1/8” over original steel shotgun butt. DAC: 1 1/2”. DAH: 2 1/2”. Neutral cast. Weight: 7lbs. Minimum wall thickness L .032 & R. .026.
CONDITION: 90% fine, London-quality restored browned on bbls. finish showing nice damascus pattern. Locks & action have traces of remaining case colors in protected areas with balance fading to silvery gray. Trigger guard has area of original blue under lever with balance fading to gray having spots of light pitting on tang. Stock & forearm show wear with nearly smooth checkering having numerous heavy handling marks & scratches. Forearm has chip at right side of bbl. channel. Stock has semi circular added wood repair right side of trigger guard tang. Bright bores.
UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: Original oak maker’s case with correct Purdey label featuring handwritten notes regarding proper loads. Serial-numbered to gun. Red felt fitted interior. Case in fair to overall good condition. ESTIMATE: $3500-5500.
Mar 4th, 2014 by Gregg
James Purdey & Sons is famous for their custom made shotguns. Every shotgun or rifle they produce is “bespoke”, and customers can order their guns in just about any configuration they desire – and can afford. Most variations have to do with stock configurations, barrel length, gun weight, chamber lengths, etc.
But customers can also order specific finishes on their guns. In the case of the Purdey you see here, the customer requested that the action feature a unique “Black Finish.” Completed in 1945 for a Baron Petitt, this gun is a 12 gauge made for 2″ shells. It’s coming up at Holt’s 3/20 sale.
Lot 1447 J. PURDEY & SONS : A 12-BORE (2IN.) SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 25655: 28in. Whitworth-steel nitro chopperlump barrels, rib engraved ‘J. PURDEY & SONS. AUDLEY HOUSE. SOUTH AUDLEY STREET. LONDON. ENGLAND. MADE OF SIR JOSEPH WHITWORTH’S FLUID PRESSED STEEL.’, the left tube engraved ‘ENGLAND’, the short rib gold-inlaid ’2″ CASE’, 2in. chambers, bored approx. imp. cyl. and 1/2 choke, right wall at 18, self-opening action with removable striker discs, automatic safety with gold-inlaid ‘SAFE’ detail, cocking-indicators, best fine acanthus scroll and floral bouquet engraving, retaining much original black finish, 14 1/2in. stock with sling eye, weight 5lb. 8oz.