I’ve seen lots of hammer guns. LOTS. But this Tolley is totally new to me. It’s on Gunbroker.com now and it’s being sold at No Reserve. The listing ends tomorrow, 12/16/2018, @ 11:00 PM EST.
J & W Tolley, Gunmakers, was established around 1859 in Birmingham, England. They opened a shop in London in 1883, and in 1955, the final guns carrying the J & W Tolley name were made.
The double you see here was made early in the company’s history — around 1870 — and it has a couple unique features: the shape of its action and the way the barrels lock onto that action. Take a closer look at the pics to see what I mean.
BTW: Something else worth mentioning is how great this auction listing is. Not only are there a lot of pics, but the seller gives you a lot of info about the gun, including an outline of the gun’s flaws. A listing like this make me feel a lot better about bidding on this gun. I wish more sellers would follow this example.
NO RESERVE, Excellent and Unique 12 gauge J&W Tolley English Hammergun: 1870s era, game-scene & scroll engraved Hammer gun. Established ca. 1859, Tolley gained their excellent reputation building top-shelf big bore shotguns and rifles. 8 lbs. dead-on and built like a tank with heavy duty top lever, back action locks, stout hammers & oversized “Mushroom-cap” firing pins. Has a unique, hidden fastener system that has to be one of the earliest examples of a hidden bite as Purdey’s, (known for 3rd bites) didn’t offer theirs until the late 1880s. Another unique feature is the cut-away “I-Beam” frame which was likely an attempt to shave off weight or to stiffen it up. Never the less, it gives the gun a distinctive look. To top it off, there’s an odd protrusion at the underside of the muzzles – most likely to prevent damage. The Ivory bead is also unusual on a gun from this period. This is a real piece of British gun innovation – we’ve never seen anything like it from any maker. The Game-scene & scroll engraving is top-rate and also unusual for a heavy-duty gun from this era. With sculpted percussion fences, detailed hammer filing, fine Damascus steel barrels, this gun is as distinctive as it is classy.
EXTERNAL CONDITION: Looks like the gun was stored on a wall as one side is clean and shows quite a bit of original finish whereas the exposed side has what appears to be a light coat of cabin soot. NOTE: An expert cleaning of the duller side would likely reveal some very nice condition. The barrels have nearly all of their original Chocolate brown and fine Damascus pattern – Barrel lettering and proof marks are clear and sharp. The action and balance of metal show no evidence of polishing or buffing – everything is crisp and sharp and mechanically excellent! Barrels are an UN-CUT 28 3/16” (see pic of muzzles). Bores are very shiny with just a few light blemishes scattered throughout and we’d rate them a solid 9.5 / 10. Chambers are 2 ¾” with bores measuring R: .0736 & L:.731 min walls @ .733 / Choked: R: .011 / R: .007. The Horn capped ½ grip stock with “Gentleman’s” dimensions measures 14 ¼” x 2 ¼ x 3 ¼” drop at heel. Don’t snicker at these dimensions – the gun shoulders quite well and the boys back in the day were well known for their high percentages using these measurements. 8 lbs. dead on.
FLAWS: There’s a small nick on the top outside of the L bbl. a few inches from the muzzles at the 12:00 position that’s barely visible from the inside. There’s also a 1/8” long sliver of wood missing alongside the top-tang (easy fix) and somebody made a small & careful attempt to remove some of the soot from the right side of the stock, but only a small patch – but that’s it. Take a close look at the wood-metal & metal-metal fit and the nearly spotless breech-face showing very little evidence of firing – this gun is tight and crisp! Lock-up is solid, gun is on the face and barrels ring true – no loose ribs! All-in-all, here’s a unique example that’s built like a tank from a well respected Birmingham maker in excellent condition. Sure, it’s had the screws turned a few times, and the bores touched-up, but the overall excellent, lightly used condition and unique design make this an unusual and rare find!