Auction alert: The Phoenix Gun, 12g sidelock, Appleby engraved …

Gavin Gardiner is one of the U.K.’s top gun auctioneers, and at his upcoming sale at The Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, he’s going to selling off several very nice guns, including the exceptional, one-of-a-kind sidelock shown in this video and listed below. It’s engraved by Malcolm Appleby, “the foremost gun engraver in the United Kingdom” according to Mr. Gardiner.

Gavin Gardiner’s Top Guns | Malcolm Appleby – The Phoenix 12-Bore Self-Opening Sidelock Ejector Gun

"THE PHOENIX GUN" A MAGNIFICENT MALCOLM APPLEBY-ENGRAVED 12-BORE SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR GUN, NO. 7420
“THE PHOENIX GUN”
A MAGNIFICENT MALCOLM APPLEBY-ENGRAVED 12-BORE SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR GUN, NO. 7420

“THE PHOENIX GUN” A MAGNIFICENT MALCOLM APPLEBY-ENGRAVED 12-BORE SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR GUN, NO. 7420
28-inch chopper-lump barrels with 2 3/4-inch chambers, about full choke borings, the tubes signed beneath the fore-end, ‘M. Appleby, Engraver’ and ‘M Lingard, Gunmaker’, the breeches and rib with fine feather details, the frame and locks engraved in typical Appleby style with flowing plumage, talons and highly detailed stylised themes around the mythical phoenix, the trigger plate with golden flames, the action base with beak and eyes, the fences carved in a similar manner, the safety catch with further golden flame detail, gold lined cocking indicators, 14 3/4-inch highly figured stock, 6lb. 10oz., nitro proof
S2
The gun retains all of its original finish and appears virtually unused.

That 20g Fox XE brought how much? Plus, a pair of Wilkes does real well…

1921 A.H. Fox 20 gauge XE double barrel shotgun
1921 A.H. Fox 20 gauge XE double barrel shotgun

It’s confirmed: Fox collectors are nuts. The auction for this 20g A.H. Fox XE ended Monday, and the final price was $24,002. That’s a lot for a gun with almost no original color-case hardening and a stubby stock. At least its provenance is sound. That must be what drove the price so high.

For the same money,  the winning bidder could have bought this 20 gauge Westley Richards droplock. Much nicer gun, but it doesn’t come with as nice a story.

1921 A.H. Fox 20 gauge XE double barrel shotgun: According to J.T. Callahan, the Fox records indicate that this gun, SN 201509, a 20 gauge XE, was shipped on August 7, 1921 from Philadelphia to Abercrombie & Fitch of NYC, the original consignee. The gun was made with 26” barrels, choked IC (r) and M (l) with a LOP of 13 ½” and DOH of 2 5/8”. Weight, 5 lbs., 12 oz. — FINAL HAMMER: $24,002

Over in Scotland, Gavin Gardiner held his annual Gleneagles Sale on the same day (Monday). This pair of 12g sidelock Wilkes shotguns did extremely well – pricey, but possibly worth it.

JOHN WILKES PAIR OF KELL-ENGRAVED 12-BORE SIDELOCK EJECTOR GUNS, NOS. 13802/3
JOHN WILKES PAIR OF KELL-ENGRAVED 12-BORE SIDELOCK EJECTOR GUNS, NOS. 13802/3

JOHN WILKES A MAGNIFICENT PAIR OF KELL-ENGRAVED 12-BORE SIDELOCK EJECTOR GUNS, NOS. 13802/3: 28-inch barrels with 2 1/2-inch chambers, about 1/4 and 3/4 choke borings, matted top ribs, the frames, locks and gold numbered top levers with best bouquet and scroll engraving and retaining virtually all of their original hardening colour, the inside of the fore-end irons with further bouquet and scroll engraving, gold washed lockwork, rolled edge trigger guards, 14 1/2-inch highly figured exhibition quality stocks, inlaid in gold with the entwined initials “W.D.”, 6lb. 9oz., nitro proof, in their maker’s presentation case with engraved fittings and canvas outer cover. ESTIMATE: £25000-35000 SALE PRICE: £53,900

The maker confirms that the guns were completed on 24th August 1935 for W. W. Dowding. The guns were engraved by Harry Kell with special flower and scroll work and the guns remain as originally built. The original cost was £220 with the case costing £13 15s and the matching outer cover a further £5 12s 6d.

W. W. Dowding

William W. Dowding, for whom these guns were made, was one of the Wilkes’ largest retail customers in the 1930s. He started to buy guns from them in 1931 and in the course of the next five years ordered a total of ten new guns as well as buying others and a wide variety of shooting requisites. The story passed down the family was that in 1933 Dowding challenged Jack Wilkes to make for him a pair of guns that were on a par with the best the London trade could offer. Guns 13802/3 were Jack’s response to that challenge. Many years later his sons viewed this pair of guns as his masterpiece.

To make them, Wilkes went to many of the best outworkers in the the London trade. George Lane and Bolter normally worked for Woodward; Mealey at the time was on Wilkes’ payroll, but had worked for Grant & Lang and several others in a very long career; and Willie Lane was shortly to join Grant & Lang’s payroll. The engraver Harry Kell is probably the only outworker now widely known.

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