Let’s take a closer look: An awesome Francotte SxS …

FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE

Here’s a gun you don’t see every day — and that’s one of the reasons I featured it yesterday as one of this week’s 5 doubles you don’t want to miss. The other reason? Well, just look at it.

FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:

Auguste Francotte & Cie. was one of the world’s premier gunmakers. Founded in 1805, they built guns in Belgium and exported them around the world. Von Lengerke & Detmold brought them into the US from 1889 to 1929; Abercrombie & Fitch took over in 1930 and continued until 1971. Altogether, about 5,000 or so new Francottes were shipped to the US.

FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:

Most were high-quality Francotte boxlocks like this and this. A few were top-of-the-line sidelocks like what you see here — possibly one of these “De Luxe” models Abercrombie & Fitch offered in 1930.

Francotte Deluxe models, from a 1930 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog
Francotte Deluxe models, from a 1930 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog

Of course, the first thing about this gun that catches your eye is the metalwork. I think it uses a combination of engraving and chasing (if I have the terms right). Overall, the work reminds me of guns done by Aristide Barré, the French artist who embellished some of the finest Purdeys out there.

FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:

The proportions and lines of the gun also stand out. I like how rounded the backs of the locks are and how your eye passes from there into the drip-like drop points. The stock looks broad and substantial, and there’s a little belly in it to secure and position the shooter’s hand. But it doesn’t look cumbersome or overwhelming. Overall, the gun stands out, without screaming for attention.

FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:

FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE: 28 1/2″, CHOKES .022′ AND .022″, 2 3/4 CHAMBERS, DOUBLE TRIGGER, EJECTORS, SPLINTER FOREARM, ENGLISH GRIP, CHECKERED BUTT, LEATHER CASE, EXCELLENT CONDITION WITH LIGHT HANDLING MARKS, 7LBS 5OZ, 1 3/4″ DAH, 1 7/16″ DAC, 14″ LOP. Price: $16,500

FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:
FRANCOTTE PRE WAR BEST SIDELOCK EJECTOR SXS 12 GAUGE:

On Ebay now: Three great leather gun cases…

Leather Von Lengerke & Detmold Deluxe Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case
Leather Von Lengerke & Detmold Deluxe Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case

A great shotgun deserves great gun case. Here are three great gun cases on Ebay now. If you’re looking for the perfect vintage case for your favorite double, one of these may be it. All three were made in the UK for American sporting good companies.

This leather Von Lengerke & Detmold Deluxe Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case is from around World War 1. Back then and through the 1920s, Von Lengerke & Detmold was one of the top sporting goods store in NYC. They would have supplied leather cases like this with best fine shotguns like a Charles Daly Diamond or Regent Diamond or a J.P. Sauer Deluxe.

12 gauge Abercrombie & Fitch Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case + Original Accessories
12 gauge Abercrombie & Fitch Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case + Original Accessories
12 gauge Abercrombie & Fitch Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case + Original Accessories
12 gauge Abercrombie & Fitch Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case + Original Accessories
20 gauge Abercrombie & Fitch Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case + Original Accessories
20 gauge Abercrombie & Fitch Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case + Original Accessories
20 gauge Abercrombie & Fitch Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case + Original Accessories
20 gauge Abercrombie & Fitch Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case + Original Accessories

Abercrombie & Fitch bought V, L & D in 1929, and then went on to be one of the world’s most famous outdoors store until they closed in 1976.

-12 gauge Abercrombie & Fitch Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case + Accessories

-20 gauge Abercrombie & Fitch Leather Side-by-Side Shotgun Case + Accessories

These Abercrombie & Fitch cases are from the 1950s, and they were best-quality lightweight leather models in their day. These two are especially nice because they come with their original A & F snaps caps, two-piece cleaning rods and cleaning accessories.

Original or redone? A 12g Francotte Knockabout side by side…

12g Francotte Knockabout Double Barrel Shotgun
12g Francotte Knockabout Double Barrel Shotgun

Old shotguns with tons of condition spook me. I love original condition, so I’m excited to see any vintage side-by-side that looks brand new. At the same time, I wonder if what I’m really looking at is an excellent restoration. Unless I have the double in my hands, it’s hard to tell.

So when I saw this 12 gauge Francotte Knockabout I was intrigued, but then put off. Part of me thinks that this side-by-side is all original. But another part says no ‘friggin way.

12g Francotte Knockabout Double Barrel Shotgun
12g Francotte Knockabout Double Barrel Shotgun

Up until they were purchased by Abercrombie & Fitch, Von Lengerke & Detmold was a major importer of Francotte shotguns. The Knockabout was the lowest grade they offered. Shotguns like this were bought by guys who wanted a quality double that they could really use. That’s why so most of the ones you see today look more like this one: decent, but definitely used.

12g Francotte Knockabout Double Barrel Shotgun
12g Francotte Knockabout Double Barrel Shotgun

The one shown here looks like it spent more time in a closet than in a marsh or field. For a shotgun that’s 85+ years old, it’s just not showing it’s age. That’s what worries me. Did the owner really buy it, shoot it for a couple years, and then put it away for a lifetime?

Or was it restored 20- 30 years ago by someone who knew what they were doing, and then used gently since then? I just can tell from these pics. I have seen brand new, honestly 100% original shotguns  that are even older. And those are the ones that keep me hoping to find more.

What do you think? Let me know.

12g Francotte Knockabout Double Barrel Shotgun
12g Francotte Knockabout Double Barrel Shotgun

Auction Alert: Fantastic Francotte 45Es at Julia’s, 10/2…

12 gauge Francotte 45E Eagle Grade Double Barrel Shotgun
12 gauge Francotte 45E Eagle Grade Double Barrel Shotgun

In 1875, Westley Richards introduced the Anson & Deeley double barrel shotgun and revolutionized side by sides. But even though an English firm invented the A&D action, I’ve always thought it was the Belgian and Prussian makers who perfected it .

One of these makers was Francotte. The Anson & Deeley doubles they made are some of the finest boxlock side-by-sides you can buy. Because of the crazy way people value things today, they’re also some of the best deals on the market.

20 gauge Francotte 45E Eagle Grade Double Barrel Shotgun
20 gauge Francotte 45E Eagle Grade Double Barrel Shotgun

These three Francotte 45Es coming up at James Julia’s 10/2 auction are a great example of what I mean:

SCARCE FRANCOTTE 45e 28 GAUGE EAGLE GRADE GAME GUN WITH CASE

LIGHTWEIGHT FRANCOTTE 45e 20 GAUGE EAGLE GRADE GAME GUN

FINE FRANCOTTE 45e 12 GAUGE EAGLE GRADE GAME GUN

The 45E, or Eagle Grade, was the king of thebloxlock  Francottes imported by Von Lengerke & Detmold. Their signature features were  highly carved fences covered with game-scene & scroll engraving and a gold-inlaid eagle on the bottom of the action. On top of this, these guns were built with extras like intercepting safety sears, Greener-style crossbolts, replaceable hinge pins, side clips, and nicely figured European walnut. All the work on these side-by-sides was top notch, too.

28 gauge Francotte 45E Eagle Grade Double Barrel Shotgun
28 gauge Francotte 45E Eagle Grade Double Barrel Shotgun

Back when these Francotte 45Es were imported into this country, they were one of the most expensive boxlocks in Von Lengerke & Detmold’s store. Their price easily exceeded just about all the American doubles. The same was true with their quality. In fact, I think these Francottes beat them all. Today, people aren’t willing to pay the say premium for them. Most guys will put down more for a mid grade Parker than they would for any of these Eagles. That’s a shame because they will not be getting a better shotgun.

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