Amoskeag Auction, 3/29 — Small bores, big prices

Amoskeag Auction Company in Manchester, NH, held their 64th auction on Saturday, March 29. The fast-paced sale started at 10 am. By 6:15, they had moved through 1200+ lots.

A number of nice British and American double shotguns were auctioned off, including the guns below: a 28g Greener hammergun, a .410 Watson, and a minty Holland & Holland Royal.

$245 an ounce for this Greener!

This 4lb 11oz 28 gauge W.W. Greener A40 Grade hammergun, cased, in near new, all original condition, brought $18,400 with premium:

Greener 28g hammergun

Twenty-eight gauge English hammerguns are pretty rare. When you do see them, they usually have short bbls and stubby stocks because they were made for small people. So along with this gun’s incredible condition, its 27″ bbls and 14 3/8″ LOP made it very special.

Even though the A40 was one of Greener’s medium-grade hammer guns, this double’s measurements and cracking condition pushed its price up pretty high. Check out the ornate sculpting on those hammers – very Gothic and cool. Something else that’s interesting about this gun: it made in 1912 with damascus bbls. That’s well into the era of smokeless powders and nitro proofing. It looks like Greener had no problem with combining all three.

To learn more about W.W. Greener shotguns, try Graham Greener’s excellent history: The Greener Story. I also recommend the books written by William Wellington Greener, including his classic The Gun and its Development

A nice .410, from London’s premier maker of small bores.

This .410 Watson Bros. side-by-side brought $9,200 with premium, not bad price for a British .410 in excellent condition:

Watson .410 SxS

In 1885, the gunmaker Thomas William Watson handed over his business to his two sons and the firm Watson Bros was born. This company established a reputation for making superb small bore shotguns for women and boys.

This tiny .410 shows how they built that reputation. It was made around 1912 with 26″ bbls, a 13 7/8″ stock. It weighs in 4lbs 3ozs. Even though it’s pretty standard Anson & Deeley action, it’s finished to a high standard and very elegant. Take a look at it’s beautifully engraved action to see the extra polish Watson Bros put into their guns.

In his book American & British 410 Shotguns, Ronald S. Gabriel speaks highly of Watson Bros: “This firm must be considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of small-bore shotgun makers in the history of smoothbores.” Of all the London firms, Watson Bros probably made the most .410s. I’ve seen a few. I also seen their guns in other gauges, including this 28g, this 16g and this sidelock 12g. Nice!

Boss – the guns Kings couldn’t afford.

This minty 20g Boss sidelock cost it’s bidder $51,750, expensive but about half the price of new one.

Boss 20g

Boss & Co is one of the premier names in shotguns. Ever since John Robertson took over the business in 1891, they have built some of the most beautiful hammerless shotguns in the world.

This little 20g is example of good example of just how nice their guns can be. Even though it was made in the 1960s (not a good time for English gunmakers), it’s still beautifully executed.

Boss shotguns have always been expensive. In the past, they cost more than new guns from Purdey and Holland and Holland. This kept a lot of people from purchasing them, including King George VI of England. When asked about buying a Boss, he replied “A Boss gun?! A Boss gun, bloody beautiful, but too bloody expensive!”

At $40, 250, was this H&H Royal a bargain?

This Holland & Holland Royal 12 g had it all and it was well worth it final price — $40,250 with premium:

Holland & Holland Royal 12g

When it comes to English guns, everyone wants to find one in untouched, original condition. This was one of those guns.

Made in 1946, it had it all: 28″ bbls, condition, detachable locks, the self opening mechanism, a hinged front trigger, a decent weight (6lbs, 13oz) a rolled-edge triggerguard, and much more.

Holland & Holland introduced their Royal sidelock in 1885. It featured a revolutionary new hammerless action invented by Henry Holland and John Robertson (the man who made Boss & Co Gunmakers famous). The action and entire gun would be refined over the next decade and around 1895 the Royal as we know it came onto the scene. Later additions to this gun would include detachable locks (1908), the single trigger (1911), and a self-opening mechanism (1922).

Of course, Holland & Holland still makes Royals. Today, a new one runs around $100,000+. I’ve seen a few of them in H&H’s New York store. None of them were as well made as this gun. When you consider that this one cost $60,000 less, you can see why this gun was such a deal.

For the whole story on H & H, check out Donald Dallas’ book: Holland & Holland “Royal Gunmaker” The Complete History. It’s filled with interesting info on this famous maker.

About Amoskeag Auction Company

Buyers and sellers speak highly of the Amoskeag Auction Company. Their catalogs are well produced. Their are a number of color pictures and the descriptions are good. And from what I’ve heard, they pays sellers quickly (something other auctioneers don’t do).

Over the years, I’ve watched this business grow. Judging by its growing facilities, and by the quality pieces and high prices they’re attracting, it looks like its doing well. I met the owners several years ago at a gunshow in Maine years ago and I found both of them to be knowledgeable and helpful. I hope their success continues.

Amoskeag’s next auction in scheduled for May 17th.

All pics in the post are copyright 2008 Amoskeag Auction Company, Inc.


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