Auctions are risky — some more than others. In the case of this 12 gauge Charles Osborne & Co coming up on Saturday, 11/10, the risk is off the charts.
Charles Osborne started business in 1838 and the company had operations throughout England and Scotland until about 1930. The company made all sorts of shotguns, from basic boxlocks to top-quality sidelocks. The double you see here may be one of Osborne’s better side by sides. It may also be tarted up rat that’s loaded with problems.
Right now, this is all the auctioneer is saying about the gun:
Chas Osborne & Co. London 12 ga SXS, sn 70366, proof marks – crown with BNP: Under it and a crown with BV, leather case marked with label inside “J. Graham & Co. practical gun and rifle makers, 27 Union Street, Inverness, has a Parker-Hale England LSR cleaning rod, monogram on estucian (sp), heavily engraved, 2 snap caps in case.”
Not bad – if you want to buy the case. But if you’re interested in the side-by-side, this description is worthless. About all you can figure out from it is that the gun has some Birmingham proof marks. But the stuff you need to know — what is/isn’t original about the shotgun, barrel wall thicknesses, chamber lengths, bore measurements , etc — isn’t there. And until you can figure out all that info, bidding on this shotgun is way too risky.
The auctioneer does spell out in detail the terms of the sale. “All property is sold “AS IS” with all faults and blemishes, and ALL SALES ARE FINAL…It is the Bidder’s responsibility to determine condition, age, genuineness, value or any other determinative factor….Bidder shall be the sole judge of value.”
Very standard for an auction, but still not very comforting. So if you by this Osborne, you own it 100% – regardless of any warts you may discover. Those warts may be tiny — like a loose action. They could also be plump and hairy — like bored-out barrels that are junk.
Of course, you could get very lucky and find out that this Osborne is actually in pretty decent shape. But unless you can inspect this shotgun beforehand, you won’t know until it’s all yours.
BTW: some people will tart up a worn out old double and stick it in an auction to attract deal seekers. Hope and optimism can get the best of folks and push prices way past common sense–especially when the auction is open to online bidding.