Christie’s Fall, 2014, Sporting Guns sale went off last Monday. There were a lot of nice doubles in the sale, including a bunch of impressive shotguns and rifles from King Alphonse XIII of Spain‘s personal collection. King Alphonse was a big shooter, and he had the funds to indulge in great shotguns and double rifles.
This stunning Purdey hammergun was one his SxSs. It was presented to the King by the maker in 1921. It’s one of the finest hammerguns I’ve ever seen. Check out the engraving. It sure looks like it was done by the famous British Harry Kell. And take a look at the thick comb on the stock — much fuller and broader than what you would see on a Purdey game gun.
A VERY FINE 12-BORE TOPLEVER LIVE PIGEON HAMMERGUN : J. PURDEY & SONS, AUDLEY HOUSE, SOUTH AUDLEY STREET, LONDON, SERIAL NO. 22210: With 32 in. (81.3 cm.) blacked signed nitro chopperlump Whitworth steel barrels with raised matt rib, 2 ¾ in. (70 mm) chambers, bored approx. full and full choke, signed action with side-clipped carved percussion fences, gold-washed strikers, and signed rebounding locks, the action, toplever, locks, hammers, trigger-guard and fore-end iron finely engraved throughout with foliate scrollwork and retaining virtually all their original deep blued finish, highly figured 14 ½ in. stock with chequered butt, the underside of the butt inlaid with pierced gold escutcheon engraved with the Spanish Royal Arms, the heel of the comb inlaid with a gold escutcheon engraved ‘PRIZE PRESENTED TO THE TIRO – PICHON DE MADRID BY J. PURDEY & SONS WON BY H.M. KING ALFONSO XIII MAY 1921’, weight 7 lbs. 10 oz., in its original brass-cornered oak and leather gun case with some accessories. Estimate: £20,000 – £25,000 Price Realized: £35,000 ($55,020)
According to Christies’ Specialist Howard Dixon: “This gun was won by His Majesty King Alphonse XIII of Spain in a live pigeon shooting competition in Madrid in May 1921. This was not a case of favoritism, of letting the king win; he really was a champion marksman at these competitions.
‘Purdeys would have offered up the prize of making a gun for the winner of the competition and it happened to be the king of Spain, who was one of their great customers. So, in under a year, they built this magnificent gun. It’s beautifully engraved with deep scrollwork and barely looks like it’s had a shot through it, the condition is just amazing. Every last turn of the chisel on the stock is still absolutely sharp. Out of the 49 lots in the sale from the king’s gun room, this stands head and shoulders above the rest for me. In fact, it’s one of the most beautiful guns I’ve ever seen.”
There were a number of other great guns in the sale, including a number of rare, pre-WW1 Spanish SxS. Here are a few highlights: