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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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