Over the last twenty years, double-gun collectors have had many of their greatest mysteries solved, like the story behind the Czar’s Parker and the whereabouts of Bo Whoop, Nash Buckingham’s famous Fox shotgun.
I don’t know how many guns Barré engraved for Purdey. The ones featured in the Shooting Sportsman article are in the Royal Gunroom at Sandringham. Other Barré-engraved Purdeys are in private collections, and every now and then, one pops up on the market, like the 12g hammer pigeon gun you see here.
This 12g Purdey with 32″ barrels was ordered in 1909 by King Alphonso XIII of Spain. According to Christie’s, Barré’s is mentioned as the engraver in the maker’s records.
Provenance is tricky, especially when it comes to old guns. Some provenances can boost a shotgun’s value many times over, while other barely register at all with buyers.
Fo example: Would you pay $60,000 more for a shotgun made for King Alfonso XIII.
Yeah – that’s the problem. King Alfonso XIII was Spain’s monarch from 1886-1931. While he was a big deal in his day, I don’t know anyone who cares about him now. So it’s hard to say if a gun connected to him is worth a $60,000 premium.
That’s just what’s going on with the James Purdey & Sons 12g hammergun you see here. This side-by-side came up for sale in Christie’s, December 2014 sale:
The hammer price plus premium: $35,370. It looks to me like whoever has the gun now connected it to King Alfonso before or after he bought it. It certainly is a spectacular shotgun, and it appears to be in excellent condition. Regardless, though, the big question is: Is its connection to a King worth sixty large?
More info from the seller:
“Purdey Hammer gun sn. 19395 came from a collection of Spanish Royal Firearms, from the household of King Alfonso XIII of Spain. The makers have confirmed that this hammergun was completed in April 1909 for the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII. The records are specific that Barre was the engraver. The gun is covered in finely chiseled low relief with foliate scrollwork illustrating monsters and masks upon a blackened background. Included is a gold inlaid escutcheon with the Spanish Royal Coat of Arms.
It is believed that the King used this gun in winning the Tiro-Pichon De Madrid in May 1921. Our provenance includes a picture of the King aside the trophy given for his win and holding what appears to be this gun. Purdey awarded the winner of the Tiro-Pichon De Madrid a prize gun that was to duplicate this piece, however Barre did not engrave the later gun as he was dead by 1921.”