The sidelock, double-barrel over-under shotgun you seehere is one of the holy grails of British shotguns — and one of the mysteries of British gunmaking. It’s coming up to auction tomorrow, 10/17, and it has an estimated hammer of $25,000.00 – $50,000.
Boss & Co. patented their OU action in 1909. According to the company’s website:
“Robertson did not invent the O/U shotgun, but he created an Over and Under gun that was elegant, shapely, strong and far lighter than any other on the market. Until that time Over and Under guns often hailed from Germany but were heavy and ungainly. But Robertson’s OUs were strong, lively, light and slender, marking the Boss & Co Over and Under as the best on the market as soon as it was introduced. Immediately it set the standard and became the benchmark, a celebrated design that remains unsurpassed.”
Since 1909, Boss & Co. has built around 600 over-under shotguns. Very, very few of them were built with a feature that’s on the gun being auctioned off tomorrow: A Boss-style rising-bite action.
No one knows how many OUs Boss built with its rising-bite style action. The feature appears around 1920 and shows up on 12-gauges and 20-gauges through the ’30s (here it is on a gun they built in 1937). I’ve never seen it on a Boss OU built after WW2 (Note: Boss & Co just started building rising-bite actions again and completed one in the last year or so).
But Boss never patented their version of the rising bite. I’ve never seen any evidence that the company promoted this feature or offered it as an upgrade or an option. From what I can tell, it just appears on certain guns and then disappears.
One thing to note: While this gun was originally nitro-proofed with 2 3/4″ chambers for 1 1/4 – ounce loads, it wasn’t made to shoot modern, high-pressure/high-velocity shells. So if you buy it, do the gun a favor and use ammo like this.
Lot #110: Boss & Co. Best O/U 12ga Shotgun: One of England’s finest… Desirable, elegant, made for a shooter. This shotgun has simple lines yet elegant and exceptionally designed side lock. Currently, Boss & Co. only produces about 20 shotguns annually. This one was manufactured in 1919-1920, and proofed for modern shells. Solid rib barrels have a single silver bead front sight, marked with proofs, Nitro proofs and more near breech. Forend is highly ornate with metal side skirts along the back half of the top, engraved with a tight scroll and finely blued. Barrels mate with the hinge pin and special locking mechanism near top lever. Locks are engraved 1005 with fine English scroll. Top lever and trigger are blued and equally ornate. Case coloring is accented with lock pins in both a polished or bright blue. Chamber indicators have horizontal gold inlay. Auto ejectors are crisp and timed superbly. Auto safety. High grade straight English stock with oil rubbed finish completed with a checkered butt and metal plates protecting heel and toe. Choked “Full” and “Mod”, ideal for clays or pheasant. Includes original leather bound case, Boss & Co. label on inside. Factory accessories. Must ship to FFL or C&R Condition: Antique Excellent. Bluing is in the 90-95% with the loss in touch points only (lower tang, forend, top lever, etc.). Case coloring is around 40%, fences and transition areas exhibit fine color striations while side of locks is muted. Wood is excellent, hard to find imperfections, probably cleaned at some point. Mechanically excellent. Barrels and Bores are nearly blem free and mirror bright. Gun Measurements: Chamber size is 2 ¾” Bore Diameter: Over Barrel – From 9” at the breech .733, 12” from the breech is .731 and continues at .731 until it hits the choke and final measurement at muzzle is .714 giving it a “Modified” choke. Under Barrel- From 9” at the breech .7325, 12” from the breech is .7315 and continues at .7315 until it hits the choke and final measurement at muzzle is .694 giving it a “Full” choke. Barrel Wall Thickness: Over Barrel- 12” from breech is .038, 12” from muzzle is .033 and is consistent through to muzzle Under Barrel- 12” from breech is .039, 12” from muzzle is .033 and is consistent through to muzzle LOP @ Heel= 14 7/8″ LOP @ Toe= 15 1/4″ Choke: O=.709 (Mod) U=.689 (Full) Drop @ Comb = 1 1/2″ Drop @ Heel = 2 1/8″ Weight= 7.4 lbs Cast Neutral Barrel Length: 30″ Serial: 6605 Manufacturer: BOSS & CO., LTD. Gauge: 12ga Year-Range 1919 – 1920. Estimate: $25,000.00 – $50,000.00 USD
Without a doubt, Boss & Co is one of the world’s top gunmakers. In this film you find out a bit more about why the company has succeeded for so long and why their guns are still prized by shooters around the world.
Condition, first. This gun looks well cared for, lightly used, and totally unmessed with. It has a lot of its original blueing and color-case hardening are still present. There’s even original finish on the lock pins The finish on the wood looks original, too, and no one has recut the checkering (thank god!).
After condition, this gun’s vintage adds to its value. It was made around 1924. Boss shotguns from the 1920’s and 1930’s tend to be this maker’s best examples. And the best guns always bring the biggest money.
This gun also has some special features. The length of its barrels (28″), the length of its stock (14″), and an original Boss single-trigger. Taken together, they make the gun appealing to modern shooters.
Even though it’s expensive, it’s cheap compared to what brand new 20g Boss SxSs cost now. One of those will run you around $130,000+.
Not all revolutions happen quickly. Some, like the way over-under shotguns overcame SxSs to dominate the world of doubles, took decades to happen.
In many ways, the over-under revolution began in 1909. That’s when Boss & Co introduced its OU. While Boss & Co didn’t invent these shotguns, they did perfect it.
Firearms with stacked barrels have been around for hundreds of years, and Merkel started building breechloading, centerfire OUs in the 1890s. But Boss was the first gunmaker to build an OU with the sleek looks and a dynamic feel that could compete with best-quality British side-by-sides.
To date, Boss has built 500+ OUs. It’s not that hard to find them on the used market. That is not the case with the Boss OU catalog you see here. This is the only copy of this 1930s-era catalog I’ve seen in two decades.
Check it out for a unique glimpse into how Boss sold their OU shotguns back in the day.
BTW: If you have one of these catalogs or any other Boss catalogs/promotional materials (or shotguns) you would like to sell, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Boss & Co is one of my favorite gunmakers–and for good reason. Not only have they made some of the most beautiful and finest shotguns and rifles ever, but during their Robertson era, they were also innovators. One of their greatest creations was the Boss single trigger, developed by Robertson in the 1890s.
To show off the effectiveness and reliability of his new singles triggers (and of his firm’s gunmaking skills), Robertson had Boss & Co build a couple 3-barreled SxSxS shotguns. Of the ones they made, this is the only one still around. Asking price: $333,333.00
The following is from an email Griffin & Howe sent me about it this gun:
“As a promotion for his single trigger, Robertson engineered among the most important shotguns to emerge from the Boss & Co. London workshop in the company’s 205-year history: the triple-barrel SxSxS that incorporated a single trigger. Although a marvel of ingenuity, the shotgun actually reveals the lengths that Robertson went in order to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of the single trigger to a skeptical marketplace.
Robertson certainly wasn’t the first gunmaker to experiment with a single trigger. Single-trigger sporting guns had been tinkered with by various gunmakers as far back as the late 17th century. An array of patents had been filed for them in England. Between 1893 and 1895, however, Robertson had applied for three single-trigger patents, each more sophisticated than the previous. By 1894, he had successfully demonstrated the single trigger on a side by side to the sporting press in London.
Still, Robertson must have felt that he needed to do more in order to validate his single trigger. Thus, over a two-year period, he set about building a 12-bore prototype, triple-barrel, SxSxS shotgun that relied on the single trigger.
Understandably, it is extremely difficult and expensive to make such a gun. Nonetheless, it was Robertson’s way of “cocking a snoot” at the London gun trade who had been trying to verbally undermine the flawless operation of the Boss single-trigger system.
The first SxSxS prototype of the Boss & Co. was a 12-bore built in 1898 with serial number 4605. Since it was never actually ordered, no reference appears in the Boss Order Ledgers. Number 4605 was subsequently sold to a Mr. Herbert Lawton on July 3, 1922 (24 years later). Mr. Roy Lyu, former General Manager of Boss & Co, Best Gunmakers, reports it was lost in a house fire while in the custody of Lawton.
On July 3, 1899 Boss & Co. was commissioned by Signor W. Baldi of Florence, Italy to build a 16 bore SxSxS shotgun that fired with the famous, patented single trigger design concomitant with the Boss & Co name. This gun was completed on June 21, 1901 bearing serial number 4690. The length of delivery time confirmed the complexity of the build process.
With the loss of number 4605, 4690 is the world’s only known enduring example. It has been entrusted to Griffin & Howe for sale, marking the first time the only 16-bore SxSxS has become generally available. The overall condition and considerable amount of case color remaining belies its 117 years of age. It is offered at $333,333.33.00
Boss & Co builds fantastic doubles. But some of their guns are peculiar–like the SxS you see here. With double beads on the action, banner-style engraving, and lovely patina, it’s one of the nicest pre-WW1 Boss side-by-sides I’ve seen. But it does have a quirk.
Compare its forend to the forend on other Boss SxSs (like this one) and you’ll see it: The missing diamond-shaped medallion in the center of the checkering. That medallion seats the screw going up through the forend, and into the iron. Some makers don’t use a connection like this to pull these pieces together. But every other Boss I’ve ever seen does — except this one. So what’s up?
I have no idea. Does this shotgun have standard Boss ejectors? Yup. Is everything else about the forend the same as on other Boss SxSs from the same period? Yup, again. Is the forend wood thinner than on other Boss SxSs? Nope. Could the gun have been ordered this way? Perhaps — but unlikely. I can’t imagine a customer specifying a detail like that. They would have to be a bigger doublegun dork than I am.
So what could I be? Perhaps it was just what gunmaker had available at the moment, or perhaps he wanted to try something else out. Or maybe the piece was lost and the foreman say “Make it right or you’re not getting paid” to the guy who messed up. We’ll never know.
What we do know is that it’s beautiful. I wish it were mine.
BTW: Just to set things straight, I think this gun is 100% right. I’ve had it in my hands, and it’s great.
Boss & Co made some of the finest shotguns the world has ever seen, and the one you see here is a great example of what makes them so special. If you study it closely, you’ll notice how big and bulbous the fences are. You’ll also see how the tails of the locks are more rounded, too, and the stock is super straight through the hand. Then there are the beads that runs up and around the fences. They’re quite crisp and defined.
These are all parts of Boss’s house style, and they’re the subtle differences that set these guns apart from Holland & Hollands, Purdeys, and other Best-quality doubles.
This gun also has the refinements Boss introduced into its SxSs in the mid-to-late 1920s — disc-set strikers, pins in the fences to secure the strikers — as well as the streamlined engraving pattern the company also switched to at that time. Overall, it’s a stunning side-by-side and reminder of just how nice vintage Boss & Co shotgns can be.
BTW: Santa, throw this one on my list. You know I deserve it.
BOSS & CO SxS 1931- A BEST GUN from the BEST ERA by a BEST MAKER- SUPERB ORIG & CORRECT GOLDEN ERA- 85% ORIG CASE COLORS- DELUXE WOOD- 12 BORE:#7904, Boss & Co., 41 Albemarle Street. Piccadilly. London. W.: A 1931 – 12 Bore Sidelock Ejector That Remains Totally Original and Correct Plus it Remains in Superb Condition. This outstanding piece was made for Mr. Jas. T. McMillan from Detroit, Michigan and ordered January 19, 1931. He was the second President of Packard Motor Co. It was ordered exactly as follows; 26″ Chopper Lump barrels at the correct and original bore size and original chokes at .730 .008 & .019 (Imp.Cyl. & Mod.), Original 2 3/4″ chambers, London proved at 1 1/4 ounce with 2 3/4″ chambers, Bushed strikers, The famous John Robertson Boss patent single non-selective trigger, Splinter forend, Straight hand stock at 14 9/16 x 1 3/8 x 2 1/8″ over a checkered butt, Very slight cast-off for the right hand, Rolled trigger guard edge for the right hand, Dead-up 6 lbs. even, 95% coverage of very fine rose & scroll engraving by Mr. Jack G. Sumner, The barrel striking is perfect, It retains 98% barrel blue, It retains 85% bright & vivid original case colors, Deluxe wood with outstanding color & contrast with deep black & brown color, The original oil finish remains at 92% with light handling marks only, The trigger guard & tang retain 90% original blue, The screw heads remain at 99%, The whole is cased in the original maker’s leather trunk with the correct & proper trade labels, Boss marked snap caps & oil bottle, All cleaning gear, Original spare strikers in their leather pouch, The case is in the same condition as the gun with a full protective cover. This piece comes from the Golden Era of Best English guns with most of the Robertson family influence still in place. It was crafted with their full staff of Gunmakers as it is one of 112 sporting pieces built in 1931. In 1934 they laid off 7 Gunmakers and about 50 guns were made, the great depression was taking a toll. Here is the embodiment of 1931 Best Quality, original condition, correct bore size & chokes, 2 3/4″, great weight, deluxe wood, Boss single trigger and it comes to the hand with ease, style and grace. A true Best Gun from a Best Gunmaker made in the Best years for the modern game gun. This is special stuff here.
For a while now, some of the finest British shotguns in the world have been built by two German gunmakers. Hartmann & Weiss is located in Hamburg, and their guns are on par with, and maybe better than, the finest side-by-sides and over-unders being built in the UK today.
Gerhard Harmann & Otto Weiss learned gunmaking in Germany: In the ’50s, Otto trained in Suhl and Gerhard trained in Hamburg. Otto Weiss furthered his education in Switzerland and England (with James Purdey & Sons), and Gerhard Hartmann went to work in Austria. In ’65 they joined together to build firearms. Today, their company builds a range of rifles as well as side-by-side and over-under shotguns.
Their over-unders are built on Boss-style actions, and their side-by-sides are built on Boss , Holland & Holland and Purdey/Beesley systems. The one you see here is one of the very few self-opening, Boss-style Round Body side-by-sides Hartmann & Weiss built. It unfired, and it’s coming up in next month in Holt’s December 2015 Fine Modern & Antique Guns Auction.
Boss & Co introduced their Round-Body style actions in 1893, and so far they’ve built around 300 of them all together. The self-opening feature was introduced in 1932 and used on a small number of SxSs up to WW2 and then phased out after in the ’50s. Finding both these features on a real Boss is tough to do, its not impossible: Here’s a real 12g Boss & Co. Round Action Self Opener.
(BTW: Vic Venters published an excellent piece about Boss & Co. self openers in the Nov/Dec, 2o15, edition of Shooting Sportsman magazine. To find out more about these super rare guns, check it out.)
HARTMANN & WEISS: AN EXCEPTIONAL 12-BORE GULLERT-ENGRAVED BOSS-TYPE SINGLE-TRIGGER ROUNDED BAR SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 2403. 29in. nitro chopperlump barrels with finely matted rib with fine acanthus scroll detailing at the breech end, the tubes engraved ‘HARTMANN & WEISS. HAMBURG’, 2 3/4in. choke, bored approx. 1/4 and 3/4 choke, rounded bar action with Boss patent self-opening system, removable striker discs, manual safety with gold-inlaid ‘SAFE’ detail, gold-inlaid cocking-indicators, non-selective single trigger, rolled-edge triggerguard, best fine floral bouquet and acanthus scroll engraving, the triggerguard signed ‘F. GULLERT’, retaining virtually full original colour-hardening and finish, 14 3/4in. highly-figured stock, weight 6lb. 10oz., in its lightweight leather case with accessories. Estimate: £40,000 – 60,000.
A Boss is beauty. Side-by-side and over-unders by this maker can be stunning, and the nicest Bosses are some of the finest shotguns ever built in London, the UK, and the world.
The pair of Boss & Co. SxSs you see here is near this top — especially for modern guns. They’re .410s, and they were made in 2002/2003.
Notice how Boss put a nice black on the triggerguard, toplever, and forend iron? That’s the classic British way to finish these parts (sometimes the forend iron was color-case hardened). Unfortunately, not every maker does this today. Some are color-case hardening all these parts. This is a shame.
Another thing I like about these guns is the nitre-blue finish on the safety, the toplever pin, the hinge-pin cap, the pin at the front of the triggerplate, and the one securing the metalwork in the forend. Some of these details are signature elements of Boss’s house style, and it’s good to see the company was holding themselves to those standards when they built these SxSs. Again, not every British maker does that anymore.
Scaling a sidelock down to a .410 is hard to do. Some parts — like mainsprings and the ejector work — can only get so small before they fail to work. Others parts have to be a certain size to be functional (that’s why the triggers and the triggerguard bows on these look a little big). These factors can distort the gun’s proportions and throw off the lines of the entire shotgun.
I don’t think that’s the case with these guns. They look perfectly proportioned and as nice as a 12g Boss.
BOSS & Co. BEST PAIR SXS 410 SHOTGUNS: PROOFED 2003 THESE ARE THE SMALLEST FRAME GUNS BOSS EVER MADE AND STATED WILL NEVER DO AGAIN BOTH ARE IDENTICAL 28″ SELF OPENER FULL AND FULL 3″ CHAMBERS SINGLE TRIGGER EJECTORS SPLINTER FOREARM ENGLISH GRIP CHECKERED BUTT NEW UNFIRED IN MAKERS OAK AND LEATHER CASE 5LBS 3 OZ X 2 1/4″ X 1 1/2″ X 15″.
Here’s one of the Kings of shotguns: A 12g Boss Sidelock Over-Under. It’s in fantastic original condition, and it’s coming up at Julia’s March 2015 sale.
The Boss O/U was created in 1909, and the innovations it introduced are still in use today. If you shoot a stacked-barelled Beretta, Perazzi, or Fabbri, your gun descended from the Boss O/U.
The Boss O/U has always been an especially difficult shotguns to make, and a single gun like this with two sets of barrels and a single forend would have been even harder to build. Only the best of the best workmen at the company would have worked on it. The gun would have been incredibly expensive to buy, too. Having a new one like it made today would probably cost you close to $200,000.
EXCEPTIONAL NEAR NEW BOSS OVER-UNDER SIDELOCK GAME GUN WITH EXTRA BARRELS AND CASE: SN 8981. (ca 1952) Cal. 12 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 27″ Demi-bloc bbls, fitted with matted, solid, raised ribs, mounted with red Bradley beads, are engraved “Boss & Co Albemarle Street Piccadilly London. Made in England” on top lefts. Open choked set has inlaid gold star on top left. Right sides of top bbls and bbl flats are stamped with London nitro proofs for 2-3/4″ chambers. SNs are on bottoms of bottom bbls. Typical case hardened Boss O-U sidelock action nicely sculpted to incorporate Boss ejector system, features non-automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), gold band tumbler end cocking indicators, bushed strikers, and Boss’s exceptional single trigger. Action and lockplates are engraved with Boss house style small scroll and rose bouquets. “Boss & Co” is on each lockplate, and “Patent 3307 1909″ is on both sides of action, referring to Boss’s patents for the O-U system. “Patent 3308 1909″ referring to ejectors is on bottom of forend iron. “Boss Patent No. 11278″ is on trigger plate referring to single trigger patent. Small bow single beaded trigger guard is also scroll engraved, and has SN at grip. Very fine, nicely marbled, and fiddle figured European walnut round knob pistol grip buttstock measures 14-1/2″ over brown leather pad. Classic point pattern checkering with mullered borders is at grip; well shaped drop points are at rear of lockplates, and a large gold “P” is inlet on toe line. Unusually shaped one piece forend flares to semi-beavertail, and is fitted with Anson release. Open choked (gold star) bbls: Bore diameter: top -.729, bottom -.729. Bore restrictions: top -.008 (IC), bottom -.024 (Mod). Minimum wall thickness: top -.027, bottom -.024. Drop at heel: 3-1/4″, drop at comb: 1-5/16″. Weight: 6 lbs 10 oz. LOP: 14-1/2″. Heavily choked bbls: Bore diameter: top -.731, bottom -.731. Bore restrictions: top -.026 (Mod), bottom -.036 (Full). Minimum wall thickness: top -.022, bottom -.022. Drop at heel: 3-1/4″, drop at comb: 1-5/16″. Weight: 6 lbs 10 oz. LOP: 14-1/2″. Original makers tan leather two-gun motor case is embossed on top, and is accompanied by tan canvas outer cover with leather trim, with medallion embossed “G.P.” Interior is lined in burgundy cloth and has small Boss Albemarle Street label in lid. Case contains 2-pc walnut and brass cleaning rod, assorted cleaning implements, two pairs of snap caps, round oil bottle, dusting brush, small leather wallet containing a pair of spare strikers, three beech handled turnscrews, and a small envelope marked “Safety Wire” (removed to make safety non-automatic).
CONDITION: Exceptionally fine, very close to new. Bbls have only a hint of silvering on sharp edges of ribs, and a few exceptionally light marks. Damascening on breech ends and bottoms is excellent, with only some slight assembly marks. Action and lockplates have only a hint of silvering on beads. Blue of top lever, trigger guard, and forend iron have only the slightest of edge wear. Fire blue of hinge pin covers, screw heads, and lock pin ends is essentially untouched. Safety is only slightly silvered. Stocks retain essentially all of their hand rubbed oil finish, grain open, with one or two light handling marks. Leather of pad is slightly darkened. Bores are excellent, appear essentially unfired. Mechanically crisp. Case leather is excellent, with only some slight rubs, as protected by orig outer cover, which shows some scuffs and marks, but is generally excellent. Interior cloth is excellent, with some light marks from contact with gun. Label is excellent, as are accessories. A good handling, versatile Boss O/U in an extraordinary state of preservation. Estimate: ($60,000-$90,000)
Pre-war Boss 20 ga., 26-1/2″ barrels: Choked improved cylinder and modified (.007/.010). Original 2-3/4 1oz. heavy proof. Raised concave game rib marked “Boss & Co. 41 Albermarle Street Picadilly London W”. Built with the style and grace that these “golden era” Boss guns are famous for. The petite “easy opening” action gun weighs a mere 5lbs, 5 oz. Fitted with the Boss patent single trigger. Well-figured stock measures 1-3/8″ comb, 1-7/8″ heel, 14-1/4″ LOP to a checkered butt. Balanced directly on the pin, this estate-fresh example retains 97% original blue, 80% vibrant case colors over the jewel-like engraving by the renowned Jack Sumner. Built in 1930 to the true small bore specs, a unique opportunity to purchase a seldom-seen heavy proof vintage 20. Cased in original violin case. Price:$59,500
A&S Famars Castore Hammergun – Pasolini Engraved and Fabulous Wood – Like New Condition: Beautiful A&S Famars Castore 12 gauge self-cocking hammergun with double triggers engraved by Master Engraver Pasolini and restocked by Piotti in a fabulous piece of Circassian walnut. Cased in a leather maker’s case with trade label and mahogany three-piece cleaning rod. Made in 1974 when both Mario Abbiatico and Remo Salvinelli were active in the business. In fact, “Remo” is engraved on the bottom of the rear lug indicating that he personally worked on this gun. *** The frame is beautifully engraved and has uniquely shaped fences, ornately engraved hammers, and a signature likeness of Neptune on the pierced toplever. Maker’s name “Famars” is inlaid in gold on the bottom of the frame and a gold crown is inlaid in the toplever. Overall weight is 7lb 4oz. *** The 28” barrels have 2-3/4” chambers and auto ejectors. The right barrel has a constriction of 0.010 for Improved Cylinder choke. The left has a constriction of 0.020 for Modified choke. Topped with a smooth concave game style rib. The breech ends of the barrels are adorned by two gold rings with one ring at the muzzles as well. The maker’s name “Armi Famars” is inlaid in gold on the top of the rib. *** This Castore was restocked in a fabulous piece of Circassian walnut by Piotti in Italy. Straight grip and splinter forearm. Professionally installed leather recoil pad. Stock dimensions are 1-3/8” by 2-1/4” by 15”. *** This rare and highly desirable double is in like new condition. Price:$18,495
Harris Holland .500 BPE Double Rifle: A Holland 3″ 500BPE double express rifle by Harris Holland. SN 39xx. Harris was the first of the Hollands in “Holland and Holland” and the founder if the initial company. This rifle is in excellent condition for a 140 year old rifle. It has been well taken care of. The 28″ damascus barrels have near excellent bores probably regulated by Bill Froome because it shoots excellent diagrams with black or smokeless powder. They have early Metford style rifling with square lands and grooves. LOP is 14″ to a steel shotgun style butt. It weighs 8 1/2 lbs. Load data appears on left action bar – characteristic of Holland rifles. There is about 60% coverage of fine English scroll crisp and like new. It is very tight and on face with a unique “dolls head” top rib projection – see photos. There are no “negatives” regarding this rifle. I will pay shipping to the contiguous 48. I have plenty more pics and will create specials upon request. Price:$14,500
PARKER REPRODUCTION DHE 28 GAUGE: 26″IC AND MOD 2 3/4 DOUBLE TRIGGER EJECTORS SPLINTER FOREARM PISTOL GRIP SKELETON BUTT NEW CONDITION IN MAKERS CASE 5LBS 6 OZ X 2 1/8″ X 1 3/8″ X 14 1/2″. Price: $5,500
Lefever EE 16ga – Rare: Gun retains 50%-60% plus bright original overall case color on frame and sideplates. Roughly 85-90% original plum barrel blue. Original chokes and chambers- 2 5/8″ chambers and choked I/C and Mod. Excellent bores, 28″ Krupp fluid steel barrels. Original butt stock retains most of the original varnish and does have a white line pad on it. Splinter forearm which, while matches nicely, is likely an early Ithaca replacement based on the engraving and checkering pattern. Nicely engraved with one dog on each side in typical E grade pattern in the 54,xxx serial range. Price:$4995
In the world of fine shotguns, a Best-quality double is just that: The very best side-by-side or over-under a company could make (or in some cases, the best one they retailed). Best guns were top-of-the-line, and top gunmakers made their best guns in special ways. This was called the “House Style”, and it was applied to the entire gun, from the engraving pattern and the shaping to the action, metalwork, and stock.
The side-by-sides you see here are Best-guns by Boss & Co. and James Woodward & Sons. The Boss is 12g made the later 1920s. The Woodward is a 16g. I think it’s from the 1930s. Even though these doubles have a lot in common, they are very different guns. Look closely and you’ll see what sets them apart.
I already put up a post about these incredible Boss shotguns. Now that the auctioneer has posted a complete set of pics and a full description for each one, I wanted to mention them again. They are that stunning — and rare.
These shotguns are best-quality, London-made sidelock .410s by Boss & Co: a side-by-side and an over under. Ordered in the 1950s, they are in incredible original condition. Pre-auction estimates put their value at $135,000+ a piece. The final hammer price will probably be much higher – especially for the O/U. Last spring, a set of 28 gauge Bosses in similar condition came up at Julia’s. The final prices for those 28g guns were $138,000 for the SxS and $207,000 for the O/U.
Here are the full descriptions for the Boss & Co. .410s from Julia’s site:
TRULY EXCEPTIONAL, HIGH CONDITION BOSS .410 GAUGE SIDE BY SIDE, SIDELOCK EJECTOR, SINGLE TRIGGER GAME GUN WITH CASE: SN 9067. (1954) Cal. .410. 3″ Chambers. 26″ Chopper lump bbls are engraved “Boss & Co” “41 Albemarle Street Piccadilly London.” “Made in England” on tops, either side of slightly raised, flat, matted rib, fitted with two red Bradley beads. Bbl flats are stamped with London nitro proofs for 3″ chambers. SNs are on bottoms of bbls. Nicely filed, diminutive, case hardened action is fitted with front action sidelocks, also exquisitely scaled down, and in perfect proportion with action. Action features non-automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), (factory records instruct “remove safety wire and attach to gun (“wire” or rod is in case)), gold band tumbler end cocking indicators, as well as Boss’s superb single trigger. Engraving is in typical Boss house style with 17 rose bouquets surrounded by small scroll. Scroll engraved, small bow, single beaded trigger guard has SN at grip. Exceptional, strikingly flame figured, nicely marbled European walnut straight grip buttstock measures 14-1/2″ over checkered wood butt, with engraved steel heel and toe plates. Stock features classic drop points, point pattern checkering with mullered borders, and an individual gold initial “P” inlet into toe line, which is beautifully swept with approx 1/4″ negative camber. Slim beavertail forend with Anson release is fitted with Boss’s highly regarded ejector system which lifts cartridges well clear of breech ends of bbls when acting as extractors. Bore diameter at muzzles: left-.401, right -.403. Minimum wall thickness: left -.042, right -.038. Drop at heel: 2-9/16″, drop at comb: 1-5/16″. Weight: 4 lbs. 15 oz. LOP: 14-1/2″. Fine quality toe under leather case with stitched leather corners. Case has leather trimmed canvas outer cover with central medallion. Interior is lined in burgundy cloth, and has small paper Boss Albemarle Street label on lid. Case contains 2-pc brass and walnut cleaning rod with mop, jag, and Turk’s head, unmarked round oil bottle, pincher type broken case extractor, small horn handled turnscrew, pair of A & F marked snap caps, and envelope containing and marked for “Safety rod for .410 gun”. Also included are two Abercrombie & Fitch hang tags with information for this gun. PROVENANCE: Copy of factory records confirming all specifications and stock shaping.
CONDITION: Exceptionally fine, near new, showing only exceptionally light evidence of firing and use, with only the faintest of handling marks on bbls. Damascening on breech ends is exceptionally fine. Action has only a hint of silvering on beads. Breech faces show only slight extractor wipe marks. Trigger guard retains essentially all of its orig blue. Top lever has only a hint of silvering on thumbpiece. Lock pins show essentially all of their bright polish and temper blue. Stocks retain nearly all of their orig rubbed oil finish with a few light handling marks. Bores are excellent. Action is tight. Trigger works. Ejectors are strong and in time. Case leather is very fine with a number of scuffs and marks. Handle is fine. Outer cover has some rubs and scuffs. Interior cloth shows some soiling and compressions. Label is very fine, slightly foxed. Partitions are tight, but show some re-working in action area. Accessories are excellent. This exquisite and dainty little gun is in an extraordinary state of preservation, and is also exceptionally rare. Dr. Ronald S. Gabriel in AMERICAN AND BRITISH .410 SHOTGUNS relates “In a conversation in 1982 with Boss’s ancient and retired barrel maker, Jack Rennie, he told me that the firm had made “perhaps” 13 .410s – 10 side by sides and “3 or 4″ over under .410s” An exceptional, perfectly proportioned, great handling small bore British classic in a condition worthy of the finest collection. Estimate: $100,000- $200,000
EXCEPTIONALLY RARE AND SUBLIME BOSS .410 OVER-UNDER, SIDELOCK EJECTOR, SINGLE TRIGGER GAME GUN WITH CASE: SN 8855. (1952) Cal. .410. 3″ Chambers. 26″ Demi-bloc barrels are engraved “Boss & Co 41 Albemarle Street. Piccadilly. London. W.” on left side of top bbl, which is mounted with flat, matted, solid rib sporting Bradley red beads. Right side is stamped with London nitro proofs for 3″ chambers. Bbl flat is stamped with matching proofs. SN is on bottom of bottom bbl. Diminutive Boss low profile O/U action is fitted with back action sidelocks and incomparable Boss single trigger. Case hardened action is nicely filed and engraved in classic Boss house style of medium scroll and 14 rose bouquets. “Boss & Co” is on the front of each lockplate, and “Patent 3307-1909″ (O/U gun) is engraved on each side of action. Single beaded trigger guard is scroll engraved and has another rose bouquet on small bow. SN is at grip. Beautifully marbled and elegantly flame figured European walnut straight grip buttstock has negative camber along toe line giving racy look. Butt is checkered and flanked by engraved steel heel and toe plates. Other features include classic drop points, point pattern checkering with mullered borders, and the initial “P” inlaid in gold on toe line. Small forend housing Boss’s unique ejector system, matches wood and checkering of butt, and has Anson type release. Bottom rear of iron is engraved “Boss’s Patent 3308-1909″ (ejector system). Bore diameter at muzzles: top -.398, bottom -.399. Minimum wall thickness: top-.032, bottom -.030. Drop at heel: 2-1/2″, drop at comb: 1-7/16″. Weight: 4 lbs. 15 oz. LOP: 14-1/2″. This lovely creation comes with its original leather case with stitched leather corners. Case is lined in scarlet cloth. Paper Boss label in lid has Dover Street address crossed out and Albemarle Street address stamped in. A second label gives instructions regarding ejectors. Case contains a pair of brass snap caps marked “Parker” “Made in England”, an H & H marked round oil bottle, and a 2-pc oak and brass cleaning rod, with mop, jag, Turk’s head, and lead remover in brown leather wallet. A horn handled small turnscrew and key are in covered compartment with brass knob. Accompanied by a copy of the original Boss ledger page for this gun order 12th May,1952 with specifications as observed.
CONDITION: Exceptionally fine, as found, near new, showing scant evidence of handling and firing, with only a few very light handling marks on bbls. Nearly all damascening marks are on breech ends. Action retains nearly all of its orig case hardening color with slight silvering evident on beads, and on sharpest edges. Breech faces show only a hint of firing halos. Safety button retains over 60% orig bright blue, as do hinge pin covers. Trigger guard and top lever show only the slightest of silvering. Stocks retain essentially all of their lovely rubbed oil finish, with only a few minor pings and marks. Checkering shows only a hint of wear. Bores are excellent. Action is tight. Bbls are on face. Ejectors are strong and in time. Trigger works flawlessly. Case leather is excellent with only a few very minor marks. Straps and handle are very fine. Interior cloth is excellent with only a few slight rubs. Leather action guard shows some scuffs. Labels are slightly soiled and foxed. Accessories are fine. As well as being in an extraordinary state of preservation, this exceptional wand is also extremely rare. Dr. Ronald S. Gabriel in his book AMERICAN AND BRITISH .410 SHOTGUNS relates that he has studied the Boss records, and found only five .410 O/U’s before SN 10000. He further states that the 5th found was SN 10000 commissioned by an American dealer. A unique opportunity to own one of the finest and rarest British shotguns in existence. ESTIMATE: $100,000- $200,000
The late 19th century was a golden age for sporting guns in the UK. Hundred of makers had shops throughout the country, thousands of people were employed by the trade, and because shooting was THE ACTIVITY for the Royals and other well-to-dos, there were plenty of customers.
The country’s most prestigious makers were in London, close to Buckingham Palace. Makers like Purdey, Boss, Holland & Holland, and Stephen Grant had shops in the West End. They fought for patronage from high-end customers and were always on the lookout for ways to set themselves apart from the competition.
On January 1, 1891, John Robertson took control of Boss & Co. Robertson had grown up in gunmaking. He joined the London trade in 1864 at Purdeys and went out on his own in 1873. Once he was in charge of things at Boss, his first task was to update the company’s shotguns and remake Boss as the city’s premier gunmaker.
Pre-Robertson, Boss had been known for making back-action sidelocks and hammerguns with Jones-style underlevers. Robertson ditched these old designs for modern, bar-action locks and a look all his own. He came up with a new, streamlined design for Boss’s guns and created the company’s classic look – snakey, handsome, and sleek.
A few years later, Robertson pushed this streamlining further and came up with something daring: Boss’s famous Round Body Action. The Round Body pushes sleek as far as it will go, and it looks more Space Age than Victorian Age. The lockplates and action are filed up for a round appearance. There are no beads, hips, or edges to be seen. The fences retain their bulbous “Boss” shape, but the stock gets the “round” treatment around the locks and through the hand. There are no drop points. The result is very unique and very modern. If George Jetson found his way back to London in 1900, he would want this shotgun.
Round-Body Bosses were never popular, and of the 10,000 or so double barrels Boss has built to date, fewer than 300 were the Round-Bodies. Most of these RBs were 12 gauges, very few were 20s. So the 20 gauge Boss Round Body you see here is a rare side by side. It was made in the early ‘3os and it looks like it’s in decent shape.
Two of the world’s rarest double-barrel shotguns are coming to market this fall James D. Julia Auctions. These shotguns are best-quality, London-made sidelock .410s by Boss & Co: a side-by-side and an over under.
Ordered in the 1950s, these doubles are in incredible original condition. They are also incredibly rare. Of the 10,200+ guns Boss & Co. has delivered to date, seventeen have been .410s: thirteen side-by-sides and four over unders.
These .410s are sure to attract big attention from around the world. They’ll also attract big bids. Pre-auction estimates put their value at $135,000+ a piece, and the final hammer price will probably be much higher – especially for the O/U. Last spring, a set of 28 gauge Bosses in similar condition came up at Julia’s. The final prices for those guns were $138,000 for the SxS and $207,000 for the O/U.
I’ve gushed about Boss shotguns before. Now I’m going to do it again. Boss & Co. has built some of the finest shotguns in the world. The two you see here are about as rare and fantastic as they come. They’re both coming up in James D. Julia’s March 2014 auction.
These guns are a consecutively serial numbered set (9018 & 9019), and both were ordered on the same day in 1955. They’re all original and they match their original specs 100%.
The Boss O/U was patented in 1909. To date Boss & Co. has made just over of five hundred of them. Around twenty have been 28 gauges. The other gun is just as rare. Of the 3,975 or so side-by-sides Boss & Co has built since John Robertson took over the company in 1891, around twenty-five have been 28 gauges.
That means the two doubles you see are some of the rarest shotguns ever made by Boss. As a true set, they’re spectacular and one of kind.
OK – here’s a late one. Carol Watson’s Orange Coast Auctions is having a sale today, January 25. There are bunch of good looking doubles coming up, everything from Purdeys & Francottes to American stuff. The auction starts at 10 am – Pacific time. So if you jump on it now, you should be able to get some bids in.
Lot 446: Francotte Pre-War VL&D mkd 20g Boxlock SxS Shotgun: #36563, 20 ga., 26” matte game rib blue barrels choked IC/Cyl. with one steel bead, tightly banknote and foliate engraved, case hardened boxlock frame, auto thumb safety with gold inlaid ”S” to upper portion, single select trigger, auto ejectors, Greener crossbolt safety, checkered Prince of Wales pistol-grip walnut stock and forend, with Pachmayr Old English butt pad with black spacer. Gold ovoid plaque to bottom of stock with initials ”EWB”. In more modern Brady shotgun case. Condition is excellent. Barrels retain approx. 80% original blue with thinning to both left and right tubes between recoil shield and top of forend. Case colors have thinned and silvered yet still retain approx. 40%. Checkering remains sharp. Action is crisp, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of wood: 13”; 13-1/2” to end of pad. Est.: $3,500-$5,000.
Lot 453: Parker 12g VHE Grade SxS Shotgun, 32″ bbls:#172765, 12 ga., 32” blue barrels choked Full/Full, game rib with double ivory bead, case hardened frame, ejectors, checkered straight walnut stock and splinter forend, with later added black Pachmayr butt pad. Mfg’d 1917. Condition is excellent. Barrels retain approx. 98%+ inky blue and may have been redone at one point. Frame with 20%-30% vivid case hardened hues in protected areas. Checkering is crisp and stock exhibits some very minor refreshing. Action is crisp, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of wood: 13-5/16”; 14-1/4” to end of pad. Est.: $3,500-$5,000.
Lot 459: Parker 16g CHE Grade SxS Shotgun: #148460, 16 ga., 28” game rib barrels choked Full/Mod., engraved game scene case hardened frame, double triggers, ejectors, manual safety, select imported pistol-grip checkered walnut stock with splinter forend and silver ovoid marked ”From Westminster Gun Club to WRL” to bottom of stock just forward of toe area. Originally mfg’d in 1908. Watertable marked with patent dates, and ”CH/148460/4”; central barrel lug marked ”1” for frame size; bottom of right barrel marked ”(clrcle)/A/3/8”. Condition is about fine. Barrels retain approx. 94% what appears to be original lightly thinning and toning blue. Engraved case hardened frame retains approx. 30% case colored hues mostly in protected areas, with sides and bottom of frame toning a silvery gray. Stock remains in very good condition with moderate flattening to checks, light scuffs and pressure dings, with later added red rubber butt pad. Wear to forend is slightly more pronounced. Action is smooth and fine, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of stock: 13-3/8”; 14-1/8” to end of pad; 1-9/16” drop at comb; 2-1/2” drop at heel. Est.: $10,000-$15,000.
Lot 460: Parker 12g BHE Grade SxS Shotgun: #127771, 12 ga., 30” game rib barrels choked Mod./Mod., engraved game scene case hardened frame, double triggers, ejectors, select import straight grip checkered walnut stock with splinter forend and gold ovoid to bottom of stock just forward of toe area. Originally mfg’d in 1904. Watertable marked with patent dates, and ”5/127771/B”; central barrel lug marked ”2” for frame size; bottom of right barrel marked ”K” and ”4/5”. Condition is fine to near excellent. Barrels retain approx. 96%+ original lightly thinning blue with one small clean spot to left tube. Engraved case hardened frame retains approx. 85% lightly thinning colors with most of the losses at balance point and triggerguard tang. Stock remains in very good condition with light scuffs, moderate impressions, slight flattening to checks, and modified with a red rubber butt pad. Action is smooth and fine, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of stock: 13-1/4”; 14-1/4” to end of pad; 1-9/16” drop at comb; 2-1/2” drop at heel. Stock appears to have neutral cast. Est.: $18,000-$24,000.
Lot 463: Boss & Co. Best Quality 20g SxS Sidelock Shotgun: #6656, 20 ga., 28” smooth ribbed blue barrels choked IC/Cyl., chamber depth of 2-5/8”, single bright bead sight, tight scroll and rosette engraved case-hardened sidelock frame, with gold-inlaid cocking indicators and safety markings, auto safety and ejectors, highly figured checkered straight walnut pistol-grip stock with teardrop flats and splinter forend, with original leather butt pad. Top of rib marked ”Boss & Co. 15, Dover Street, Picadilly, London, England”. Mfg’d 1920. Condition is excellent. Barrels appear to have been re-blackened at one point. Frame and sideplates retain approx. 90%+ case hardened hues. Stock is excellent with fine tight checkering. Action is crisp, bores are bright. In original leather-covered oak case with large format Boss label, original snap caps and oiler, and initials ”WCP” embossed to top; case shows scuffs, scratches, and some staining. Length of pull to end of wood: 13-5/8”; 14-1/2” to end of pad. Drop at comb: 1-1/2”; drop at heel: 2-1/4”. Est.: $30,000-$50,000.
Lot 465: Best Quality James Purdey & Sons 12g SxS Sidelock Shotgun: #23153, 12 ga., 30” matted game rib barrels choked IC/IC with 2-3/4” chambers, case hardened banknote and rosette engraved frame and sideplates, finely checkered English straight-grip walnut stock with splinter forend, and later added red rubber butt pad. Top of barrel marked ”J. Purdey & Sons, Audley House, South Audley Street, London”, and ”Made of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s Fluid Pressed Steel”. White ivory front bead, double triggers, manual safety with ejectors, cocking indicators, and ovoid plaque at bottom of stock. Mfg’d 1925, with only 97 produced that year. Condition is excellent. Barrels retain approx. 97%+ English rust type blue. Case hardened frame and sideplates show 92% vivid case colors, with the balance point toning and silvering slightly. Stock and forend appear to be refreshed somewhat, with forend checkering being of a slightly coarser pattern. Stock with only light marks from handling. Action remains crisp, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of wood: 13-5/8”; 14-1/2” to end of pad. Stock with very minor right-hand cast-off. Drop at heel 2-1/8”; drop at comb 1-5/8”. Est.: $20,000-$30,000.
Lot 466: Francotte 20g Abercrombie & Fitch mkd SxS Shotgun: #88627, 20 ga., 26” matte game rib blue barrels choked Imp./Mod., case hardened boxlock frame with sideplates, gold-inlaid ”S” at auto safety, auto ejectors, Prince of Wales grip with checkered walnut stock and splinter forend, with red Old English butt pad. Barrels marked ”Abercrombie & Fitch Co., U.S. Agents New York”. In what appears to be its original Abercrombie & Fitch marked brown leather burgundy-lined case, with two A&F 20 ga. snap caps, and original hang tag with specifications, including weight (5.5 lbs.), drop: 2-1/2-1-1/2-14-3/8”; chamber length 2-3/4”; with existing length of pull now 14-5/8” . Condition is fine to near excellent. Barrel assembly shows only minor thinning, with minor thinning at balance points of frame. Case hardened frame and sideplates retain approx. 80% silvering tones. Stock with light to moderate flattening to checks and minor scuffs from handling. Est.: $4,000-$6,000.
Lot 468: Francotte 20g SxS Shotgun: #3218, 20 ga., 27” matte game rib blue barrels choked Full/Mod., case hardened boxlock lightly engraved with hunting dogs and game scenes, straight-grain checkered oil-finished English walnut stock with red Pachmayr butt pad and splinter forend. Condition is excellent, appearing new and unfired, with only light marks from handling. Nicely presented in a contemporary suede-lined Italian leather case. Length of pull to end of pad: 14-3/4”. Est.: $4,000-$6,000
Lot 472: Win.-Parker Repro. 28g DHE Grade 2-Bbl SxS Shotgun: #28-3259, 28 ga., 26” game rib blue matte barrels choked IC/Cyl.; and 28” game rib blue matte barrels choked Full/Mod.; roll-engraved game scene case-hardened boxlock frame, checkered straight-grip fancy walnut stock with engraved steel skeleton buttplate and splinter forend. All features are standard to this model, including auto safety, auto ejectors, single brass bead front sight, and double triggers. Condition is excellent, appearing new and unfired, in original leather case, with Parker marked snap cap, instructions, and warranty card. (For purpose of photography, the original dried factory grease was removed from the exterior barrel assemblies.) Length of pull: 14-3/4”. Est.: $4,000-$6,000.
Merry Christmas to everyone and your families. I hope you’re having a good great day. Here are a few of the things I was hoping Santa would bring me this year:
-More time to hunt
-More places to hunt
-More patience, so I can enjoy all of it.
Oh, and I thought this shotgun would be nice, too:
Boss & Co., London. Magnificent 12ga. OU game gun with rising-bite third-fastener and two original sets of barrels. Ordered from Boss in April, 1937. Rare Boss single-selective trigger. Automatic safety. Incredibly rare, hidden, rising-bite third-fastener. Interesting “finger rest” on right lock plate specified in the original order records. Flawless fit and finish with action and locks retaining most of the original hardening colors. Barrels, forend iron, and mounts retain most of their original brilliant black finish. Highly figured original straight-grip stock with checkered butt and splinter forend retain all the original finish. The whole set cased in original maker’s case with trade label and a complete complement of original Boss accessories just as it left the maker in 1937. Overall mechanically perfect, lightly used, and remaining in near-mint, original, condition throughout.
Two of the world’s finest doubles? The ultimate shotguns for quail hunting? A collector’s dream? Yes, certainly, and absolutely.
What you see here is an amazing set of double barrel shotguns: A 28 gauge Boss side-by-side and a 28 gauge Boss over-under, both ordered after WW2, never used, and stored away in their original case ever since.
These Bosses were ordered on March 18th, 1955, by an American visiting Boss & Co’s Albemarle Street shop in London. They’ve been in the same family since day one, and they’re consecutively serial numbered, 200% original, and in in mint condition.
Of London’s big three makers, Boss & Co. made the fewest doubles. But the ones they did make are some of the finest side-by-sides and over-unders you’ll ever see.
Here’s a little piece I just wrote about Boss & Co for James D. Julia’s auctioneers. Check it out:
Best Gun. These two words have a magical meaning to gun collectors. First used by British gunmakers in the 19th century, a Best Gun was more than just the finest firearm a company produced. It was the maker’s interpretation of what a fine shotgun could be and the basis for everything he hoped to achieve.
At the end of the 19th century, shooting was the past time of the wealthy. A Best Gun was the way to secure the patronage which could make a gunmaker successful — and even rich. As makers competed for this attention, a handful of them earned a reputation for building the finest shotguns in the world.
The finest materials and flawless craftsmanship have always been a given on a Best Gun. To reach the pinnacle of the trade, a gunmaker needed to bring more to his craft, including an impeccable reputation, patented designs, and a look that set his guns apart. To stand out, a gunmaker needed to reinterpret what a Best Gun could be.
This is just what Britain’s top makers did. In London, the big three — James Purdey & Sons, Holland & Holland, Boss & Co — created shotguns that were uniquely their own.
But while James Purdey & Sons had the Beesley action and Holland & Holland had their Royal-model side-by-side, Boss & Co. had John Robertson. And it was because of Robertson that the shotguns made by Boss & Co are so revered by collectors today.
Robertson took over Boss & Co. in 1891. He was already one of the trade’s top craftsmen; his new firm was well regarded, but not famous. Right away, Robertson applied his genius to reinterpreting what Boss’s Best Gun could be. First, he updated it with refinements like bar-action sidelocks and a sleeker look. Then he added his own patented features: The world’s first reliable single trigger in 1894 and a unique ejector system in 1898.
By the time the twentieth century opened, Boss’s shotguns were cutting edge and beautiful. People noticed and business boomed. But even as the fortunes the company rose, Boss’s most famous creation, and one of the most sought after shotguns in the world today, was still to come.
Firearms with stacked barrels have been around for hundreds of years, and before World War One, center fire over-under shotguns made in continental Europe showed up on the British shooting scene.
John Robertson liked the idea of a shogun with stacked barrels. What he didn’t like was how the Europeans designed their guns. Heavy in the hands, awkward looking, and cumbersome to use, the European O/Us were good ideas that failed to achieve their promise.
Robertson recognized this, and being who he was, he worked with his top craftsmen to create a revolutionary new over-and-under. In 1909 he patented his design, and the innovations he introduced still appear in almost every over-under shotgun made today.
Boss’s new O/U was as lightweight, dynamic, and beautiful as their side-by-sides. It was also more difficult and time consuming to build. In a shop where everyone was exceptionally skilled, only a few Boss gunmakers had the talent to build the over-and-under.
This made the Boss O/U one of the world’s most expensive shotguns, a fact Robertson made no apologies for. Boss & Co, was committed to best quality work, and top-quality work cost top dollar. There was no way around it. Robertson knew this, and he expected his customers to know it, too.
Fortunately for Boss & Co., the beauty of the gunmaker’s new O/U shotguns entranced customers. Shooters around the world recognized the tremendous quality built into every one. Up until the Great Depression and fears of a coming war stalled the world economy, Boss & Co.’s new over-and-under shotgun was a tremendous success.
Today, Boss O/Us from this period attract the most attention from collectors – especially ones in the smaller gauges. Boss made very few small bore over-and-unders before the ‘50s, and the 20 gauge shown is probably one of fewer than 30-40 examples made before World War Two. Built in the 1930’s, and featuring a Boss-patent single trigger, Boss-patent ejectors, superb 28” barrels, a genuine rising-bite action, and generous amount of original finish, it’s an exceptionally beautiful, and exceptionally desirable, shotgun.
John Robertson passed away in 1917, and in his lifetime he created some of the most beautiful shotguns the world has ever seen. In a catalog from 1920, Boss & Co. introduced their guns with a paragraph stating “The owner of a Boss gun has the satisfaction of knowing that he has the best gun money can buy…” The same is true today When you own a shotgun by Boss & Co., you own something people will always value: The absolute very best.
The Boss O/U is one of the world’s finest shotguns. It’s also one of the most revolutionary double barrels ever made. Patented in 1909, it was hardly the first shotgun made with stacked barrels. But Boss’s O/U was the first one able to compete with best-quality, London-made side by sides. To find out why, check out my post about the very first Boss O/U.
The Boss O/U you see here is from the 1930’s, a period when London gunmakers built some of the finest firearms ever made. It has superb 28″ barrels, top-notch Sumner engraving, beautifully detailing on the action, and the most desirable Boss-features — patent ejectors, patent single trigger AND an extremely rare rising-bite action.
Rigby & Co. was famous for using the Rigby-Bissell rising bite action on their finest rifles and shotguns. It’s an amazing piece of gunmaking and extremely difficult to build. In the late 1920s and into the ’30s, a version it made it onto a handful of Boss O/Us. No one is quite sure how (I have a theory).
SUBLIME “GOLDEN AGE” BOSS 20 BORE HEAVY PROOF SINGLE TRIGGER RISING BITE OVER-UNDER GAME GUN: SN 8482. (ca 1937) Cal. 20 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 28″ Demi-bloc bbls with broad, flat, matted rib, fitted with two red beads, are engraved “Boss & Co, 41, Albemarle Street, Piccadilly, London. W.” and “Made in England” on either side of top bbl. Right side of top bbl and damascened bbl flat are stamped with London nitro proofs for 2-3/4″ chambers and 1 oz. of shot. Case hardened, uniquely Boss, O/U action is beautifully sculpted at breech ends of bbls, with well filed beads at bottom. Action features hidden rising bite third fastener, bushed strikers, automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), gold band tumbler end cocking indicators, Chilton locks with intercepting sears, and Boss’s unique and excellent single trigger. Action is engraved with exceptionally well cut, small, shaded scroll with 14 rose bouquets, and additional roses front and rear of forend cut in bottom of action (by Sumner). “Boss & Co.” is on each lockplate. “Patent No 3307.1909” referring to the over – under system, is on each side of the action. “Boss’s Patent No 22894” is on trigger plate, referring to single trigger. Forend iron is engraved “Boss’s Patent No. 3308.1909″, referring to ejectors. Blued top lever and single beaded trigger guard, are also scroll engraved. SN is on trigger guard tang. Nicely streaked and well figured, dark, European walnut round knob, semi-pistol grip buttstock measures 14-1/2” over leather covered Silver pad, and features drop points, classic point pattern checkering with mullered borders, and a gold oval on toe line engraved “G. P.” Matching, small, one piece, Boss ejector forend has Anson type release. Bore diameter: top -.615, bottom -.615. Bore restrictions: top -.007 (IC), bottom -.013 (Mod). Wall thickness: top-.027, bottom -.029. Drop at heel: 2-3/8″, drop at comb: 1-7/16″. Weight: 6 lbs. 6 oz. LOP: 14-1/2″.
PROVENANCE: Abercrombie & Fitch green hang tag with specifications of this gun.
CONDITION: Excellent. Action retains 85 – 90% orig case hardening color, silvered on sharp edges and beads, thinning slightly around bottom, from normal carrying wear. Lockplates retain nearly all of their vivid orig color. Orig blue of forend iron/ ejector housings is at about 90%, thinned and browned around bottom. Top lever is silvered at thumbpiece. Trigger guard is silvered on bead. Tang has been re-darkened. Stocks retain most of what appears to be their orig rubbed oil finish, maintained over the years with some extra oil rubbed into butt, with a number of very light marks and scratches. Checkering is very fine, with slight wear, and is dark. Bores are excellent, bright and shiny throughout. Action is tight. Bbls are on face. Ejectors are excellent, and in time. Lock screws show some use. An exceptionally fine, and lightly used, svelte little gun, with barrels that measure perfectly. Twenty-gauge Boss O/Us with single triggers and rising-bite style actions are exceptionally rare and among the most desirable British shotguns ever made. Estimate: $50,000-$80,000