Gavin Gardiner is an expert on British and European sporting arms, and he holds some of the world’s best gun auctions. Check out this video to see some of his insights into engraving patterns and styles. (BTW: The intros to all of Gavin’s videos always make me smile).
Built on a design patented by Boss & Co in 1909, the Boss OU introduced the world to the low-profile OU. Up until 1909, breech-loading OUs had lumps on the bottom of the barrels like a side-by-side. This made them thick through the action and clunky looking.
Boss & Co go rid of lumps by mounting “trunions” on either side of barrels. This slimmed down the action, lightened the guns, and made Boss OUs look as sleek as their SxSs.
Today, most modern OUs owe a huge debt to Boss’s design, from a Beretta Silver Pigeon and a CSMC’s A10 to a Fabbri
Boss & Co is still in business and they’re still building their legendary OUs today. I think prices start at around $240,000. So if you can buy this gun for anything less than $100,000, you’re getting a fantastic deal.
LOT 332: BOSS & CO. A FINE 12-BORE SINGLE TRIGGER SIDELOCK EJECTOR OVER AND UNDER GUN, NO. 9990: 28-inch barrels with 2 3/4-inch chambers, about 1/4 and 1/2 choke borings, the frame, locks and top lever engraved with fine bouquet and scroll engraving and retaining almost all of its original hardening colour, the maker’s name signed within a scrolling banner, gold line cocking indicators, 14 1/2-inch well-figured stock and Boss half pistol grip, nitro proof, 7lb., in its maker’s lightweight case with canvas outer cover S2 The maker confirms that the gun was delivered in 1995. The gun remained in store with its maker for a number of years and remains virtually as new and unused.
Gavin Gardiner is one of the U.K.’s top gun auctioneers, and at his upcoming sale at The Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, he’s going to selling off several very nice guns, including the exceptional, one-of-a-kind sidelock shown in this video and listed below. It’s engraved by Malcolm Appleby, “the foremost gun engraver in the United Kingdom” according to Mr. Gardiner.
“THE PHOENIX GUN” A MAGNIFICENT MALCOLM APPLEBY-ENGRAVED 12-BORE SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR GUN, NO. 7420
28-inch chopper-lump barrels with 2 3/4-inch chambers, about full choke borings, the tubes signed beneath the fore-end, ‘M. Appleby, Engraver’ and ‘M Lingard, Gunmaker’, the breeches and rib with fine feather details, the frame and locks engraved in typical Appleby style with flowing plumage, talons and highly detailed stylised themes around the mythical phoenix, the trigger plate with golden flames, the action base with beak and eyes, the fences carved in a similar manner, the safety catch with further golden flame detail, gold lined cocking indicators, 14 3/4-inch highly figured stock, 6lb. 10oz., nitro proof
The gun retains all of its original finish and appears virtually unused.
The shotgun you see here is a dream-double for a lot of guys. This 20 gauge Woodward Over-Under shotgun is one of the world’s rarest shotguns. If you have to have it, you can bid on it in Gavin Gardiner’s 4/18/18 auction.
James Woodward & Sons introduced their version of an OU shotgun in 1913 and built them until the company was acquired by James Purdey & Sons in 1949.
Before 1949, James Woodward & Sons built fewer than four hundred OUs. Of those, sixty or so were 20 gauges.
A little while ago, this discussion came up over at Doublegunshop.com regarding how a new stock on a double barrel shotgun would affect the gun’s overall value.
I contend that when all’s equal, restocked shotguns are always worth less than comparable, 100% original models. This is regardless of who restocks the gun or the quality of the work (in the online disussion, I’m the PITA who goes by Obsessed-with-Doubles).
Others disagreed. They felt that a properly restocked shotgun was just as valuable as one with the original wood, especially in the UK markets.
This leads us to the point of this post. On 4/18, we have the chance to put the BS to the test.
Catalog info: 29-inch replacement barrels by the maker (no. 9995), with 2 1/2-inch chambers, about 1/4 and 1/2 choke boring, the frame, locks and gold numbered top lever with fine bouquet and scroll engraving and retaining traces of hardening colour, gold lined cocking indicator, rolled edge trigger guard, 14 1/4-inch well figured replacement stock, 6lb. 11oz., nitro proof, lightweight leather case with reproduction label.
The maker confirms that the gun was rebarelled in 1988 and restocked at the same time. Bores/walls: Rt: 729/28 & Lt: 729/28.
To clear things up a bit, I emailed a few more questions to the auctioneer. Here’s the response I received from Gavin Gardiner:
“As you can see, the gun is a very attractive example, that was rebarreled and restocked by the makers in the late 1980’s. Since then the gun has been little used. The barrels have not been re-blacked since that time and neither has the furniture(lever, guard etc… though this will have been re-blacked when the gun was rebarreled). The hardening colour that remains on the action is the original. The barrels remain as new and are free from any pits bulges or dents and measure as for new. The gun is clean, crisp and tight and everything is functioning as it should. As I said, it appears little used since refurbishment, and is an excellent example that is ready to be used right away.”
Granted, this Boss has been more than restocked. It has also been rebarreled. But all the work has been done by Boss – the side-by-side’s original maker. So this should be the ultimate test of the “if it’s done right, it’s fine” line of reasoning.
Once this auction ends, we’ll compare this lot’s final price to what all original Boss sidelocks are bringing. This will give us a sense of how the market values restocking & new barrels.
For now, here’s a list of vintage Boss sidelock doubles on the US market. Take a look and check out what you get for your money.
Catalog info: 29-inch replacement barrels by the maker (no. 9995), with 2 1/2-inch chambers, about 1/4 and 1/2 choke boring, the frame, locks and gold numbered top lever with fine bouquet and scroll engraving and retaining traces of hardening colour, gold lined cocking indicator, rolled edge trigger guard, 14 1/4-inch well figured replacement stock, 6lb. 11oz., nitro proof, lightweight leather case with reproduction label. The maker confirms that the gun was rebarelled in 1988 and restocked at the same time. Bores/walls: Rt: 729/28 & Lt: 729/28. Estimate: £16,000-20,000
Pros: Original gun was made around 1915 (a good period for Boss) and the new barrels and stock were done by Boss. The barrels are modern and they have excellent measurements.
Cons: Some parts probably reblacked and the forend was probably refinished . The case isn’t original. Estimate seems high. Also, the auctioneer has left out a lot of important info and the pic shown says very little about the gun.
Another thing, this side-by-side shotgun is not an “assisted opener”. Boss never mad assisted-opening shotguns. The auctioneer is referring to a by-product Boss-patent ejectors. Because of the way these ejectors work, the luggers (I think that’s what they’re called) press against the face of the action. This force helps open the gun a bit- when the gun is cocked. After the gun has been fired, the ejectors do not do this and they have no effect on the opening of the gun.
BTW: before you think these guns are fantastic deals, consider this that when buying in the UK, you should double whatever you’ll pay in £ and add 5-10% to get a good estimate your total costs in $s.
Time magazine ran an interesting article on Wednesday about investing in fine double barrel shotguns:
“When the final hammer came down at the end of the December auction at Holt’s Auctioneers — which specializes in the sale of classic English shotguns — total sales had hit a record $2.72 million. Among the hot sellers: a pair of Purdey shotguns had sold for $131,200, while two guns made by Holland & Holland went for $128,000. “Those are impressive and reassuring figures,” says Roland Elworthy, a valuer at Holt’s…”
I have my doubts about the 3%-4% annual return quoted in the article. The info comes from an auctioneer, a person with an interest in furthering the idea that guns are sound investments. Personally, I don’t see guns as “investments.” I think they’re speculations, and a tough way to make money. It can be done, but it’s hard to do with the 15% – 20% most auctioneers tack on to the hammer price.