Connecticut Shotgun just listed this rare British double barrel shotgun. It’s a W. & C. Scott Imperial Premier sidelock in 12 gauge. Connecticut Shotgun’s full listing reads:
“WC Scott Premier Imperial grade, 12ga, 30”, F/F, the very rarest WC Scott the holy grail of the line Whitworth barrels, double trigger, auto ejectors, pistol grip, leather face pad, fleur de lis checkered massively miniature highly detailed chiseled engraving of oak leaves water fowl woodcock, incredible. Escutcheon dated 1915, the very rarest highest grade in the height of the era, English full sidelock, extremely rare. 8lbs. 14 3/8” x 1 3/8” x 2”.”
W. & C. Scott introduced the Imperial Premier in about 1893 and they made them until 1932. Imperial Premiers were Scott’s very best quality shotguns, one step up from their standard best-grade: the Premier. In 1928 and Imperial Premier cost $1200, a Holland & Holland Modele de Luxe $1150. At the same time, a new Ford Model A Coupe went for $495 and the average American home cost $2100.
The Imperial Premier was a standard bar-action sidelock built on a Rogers-patent action. This action was patented in 1881 and it cocked when the bbls dropped, much like an Anson & Deeley or H&H Royal action, and Scott used it on all their sidelock shotguns up until 1939.
Quality wise, the guns I’ve seen have had the superb metal-to-metal and metal-to-wood fit that you would expect. The engraving has all been deep relief, and beautifully done, the wood beautiful French walnut, and the checkering very ornate. I’ve never handled or fired one of these guns, but I’m sure they open and close as smoothly as an H&H Royal or a Boss, with perfectly timed ejectors and excellent trigger pulls.
I have no idea how many Imperial Premiers Scott made – probably fewer than 100. In the past 10 years I’ve seen four or five on the market and pics of about 10 in all. This second Imperial Premier came up for auction at Cowan’s Auctions in 2007. It was made in about 1904, so almost 10 year before the gun above, and it’s a bit different: there’s more engraving on the barrels, the overall engraving pattern itself is different, and the bar of the action on this one is rounded. The action is missing the double bead and some of the sculpting the gun above has. You can see this better in this picture of the bottom of the action.
Scott did this on some of their sidelocks, but I’ve never been able to figure out why.
If you know of any other Imperial Premiers, please drop me a note and tell me about them.
And contact me, too, if you have any comments on this post that you would like to share.