In 1875, Westley Richards introduced the Anson & Deeley double barrel shotgun and revolutionized side by sides. But even though an English firm invented the A&D action, I’ve always thought it was the Belgian and Prussian makers who perfected it .
One of these makers was Francotte. The Anson & Deeley doubles they made are some of the finest boxlock side-by-sides you can buy. Because of the crazy way people value things today, they’re also some of the best deals on the market.
These three Francotte 45Es coming up at James Julia’s 10/2 auction are a great example of what I mean:
The 45E, or Eagle Grade, was the king of thebloxlock Francottes imported by Von Lengerke & Detmold. Their signature features were highly carved fences covered with game-scene & scroll engraving and a gold-inlaid eagle on the bottom of the action. On top of this, these guns were built with extras like intercepting safety sears, Greener-style crossbolts, replaceable hinge pins, side clips, and nicely figured European walnut. All the work on these side-by-sides was top notch, too.
Back when these Francotte 45Es were imported into this country, they were one of the most expensive boxlocks in Von Lengerke & Detmold’s store. Their price easily exceeded just about all the American doubles. The same was true with their quality. In fact, I think these Francottes beat them all. Today, people aren’t willing to pay the say premium for them. Most guys will put down more for a mid grade Parker than they would for any of these Eagles. That’s a shame because they will not be getting a better shotgun.
James Julia auctioned this piece of firearm/literary/American history today: this Westley Richards droplock double rifle in .577 Nitro Express that was once owned by Ernest Hemingway. The gun hammered down for $295,000. That’s without the buyer’s a premium of 15%. So whoever bought Papa’s mammoth double dropped around $340,000 to get it. Those are some deep pockets.
The gun would probably be worth $70,000 – $80,000 without the provenance. And who would ever want at .577 NE double rifle with a single trigger? Facing down a charging elephant is no time to run a quality check on something like that.
You can read more about Hemignway’s monster double in this article from Garden & Gun magazine.
If you really want a .577 and you missed out on Hemingway’s gun, go to Schwandt Classic Arms and take a look under double rifles. There you’ll see a better rifle for about half the money. It’s a Holland & Hollandy Royal in .577NE. It’s a sidelock (droplocks are over rated) AND it has double triggers. I’ve seen this gun in person and it’s awesome.
I don’t know if I would want to shoot a .577 NE , though. I’ve fired a .470 NE double rifle and that gun bounced my brain around pretty well. Anything more than that is too much for me.