Liege used to be the gunmaking capital of the world.
Located in eastern Belgium, it straddles the banks of the Meuse River. In the early 19th century, John Cockerill develop a steel industry there, and it was with this steel that countless gunmakers and craftmen filed up and turned out millions of firearms, from crudest muskets for the African slave trade to the finest shotguns for Kings, Czars and other rich folks around the world.
The double barrel shotgun you see here is fell somewhere in between these extremes. It was made by F. Lancelot — a gunmaker lost to history — and it’s a basic, 16 gauge hammergun with fluid steel barrels. Even though it was an inexpensive shotgun in its day, I’m sure it was still very well made. Here’s more about it from the seller:
F. Lancelot, Liege- Retailed by P. Varriale, Naples: Lovely 16 GA. SXS Belgian hammer shotgun by F. Lancelot & Co. Liege Retailed by P. Varriale, Naples. This smokeless proofed fluid steel barrelled shotgun has it’s original 2 9/16″ (65m/m) chambers with long forcing cones and side clips. Chokes measure .027 and .022 (16.4 and 16.5) barrel length 27.5″ Straight grip stock measures 14″ LOP to a bone butt plate. This strong action has three locking lugs including a Greener type cross bolt. The barrels retain 95+% of the original blue. The fore end and butt stock wood retain all of their original finish with only very minor nicks and scratches. An excellent Belgian pre-war hammer double. Price: $1750
I’ve seen a lot of Italian shotguns – from basic Berettas to top-of-the-line O/Us and side-by-sides by Bosis and F.lli Rizzini. But almost all of these have been post WW2 shotguns. For some reason, I’ve seen very few Italian shotguns from the first half of the 20th century or the 19th century.
That’s why this 19th century double barrel pinfire shotgun by Alfonso Izzo caught my eye. Not only is it an antique, but it looks like it’s in stunning original condition. Just look at the color on the action and the browning on the damascus barrels — that’s all original. So is the finish on the wood. And check out the engraving – it’s look very English to me. In its day, this shotgun must have been the finest the maker could produce. Today its retains that aura that quality always has.
The pinfire system was one of the first successful breechloading designs. It came into use around 1855 and lasted just a handful of years. Centerfire breechloaders came onto the market about 1865 and withing a few years they had killed off the pinfires.
This shotgun also uses a Jones-style underlever, first patented in 1859. The Jones underlever would go on to be one of the most successful actions ever created. Shotguns and rifles were built on it right into the 20th century.