James Woodward & S0ns is a mysterious maker. Even though they made some of the finest double barrel SxSs and O/Us to come out of the UK, not a lot is known about the company.
In business from 1874 to 1948, Woodward created several influential designs, like the Woodward Automatic, a hammerless sidelock shotgun that cocked “autmatically” when you opened the shotgun, and in 1913 the Woodward-style over-under shotgun. Somewhere in the history of the Woodward O/U, the round-body action was introduced.
No one know why Woodward added this option to their O/Us. The London gun trade was brutally competitive. Makers were always looking for novel ways to set their guns apart. I suspect this is why Woodward introduced the round-body styling to their O/U shotguns. But like a things Woodward, we’ll never know if that’s the truth.
What we do know for certain is that this is an exceptional shotgun. It’s also exceptionally rare. I bet Woodward made fewer than 20 round-body over unders. I’ve seen 6-7 of them, and the one below is the finest one, by far. It’s coming up at Julia’s Auction next week. So if you like what you see, get your bids in today.
RARE AND FINE WOODWARD ROUND BODY OVER-UNDER SINGLE TRIGGER HEAVY GAME GUN WITH CASE. SN 7173. Cal. 12 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 29-1/8″ Demi-bloc bbls with solid, file cut rib are engraved “James Woodward & Sons. 29. Bury Street. St. James’s. London. England.” on left side of top bbl. Right side of top bbl and bottom of bottom bbl are stamped with London nitro proofs for 2-3/4″ chambers. Case hardened, round body, low profile, OU action features automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), gold band tumbler end cocking indicators, and non-selective single trigger. Action is engraved with well cut, classic, small, shaded scroll with rose bouquet highlights. “J Woodward & Sons” is in parchment scrolled device at front of each lockplate. Bottom of action is engraved “Woodward’s” and “Under & Over” in arches around recess cut for forend iron, which is engraved “Patent”. SN is on tang of scroll engraved small bowed trigger guard. Fully marbled and lightly figured European walnut straight grip
buttstock measures 14-1/2″ over leather faced, thin, red pad. Standard point pattern checkering with mullered borders is at grip. Toe line with gold oval engraved “G.P.” is shaped with about 3/16″ negative camber giving racy swept look. One piece matching ejector forend has Anson release. Bore diameter: top -.729, bottom -.729. Bore restrictions: top -.036 (Full), bottom -.037 (Full). Wall thickness: top-.024, bottom -.025. Drop at heel: 2-1/8″, drop at comb: 1-1/4″. Weight: 7 lbs. 12 oz. LOP: 14-1/2″. Makers oak and leather case with brass corners and leather trimmed canvas outer cover, is embossed with an early owner’s name on rectangular inset leather label on top. Leather is additionally embellished with embossed line borders with fleur-di-lis highlights. Interior is lined in scarlet cloth with gold embossed black leather Woodward label in lid. Case contains pair of A & F marked snap caps, red morocco wallet with cleaning brushes inside, 2-pc rosewood and brass cleaning rod with mop, Turk’s head and jag. There are also an A & F marked square oil bottle, hard rubber striker block, and the key.
PROVENANCE: Abercrombie & Fitch hang tags with specifications and known information.
CONDITION: Excellent. Action retains 90 – 95% of its orig bright case hardening color, silvered on sharp edges. Lockplates retain nearly all of their color. Top lever and forend iron show only slight silvering to their orig bright blue. Trigger guard re-blued, and retains essentially all of that blue, engraving still sharp. Stocks retain nearly all of a factory quality oil finish with some light marks and a small scuff in forend checkering. Pad added after making, as cut off piece of buttstock with checkered butt is in case. Bores are excellent, bright and shiny throughout. Action is tight. Bbls are on
face. Ejectors are in time. Trigger works, but is a bit sticky (probably needs cleaning). Case leather is very fine with some slight darkening and rubs. Straps and handle are fine. Canvas outer cover has rubs and discoloration, leather trim also rubbed, with some slight tatters. Straps are good. Interior cloth is fine with some areas patched, lightly soiled, and marked by gun and accessories. Accessories are good. By SN, one of the last guns to leave Woodward’s after being taken over by Purdey’s. Records indicate it was delivered in 1949, so was most likely finished by Purdey’s. Round body Woodward O/Us are very rare. This may be one of the finest extant. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000