This great little double is coming up to auction tomorrow, December 10, 2019, @ 10:00 AM GMT, at Holts Auctioneers.
Description:JOHN ROBERTSON A .410 (2 1/2IN.) BOXLOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 8959, 27in. nitro barrels, rib engraved ‘JOHN ROBERTSON. 41. ALBERMARLE STREET. LONDON. W.1.’, 2 1/2in. chambers, bored approx. imp. cyl. and 1/4 choke, automatic safety with engraved ‘SAFE’ detail, border and acanthus scroll engraving with ‘JOHN ROBERTSON’ in scrolling banners, retaining much original colour-hardening and finish, 14 1/2in. figured stock with flat top chequering, weight 4lb. 8oz., with a canvas and leather slip and a one-piece wood and brass cleaning rod.
Boss & Co is one of my favorite gunmakers–and for good reason. Not only have they made some of the most beautiful and finest shotguns and rifles ever, but during their Robertson era, they were also innovators. One of their greatest creations was the Boss single trigger, developed by Robertson in the 1890s.
To show off the effectiveness and reliability of his new singles triggers (and of his firm’s gunmaking skills), Robertson had Boss & Co build a couple 3-barreled SxSxS shotguns. Of the ones they made, this is the only one still around. Asking price: $333,333.00
The following is from an email Griffin & Howe sent me about it this gun:
“As a promotion for his single trigger, Robertson engineered among the most important shotguns to emerge from the Boss & Co. London workshop in the company’s 205-year history: the triple-barrel SxSxS that incorporated a single trigger. Although a marvel of ingenuity, the shotgun actually reveals the lengths that Robertson went in order to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of the single trigger to a skeptical marketplace.
Robertson certainly wasn’t the first gunmaker to experiment with a single trigger. Single-trigger sporting guns had been tinkered with by various gunmakers as far back as the late 17th century. An array of patents had been filed for them in England. Between 1893 and 1895, however, Robertson had applied for three single-trigger patents, each more sophisticated than the previous. By 1894, he had successfully demonstrated the single trigger on a side by side to the sporting press in London.
Still, Robertson must have felt that he needed to do more in order to validate his single trigger. Thus, over a two-year period, he set about building a 12-bore prototype, triple-barrel, SxSxS shotgun that relied on the single trigger.
Understandably, it is extremely difficult and expensive to make such a gun. Nonetheless, it was Robertson’s way of “cocking a snoot” at the London gun trade who had been trying to verbally undermine the flawless operation of the Boss single-trigger system.
The first SxSxS prototype of the Boss & Co. was a 12-bore built in 1898 with serial number 4605. Since it was never actually ordered, no reference appears in the Boss Order Ledgers. Number 4605 was subsequently sold to a Mr. Herbert Lawton on July 3, 1922 (24 years later). Mr. Roy Lyu, former General Manager of Boss & Co, Best Gunmakers, reports it was lost in a house fire while in the custody of Lawton.
On July 3, 1899 Boss & Co. was commissioned by Signor W. Baldi of Florence, Italy to build a 16 bore SxSxS shotgun that fired with the famous, patented single trigger design concomitant with the Boss & Co name. This gun was completed on June 21, 1901 bearing serial number 4690. The length of delivery time confirmed the complexity of the build process.
With the loss of number 4605, 4690 is the world’s only known enduring example. It has been entrusted to Griffin & Howe for sale, marking the first time the only 16-bore SxSxS has become generally available. The overall condition and considerable amount of case color remaining belies its 117 years of age. It is offered at $333,333.33.00
Boss & Co made some of the finest shotguns the world has ever seen, and the one you see here is a great example of what makes them so special. If you study it closely, you’ll notice how big and bulbous the fences are. You’ll also see how the tails of the locks are more rounded, too, and the stock is super straight through the hand. Then there are the beads that runs up and around the fences. They’re quite crisp and defined.
These are all parts of Boss’s house style, and they’re the subtle differences that set these guns apart from Holland & Hollands, Purdeys, and other Best-quality doubles.
This gun also has the refinements Boss introduced into its SxSs in the mid-to-late 1920s — disc-set strikers, pins in the fences to secure the strikers — as well as the streamlined engraving pattern the company also switched to at that time. Overall, it’s a stunning side-by-side and reminder of just how nice vintage Boss & Co shotgns can be.
BTW: Santa, throw this one on my list. You know I deserve it.
BOSS & CO SxS 1931- A BEST GUN from the BEST ERA by a BEST MAKER- SUPERB ORIG & CORRECT GOLDEN ERA- 85% ORIG CASE COLORS- DELUXE WOOD- 12 BORE:#7904, Boss & Co., 41 Albemarle Street. Piccadilly. London. W.: A 1931 – 12 Bore Sidelock Ejector That Remains Totally Original and Correct Plus it Remains in Superb Condition. This outstanding piece was made for Mr. Jas. T. McMillan from Detroit, Michigan and ordered January 19, 1931. He was the second President of Packard Motor Co. It was ordered exactly as follows; 26″ Chopper Lump barrels at the correct and original bore size and original chokes at .730 .008 & .019 (Imp.Cyl. & Mod.), Original 2 3/4″ chambers, London proved at 1 1/4 ounce with 2 3/4″ chambers, Bushed strikers, The famous John Robertson Boss patent single non-selective trigger, Splinter forend, Straight hand stock at 14 9/16 x 1 3/8 x 2 1/8″ over a checkered butt, Very slight cast-off for the right hand, Rolled trigger guard edge for the right hand, Dead-up 6 lbs. even, 95% coverage of very fine rose & scroll engraving by Mr. Jack G. Sumner, The barrel striking is perfect, It retains 98% barrel blue, It retains 85% bright & vivid original case colors, Deluxe wood with outstanding color & contrast with deep black & brown color, The original oil finish remains at 92% with light handling marks only, The trigger guard & tang retain 90% original blue, The screw heads remain at 99%, The whole is cased in the original maker’s leather trunk with the correct & proper trade labels, Boss marked snap caps & oil bottle, All cleaning gear, Original spare strikers in their leather pouch, The case is in the same condition as the gun with a full protective cover. This piece comes from the Golden Era of Best English guns with most of the Robertson family influence still in place. It was crafted with their full staff of Gunmakers as it is one of 112 sporting pieces built in 1931. In 1934 they laid off 7 Gunmakers and about 50 guns were made, the great depression was taking a toll. Here is the embodiment of 1931 Best Quality, original condition, correct bore size & chokes, 2 3/4″, great weight, deluxe wood, Boss single trigger and it comes to the hand with ease, style and grace. A true Best Gun from a Best Gunmaker made in the Best years for the modern game gun. This is special stuff here.
Here’s one of the Kings of shotguns: A 12g Boss Sidelock Over-Under. It’s in fantastic original condition, and it’s coming up at Julia’s March 2015 sale.
The Boss O/U was created in 1909, and the innovations it introduced are still in use today. If you shoot a stacked-barelled Beretta, Perazzi, or Fabbri, your gun descended from the Boss O/U.
The Boss O/U has always been an especially difficult shotguns to make, and a single gun like this with two sets of barrels and a single forend would have been even harder to build. Only the best of the best workmen at the company would have worked on it. The gun would have been incredibly expensive to buy, too. Having a new one like it made today would probably cost you close to $200,000.
EXCEPTIONAL NEAR NEW BOSS OVER-UNDER SIDELOCK GAME GUN WITH EXTRA BARRELS AND CASE: SN 8981. (ca 1952) Cal. 12 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 27″ Demi-bloc bbls, fitted with matted, solid, raised ribs, mounted with red Bradley beads, are engraved “Boss & Co Albemarle Street Piccadilly London. Made in England” on top lefts. Open choked set has inlaid gold star on top left. Right sides of top bbls and bbl flats are stamped with London nitro proofs for 2-3/4″ chambers. SNs are on bottoms of bottom bbls. Typical case hardened Boss O-U sidelock action nicely sculpted to incorporate Boss ejector system, features non-automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), gold band tumbler end cocking indicators, bushed strikers, and Boss’s exceptional single trigger. Action and lockplates are engraved with Boss house style small scroll and rose bouquets. “Boss & Co” is on each lockplate, and “Patent 3307 1909″ is on both sides of action, referring to Boss’s patents for the O-U system. “Patent 3308 1909″ referring to ejectors is on bottom of forend iron. “Boss Patent No. 11278″ is on trigger plate referring to single trigger patent. Small bow single beaded trigger guard is also scroll engraved, and has SN at grip. Very fine, nicely marbled, and fiddle figured European walnut round knob pistol grip buttstock measures 14-1/2″ over brown leather pad. Classic point pattern checkering with mullered borders is at grip; well shaped drop points are at rear of lockplates, and a large gold “P” is inlet on toe line. Unusually shaped one piece forend flares to semi-beavertail, and is fitted with Anson release. Open choked (gold star) bbls: Bore diameter: top -.729, bottom -.729. Bore restrictions: top -.008 (IC), bottom -.024 (Mod). Minimum wall thickness: top -.027, bottom -.024. Drop at heel: 3-1/4″, drop at comb: 1-5/16″. Weight: 6 lbs 10 oz. LOP: 14-1/2″. Heavily choked bbls: Bore diameter: top -.731, bottom -.731. Bore restrictions: top -.026 (Mod), bottom -.036 (Full). Minimum wall thickness: top -.022, bottom -.022. Drop at heel: 3-1/4″, drop at comb: 1-5/16″. Weight: 6 lbs 10 oz. LOP: 14-1/2″. Original makers tan leather two-gun motor case is embossed on top, and is accompanied by tan canvas outer cover with leather trim, with medallion embossed “G.P.” Interior is lined in burgundy cloth and has small Boss Albemarle Street label in lid. Case contains 2-pc walnut and brass cleaning rod, assorted cleaning implements, two pairs of snap caps, round oil bottle, dusting brush, small leather wallet containing a pair of spare strikers, three beech handled turnscrews, and a small envelope marked “Safety Wire” (removed to make safety non-automatic).
CONDITION: Exceptionally fine, very close to new. Bbls have only a hint of silvering on sharp edges of ribs, and a few exceptionally light marks. Damascening on breech ends and bottoms is excellent, with only some slight assembly marks. Action and lockplates have only a hint of silvering on beads. Blue of top lever, trigger guard, and forend iron have only the slightest of edge wear. Fire blue of hinge pin covers, screw heads, and lock pin ends is essentially untouched. Safety is only slightly silvered. Stocks retain essentially all of their hand rubbed oil finish, grain open, with one or two light handling marks. Leather of pad is slightly darkened. Bores are excellent, appear essentially unfired. Mechanically crisp. Case leather is excellent, with only some slight rubs, as protected by orig outer cover, which shows some scuffs and marks, but is generally excellent. Interior cloth is excellent, with some light marks from contact with gun. Label is excellent, as are accessories. A good handling, versatile Boss O/U in an extraordinary state of preservation. Estimate: ($60,000-$90,000)
I’ve gushed about Boss shotguns before. Now I’m going to do it again. Boss & Co. has built some of the finest shotguns in the world. The two you see here are about as rare and fantastic as they come. They’re both coming up in James D. Julia’s March 2014 auction.
These guns are a consecutively serial numbered set (9018 & 9019), and both were ordered on the same day in 1955. They’re all original and they match their original specs 100%.
The Boss O/U was patented in 1909. To date Boss & Co. has made just over of five hundred of them. Around twenty have been 28 gauges. The other gun is just as rare. Of the 3,975 or so side-by-sides Boss & Co has built since John Robertson took over the company in 1891, around twenty-five have been 28 gauges.
That means the two doubles you see are some of the rarest shotguns ever made by Boss. As a true set, they’re spectacular and one of kind.
Two of the world’s finest doubles? The ultimate shotguns for quail hunting? A collector’s dream? Yes, certainly, and absolutely.
What you see here is an amazing set of double barrel shotguns: A 28 gauge Boss side-by-side and a 28 gauge Boss over-under, both ordered after WW2, never used, and stored away in their original case ever since.
These Bosses were ordered on March 18th, 1955, by an American visiting Boss & Co’s Albemarle Street shop in London. They’ve been in the same family since day one, and they’re consecutively serial numbered, 200% original, and in in mint condition.
Of London’s big three makers, Boss & Co. made the fewest doubles. But the ones they did make are some of the finest side-by-sides and over-unders you’ll ever see.
Here’s a little piece I just wrote about Boss & Co for James D. Julia’s auctioneers. Check it out:
Best Gun. These two words have a magical meaning to gun collectors. First used by British gunmakers in the 19th century, a Best Gun was more than just the finest firearm a company produced. It was the maker’s interpretation of what a fine shotgun could be and the basis for everything he hoped to achieve.
At the end of the 19th century, shooting was the past time of the wealthy. A Best Gun was the way to secure the patronage which could make a gunmaker successful — and even rich. As makers competed for this attention, a handful of them earned a reputation for building the finest shotguns in the world.
The finest materials and flawless craftsmanship have always been a given on a Best Gun. To reach the pinnacle of the trade, a gunmaker needed to bring more to his craft, including an impeccable reputation, patented designs, and a look that set his guns apart. To stand out, a gunmaker needed to reinterpret what a Best Gun could be.
This is just what Britain’s top makers did. In London, the big three — James Purdey & Sons, Holland & Holland, Boss & Co — created shotguns that were uniquely their own.
But while James Purdey & Sons had the Beesley action and Holland & Holland had their Royal-model side-by-side, Boss & Co. had John Robertson. And it was because of Robertson that the shotguns made by Boss & Co are so revered by collectors today.
Robertson took over Boss & Co. in 1891. He was already one of the trade’s top craftsmen; his new firm was well regarded, but not famous. Right away, Robertson applied his genius to reinterpreting what Boss’s Best Gun could be. First, he updated it with refinements like bar-action sidelocks and a sleeker look. Then he added his own patented features: The world’s first reliable single trigger in 1894 and a unique ejector system in 1898.
By the time the twentieth century opened, Boss’s shotguns were cutting edge and beautiful. People noticed and business boomed. But even as the fortunes the company rose, Boss’s most famous creation, and one of the most sought after shotguns in the world today, was still to come.
Firearms with stacked barrels have been around for hundreds of years, and before World War One, center fire over-under shotguns made in continental Europe showed up on the British shooting scene.
John Robertson liked the idea of a shogun with stacked barrels. What he didn’t like was how the Europeans designed their guns. Heavy in the hands, awkward looking, and cumbersome to use, the European O/Us were good ideas that failed to achieve their promise.
Robertson recognized this, and being who he was, he worked with his top craftsmen to create a revolutionary new over-and-under. In 1909 he patented his design, and the innovations he introduced still appear in almost every over-under shotgun made today.
Boss’s new O/U was as lightweight, dynamic, and beautiful as their side-by-sides. It was also more difficult and time consuming to build. In a shop where everyone was exceptionally skilled, only a few Boss gunmakers had the talent to build the over-and-under.
This made the Boss O/U one of the world’s most expensive shotguns, a fact Robertson made no apologies for. Boss & Co, was committed to best quality work, and top-quality work cost top dollar. There was no way around it. Robertson knew this, and he expected his customers to know it, too.
Fortunately for Boss & Co., the beauty of the gunmaker’s new O/U shotguns entranced customers. Shooters around the world recognized the tremendous quality built into every one. Up until the Great Depression and fears of a coming war stalled the world economy, Boss & Co.’s new over-and-under shotgun was a tremendous success.
Today, Boss O/Us from this period attract the most attention from collectors – especially ones in the smaller gauges. Boss made very few small bore over-and-unders before the ‘50s, and the 20 gauge shown is probably one of fewer than 30-40 examples made before World War Two. Built in the 1930’s, and featuring a Boss-patent single trigger, Boss-patent ejectors, superb 28” barrels, a genuine rising-bite action, and generous amount of original finish, it’s an exceptionally beautiful, and exceptionally desirable, shotgun.
John Robertson passed away in 1917, and in his lifetime he created some of the most beautiful shotguns the world has ever seen. In a catalog from 1920, Boss & Co. introduced their guns with a paragraph stating “The owner of a Boss gun has the satisfaction of knowing that he has the best gun money can buy…” The same is true today When you own a shotgun by Boss & Co., you own something people will always value: The absolute very best.
Boss O/Us are impressive shotguns. As one of the most influential designs in shotgun history, they’ve had an incredible impact on modern over unders. In fact, most of the O/Us made today owe a debt to this British design. But that’s not all that makes these O/Us special.
BossS over & unders are also beautifully made. John Robertson was a gunmaker and artists, and the sweeping lines of the stock, the exposed forend iron, and the unique sculpting on the action, make these guns in stunning. The experience and skills that they put into their doubles — especially the SxS and O/Us from 1920-1930s — represent the apex of the trade and are almost extinct today.
Boss made around 450 of their “Vertical Guns,” so handling and inspecting one is a memorable event for a shotgun fanatic like myself. Having the chance to do this with four of them, including two that have never been fired, is extraordinary. But that’s exactly what I had happen a couple Saturdays ago.
A friend of mine invited us over to view part of his collection. Along with a couple minty 12 gauges by Purdey & Woodward, he also showed us his Boss O/Us. At one point, we had Boss O/U in 16 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge, and .410 lined up in front of us. That’s a once-in-a- lifetime site, and the I’m grateful for the chance to see it.
This little Boss was one of the highlights. Being a 20 gauge Boss O/U from the 1930s, it’s a rare shotgun. Add in the 28″ barrels, Boss single trigger, and Boss rising-bite style action and you have an insanely rare double. The fact that I had the chance to take a long, close look at it and raise it to my shoulder many times made the weekend incredibly special.
This fantastic Boss O/U just hit the market. It’s #6838, a 28 gauge with 26″ barrels. According to the seller, it’s the first 28 gauge over-under that Boss & Co. made.
An outfit called Etherington Thorpe & Company in Denmark has the gun. I’ve been told that the asking price is $500,000 — aka a 1/2 million friggin’ dollars.
Boss over-unders are special shotguns. Almost every modern O/Us owes a debt to their design (learn why: Bow down to this Boss O/U…). The 28 is one of the rarest gauges Boss made and this one appears to be in spectacular original condition.
It’s also from Boss’s best time period – between the wars – and beautifully made. I’ve seen a bunch of Boss O/Us, and this one is up there with the very best of them.
Here’s more info about this double from the seller:
Barrels: 26″, stock 14 1/4″, double trigger, full filed rib, fine traditional rose and scroll engraving with gold inlaid monogram on the toplever, 100% original as new condition, with original makers case.
The gun was originally commissioned in by Mr. Henry Graves Jnr. who ordered the gun in 1919 through Von Lengerke and Detmold in New York, to be delivered in 1920. Mr. Henry graves Jnr was a man of impeccable taste, an ardent collector, and a perfectionist who demanded the highest quality in everything he purchased…having a reputation for owning the very best of the best, including the most expensive watch in the world “The Supercomplication” made by Patek Philippe in 1933.
If you shoot an over & under, you owe a debt to this double-barrel shotgun. It’s the first O/U built by Boss & Co. Completed in 1909, it was a turning point in shotgun design and one of the reasons O/Us are so popular today.
Shotguns with stacked barrels have been around since firearms were created. While they were never as popular as side-by-sides, lots of makers built right through the flintlock and percussion era. But once breechloading center fires took over around 1870s, stacking barrels presented a problem.
To be loaded, most breechloader need to pivot and open. This means they need a hinge. On a side-by-side, this hinge is created by a section of the front lump called the hook and a corresponding piece in the action called the cross or hinge pin.
When you use the same set up on an O/U, you increase the depth of the barrels and the action. The result is a big, bulky gun that lacks the trim, svelte proportions of a side by side. But when John Robertson’s O/U came along, he changed all that.
Robertson was the huge brain behind some of the most influential shotgun innovations ever created. Along with Henry Holland he created the Holland & Holland Royal shotguns. Later he came up with the Boss-patent ejectors and the Boss-patent single trigger. By the time he came out with this O/U, he had already taken over Boss & Co. and turned their shotguns into the finest doubles in the world.
Robertson’s over-and-under patent borrowed a simple idea from artillery technology. They’re called trunions, and they move the barrels pivot point from underneath the tubes to the sides. This solved the problem of lumps on the bottoms of the barrels and made the Robertson’s O/U almost as trim as a side by side.
Today, O/Us dominate the market for new doubles. Many of these guns, including all Italian O/Us, are made on designs influenced John Robertson Boss patent. His idea flipped the shotguns barrels, and shotgun shooting, on it’s side. The gun making world has been different ever since.