Holt’s Auctioneers’ recent auction attracted a total of £1.05m, which is expected to rise to around £1.3m once aftersales and the sealed bid sale have concluded.
The June auction coincided with the bi-centenary of Waterloo so the specialist auction house was pleased to bring several relevant items to market, including a model of H.M.S. Victory and a bronze of Napoleon astride his noble charger Marengo. A highlight was a half-scale Victorian copy of a Napoleonic field gun (Lot 414) that sold above top estimate at £1,900. This was followed by a fine, diminutive pair of flintlock pistols by Hewson (Lot 455) that reached £3,500.
Senior Valuer Roland Elworthy commented, “The obsolete calibre section sprang no great surprises, at least in the fact that it remains hugely popular and we were fortunate to have been entrusted with the sale of a behemothic double 4-bore hammergun by Riley (Lot 907) that flew up to £11,500 in spite of the fact it had shortened barrels. My other favourite ‘off-ticket’ Lot was a sweet little rookie by Holland & Holland; a typical family gun that had been allowed to grow old gracefully and so retained much original charm (Lot 953). It clearly appealed to several other people as it soon exceeded top estimate and went up to £1,700.”
Roland added that the curios also had some interesting Lots this quarter: “This part of the auction was dominated by a remarkable cleaning kit by J. Purdey & Sons. It was rather more than a cleaning kit really; for multiple bore sizes with a full complement of turnscrews, jags and other items all by Mike Marsh and all housed in an exquisite leather case. Built to mark the maker’s bi-centenary (Lot 1074) (right) the wonderful set made a stonking £15,000; more than the cost of a decent old London sidelock!”
One of Hartmann & Weiss’ superlative bolt-riles in the afternoon sale (Lot 1133) in .300 Win mag realised £12,000 before moving into double and break-action rifles which began with a Rigby boxlock non-ejector (Lot 1200) (left). “Nothing too unusual about that, especially since it was in the maker’s renowned .470 calibre, but what made this rifle special was the fact that it was the very first commercially sold .470,” explains Roland, adding, “The room appreciated this and it was hotly bid up to £11,000.” Holt’s then moved into pairs. “I’ll start with a trio of Premiere model sidelocks by Churchill (Lot 1300) that sold for £16,500 and a very useable pair of 16-bore Royal de Luxe by Holland & Holland (Lot 1305) that reached a well-deserved £28,000 (and should really have gone higher). Another pair of Holland’s top model (Lot 1310) but this time in 12-bore and rather younger, sold for £60,000.”
Moving into sidelocks Holt’s began with yet another fine Royal de Luxe with gold-washed internals (Lot 1400) that sold for £20,000 and then my favourite gun of the section, a wonderfully original easy-opening Boss & Co. (Lot 1415) that reached £15,000. The gun had spent much of its life in the family’s bank vaults and so was in remarkably untouched order.
The small bores began in fine style with a rare 16-bore G60 Grade Greener (Lot 1500) that sold for £8,000. ‘My favourite though was a diminutive 28-bore boxlock ejector by Alex Martin (Lot 1518). If I’d had one of these as a boy rather than a bolt-action .410 I might have been able to hit something! As good as a 12-bore in most respects, the little 28 sold for £2,700.”
The over/under section saw a little-used Beretta SO6 offered. It was unusual in that it had skeet chokes and a non-tapering wide rib. “I thought it might struggle to clear mid-estimate despite being well made and presented, due to that and the fact it had VAT to be added to the hammer, but no, it flew away and ended at £9,200. We moved then into boxlocks and even though they are not quite as much in demand as they once were, we saw an exceptional Imperial G-Grade W.W. Greener that bucked the trend (Lot 1720) (left). The gun was in fine, original order and fetched a solid £12,000, a fantastic result for an 80 year old boxlock!” concluded Roland.