50 years of Gavin Gardiner gun auctions
This year’s sale will include around 200 lots of Fine Modern and Vintage Sporting Guns, Rifles and Accessories from 1860 to the present day.
Highlights include several examples with an interesting provenance including a pair of 12-bore ‘The Premier Quality’ sidelock ejector guns by E. J. Churchill that were built in 1928 and are estimated to fetch £8,000-£12,000. The guns were subsequently owned by the prominent racehorse trainer, Vincent O’Brien whose initials the case bears. Michael Vincent O’Brien (1917-2009) was an Irish racehorse trainer who in 2003 was voted the ‘greatest influence in horse racing history’ in a worldwide poll posted by the Racing Post. In earlier Racing Post polls he had been voted the ‘best ever trainer of National Hunt and of flat racehorses’. He trained six horses to win the Epsom Derby, was twice British champion trainer, won three Grand Nationals in succession and trained the only British Triple Crown winner since the Second World War. His six winners of the Derby included the legendary Nijinsky and Lester Piggott's favourite horse, Sir Ivor.
Elsewhere a fine pair of 20-bore boxlock sidelock ejector guns by William Evans that were built in 1955 for Augustine Courtauld (1904-1959) who was best known as a British Arctic explorer are estimated at £18,000-£24,000. As part of the British Arctic Air Route Expedition, he spent the winter of 1930-31 as the solo observer at the Ice Cap Station built atop the Greenland Ice Cap, 8600 feet above sea level and 112 miles west of the Expedition’s main base. He was relieved on May 5 1931 after five months, just as his food and fuel were running out. He was awarded the Polar Medal upon his return and published his autobiographical memoir, ‘Man The Ropes’ in 1957. While a 12-bore self-opening sidelock ejector gun by J. Purdey & Sons, which was built in 1901 as the no.2 of a pair for W. H. Watney. Lieutenant W. H. Watney, son of the famous brewing family was killed in France, 10 May 1915 is expected to fetch £3,000-£5,000.
Also included is a fine pair of 12-bore sidelock ejector guns built by James Purdey & Sons and carrying an estimate of £30,000 to £40,000. Built in 1931 the pair remain in fine condition and retain much original finish and hardening colour, and a scarce .350 Magnum bolt action sporting rifle by John Rigby & Co that is expected to sell for between £4,000 and £6,000. Items with a Scottish connection in the sale range from a scarce 12-bore ‘The Edinburgh’ barin-wood round action non-ejector gun by James Macnaughton which is estimated at £1,800- £2,400, while among the accessories include is a brassbound oak and leather cartridge magazine by John Dickson & Son, the lid impressed ‘P. W. K. Carr, Seaforth Highlanders’ that is estimated at £300-£500.
The annual auction at Gleneagles has offered some memorable highlights over the years such as the ‘Crocodile’ gun, which was a magnificent Malcolm Appleby-engraved 12-bore round action ejector gun by David McKay Brown, that sold for £48,000 in 2009, while Edward VIII’s pair of 12-bore sidelock ejector guns by E J Churchill were included in the sale in 1988 and a rare Purdey 12-bore hammer ejector gun built for the Greatest Game Shot of all time, Lord Ripon fetched just over £35,000 in 1999. The historic prototype of the Boss over/under was offered in 2011 and realised £19,200, while in 2009, a magnificent pair of 12-bore round bodied self-opening sidelock ejector guns by James Purdey sold for £96,000.
Gavin Gardiner has been involved in the auctions for 32 years. He commented: “I am delighted to celebrate 50 years of auctions at Gleneagles with our annual auction of Fine Sporting Guns, an auction that I have personally been involved with since 1985. The auction is known worldwide and attracts a unique cross section of sportsmen and international wealth to Scotland just two weeks in to the grouse shooting season. It is a tremendous honour to celebrate this anniversary and we look forward to coming back to the wonderful atmosphere and hospitality of the Gleneagles Hotel for many years to come.”
Catch up on militaria news, order a back issue of The Armourer, or pick up the latest issue, in either print or digital format. Like what you see? Why not take out a subscription, save money and have it delivered to your door.