31/08/2017
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Antique double rifle case at Holts

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Are you in the market for a new double rifle case or is this something you like to collect? Well in Holts Auctioneers’ forthcoming auction, bidders have the chance to purchase a beautifully finished oak percussion double rifle case, by the Liverpool gunmakers Williams & Powell.

Within one of the case compartments there is a railway label from Daniel Fraser gunmakers in Edinburgh, inscribed ‘Miss A Watt, Speke Hall, Garsdon Dock Station per Liverpool’, Miss Adelaide Watt being the last owner of Speke Hall and Speke Estate in Merseyside, also Spott Estate near Dunbar in Scotland.

After Adelaide’s death in 1921 Speke Hall was left in the hands of trustees for 21 years, before it was passed to the National Trust in 1942. Speke has a long history, the boundaries of the estate being set in 1334 (though reference to Speke is made in both the Doomsday surveys of 1066 and 1086, the latter survey reporting it to be held by the Saxon Thane, Uctred).

Donald Dallas, Holts’ in-house historian, commented, “It is rare to encounter a case like this with many original accessories and a destination label. This rifle was likely made for Adelaide’s father, Richard Watt (3) 1786-1855, who made his fortune from the sugar trade in Jamaica.”

The double rifle case was likely for a small calibre park rifle, the case fitted for 26in barrels, blue baize lined interior extensively blocked for a selection of ivory handled tools, each handle finely initialled 'W' in Victorian black type, with several further initialled threaded handles with interchangeable brushes and nipple cleaning heads, two ivory pots (one large, one small) similarly initialled and an ivory tipped cleaning rod handle, glass oil bottle with florally-engraved hinged top and glass stopper, the case also with compartments for spare percussion dolphin hammers with original colour-hardened ornate serpent and scroll engraved hammers present, and also with an isolated finely scroll engraved action breech face with top tang, the lid interior with a Williams & Powell (Late Patrick) 25 South Castle Street Liverpool address trade label (with pencilled notes '5 1/2lbs. 1893'), the lid outer with a circular escutcheon with a further 'W' initial. The estimate is £600-800 at the auction in London on Thursday 21 September.

 

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