A magnificent pair of Kell engraved 12-bore sidelock ejector guns by London maker John Wilkes for the renowned collector and shot, W.W. Dowding which were completed exactly 79 years and 1 day ago were sold for £53,900 double the low estimate - in Gavin Gardiner Ltd.
s annual auction of Fine Modern and Vintage Sporting Guns, which was held at the world-famous Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland this evening (Monday, August 25, 2014).
William W. Dowding was a great collector and sportsman as well as being a personal friend of Robert Churchill and Jack Wilkes. He ordered many guns from both and was a renowned shot. His collection of Antique Pistols and other Firearms (including many from the collection of Major Pollard) was sold at Sothebys in 1930. He won the Tir Au Pigeon at Le Touquet in 1935, and shot with European Nobility. He was perhaps best known for his fishing exploits, famously catching the World Record Thresher Shark, in the Bay Islands of New Zealand in 1937. With Zane Greys boatman and launch, the Alma G. the massive shark weighed in at 922lb and remains a record to this day. He also raced at Brooklands during the 1920s and was one of the original backers for Henry Seagraves World Land Speed Record car, The Golden Arrow.
As Gavin Gardiner explained: The guns were completed on Augusts 24, 1935 for the renowned collector and shot, W.W. Dowding, who asked Wilkes to build him the very finest pair of guns that the London gun trade could build. Dowding was Wilkes most important retail customer and the guns that they built for him are a testament to the skill of this maker, who is really only well known to a relative few. Using all of the finest workers in the trade, including legendary gun engraver, Harry Kell, the guns cost over £240 when completed and are renowned in Wilkes history as the finest pair of guns that the firm ever built.
After fierce competition in both the saleroom and on several telephones, the guns were bought by a private collector. They were estimated to fetch £25,000-35,000, and had remained with the original family for all these years [Lot 97].
Also from the Dowding family, a fine 16-bore sidelock ejector gun, also by John Wilkes, which the maker confirms was completed on 24th August 1935 for Mrs W.W. Dowding, sold for £9,188 against an estimate of £7,000-9,000 [Lot 202].
Elsewhere in the sale, a fine pair of 12-bore Galeazzi-engraved MX8-SCO Extra Gold model single trigger over and under ejector guns by Perazzi which have been virtually unused sold for £52,063 after competitive bidding on the telephones and in the saleroom. The guns were inlaid with gold game and signed by L. Galeazzi. They had been expected to fetch £24,000- 28,000 [Lot 223].
The third highest price was paid for a fine 20-bore single trigger over and under ejector gun by Holloway & Naughton dating from 2005, which remained relatively little unused and was built using the classic Boss-type self-opening action. It sold for £39,200 against an estimate of £30,000-40,000 [Lot 228].
Also of note was the action of a 12-bore round action gun by Edinburgh-maker John Dickson & Son which sold for £1,715 against an estimate of £400-600 [Lot 96], while a fine Tallett-engraved 12-bore self-opening sidelock ejector gun by James Purdey & Sons sold for £19,600 (estimate: £10,000-15,000). Profusely engraved with foliate scrollwork and highly detailed scenes of game
birds against realistic landscapes, the maker confirms that the gun was originally built in 1908 and that it was a gun of standard specification. However, the gun was purchased in 1994 as an engraving project and demonstration piece for Bradley Tallett and extensively re-engraved in the classic style by the talented young engraver, who is now a well-known gun engraver in his own right, with guns by Purdey being among his most famous works [Lot 113].
The Annual sale at the world-famous Gleneagles Hotel which is now in its 47th year - comprised 228 lots of fine sporting guns, rifles and shooting accessories dating from 1860 to the present day by world-class makers such as Purdey, Holland & Holland, Boss & Co and Westley Richards.