ARMS and armour sales, which themselves encompass a myriad special interests, are another area with their own micro-economy impervious to whatever wild winds are blowing in the wider market.
With the demise of Weller & Dufty as a trading company, the
same personnel now operate under the banner of Scotarms (15%
buyer's premium). Based at Besthorpe, Nottinghamshire, the
specialists held their inaugural 715-lot sale at the Newark
Showground on March 21.
Key to the successful launch was the commission to sell the
collection of William Tranter pistols and longarms amassed by the
late Frank Peel - "forty four of the rarest Tranter items in the
world", said expert Herman Otten.
Tranter may not be as widely known as, say, Colt, but his patented
firearms, made by a number of manufacturers, are prized by the
Undoubted star here was a .38 Patent 4th Model percussion revolver
carbine with attachable shoulder stock, one of only three known to
exist. The top flat of the 7in (18cm) barrel was engraved JAS
Beattie, 205, Regent Street, London. In its original oak case. it
came with its full complement of accessories including a fine James
Dixon patent powder flask. In near Grade 1 condition, it sold at
"A record for any Tranter firearm," noted a happy Mr Otten.
From the same collection came a cased 80-bore Tranter's percussion
pistol with a 31/4in (8cm) barrel engraved C. Golden, Bradford and
a .442 rim-fire Army Model revolver with 61/2in 16.5cm) barrel
engraved R.B. Rodda, London & Calcutta.
The first, in its original mahogany case and in Grade 1 condition,
made £5000. The Army model, with ebony grip and original ebony
case, had suffered some loss to the gold wash decoration but was
otherwise Grade 1 and sold at £4800.
The Peel Collection accounted for most of the four-figure bids but
there was much else for enthusiasts.
Among the vintage longarms was a good-quality, Black Powder
Express doubled-barrelled rifle by McNaughton in near Grade 1
condition which took £1700, Moving nearer to our own killing times
was a rare 9mm Luger Model 1906 Navy First Issue pistol with 6in
(15cm) barrel and, apart from some bruising to the chequered walnut
grip, in Grade 1-Plus condition. It sold at £1800.
ARMS and armour specialists Wallis & Wallis (15% buyer's
premium) held one of their regular, more wide-ranging sales at
Lewes on March 22.
Lots covered most areas of collecting, with, as auctioneer Roy
Butler happily noted, consignments including pieces from
long-established international buyers returning as vendors.
On this occasion an American client entered 133 lots of 1874
pattern Glengarry badges and lance caps which averaged £75
There were edged weapons, such as an 1890, silver-mounted Cossack
kindjal, a murderous knife with a 14in (35.5cm) blade. Bearing
Imperial 84 standard hallmarks, the kindjal took £500.
Among the longarms was a 10-bore Brown Bess-type flintlock musket
engraved to the breech 42 Reg and stamped to the lockplate with the
crowned GR and Tower marks. The catalogue noted that it was
possibly made for colonial troops - an indication that it wasn't
particularly finely made - but it sold well at £1250.
Among the pistols was an 1861 Patent Remington Old Model Army
percussion revolver. It sold at £850 and is understood to be
heading back to the US, possibly to be used in the increasingly
popular sport of target shooting with vintage handguns.
An older pistol was a 10-bore ship's pistol converted from
flintlock to percussion.
Engraved to the 9in (23cm) barrel with a crowned GR and Tower
1760, it was an example of an upward trend Mr Butler has noted
among 18th century naval firearms when it sold at £460.
Mr Butler believes the interest in such pieces is fuelled by the
upcoming bicentenary of Trafalgar - a factor he is counting on for
the firm's "most significant sale of the year" on July 19 which
will be devoted to Nelson memorabilia.