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While sportsmen are often eager to employ the very best that gunmakers produced in what is widely regarded as the golden age of field sports, some guns have lain dormant for many years.

This was certainly the case with a family collection of sporting rifles offered at Holts in June.

Few would now dare out a charge through a gun as historically important as the Forsyth rollerprimer offered at Bonhams in May or the royal commission Lepage percussion lock sold at Thomas Del Mar in June, but all these weapons were keenly contested.

The highlight of the Holts (25/22.5% buyer’s premium) sale in London on June 22 was a group of six rifles from the Windsor-Clive family which brought in a total of £88,700.

A special something

The pick of them was a double rifle made for Robert-George Windsor- Clive, 1st Earl of Plymouth in 1906, but all of them had a special something, as Chris Beaumont of Holts said.

“This collection of rifles really demonstrated the perfect combination of elements that work best at auction. It was a diverse collection of the best quality and rarity, combined with wonderful unspoiled condition and a solid ‘one family since new’ provenance.

“Unsurprisingly they caught the imagination of the market in a big way – particularly the fabulous Rigby .450 double sidelock nonejector rifle.”

“A diverse collection of both the best quality and rare specifications, combined with unspoiled condition

This rifle received more attention prior to the auction than any other lot and on the day, was assigned 10 phone bidders against the room, commissions and the internet.

It deservedly took the honours of top result of the sale with a hammer price of £56,000 – almost certainly a record price for a rifle of its type.