A c.1870 howdah pistol – £7000 at Gavin Gardiner.

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The large-calibre bullets – this example was a Boxer .50 calibre – were guaranteed stoppers of beasts attacking a hunter, with the double-barrelled models adding reassurance.

The gun, with 7in (18cm) damascus barrels, folding leaf sight, rebounding back locks and rotary underlever was marked to the engraved plate on the walnut stock T Johnson.

This helped date it to some time between the introduction of the .45 Boxer calibre in 1867 and the year 1873 when T Johnson became the noted retailer Thomas Johnson & Son of Swaffham.

Johnson did make sporting guns and rifles but the breech-loading, centre-fire howdah pistol was, said Gardiner, probably made in Birmingham.

It was part of a single consignment of collector’s guns at the 400-lot April 27 sale at Pulborough which, Gardiner added, brought some “astonishing results”.

Pitched at £800-1200, the howdah pistol sold to a UK collector at £7000.

Distinctive style

From the same collection, a 6.5mm bolt-action sporting rifle by Westley Richards sold for £2800 (estimate £400-600). Well-finished in the makers’ distinctive style, it was bought by a member of the UK trade.