An extremely rare and fine Royal .450 (Black Powder Express) double-barrelled hammer rifle presented by Queen Victoria to John Brown, Christmas 1873, by Alexr. Henry, no. 3210 for 1873 In original fitted pig-skinned lined brass-mounted oak and leather case with nearly all the accessories including W. Bartram powder-flask with black leather-covered body, bullet mould and case-trimmer serial numbered to the rifle, capping/decapping tool, oil bottle and other items, the interior of the lid with makers trade label, the exterior stamped in gilt letters 'J. Brown Esq. H.M.P. Attendant, Balmoral'
Lot 421* S58
An extremely rare and fine Royal .450 (Black Powder Express) double-barrelled hammer rifle presented by Queen Victoria to John Brown, Christmas 1873, by Alexr. Henry, no. 3210 for 1873
In original fitted pig-skinned lined brass-mounted oak and leather case with nearly all the accessories including W. Bartram powder-flask with black leather-covered body, bullet mould and case-trimmer serial numbered to the rifle, capping/decapping tool, oil bottle and other items, the interior of the lid with makers trade label, the exterior stamped in gilt letters 'J. Brown Esq. H.M.P. Attendant, Balmoral'
Sold for £35,000 (US$ 46,760) inc. premium

Lot Details
An extremely rare and fine Royal .450 (Black Powder Express) double-barrelled hammer rifle presented by Queen Victoria to John Brown, Christmas 1873, by Alexr. Henry, no. 3210 for 1873 In original fitted pig-skinned lined brass-mounted oak and leather case with nearly all the accessories including W. Bartram powder-flask with black leather-covered body, bullet mould and case-trimmer serial numbered to the rifle, capping/decapping tool, oil bottle and other items, the interior of the lid with makers trade label, the exterior stamped in gilt letters 'J. Brown Esq. H.M.P. Attendant, Balmoral' An extremely rare and fine Royal .450 (Black Powder Express) double-barrelled hammer rifle presented by Queen Victoria to John Brown, Christmas 1873, by Alexr. Henry, no. 3210 for 1873 In original fitted pig-skinned lined brass-mounted oak and leather case with nearly all the accessories including W. Bartram powder-flask with black leather-covered body, bullet mould and case-trimmer serial numbered to the rifle, capping/decapping tool, oil bottle and other items, the interior of the lid with makers trade label, the exterior stamped in gilt letters 'J. Brown Esq. H.M.P. Attendant, Balmoral' An extremely rare and fine Royal .450 (Black Powder Express) double-barrelled hammer rifle presented by Queen Victoria to John Brown, Christmas 1873, by Alexr. Henry, no. 3210 for 1873 In original fitted pig-skinned lined brass-mounted oak and leather case with nearly all the accessories including W. Bartram powder-flask with black leather-covered body, bullet mould and case-trimmer serial numbered to the rifle, capping/decapping tool, oil bottle and other items, the interior of the lid with makers trade label, the exterior stamped in gilt letters 'J. Brown Esq. H.M.P. Attendant, Balmoral' An extremely rare and fine Royal .450 (Black Powder Express) double-barrelled hammer rifle presented by Queen Victoria to John Brown, Christmas 1873, by Alexr. Henry, no. 3210 for 1873 In original fitted pig-skinned lined brass-mounted oak and leather case with nearly all the accessories including W. Bartram powder-flask with black leather-covered body, bullet mould and case-trimmer serial numbered to the rifle, capping/decapping tool, oil bottle and other items, the interior of the lid with makers trade label, the exterior stamped in gilt letters 'J. Brown Esq. H.M.P. Attendant, Balmoral' An extremely rare and fine Royal .450 (Black Powder Express) double-barrelled hammer rifle presented by Queen Victoria to John Brown, Christmas 1873, by Alexr. Henry, no. 3210 for 1873 In original fitted pig-skinned lined brass-mounted oak and leather case with nearly all the accessories including W. Bartram powder-flask with black leather-covered body, bullet mould and case-trimmer serial numbered to the rifle, capping/decapping tool, oil bottle and other items, the interior of the lid with makers trade label, the exterior stamped in gilt letters 'J. Brown Esq. H.M.P. Attendant, Balmoral'
An extremely rare and fine Royal .450 (Black Powder Express) double-barrelled hammer rifle presented by Queen Victoria to John Brown, Christmas 1873, by Alexr. Henry, no. 3210 for 1873
Jones patent rotary-underlever, non-rebounding backlocks with bolted-hammers, percussion fences, the sides of the action and furniture with best foliate-scroll engraving and much hardening-colour, the well-figured stock with gold shield-shaped escutcheon engraved From V. R. To J. Brown Esq. Christmas 1873, pistolgrip, horn pistolgrip-cap, cheek-piece, engraved heel-and-toe plates, sling-eyes, the browned damascus barrels with matt sight-rib engraved Alexander Henry, 12 South Saint Andrew Street, Edinburgh, Patent No. 2377, Maker to Their Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Duke of Edinburgh with open-sights for 100 and 200 yards and bead-foresight
Weight 8lb. 2oz., 15in. stock, 28in. barrels, London Black Powder proof
In original fitted pig-skinned lined brass-mounted oak and leather case with nearly all the accessories including W. Bartram powder-flask with black leather-covered body, bullet mould and case-trimmer serial numbered to the rifle, capping/decapping tool, oil bottle and other items, the interior of the lid with makers trade label, the exterior stamped in gilt letters 'J. Brown Esq. H.M.P. Attendant, Balmoral'

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    The makers have kindly confirmed that the rifle was completed in 1873 as a '.450 best double centre-fire rifle for Her Majesty The Queen (For John Brown)' Clay P. Bedford Collection

    Exhibited:
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Early Firearms of Great Britain and Ireland from the collection of Clay P. Bedford, 1971, p. 103, no. 101

    John Brown, VDSM, FSM (1826 – 1883)
    Brown was born in Aberdeenshire, to John Brown and Margaret Leys, and went to work as a ghillie at Balmoral Castle, which Queen Victoria and Prince Albert leased in February 1848 and purchased outright in November 1851. It was at the historic estate that the famed relationship between servant and monarch first began. He soon became the pastoral aide to the royal couple, exercising his abilities in the sporting field just as much as his disregard for the social norms constraining the relationship between servant and master that were prevalent at the time. By 1851 he had been appointed ghillie to Prince Albert and in time he was also given charge of the sporting education of the young Princes. He was also in constant attendance upon the Queen, and in 1854 Queen Victoria wrote to her Uncle, King Leopold of the Belgians, 'We have had a most beautiful week, going out everyday and taking luncheon in a basket on the back of a Highlander, and served by an invaluable servant I have who is my factotum here and takes the most wonderful care of me, combining the office of groom, footman, page and maid, I might also say, as he is so handy about cloaks and shawls etc... He always leads my pony and it is quite a sorrow to leave him behind'.

    It is in this passage that we see a glimpse of the true foundation of their friendship, a foundation that was to prove invaluable to the queen when, on 14 December 1861, Prince Albert died suddenly at Windsor. In the gloomy months that followed, John Brown reminded her always of life with her beloved Albert and provided a true link with happier times. He became the Royal confidante in 1865, Queen Victoria wrote: 'Have now appointed that excellent Highland servant of mine to attend me always...so unlike an ordinary servant and so cheerful and attentive'.

    Despite widespread criticism of the Queen's reliance upon Brown's counsel, he was to go on to achieve the status of a national hero. In 1863 he rescued the Queen from a carriage accident, and in February 1872 he foiled an assassination attempt on her life outside Buckingham Palace.

    It is well-known that the Queen's eldest son, the Prince of Wales, harboured a vehement dislike for Brown and it is speculated that Brown's notable absence from Balmoral during a royal visit in 1868 was not on account of a chill as an official report of the time referred to it but was, in fact, the result of a thrashing given to him at the hands of a brawny boxer brought down from Aberdeen on the orders of the Prince. It is thought that a converted hammer gun by J. Manton (one of a pair), formerly belonging to H.R.H. Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, was presented to John Brown by Queen Victoria in order to make amends to the 'ruffled Brown'. For more details see Christie's London, Fine Modern Sporting Guns and Vintage Firearms..., 15 July 1992, lot 128.

    Following Brown's death in 1883 Queen Victoria commissioned Edgar Boehm to produce a life-size bronze statue of him bearing the inscription: 'Friend more than Servant. Loyal. Truthful. Brave. Self-less than Duty, even to the Grave'. On the succession of the Prince of Wales he ordered the removal of the statue from its original position to a less conspicuous site on the Balmoral estate, where it remains to this day.
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S58 Section 58 obsolete calibre

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