An exceptional Kell-engraved lightweight 12-bore 'Spring-Opener' sidelock ejector gun by Henry Atkin, no. 3510, will be a highlight at Bonhams Modern Sporting Guns, Rifles & Vintage Firearms sale in London's Knightsbridge on December 4. The shotgun, which was built in 1948 to the specifications of Gough Thomas, one of the leading authorities on guns and shooting of the day, is estimated at £10,000-15,000.
Thomas's order was nothing if not particular. He demanded that Atkin "guarantee that in respect of materials, workmanship, finish and shooting qualities, the gun will conform to your highest pre-war standards"; he added, in an encouraging aside, "although I am very critical, I am highly appreciative of the best work, and if you succeed in pleasing me I shall be a constant advertisement for you."
Atkin's replied, "We guarantee that the gun will conform to our best standard of pre-war days as we will (fortunately) have our old workman with us." Indeed, the result was a marvel.
The action-body is adorned with bold acanthus scrollwork on a matt ground, the front trigger is articulated, the stock is highly figured, and the chopper-lump barrels are engraved "Henry Atkin Ltd., 88 Jermyn St., London, S.W". The shotgun weighs 6lb. 3oz, has a 14 3/8 inch stock, 27 inch barrels, and 2 ½ inch chambers. The actioner was Mealy, the stocker and finisher A. Hodges, and the engraver Harry Kell.
The shotgun comes in its brass-mounted leather case, which contains a pair of spectacles belonging to Atkin and a pasted-in letter that he wrote to Thomas. The letter details the specifications of the gun and wishes its new owner good luck: "Wishing you the best of good health and good shooting".
Patrick Hawes, Head of Sporting Guns at Bonhams, comments: "This is an exceptionally fine gun—beautifully engraved and in excellent condition."
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NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com