Shotgun Built for Shooting Times Writer Gough Thomas at Bonhams Sporting Guns Sale

An exceptional Kell-engraved lightweight 12-bore 'Spring-Opener' sidelock ejector gun by Henry Atkin, features in Bonhams Antique Arms, Modern Sporting Guns and Exceptional Firearms sale in London on Thursday 3 December. Built in 1948 to the specifications of Gough Thomas, one of the leading authorities on guns and shooting of the day, the gun 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 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".

William Threfall Head of Sporting Guns at Bonhams, comments: "This is an exceptionally fine gun made for one of the best known and most respected writers on guns and shooting of the last century. It is beautifully engraved and in excellent condition."
Other highlights include:

A very fine pair of Ken Hunt decorated 12-bore self-opening sidelock ejector guns by J. Purdey & Sons, completed in 1968. Ken Hunt was born in 1935 and at the age of 15 became an engraving apprentice with Purdey's under the famous Harry Kell. In 1963 he went into business in his own right. He continued to work until his retirement in 2011, having completed a total of 2,666 decorated firearms. His 60 year career is testament to the widely held opinion that he is among the most highly respected contemporary gun engravers. Estimate: £35,000-55,000.

A rare 28-bore single-barrelled lightweight child's hammer gun by J. Purdey, no. 9691, made for Prince Duleep Singh. Prince Duleep Singh was the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. He was brought to the UK when he was 15 and quickly became very close with Queen Victoria. At his country estate at Elveden on the Norfolk, he gained a reputation as a first class shot, as did in time his two oldest sons Victor and Frederick.

This gun appears to have been bought for one of his sons – when it was completed Victor was 11 and Frederick 9 years old. In August 1924, the gun was proofed for nitro on behalf of Hon. Henry Coventry, who was the brother-in-law of Prince Victor.

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