Holts Auctioneers is a British auction house specializing in antique and modern firearms. Thanks to its excellent reputation, Holts is the first choice for those who, in England, want to sell their collection of fine guns. Over the years Holts oversaw the sale of very important collections such as Gianoberto Lupi’s, one of the world leading experts, or rockstar Eric Clapton’s, who besides being one of the greatest guitarists is also a passionate hunter.
The next Holts auction will take place in the UK’s capital city on March 19, 2019 with the possibility to view the pieces in the flesh starting from March 16 at the Kensington temporary office, which is curiously inside a barracks.
The centerpiece of the auction – a real highlight indeed – is a spectacular Holland & Holland Royal Deluxe in .500 Nitro Express (3 in) with a pair of additional barrels in caliber .375 Flanged Magnum, engraved by Grifnee.
Philippe Grifnee – who, unfortunately, untimely passed away in 2012 at the age of 59 – is universally recognized as one of the best gun engravers in the world. He graduated from the Liege School of Engraving in 1970, having spent much of his time there under the tutelage of the renowned Rene Delcour.
He refined his skills at Auguste Francotte between 1970 and 1988, and returned to the Liege School of Engraving, this time as a teacher. In 1988, his talent was recognized by Holland & Holland and he engraved a number of guns for them - which lead to a contract with them to exclusively engrave their guns between 1992 and 1997. After his contract ended, he continued to work on Holland and Holland guns and his skills were also retained by James Purdey & Sons, another British gunsmithing distinguished name. This Express is produced by one of the most esteemed historical companies in the world and is engraved by one of the greatest engravers of modern history, so it should not be a surprise if the price is estimated from 200,000 to 250,000 pounds, equal to about 228-285,000 euro.
With such a main item any other gun might seem negligible, but this is not the case: among the most interesting pieces of the auction there is lot 1605, the outstanding Churchill Zenith 12 gauge bolting-sidelever over-under, manufactured in the 1950s. It is a very rare and beautifully designed gun, of which according to the research by English experts only two finished examples are in existence. Thanks to the documentation in the archive of the London company, it was also possible to trace the history of this gun, which was part of an order of five examples cancelled at the last moment.
The shotgun sat unfinished for years, until it was noticed by an American collector who asked to buy it. The rifle was then completed and delivered to the new owner in 1974. For this rarity the estimated price is 30-50,000 pounds, about 34-57,000 euro.
Lot 1300 is the quintessence of British gunsmith’ craftsmanship: it is a pair of 12 ga self-opening sidelock ejectors manufactured by J. Purdey & Sons in 1934. In excellent condition, they feature the "SJ" monogram of the client, Mr. Stanley Johnson, inlaid in stocks. The guns are accompanied by a leather-covered double motorcase. The estimated price for this pair is 15-20,000 pounds (about 17-22,000 euro).
But Holts Auctioneers do not just deal with British weapons, although these obviously represent the bulk of their offer. Also in the March auction it will be possible to buy a gun that perfectly embodies the Mitteleuropean gunsmithing philosophy. It is the lot 1206, a superb underlever sidelock ejector double rifle by H. Scheiring in 8x57 JRS.
Built by one of the most important gunsmiths in Ferlach (Austria), this luxurious rifle is lavishly engraved in relief, but in addition to its aesthetic value it features first-class technical solutions such as the patented Jaeger action with a lower sprung breech face that significantly reduces the body height. The stock is high-quality walnut with a pistol grip and a monogrammed cap that hides a compartment for small parts. Double trigger with stecher on the first trigger. The extractors are automatic but can be disconnected. The rifle is equipped with a Swarovski 1,25-4x24 Habicht riflescope featuring engraved mounts in theme with the rest of the weapon.
Delivered in an lightweight alloy flight case this rifle has a starting price of 20-25,000 pounds (22-29,000 euro).