A pair of 12-bore sidelock ejector guns built for Sir Winston Churchillís cousin as a 21st birthday present will be sold by Gavin Gardiner (in association with Sothebyís) in a sale of Modern and Vintage Sporting Guns and Rifles on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at Sothebyís, London. Gavin Gardiner is the only specialist firearms auctioneer holding his auctions in the heart of Londonís West End, where he holds two sales each year as well as his prestigious sale at the Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland in August. We spoke to Gavin ahead of this monthís auction.
Menís Passion: This monthís auction includes over 300 lots of fine sporting guns, rifles, and shooting accessories. As one would expect youíve got exceptional pieces by all the major makers such as Boss & Co, J. Purdey & Sons, and Holland & Holland, but one that has hit the headlines is a gun that was built for Sir Winston Churchillís cousin. Youíve previously sold guns with other Ďcelebrityí links including a guns previously owned by Jackie Stewart. Does such a connection add greatly to the value?
Gavin Gardiner:It usually does, but the critical thing to ascertain is whether or not it is an outstanding gun in the first place. If itís nothing special yet was owned by a celebrity that connection will mean nothing. If itís a decent gun previously owned by a celebrity it will add value. But if itís an outstanding gun, no matter who has owned it, it will sell solely on this basis - because it is a gun of outstanding quality.
MP: Looking at the sporting gun market today, how have they performed as investments?
GG: A desirable gun by one of the big names, the ones you mentioned earlier, will have performed extremely well in investment terms. Thereís an increasing demand for guns made by any of these. Of course, in the same way as there is with classic cars, there is a finite source of such fine pedigree sporting guns, and while there is a growing demand for them weíll see prices continue to increase.
MP: And the added benefit of buying a sporting gun as opposed to, perhaps, a piece of art, is that you donít have to just hang it on the wall and look at it?
GG: Thatís absolutely right. Sporting guns, by definition, were made to be taken out in to the field and used. Thatís as true today for a hundred year old gun as it was on the day it was made.
MP: How much would one have to consider spending on a sporting gun to buy something that I could handle and enjoy, as well as look on as an investment?
GG: Youíre probably going to be looking at spending somewhere over $15,000. That would give you a gun thatís well worth owning as youíve described.
MP: What should I look for?
GG:A good gun from any of the three best British gun companies would serve well in this respect. They have good heritage, and to be honest the guns that were being made a hundred or a hundred and twenty years ago were not all that different from the best sporting guns being made today.
MP: What they do have though is pedigree and history.
GG: Absolutely, itís important to consider that the sporting gun as we see it today really took shape in a very few years in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. By 1890 all of the development that was going to take place, had taken place. The guns that remain from those days have stood the test of time and remain desirable. Thereís every reason to suggest that they will remain desirable for many years to come.
MP: It must be a wonderful experience.
GG:Well, it is. These are very aspirational guns, and guns that continue to head the list at our sales.
MP: What about yourself, where do you hunt?
GG:Oh crikey. Probably for the pure adrenalin rush, you canít beat shooting grouse. Itís probably the ultimately sport to be had. But there are many others - a driven shoot, or simply an afternoonís pigeon shoot can be just as much fun and it wonít cost you a penny either.
For further information on collecting sporting guns, or on the sale, please visit www.gavingardiner.com
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #21 April 2010