The English shotgun market is strong and weapon prices are reaching new highs. Auctioneers say the boom was triggered by the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008 during the Great Recession. Shaken by the unpredictability of the stock market, a growing number of investors, especially those who already had selected hunting weapons, wanted to diversify their portfolios and saw English shotguns not only as a safe investment with reliable returns, but also with real benefits. In this way, there is a great similarity between this and the classic classic car market. Sporting guns are an investment that you can use and enjoy.
"With the right hand, maintenance and care, an English weapon should do nothing but increase in value."
The auction house Holts, which specialises in the sale of classic English shotguns, has celebrated some record sales in recent years. Among the top lots: a pair of Purdey shotguns for $ 131,200 and two pistols from Holland & Holland for $ 128,000. "The demand is as strong as I've ever seen it," enthuses Gavin Gardiner, who has been auctioning classic firearms for Sotheby's for 25 years.
Just as art collectors prefer certain artists, modern weapon collectors follow the work of certain engravers like Philippe Grifnée, Philip Coggan and Ken Hunt or the products of modern gunsmiths who are famous for their decorations, such as James Purdey & Sons and Holland & Holland.
In 1902, german Kaiser Wilhelm II visited Scotland when something startled his horses and they were dashing up to a crowd. A British lieutenant general named Archibald Hunter leapt forward and risked his life to take the reins and get the horses under control. This story is known to few people nowadays, but in the late Victorian era Hunter was the epitome of the young hero and the emperor gave him a pistol in recognition of his bravery. This pistol was recently auctioned at Christie's for $ 55,000.
For many weapon collectors, the stories associated with the individual weapons make them particularly attractive. The respective provenance can therefore often be decisive.
In addition to those who value historical associations, there are technically-minded engineers who are interested in mechanisms and technical development, and aesthetes who collect weapons only for their beauty. Some collectors are particularly enthusiastic about big game hunting in Africa and the corresponding rifles, on which elaborate decorations and iconic images of buffalos, lions and elephants can be found.
Every collector should be aware that shotguns are remarkably delicate when you consider what they are for. They are mechanical objects full of small springs, levers and studs. Dust in particular inside a weapon can quickly lead to rust in combination with air humidity. Thorough cleaning with boiling water, mild detergent, wire brush and subsequent wetting with oil is a reliable protection against rust. From a sales point of view, it is always preferable to preserve the original condition on restoration, especially for older collectibles.