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Reged: 25/12/02
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Loc: Barossa Valley, South Australi...
Rhino Horn Stocked Alfred Lancaster .450 Double Rifle
      #209446 - 30/05/12 12:34 AM

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An interesting double rifle recently auctioned in March by James D. Julia auctioneers. Stocked with rhino horn for the Maharajah of Bulrampore.



SN 3793. Cal. .450 BPE. 29" Fine Damascus barrels are inlaid in large gold Old English script, on full length flat top rib, "Manufactured for" "H. H. Sir Dig Bijay Singh Bahadur K. C. S. I. Maharaja of Bulrampore. Oudh. 1871". Digvijay Singh (1818 - 1882) was conspicuous for his loyalty to the British during the Sepoy rebellion in 1857. He was awarded large estates and the honor of Knight Companion of the Star of India, and granted the title of Maharajah Bahadur in 1859.

Rib also has a beautifully scroll engraved rear express sight with one standing, three folding leaves graduated for 100 to 400 yards, and longitudinally dovetailed silver bead front sight are installed.

Tops of bbls are engraved "A. LANCASTER." and "27. SOUTH AUDLEY STRt GROSVENOR SQre LONDON". Bbl flats are stamped with London black powder proofs, and "50". SNs are on bottom of bbls.

Round bodied Jones under lever action has nicely filed fences.

Peninsula back action locks have broad flat serpentine hammers with back sliding stalking safeties. Action and locks are engraved with beautifully cut small open shaded scroll.

Scroll on locks and hammers is especially fine. "A. LANCASTER LONDON" is in scrolled device on tail of each lockplate.

Hammers have stylized dolphin heads.

Steel trigger guard has long checkered spur extending to form grip. SN is at grip.

A most unusual feature of this fine rifle is its very dense, and heavy, (butt portion alone weighs 4-1/4 lbs) honey colored rhinoceros horn buttstock and forend.

(Antique rhino horn has been the target of many museum break-ins in the last few years with Asian medicinal demands pushing the value of the horn to almost $100,000 per kilogram.) It appears that Alfred Lancaster was fairly proficient at using this unusual material for stocks, as he also made a pair of 20 bore centerfire guns of rhino horn for William Douglas, the 12th Duke of Hamilton. This pair of guns is now part of the Royal Collection at Sandringham, as the Duke and the Prince of Wales exchanged guns while out shooting, hoping to change their luck. This particular stock measures 14-1/4" over checkered and engraved steel buttplate, and features beaded shadow line right hand cheekpiece, sling button, and vacant gold oval on toe line, as well as, 18 LPI point pattern checkering with mullered borders. Matching splinter forend attaches to bbl with flush side nail through engraved steel oval escutcheons.

Drop at heel: Approx 2-1/4", drop at comb: Approx 1-9/16".

Weight: 9 lbs. 4 oz. LOP 14-1/4".

Also included are newly made light colored, slightly figured, European walnut buttstock and forend, reproducing the look and features of the orig horn stocks. Stocks are well done, and are stamped "Taylor".

An old mahogany case with inlet brass corners and key lock closure, has been re-lined with dark green baize and fitted for the rifle with reproduction Alfred Lancaster paper label in lid. Case contains reproduction polished steel sizing die and priming rod, unmarked round pewter oil bottle, and Rigby type base pour bullet mold with turned rosewood handle and hollow pointing pin casting a .454 diameter bullet. Also included is a leather carrying strap with heart shaped brass reinforcement.

PROVENANCE: Copies of pages from ATKIN GRANT AND LANG by Don Masters, and Wikipedia info on Maharaja Digvijay Singh, Order of the Star of India, and Guardian article on rhino horn thefts.

CONDITION: Fine, as partially refinished. Bbls retain nearly all of a very pleasing plum brown, over one or 2 light pits, with good definition of pattern of Damascus, with some silvering at muzzles, breech ends, and with a small area of flaking 9" from muzzle on bottom of left bbl. Action and locks retain traces of orig case color in protected areas, but are mostly cleaned to a pleasing pewter gray. Spurs of hammers have been expertly repaired with engraving and checkering competently picked up. Stocks appear to retain all of their orig surface with some insect damage, especially to checkering on right side of butt, which has an area of considerable lifting. There is a similar area on right side of forend in checkering. Horn shows considerable shrinkage from top to bottom with top spur and tip of buttplate standing about .070" proud. Shrinkage across the stock has been less severe, lockplates only slightly above horn surface. There has been some longitudinal shrinkage with gap visible behind action,as well as a few natural checks in butt of this very difficult to work material. Bores are excellent, rifling sharp, bright,and shiny throughout. Action is very tight (probably rejointed). Bbls are on face. Locks are crisp. Left safety won't engage, needs slight adjustment. Screw heads show some use, especially lock screw. Replacement stocks are excellent, with a few minor marks, and small chip at toe. Exterior of case is very fine with most of its orig finish. Interior cloth is excellent, as is label. Die and punches show some use. Oil bottle is good. Mold is fine. 4-45028 MGM185

Estimate: (50,000-75,000)

Auctioned in March 2012.


John aka NitroX

"I love the smell of cordite in the morning."
"A Sharp spear needs no polish"

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