A Rare 12 Bore Break Action Breech Loading Self-Priming Sporting Gun

Ref: 554

Price: £7,000

Maker: Henry Delany

Date: circa 1725

With 33in. three stage tip-up barrel retaining its original iron cartridge, the breech section octagonal becoming sixteen-sided and engraved with borderlines and foliage, signed on the top-flat and retaining some blued finish, engraved tang with sighting groove its tip depicting a devil’s head, engraved bevelled back action lock signed on the stepped tail, the pan with automatic priming magazine with sprung hinged cover, the action of opening the barrel causing a rotating section in the pan to collect priming powder from the magazine, figured walnut hand-rail butt-stock (extended, grip repaired), carved with foliage around the tang and inlaid with silver wire along the butt extension, pierced and chiselled side plate in the form of a mythical serpent, cast and chased silver butt plate with long foliate tang, rococo escutcheon engraved with owner’s crest and viscount’s coronet, engraved sliding iron trigger-guard retracting to release barrel. London proof marks.

 Literature: This unusual shotgun is discussed at length together with Delany’s history on pages 405-406, plates 170a-e of W. Keith Neal and D.H.L. Back’s publication ‘Great British Gunmakers 1540-1740’.

Provenance: William Keith Neal; Christies, London, 9th. November 2000 Lot 92 (£7637)

Notes: Henry Delany, a Huguenot, was admitted to the Gunmakers’ Company in 1715 and active in Long Acre until his retirement in 1745. He was noted as a maker of fine breechloading sporting guns and silver mounted pistols.

The crest is that of Parker, for George Parker, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield (1697 – 1764). Described as “one of the greatest mathematicians and astronomers in Europe” he was President of the Royal Society from 1752 until his death.