Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 281: Rigby John & Co Ltd SxS Rifle 303

Auction Date: December 4, 2015

Cased Engraved John Rigby Best Side Lever Side Lock Double Barrel Rifle with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $12,000 - $20,000

Cased Engraved John Rigby Best Side Lever Side Lock Double Barrel Rifle with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Rigby John & Co Ltd
Model: SxS
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 303
Barrel: 26 inch solid rib
Finish: blue/casehardened
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 1730
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 111
Class: Antique

The John Rigby & Co. was established in the early 19th century and has produced a variety of fine custom made shotguns and rifles from bird guns to big game rifles. This double rifle was manufactured in July-August of 1896 and was shipped to the Duke of Sutherland. Duke of Sutherland is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom created by William IV in 1833 for George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Marquess of Stafford. A series of marriages to heiresses by members of the Leveson-Gower family made the Dukes of Sutherland one of the richest landowning families in the U.K. The title remained in the Leveson-Gower family until the death of the 5th duke of Sutherland in 1963. The 4th and 5th Duke of Sutherland appear to have overlapped in this time period, so it's unclear which Duke of Sutherland this rifle was made for. The raised solid barrel rib features a fine blade front sight and a two leaf rear sight (one folding for 200 yards, the other fixed for 100 yards) and is marked "Jno Rigby & Co. 72 St James's Street. London AND AT Dublin." between the rear sight and the breech. 2 1/4 inches of the breech end of the rib (extension included) is engraved with a floral scroll design. The barrel flats have the matching serial number, "crown/V/GP" proofs, the London temporary proof, Rigby trademark and "303 38 GRS". The frame, side plates, trigger guard, side lever and forearm hardware are engraved with floral scroll designs. Each side plate is marked "Jno Rigby & Co." The serial number is engraved on the lower tang. The water table is marked with the matching serial number, the Rigby trademark and a "crown/V" proof on each side. The breech face is marked "2441/R&B/PATENT.1141/No 650". The matching serial number is also marked on the forearm hardware and wood. The underside of the barrels are fitted with a sling swivel and they are equipped with ejectors. Blue finish with casehardened frame and side plates, double triggers, cocking indicators, tang mounted automatic safety with gold "SAFE", and mounted with a multi-point checkered walnut forearm and pistol grip stock with teardrop flats, horn grip cap, checkered iron buttplate, sling eye and gold initial oval inscribed with an intertwined backward and correct "S". Length of pull is 14 inches. The accompanying factory letter (records sheet) verifies the caliber, barrel length, checkered iron buttplate and that it was delivered August 5, 1896, to the Duke of Sutherland. It also gives the names of the stocker and screw, finisher, polisher and engraver, as well as the length of stock, "bend stock", toe (1/4), cast (on 1/8 3/16), weight (8 lbs 3 ozs) and barrel weight (4 lbs 9 ozs). Under remarks it states "Best side lever Vertical bolt ejector Hammerless pistol hand double rifle" and "Checkered iron heel plate". The rifle comes in a hard leather takedown case with leather straps and handle, John Rigby label affixed to the inside of the lid and red felt lining. In the case is pull through bore brush, a full 45 count box of flannel patches and two nickel snap caps.

Rating Definition:

Very good as refinished with 95% blue finish remaining on the barrels, showing some minor pitting and oxidation. 98% blue finish remains on the trigger guard with some edge wear. The lever and forearm hardware retain most of the blue finish with some thinning to a smooth gray patina. The frame and side plates retain most of the vivid case colors with a smooth gray patina on the balance and remnants of a protective coat of varnish. The wood shows a few minor dents and dings, and crisp checkering. The engraving and markings are clear. Mechanically very good. The case is good with some scuffs, wear and stains on the exterior, and some loss of fabric and minor contact wear on the lining.

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