The included copy of the factory ledger lists rifle 5958 as a 32 bore single barrel rifle with 28 inch length as sold to the Duke of Wellington in April of 1853. 5959 was a 38 bore double rifle also sold to him the same month. This would be Arthur Wellesley, 2nd Duke of Wellington (1807-1884), "the son of Waterloo." He became the Duke of Wellington upon the death of his father in 1852. His father was the famed 1st Duke of Wellington, the hero of the Napoleonic Wars who famously shattered Napoleon's army at Waterloo. Like his father, the 2nd Duke of Wellington had a long career in the British military and politics. He rose rapidly in rank from an ensign in 1823 to a major-general in 1854. He was Master of the Horse from 1853 to 1858 and was a Knight of the Garter starting in 1858. He was a member of the Privy Council and later in life was the Lord-Lieutenant of Middlesex among other positions. This classic Victorian deer rifle has a Damascus barrel, bead style blade front sight, four-leaf rear sight with inlaid sight lines, "WILKINSON & SON. GUN MAKERS TO HER MAJESTY. PALL MALL. LONDON." signed on top of the breech section, matching serial number on the barrel and trigger guard tang, London proofs, primarily scroll and floral engraving, "WILKINSON. &. SON." signed on the lock which has a sliding safety ahead of the hammer, pineapple finial on the trigger plate, adjustable double set triggers, square back trigger guard with grip extension and running stag scene, standing stag scene on the round patch box, additional standing stag scene on the buttplate tang, and half-length stock with horn forend tip, silver wedge and wrist escutcheons, checkered wrist, and shotgun butt without cheek rest. The case has a James Wilkinson & Son trade label inside the lid and contains a suite of accessories, including takedown cleaning rod, balls and bullets, mallet/short starter, two 32 bore ball molds, a conical bullet mold numbered to the gun, T-shaped combination tool with pouch, patch cutter, cap tin, and powder flask. Provenance: The Richard P. Mellon Collection
Very fine with 95% plus of the professionally refinished brown finish over distinct twist patterns along the barrel, 75% plus of the lightly aged original case colors, aged patina on the silver, 40% original blue, smooth gray and brown patina on the balance, and minimal overall wear mostly from age and storage. The stock is also very fine and has crisp checkering, nearly all of the original finish, some light scratches, and scattered minor dings. Aside from the set trigger; mechanically fine. The case and accessories are generally fine to very fine with light age and storage related wear, including some separation on the right front corner of the lid. Overall, this is a beautiful classic English half-stock percussion sporting rifle made for the Duke of Wellington.
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