Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1274: John Shaw 21-Bore Flintlock Sporting Gun

Auction Date: August 27, 2022

Incredible Relief Chiseled, Engraved, Gold Accented, and Raised Relief Carved John Shaw 21-Bore Flintlock Sporting Gun Formerly of the W. Keith Neal Collection

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Estimated Price: $6,500 - $9,500

Incredible Relief Chiseled, Engraved, Gold Accented, and Raised Relief Carved John Shaw 21-Bore Flintlock Sporting Gun Formerly of the W. Keith Neal Collection

Manufacturer: English
Model: Flintlock
Type: Shotgun
Gauge: 21
Barrel: 43 inch round
Finish: brown/gold
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 288
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 225
Class: Antique

This incredible smoothbore hunting gun was made by John Shaw (2) ( d. 1720) who is recognized as one of England's best gunmaker's in the late 17th century and early 18th century and is listed in "Gunmakers of London" by Blackmore as a gunmaker for Charles II starting in 1670 followed by James II in 1685, then William III in 1689, and finally George I in 1715. He is listed as maintaining the "King's Closet of Private Arms" at Whitehall in 1688-1702 and also working with Edmund Giffard as a gunmaker for Prince Rupert c. 1675-1680. In addition to fine arms for royalty, he was a contractor for the Ordnance Department and Hudson's Bay Co. When the gun was sold in 2001 from William Keith Neal's collection by Christie's, it was noted as "Presumably made for the first owner of Gunton Park, John Harbord (fourth son of Sir Charles Harbord, d. 1679), who died in 1710 at the age of eighty-four as a result of a fall from his horse on the way back from shooting." At first glance, the gun is very French in design owing to the gunmaker drawing inspiration from the well-known Claude Simonin patterns published in 1684. The buttplate tang, sideplate, and trigger guard show the most obvious influence of the Simonin patterns, but the overall gun is in keeping with the style of his designs. The barrel has a sculpted dragon-like head front sight followed by a raised skull and cross bones motif, a long sighting flat inscribed "FEAR GOD AND HONOUR THE KING: DOE AS YOU WOULD BE DONE: BE FRUGAL: ALL IS VANITY" (referencing 1 Peter 2:13-18, Matthew 7:12/Luke 6:31, and Ecclesiastes 1:2), additional chiseled/raised relief designs of a crown/coronet, all-seeing eye, pair of male busts (one older and bearded and one younger and clean shaven, possibly a father and son), and cherubim (one with a gilt fasces and another with a cornucopia), floral border, and "IOHN [rear sight notch] SHAW" at the breech. The barrel tang has incised floral scroll and border engraving. The beautifully shaped, rounded, "banana" profile lock has incised scroll and border engraving and "I-SHAW" signed along the bottom at the center. The mounts are all iron and are also chiseled and engraved in exceptional details. The sideplate is an elaborate pierced design with scroll patterns inhabited by three masks, two disgorging. The wrist escutcheon has two grotesque masks and is engraved with the Harbord family crest (a chapeau gu., turned up erm., a lion couchant arg.). The trigger guard has a disguised grotesque mask forward finial, bird and scroll engraving, finger spur, and floral rear finial. The buttplate has a beautiful serpentine finial, elaborate entwining scroll engraving, and rounded heel. The beautifully shaped and figured stock has raised relief scroll carving, flats, and molding and a fluted comb with small tear drop accent at the nose. Includes a William Keith Neal Collection inventory tag marked "G489." Provenance: The Barons Suffield, Gunton Park, Norfolk; The Collection of William Keith Neal; The Collection of Joe M. Wanenmacher Jr

Rating Definition:

Fine as expertly restored. The designs throughout are distinct. The gold on the barrel is bright. The barrel and furniture along with the professionally made replacement lock and buttplate display a very attractive russet brown finish with areas of the original components furniture also showing original dark patina and faint pitting. The stock is also very fine as expertly restored with much of it professionally replaced and faint splice lines, some thin cracks in the grain, beautiful figure and smooth oiled finish throughout, and minor handling and storage marks. Mechanically fine. This is a stunning flintlock by a well-respected royal gunmaker with fascinating and attractive details throughout.

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