A rare piece of history

5 October 2002
Machinery & Furniture Auctions

A rifle that once belonged to the first Viceroy of India is among items to be auctioned from 11am tomorrow by Australian Antique Arms Auctions Pty LTd at Eley Park Community Cetnre, 87 Eley Road, Blackburn South.

The weapon, in fine condition, is a Purdey percussion double rifle in a case with all accessories that was once owned by Viscount Earl Charles John Canning, born in 1812.

A British statesman, Viscount Canning took his seat in the House of Lords in 1837 and served as Prime Minister Robert Peel's Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1841-46.

Nine years later, he became Aberdeen's Postmaster-General before being appointed Governor-General of India during the Sepoy Rebellion period.

In 1858, he was made India's first Viceroy. He died four years alter in England, where he is buried at Westminster Abbey.

Purchased by Visccount in 1855, the rifle is listed in a book The Early Purdeys and was one of those supplied with three bronze bullet moulds.

Numbered one to three, each cast a successively smaller bullet which enabled the shooter to carry on shooting as his barrells became fouled.

Another of the weapons for auction is a gold-finished presentation Beaumont-Adams five-shot percussion revolver.

House in a quality walnut presentation case, complete with ornate brass furniture, this magnificent revolver was presented to William Cameron of Petersburgh, Virginia, by F.W. Fuller.

Founder of the British American Tobacco Company, William Cameron was one of three brothers who became famous southern tobacco barons of Virginia and were held in high esteem by the local populace.

His brother, George, was a gallant Confederate soldier in Wolfes Company and distinguished himself on June 9, 1864, at "River House", the battle that saved Petersburgh.

The pistol was stolen during the American Civil War and in 1916 turned up with a New York antique dealer. He then wrote to the family inviting them to buy it back for the princely sum of $85.

An interesting specimen is the 1650 quality German wheel-lock hunting rifle. Of European fruitwood, its stock has been ornately carved and inlaid with staghorn and mother of pearl engraved plaques.

Another is an 1851 rare early third-model Colt percussion revolver engraved with a scroll pattern and the address Sam Colt, New York City, inscribed on it.

There is a superb cased pair of under and over percussion pistols made by Beckwith of London and engraved with the crest of the Archers, well-known Tasmanian pastoralists dating from the 1840s.

A wide range of Australian colonial arms also is for sale, along with a 1901 .303 rifle with a brass disc on the stock showing it once belonged to the Australian Light Horse.

Australian Antique Arms Auctions Pty Ltd is owned jointly by Roland Martyn and Gordon Morgan, both of whom are actively involved in the Antique and Historical Arms Collectors Guild of Victoria, the largest collecting body of its type in Australia.

Mr Martyn said they had been auctioning historical firearms and related items every six months for the past 10 years and average about 500 an auction.

"With adverse exchange rates, a greater number of collectors and fewer firearms to collect, prices are definitely increasing", he said.

"A lot of professional people such as doctors, barristers, solicitors and engineersa are being advised by their superannuation funds to invest in antique firearmss because they will not decrease in price."

Mr Martyn said antique arms investment for superannuation had become an increasing trend in the past four or five years.

Viewing is today from noon-5pm and tomorrow from 8am. For information contact Roland Martyn on 0428 543 377 or 0408 313 212.

This article can be found in the Age - Business - Saturday, 5 October 2002.

© Copyright 2005 The Antique and Historical Arms Collectors Guild of Victoria. All rights reserved.