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Member Since: 2/23/14
First Name: Brandon
Last Name: Halstead
Country: United Kingdom
Active Listings: 4
Total Listings: 25
Seller Type:Private Seller
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Charles Lancaster 20 gauge lightweight game gun
Charles Lancaster 20 gauge lightweight game gun.
This late 19th century boxlock in 20 gauge was manufactured in a cooperative arrangement between Charles Lancaster and the Junior Army & Navy Store. From their early origins in 1811, Lancaster attained its preeminence as a barrel maker, and continued supplying its craft to other premier firearms manufacturers including Manton & Purdey.
The current holder of all Lancaster records, UK gunmaker Ronald Wharton from Rigby’s (bunduki.co.uk), confirmed that Charles Lancaster & Co. frequently made its superior barrels for other cooperatives and supplied them “in the white” for their merger with that partner company’s action & hardware. Lancaster supplied these 20 bore barrels for the Junior Army & Navy Store; although records for that Junior A&N branch (not to be confused with Army & Navy Cooperative Society Limited (CSL)) are lacking, based on other guns with similar serial numbers, this gun looks to have been made approximately circa 1895.
The Junior Army and Navy Stores, also known as York House, was founded in June 1879 by Major Clench as a cooperative society. The Junior store was established after a dispute and split of members from the original Army and Navy CSL, who had formed 8 years earlier in 1871. The Junior store enjoyed a successful business for over 40 years at their “Club Chambers” headquarters in York House, 15 Regent Street, London. Accordingly, when Lancaster made these barrels for the Junior Army & Navy Store, he signed the game rib as “C. LANCASTER, YORK HOUSE, REGENT STREET, LONDON.”
Because the barrels can represent up to 70% of a gun’s value, it is not surprising that Lancaster’s signature is the primary identifier for this gun, rather than the A&N cooperative name. The plain frame has a bright brushed finish with border engraving around the boxlocks, top strap, fences, and trigger guard. Lancaster and A&N ensured their serial numbers matched for this cooperative merger; on the underside of the game rib, there is the number 69414, with the maker’s details C. LANCASTER, YORK HOUSE, REGENT STREET, LONDON on top of the raised game rib. Further down the barrels towards the breech on the left barrel is the number 69114. It’s not clear whether this difference was spurious or whether it was part of Lancaster’s or A&N’s method for serial numbers. However, the matching serial number 69414 is on the trigger guard, confirming their match as a whole.
The London proof marks on the barrel flats indicate its antique origins when it was originally black powder proof, with a definitive proof mark “GP” under a crown, view mark “V” under a crown, and the provisional proof mark lion rampant over intertwined letters “GP” on the barrels just above the flats. Contemporary Birmingham proof marks show that it has undergone more recent British Nitro Proof (BNP) testing with contemporary measurements and standard nitro proof compliance, approved for modern loads at a measurement of 3 tons per square inch. Chambers are 2 & ½”. Chokes are approximately improved cylinder and ½ choke. The barrels are lightweight and responsive, and are 28” in length with a brass sight bead on the end -- perfect for use in the field and would make for an outstanding dove, quail, woodcock, and upland game gun. Barrels have excellent dimensions, with current bore diameters of .621 for the right bore and .616 for the left bore, and outstanding measurements of 33 thousandth for the right wall thickness, and 30 thousandth for the left wall thickness. The interior of the bores are mirrors with no marks or pitting.
As Terry Wieland highlights in his book “Vintage British Shotguns,” he states “If you buy an English gun…and the proof marks show it has been nitro proofed – that is, proven with smokeless powder – you know it’s safe to shoot with loads of the length and gauge marked.”
The straight-handed English walnut stock is nicely figured and has crisp checkering throughout the hand, a checkered thumb release and engraved “SAFE” automatic safety mechanism at the hand, a 14 & 1/4” stock length with rubber recoil pad, and a 14 & 3/4” pull. The barrels and extractors lock up tight with absolutely no play in the action, and have a very clean interior; almost no powder marks or residue, and zero pitting. Sharply checkered fore-end wood with border-engraved base, engraved diamond-shaped center inlay, and border-engraved fore-end tip. Superb handling with a total weight of only 5 lbs. 5 oz.
This gun is housed in a period-appropriate Charles Lancaster leather guncase; although it is not specifically matched to this particular 20 gauge, the gun case is all original with full leather exterior, green felt interior, and original Lancaster decals. Condition of the case is worn on the exterior leather and interior felt, but overall very serviceable and functional.
Very few cosmetic blemishes on the gun, other than a couple of tiny marks on the action that are almost not visible, and some minor tarnishing on the locks and floorplate, as would be expected on a 120+ year old antique. One tiny area of superficial surface-level specks underneath the left barrel end, and one tiny 1mm rub on the outer right barrel. Overall very good condition, with hand-made quality apparent throughout its manufacture. With the growing popularity of wildfowling using classic British shotguns, this is a great combination of lightweight form and function without breaking the bank or the worry of taking this functional hunter into the field. Ready for your next century of shooting!
This is a pre-1898 firearm and qualifies as an antique with direct shipment to the purchaser. We are a US military family stationed in the UK, and ship via US Postal Service registered mail at an insured and flat rate of $60 to fully cover shipping and insurance; usually takes about a week to arrive in the US. Online member since 2002 with 100% positive feedback. Payment via PayPal or certified bank check accepted. Please note I am not a dealer and not an expert, but a private collector, have tried to enter all the details I am aware of for this gun, and will try to answer any questions as best I can. I am downsizing my collection and hope to find other US enthusiasts of classic English shotguns to re-home a few of these pieces. Thanks for your interest. Key words: sxs shotgun, side by side, British, English, double barrel, 20 gauge, 20 ga, 20g, box lock, boxlock.
Manufacturer: Charles Lancaster & Co.
Serial Number: 69414
Bore: .621 & .616
Bore Condition: mirror
Barrel Type: sxs
Gauge Info: 20
Stock: straight hand English
14 & 1/4
Butt Pad: yes
LOP: 14 & 3/4
Rib: raised game
Manufacture Date: 1895
Choke Left: improved cylinder
Choke Right: 1/2
Proof:Nitro: British Nitro Proof 3 tons per square inch
Minimum Wall Thickness Left: 33,000
Minimum Wall Thickness Right: 30,000