The recent auction at James Julia in USA featured amongst its many lots, a large collection of English guns and rifles of the ‘large bore hammer variety’. Some of these hailed from the Nizam of Hyderabad’s collection. These items raised my interest particularly, Hyderabad being one of the many armouries that my father, Walter Clode was responsible in successfully acquiring during his days trading in India. (which I might ass continue to this day, his last visit, in his 86th year, being in January 2016! ). Hyderabad was the largest and most significant collection he acquired during is days with WR and was a deal completed in conjunction with Malcolm Lyell of Holland & Holland who helped finance it.
Last week a huge crate containing many of the Antique guns from this auction arrived at the factory and it was suggested I photograph them ‘whilst we had the opportunity’ and before they were delivered to the client who was away hunting at present. ‘They will make good material for the blog’ I was told, whilst at the same time I was openly asking for help to do just that!
Besides being an interesting collection of rifles what aroused my interest was all the paperwork that came with the individual guns, old invoices and letters from the makers regarding the history. There is often talk when dealing guns about the investment value of certain items and here we have some physical evidence.
In my opinion the market is in a low period at the moment, a buyers market for sure. As such I believe that many of the guns which passed through Julia did not get as much as I expected. As with any auction some exceptional pieces did very well but the bulk were just so so. This has always been a strong consideration of mine when advising people about auction houses, they are not on the whole a good place to sell guns, quick perhaps also efficient, but it is the volume commission they are after, not the individual sellers best interest.
The 8g Holland & Holland Paradox was made for Nizam of Hyderabad in 1893 and from there the history is a bit murky. The letter below to a US resident in 1966 seems to put the Paradox in USA before the main armoury in Hyderabad was obtained. It could have been the Nizam didn’t like it and it was returned or he disposed of in an earlier deal, after Partition and the handing in of guns to the police lines when the Maharajah’s effectively lost their direct power.
We do know the owner who consigned the Paradox to auction paid $4250.00 for it, I will assume that that was probably in the same year David Winks gave him the history which was 1981. So 35 years later and with the additional cost of the restoration and Huey case the rifle achieved a price of $23,000 and I think the buyer got great value, here is provenance, make, scarcity, all the things you look for. The whole only let down by the non original Huey case.
I think we will each draw our own conclusion from these details, if we spent $4250 on a car in 1981 it would have perhaps been gone and replaced now many times, an S coupe Mustang would have cost you $5250 and unless you covered it up and kept it pristine who knows what that would be worth.
Hopefully this firearm as well as the others he had gave him much pleasure during his life and for sure his investment returned a hell of a lot more than all this electronic junk we surround ourselves with today!
For actual information about Paradox guns there is a book, one I am afraid I have never been able to tackle!