DSC Life Member Bill Jones is bringing some of his remarkable gun collection to “Conservation”, the 2016 DSC Sporting Convention & Expo. This collection features rifles from the likes of Percival, Selous, Hemingway, and Elmer Keith, all available to be viewed in Hall F, the newly anointed gun hall, on the showroom floor. Come visit this piece of history and much, much more at the Show, January 7-10, at the Dallas Convention Center.
Please enjoy a full review of the entire set to be featured at “Conservation” below.
Crawford Fletcher Jamieson is best known to the hunting world through the placement of photographs… and accolades bestowed upon him by fellow ivory hunter and author John ‘Pondoro’ Taylor in his classic book ‘African Rifles And Cartridges.’
Between his birth in 1905 and his untimely death in 1947… Fletcher… as he was referred to by friend’s… would become one of the most proficient ivory hunters of his… or any other day. Fletcher grew up in southern Rhodesia… now Zimbabwe. His favorite hunting grounds were the dense jesse bush of the famed Zambezi Valley.
On July 15th… 1937… he placed a special order for this W.J. Jeffrey and Company 500 bore magnum mauser… model 2 magazine rifle… with 26 inch barrels… 1 standard and 2 extra leaf sights… a recoil pad… at a weight of 10 pounds 2 ounces. The rifle was built on the single square-bridge… magnum length Mauser 98 action at a cost of 45 pounds.
The rifle ordered by Fletcher would be the 20th .500 built under the Jeffrey name… and the firm would eventually produce a total of only 24 rifles in this caliber. The fact that Jeffrey produced only 24 of these rifles makes them among the rarest rifles amongst firearms collectors. The fact that the .500 Jeffrey is engraved with Fletcher’s name makes this rifle one of the world’s most coveted… and collectable firearms in existence.
Maharaja Of Surguja
Rigby double rifle .416/.470
Most of the fine rifles in Bill Jones’ collection have direct ties to Africa… yet there are some exceptions. Many vintage double rifles built at the turn of the last century were destined for other game fields.
At that time India was a mecca for big game hunting… with big game such as tiger… gaur… buffalo and leopard all found in impressive numbers. At that time India was part of the vast British empire… and hunting was a favorite past time for British officers posted there. Hunting was also a passion of… as well as a time honored tradition for India’s ruling elite… including various Maharaja’s.
One such man was the Maharaja Of Surguja who ruled over a vast state in the northern part of Madhya Pradesh in central India. During this time, India was the land where conservation was unheard of… and tigers were seen as both the ultimate sporting animal available… as well as a constant threat to his subjects who shared rural India with the great cats.
A large caliber double was the perfect choice for tiger hunting… where fast shooting was the norm on driven beats. In 1936… the Maharaja went to London in search of just such a rifle. After visiting the showroom of the famed gun-making firm of John Rigby & Company… the Maharajah placed a custom order for this best quality… sidelock double in caliber .416 Rigby. Although the caliber would be ideal for tiger… the .416 Rigby is a very unusual caliber to be chambered for double rifle… and this would be the only double rifle ever built by Rigby for this cartridge. The rifle is beautifully engraved in typical Rigby fashion… and also includes the Sutguja state crest.
With this rifle… the Maharaja claimed a bag of between 1500 and 1700 tigers. This extensive use eventually caused the barrels to wear out… and the rifle was sent back to Rigby to have the barrels bored out to .470 caliber. Subsequently… a second set of barrels were made in the original .416 Rigby caliber.
Frederick Courtney Selous
.461 and .256
Frederick Courtney Selous was… by any standard… one of the most interesting figures of Imperial Africa. Selous was a British explorer… big game hunter… and dedicated conservationist famous for his exploits in east and southern Africa. Unlike many of Africa’s legendary figures… Selous was already a living legend during his day due to his experience with hunting… military action… and African exploration.
From 1872 until 1890… with few brief intervals spent in England… Selous hunted and explored over the then little-known regions north of the Transvaal and south of the Congo basin… shooting elephants and collecting specimens of all kinds for museums and private collections.
In 1909 and into 1910… Selous accompanied American ex-president Theodore Roosevelt on his famous African safari. While Selous did not lead the expedition… he joined the yearlong safari at several points as it traveled through east Africa… the Congo… and into Sudan. Roosevelt was such a fan of Selous that he referred to him as ‘the worlds greatest living hunter” in his classic book… African Game Trails.
Selous used a number of rifles during the course of his long and storied hunting career. In 1880… Selous acquired what he described as “a single-barreled .461 bore modified by Gibbs of Bristol – a better weapon in every way than my well-tried 10 bore.” Selous fell in love with the Gibbs rifles with the farquharson actions and would later own a number of them. The stock on this rifle eventually cracked due to recoil… and Selous worked with Gibb’s to develop reinforcing plates along the wrist area for added strength.
Between 1896 and 1915… Selous experimented with a variety of calibers… including the .256. In 1898… Selous took delivery of this .256 falling-block rifle built for him by premier gun-maker … Holland & Holland. Weighing just over 7 pounds… this beautiful rifle features 28 inch barrels… with a 100-yard fixed-sight… and 4 additional leaf sights sighted out to 500 yards. According to the records in the Holland & Holland archives… Selous personally re-sighted the rifle at the Holland shooting ground “for own use”.
Westley Richards .577 double rifle
Ernest Miller Hemingway was… and remains to this day… one of American literatures most revered and iconic figures. Papa… as Hemingway was to by his friends… was a man who lived large and wrote with the same style.
Born July 21… 1899… the great outdoors was young Ernest’s first true love. With his grandfather’s instruction and blessing… the boy would begin a love affair with firearms and shooting that would last the man he would become until his untimely death in 1961.
Like many hunters before and after him… Hemingway answered the sirens call of Africa… a place dripping with adventure… and a destination impossible for a man like Hemingway to resist. His first taste of Africa and safari came in 1934 on a safari to Tanganyika… east Africa. As she tends to do… Africa cast her spell on Hemingway… and would have a tremendous impact on his writing career and subject matter.
In late 1953 he booked another long safari in Kenya accompanied by his wife Mary. The hair had thinned and silvered… but the now world famous author retained his larger than life personality and desire to once again test himself against both the dangerous game… and Father Time. Hemingway was again guided by a now semi retired Phillip Percival who Papa had cajoled into joining him in another great adventure.
Percival… knowing dangerous game was once again on the bag… must have been pleased to see Hemingway unpack this striking Westley Richards .577 NE double rifle.
Matched Pair .450 NE No. 2 Double Rifles
Born in Newcastle, in North Eastern England in 1886, Percival first arrived in British East Africa in the summer 1906, destined to become the greatest professional hunter ever. He began his hunting career with the Hill brothers, soon joining the legendary Theodore Roosevelt Safari of 1909-10. As a hunter, Percival left his mark on the continent he so loved, becoming the founding president of the East African Professional Hunters Association, serving sixteen years in that position. His clients included kings and queens, business moguls, and Hollywood celebrities, and he earned the moniker “The Dean of Professional Hunters” along the way, by mentoring some of the next great hunters of the new guard.
Percival’s favorite patron, hands down, was Ernest Hemingway – no stranger to adventure himself. The quintessential professional hunter, teamed up with the gruff, no-nonsense American storyteller, and developed a relationship that spanned generations. Hemingway was inspired to write Green Hills of Africa, using Percival as the inspiration motivation for the character ‘Pop’.
When you are Philip Percival, the greatest professional hunter that the world has ever seen, nothing else but a pair of good double rifles would do to augment your dangerous-game battery. So, on 9 December, 1927 Percival laid a princely sum on the gun counter of J. Lang and Company and walked out with these two consecutively numbered tools of his trade, numbers XXX48 & XXX49, in .450 Nitro Express No. 2.
Rigby .470 NE Double Rifle
In 1907 the British Army proposed a ban of .450 caliber bullets and ammunition into India and the Sudan. The .450 in all its variations suffered a drastic fall in popularity throughout the Empire. While the ban did not extend to sub-Saharan Africa, the English trade did not seem to differentiate geographically, and the number of these great rifles manufactured declined as a result, an unfortunate occurrence as, with near identical ballistics between the two, they were killing machines! As a matter of course, most of the early 20th century Nitro cartridges were close to ballistic equals, making it a hunter’s choice of what to buy. They seemed to understand the recipe for success.
Push a .450 to .500-grain projectile out at a bit north of 2000 fps second, hit the sweet spot, and dangerous animals die in short order.
In 1912, Phillip Percival acquired this magnificent Rigby .470 NE double rifle. The factory records including an invoice listing supplied cleaning equipment, spare strikers and a tin-lined box with 200 cartridges, all sold to P.H. Percival at a 15% discount. There is also a ledger page in the company book that states the serial number, date of sale to Percival, and the overall rifle dimensions and weight.
The case-hardened boxlock action with doll’s head third fastener for stronger lockup, housed bushed strikers and non-auto safety, the safety legend inlaid in gold upon the back strap. The action is engraved with well-cut, large, shaded scroll: J. Rigby & Co – emblazoned on each side. Blued top lever, floorplate, and scroll-engraved trigger guard houses double triggers. The serial number is engraved on tang, extending to a case-hardened and engraved steel-trap grip cap. A nicely marbled European walnut buttstock measures 14⅝″ over Silvers recoil pad, and features a shadow line right cheekpiece, point pattern checkering borders at grip, and a sling eye soldered to barrels matching one on the toe of the stock and a splinter forend. With an empty weight of 11 pounds and 3 ounces, the rifle is all business.
Westley Richards 470 NE
Elmer Keith was born in 1899… and before his death in 1984… became one of America’a most influential gun writers. Keith’s personal trademarks were his ten-gallon Stetson… the ever present cigar… and outspoken opinions.
Elmer loved the hunt for big game… and the bigger it came the better. Born in Missouri… but a longtime resident of Idaho… Elmer hunted most of North America’s popular species… including all of it’s dangerous game. But his love for danger and adventure finally lured Elmer Keith to the wilds of Africa… a mecca for heavy calibers and her famous BIG 5.
Keith favored the double rifle for dangerous game in thick cover above all other choices due to their quick handling… and ability to deliver two large caliber bullets in rapid succession from their twin barrels.
Keith was also an unabashed lover of English made double rifles… and had owned several in his personal collection. One of his most beloved double rifles this Westley Richards .470 Nitro Express.
Westley Richards 476 NE
This Westley Richards 476 NE double rifle was another of Elmer Keith’s favorite rifles. It was mentioned and photographed in many of his articles, especially “Shooting Dangerous Game” in Guns and Ammo, August 1962, with a photograph of Elmer with this rifle with a downed Cape buffalo. The photograph of the buffalo is very similar to the gold inlay on the bottom of the action, and very likely was the model for the inlay.
Charles Boswell 500 NE
This was Elmer Keith’s “elephant rifle” that he used to take several elephant on safari. In his later years, he kept this rifle beside his chair and would shoulder it several times a day to stay in shape. This rifle was mentioned and pictured in numerous articles by Elmer including “World’s Biggest Big game”
W.J. Jeffery 500 NE
One of the rarest and most beautifully detailed double rifles once owned by Elmer Keith is this W.J. Jeffery sidelock 500 nitro express. This rifle features beautiful etchings and gold inlays of game animals suitable for this large caliber. Included is a trio of gold elephants, and gold Bengal tiger bounding after a sanbar stag. In addition the rifle features detailed engravings of stags and hinds in peaceful open countryside. A finishing touch is the gold leopard with platinum leaf crouching on the trigger guard bow.