E.M. REILLY & CO.
A RESPLENDENT CASED PRESENTATION 12-BORE SIDELEVER BAR-IN-WOOD HAMMER RIFLE AND SHOTGUN GARNITURE, serial no. 25161,
25 1/2in. black powder only bold damascus rifled barrels with raised finely file-cut rib, open sights and two folding leaf sights marked for 50, 100 and 200 yards and with fine acanthus scroll detailing and gold-inlaid sight lines, bead fore-sight, the breech end with feathered bands and a single gold line, the tubes gold-inlaid 'E.M. REILLY & CO. NEW OXFORD ST. LONDON. AND 2. RUE SCRIBE. PARIS.', individual fore-end with Anson push rod release catch, the iron retaining much original colour-hardening;
29 3/4in. black powder only fine damascus barrels, raised rib with scroll detailing and gold-inlaid 'E.M. REILLY & CO. 502. NEW OXFORD STREET. LONDON & RUE SCRIBE. PARIS.', the breech ends with feathered bands and single gold line, individual fore-end with Anson push rod release catch, the iron retaining much original colour-hardening;
sidelever action with Purdey 1863 patent double bite, carved percussion fences, rebounding bar locks by Stanton, bar-in-wood, standing breech with fine beaded border engraving, the action, lockplates and furniture profusely engraved with fine acanthus scrolls, the top tang finely inset in gold with the crest of Alfonso XII, the lockplates gold-inlaid 'E.M. REILLY & CO. LONDON.', the triggerguard tang gold-inlaid with the serial number, retaining much original colour-hardening, 14 1/4in. well-figured stock with sling eye, blank gold oval escutcheon and including horn buttplate, weight 9lb. 1oz. (rifle barrels) and 7lb. 3oz. (shot barrels), in its fine brass-cornered oak and leather case with blue velvet lining, fully fitted to house a virtually full complement of reloading tools (some ivory-handled) by Hawkesley and Dixon, with Greenfield crimping tool and fine scroll engraved capper/de-capper and roll turnover tool with E.M. Reilly & Cie. (London & Paris) markings, the lid interior embossed in gold leaf with the makers details, the lid exterior mounted with an ornately carved and engraved frame, with central crowned monogram for Alfonso XII and brass banner pierced with 'CONCURSO DE TIRO DE 1880'
Provenance: The crests on both the gun and the case refer to Alfonso Francisco de Asis Fernando Pio Juan Maria de la Concepcion Gregorio Pelayo, King Alfonso XII of Spain. Born November 1857, died November 25th 1885.
Alfonso reigned as Monarch from 1874 until his untimely death from illness in 1885. His coming to power, upon the abdication of his mother, Queen Isabella II marked the end of the first Spanish Republic, established following the 'Glorious Revolution' in 1868 which saw the monarchy forced into exile.
His rule was popular and peaceful and he, together with his Prime Minister were responsible for ending the civil war and drafting a new constitution designed to restore stability and economic growth to Spain.
His interest in shooting was undoubtedly influenced by time spent in England, and having experienced the sport of driven partridge shooting (introduced in England in around 1854) he was responsible for introducing the first partridge drive in Spain just south of Toledo in 1880.
We are kindly informed by the vendor that the gun has been in the possession of the family since it was purchased by his Great Grandfather, Mr Juan Agudo Valero in the 1880's.
His livestock business brought him into social circles of all levels, from contact with Royalty to a long lasting friendship with Manuel Mejis, a top bullfighter popularly called 'The Black Pope' and even extending to a friendship with Juan Camargo Gomez - a notorious bandit, known as 'TheVivillo' (to whom Juan sent emergency funds when forced to flee to Argentina to escape arrest)
The gun was commissioned by King Alphonso XII and gifted as a prize for a 'Throw' shooting competition (Live Pigeon match) by the King in 1880. Family tradition has it that the gun was won by an auspicious military man who was did not hunt or shoot as a pastime; the prize was bought from him by Juan - perhaps as a future gift for a person of influence. However, the gift was never realised and the gun has been passed down through the family ever since.
It has only been out of their direct possession once until now, being buried in the courtyard of the family home during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 (where the light damage to the case externals was accrued).
Other Notes: In 1867 E. M. Reilly & Co were awarded a Prize Medal at the Paris Exhibition and in 1869 opened up a premises in Paris as E. M. Reilly et Cie at 2 Rue Scribe, Paris. It was here they gained the appointment as gun maker to Napoleon III. This shop closed in 1872 and it wouldn't be until 1884 that a second premises was opened at 29 Rue du Faubourg, St Honore.
Holt's 'Shooting Calendar' for the year 1883 reported the number of wins at live pigeon shooting competitions by London made guns as: Reilly 82, Purdey 55, Lang 48, Grant 40, Hodges 34 and Holland 8.
By 1887 his trade labels have the additional acknowledgements of 'By special appointment to His Majesty the King of Spain; His Majesty the King of Portugal; His Majesty the King of the Netherlands.'
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