BRYCE, EDINBURGH FORMERLY THE PROPERTY OF THE DUCHESS OF WESTMINSTER A SCARCE PAIR OF SILVER-PLATED 40-BORE PERCUSSION ALL NICKEL DRESS-PISTOLS, no visible serial number, circa 1870, with triple-stage iron barrels, faceted muzzles, scroll engraved centre segment and scroll engraved breech, flat locks following the silhouette of the pistol signed 'J. BRYCE, EDINBURGH' with border and scroll engraving, scroll engraved hammers (one replaced) silver-plated nickel half-stocks with scroll engraving, gadrooned border to the pommels, the bases inset with large yellow cairngorms (one chipped), iron belt-hooks to the left hand side of body, cast florally carved trigger-guard bows with vacant oval escutcheons and turned iron ramrods (both pistols lightly worn with some loss to detail)
Provenance: This pair of pistols were formerly the property of Anne, Duchess of Westminster.
Anne Winifred Sullivan was born April 1915 to Brig-Gen. Edward Sullivan who served with the Indian Army in Burma and Waziristan. She was a very accomplished horsewoman and was a noted thruster with the United hunt. On the outbreak of war she volunteered for the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and returned to Ireland after six years as a personnel driver.
Soon after her return 'Nancy' met her future husband, the 2nd Duke of Westminster, known as Bend'Or after his Grandfather's chestnut Derby winner. Their time was divided mainly between Eaton Hall in Cheshire and the family estates in Scotland, most notably Lochmore. The marriage was a happy one but did not result in the son and heir that the Duke longed for. He was thirty six years her senior and died at Lochmore in July 1953. The Duke was the wealthiest man in Britain on his demise and the wresting of death duties from the estate required the Inland Revenue to form a new sub-department to administer the tax.
The Duchess then moved within the estate to Eaton Lodge and applied herself seriously to bringing on fine horses. In 1960 she bought an unbroken three-year-old in a Dublin sale for 1,150 guineas and named him Arkle after one of the mountains near the Westminster estates in Sutherland. Her judgement was inspired and Arkle went on to win 27 of his 35 races in an eight year career that made him the greatest steeplechaser of any era. No racehorse had ever achieved such fame at the time and he became the subject of more biographies than the Duke.
The Duchess died in 2003 at Lochmore, fifty years after her extra-ordinary husband.