J. PURDEY & SONS
A RARE 28-BORE BAR-IN-WOOD TOPLEVER HAMMERGUN, serial no. 11117,
29 3/4in. sleeved nitro barrels (in 2000), the rib engraved 'J. PURDEY & SONS. 314 1/2, OXFORD STREET. LONDON.', 2 1/2in. chambers, bored approx. 1/4 and 3/4 choke, bar-in-wood, carved percussion fences, rebounding sidelocks with dolphin hammers, action flat, barrel lump and fore-end iron engraved '2', best fine bouquet and scroll engraving, retaining very slight traces of colour-hardening and finish, 14 1/2in. well figured stock including 2 1/8in. wooden extension, fore-end with Anson push-rod release catch, weight 4lb. 15oz., in its makers oak and leather case with some accessories and fitted with charge label, the lid with brass escutcheon inscribed 'LADY MEUX. THEOBALD'S PARK. WALTHAM CROSS.'
To read an article in the Daily Mail outlining the life of Lady Meux please click HERE
Provenance: The makers have kindly provided us with the following information:
Completed: 9th August 1882
Description: A toplever bar-in-wood sidelock hammer gun
Weight: 4lb. 6oz.
Barrels: 29 5/8in.
Choke: Both Choke
Stock: 13 1/4in.
Stock fitted with Silver's anti-recoil heelplate
Loose front trigger
Stocked by Hands, finished by Adams
10th February 1904: 'Charge put in gun case for Lady Meux - 20 grains Schultze 1/2oz.'
Lady Valerie Susan Meux (1847 - 1910, née Langdon) was a Victorian socialite and the wife of London brewer Sir Henry Bruce Meux, 3rd Bt. (1856 - 1900) and resided at Theobold's Park, Hertfordshire.
Lady Meux claimed to have been an actress prior to her marriage, but accounts imply that she worked as a banjo-playing prostitute and barmaid under the name of Val Reece at the Casino de Venise in Holborn, where she is believed to have met Sir Henry.
Lady Meux was a controversial figure and was never really accepted by her husband's family or aristocratic Victorian society. She was known to drive herself around London in a sporty open carriage drawn by a pair of zebras. She also sat for three portraits for James Whistler in 1881 (one now held in the Frick collection, New York, one in the Honolulu Museum of Art, and one believed destroyed by the artist after a comment made by Lady Meux during a sitting). These were the first commissions Whistler received after his bankruptcy in 1879.
The family seat, Theobald's Park, was vastly improved and upgraded by Lady Meux. Fascinated by Egyptology, she established a museum of Egyptian Antiquities, and she also improved the estate by including a swimming pool and installing an indoor roller-skating rink. She also acquired five Ethiopic manuscripts which, on finding were revered by the Ethiopians, she bequeathed to Emperor Menelik II. Perhaps her largest influence was persuading Sir Henry, in 1880, to purchase Temple Bar Gate from the City of London Corp. and install it as the gatehouse for Theobald's Park. The gateway, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, consisting of around 400 tons of stone was transported by horse-drawn carts to the Park, where it was carefully rebuilt at a cost of £10,000. Lady Meux often entertained in the gatehouse's upper chamber, with guests including King Edward VII and Winston Churchill. The Gate remained at Theobalds until the turn of the 21st century, when it returned to London and was erected at Paternoster Square.
During the Second Boer War she became concerned for British forces during the Siege of Ladysmith and so ordered, at her own expense, six 12-pound naval cannons on special field carriages and sent them directly to Lord Roberts in South Africa, after her offer of assistance was rejected by the War Office in London.
When Sir Hedworth Lambton, the commander of the Naval Brigade at Ladysmith, returned to England, he called on Lady Meux at Theobalds to thank her for her gift and recount his adventures. She was so taken with him that she made him the chief beneficiary of her will (standing to inherit a substantial fortune), on condition that he change his surname to Meux (Lady Meux was without direct heirs). When she died on 20 December 1910, he willingly changed his name by Royal Warrant, and inherited the Hertfordshire estate and a substantial interest in the Meux Brewery.
Literature: This Lot is sold together with a reproduction print of James Whistler's portrait of Lady Meux 'Harmony in Pink and Gray'
Other Notes: For more information about this gunmaker, please see HERE
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S2 - Sold as a Section 2 Firearm under the 1968 Firearms Act