Full Details for Lot 1361

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Fine Modern & Antique Guns - September 2020

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Sale A2020 Lot 1361



28in. nitro barrels, the ribs engraved 'WILLIAM EVANS. FROM PURDEY'S. 63. PALL MALL. ST. JAMES'S. LONDON.', and gold-inlaid '1' and '2' at the breech ends, 2 1/2in. chambers, bored approx. imp. cyl. and 1/4 choke (No.1) and true cyl. and 1/4 choke (No.2), treble-grip actions with removable striker discs, slender toplevers gold-inlaid '1' and '2', automatic safeties with gold-inlaid 'SAFE' details, intercepting sears, non selective single triggers, best fine acanthus scroll engraving with floral bouquets and beaded bordering, central scrolling banners engraved 'WILLIAM EVANS. FROM PURDEYS. LONDON', the triggerguards and fore-end irons engraved '1' and '2', retaining slight traces of original colour-hardening, 15in. highly-figured stocks (likely historic replacements) including 7/8in. rubber recoil pads, bolstered fore-end woods, weight 6lb. 8oz., in a brass-cornered oak and leather case with internal protector flap, gold-tooled leather trade label and original 'Charges' label and some accessories, the lid exterior with leather name strips stamped 'J. KINGSLEY-HEATH. FERDER. CORNWALL.'

Provenance: John Kingsley-Heath was one of the last great professional white hunters to have enjoyed the fruits of Africa while much of that continent was still uncharted. He led a remarkably colourful life, seemingly undiluted by the tedious minutiae of day-to-day living, and had been, in his own words, "shot-up, blown-up and eaten-up" in turn by various adversaries, human and otherwise.

John was born 1926 in Palestine to Col. A.J. Kingsley-Heath O.B.E. a former Commissioner of Police and Attorney-General of Kenya. He was schooled in England, firstly at Monkton Coombe near Bath. With his schooling finished, he sat and passed the Regular Commission board and joined the Welsh Guards aged eighteen. He saw active service in two theatres of the war, namely France (where he was "shot-up") and Palestine (where he was "blown-up" by a landmine) and had attained the rank of Captain by the end of hostilities.

He came home but remained a serving officer when he went up to Trinity College where he read History and Law. Always a keen sportsman, he was a Hockey Blue for the University and was later capped for England. He also loved his rugby and turned out for Blackheath regularly.

It was after he came down from Cambridge that his adventures in Africa began. He was seconded to the Colonial Service with the rank of Major, first in Tanzania and then with the East African High Commission in Kenya. He travelled widely through these and neighbouring countries which only served to further whet his appetite for adventure. This appetite, coupled with his knowledge of firearms and local languages set the path for the next three decades; that of an expert outfitter, conservationist and professional hunter.

It was fortunate that John's talents were so well honed to the demands of Africa. The post-war decades were a difficult time for Great Britain as she divested herself of many colonial obligations, both from pressure and design. John struck-up a firm friendship with Syd Downey and in 1956 he became a director and shareholder of Ker & Downey, in the company of Syd Downey, Donald Ker, Jack Block and Eric Rundgren. He was responsible for opening the company's offices in Tanzania and made a formal survey of the wildlife potentials of Bechuanaland and Mozambique. In tandem to this, in the early 1950s, he also farmed in partnership with 2,000 acres on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro where he reared beef cattle and grew wheat.

In 1964 tourist and farming enterprises were nationalised in Tanzania and John joined forces with Lionel Palmer at Safari South Pty. Ltd. in Botswana. Safari South quickly became the largest company of its type in Southern Africa and played a major role in the development of tourism. John was appointed both an Hon. National Park Warden and Game Warden in several countries. With such a vast area to oversee, John's abilities as a pilot were terribly important and he flew over 5,000 hours, often solo and over uncharted bush with little likelihood of assistance if he'd had to set down in an emergency.

His reputation as a safari consultant and P.H. was beyond reproach and he accompanied many well-known people over five decades. In addition he acted as a consultant and was responsible for wildlife management on the films 'Hatari' starring John Wayne, and 'Sammy Going South' with Edward G. Robinson. John put his knowledge, thoughts and experiences into writing and published 'Hunting the Dangerous Game of Africa' in 1998. The entire production run sold very quickly and the book now commands high prices on the specialist book market.

John and Sue Kingsley-Heath decided to leave Africa in 1978 to educate their three boys in England. John turned his efforts back to farming and he played a major role in bringing the Texel breed of sheep into this country to bolster and improve the national flock. With the support of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, he also formed a Cornish Lamb Consortium that fought fiercely against the price-fixing and domination of the supermarkets.

With one foot still firmly in Africa, he was asked to return in 1992 and was appointed Chief Park Warden of the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, and later the Assistant Director of National Parks. These were the icing on the cake for a man who was hugely respected as a conservationist, professional hunter and bon viveur of note. His store of gripping tales kept his friends enthralled and these quite often featured John K-H as the subject, either being mauled by a lion ("eaten up") or picked up and thrown with huge force by an elephant. The very real danger often came from other humans though, and John had several scrapes with horribly corrupt officials who sought only to abuse their positions. Even as an octogenarian, John continued to host photographic safaris, usually in the company of his wife Sue and sons Hugh and Nigel.

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Estimate £3,000-5,000

S2 - Sold as a Section 2 Firearm under the 1968 Firearms Act

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