As the dog days of summer give way to earlier
sunsets, cooler nights, and the promise of the
season's first true Sportsman's Holiday, gunners
in all but the most liberal states plan for a ritual
unlike no other... The September 1st Opening Day
of Dove Season.
Traditional "invitation only" shoots for rich and
profligate sports, as well as numerous informal
gatherings of good friends all have the same goal
in mind... shoot the most birds with the fewest
shells! Given the challenging flight characteristics
of the world's most prolific game bird, some
shooters prefer maximum firepower opting for
utility grade autoloading 12 gauge guns. Elitists
insist on using best quality double guns of smaller
gauge and relying on "well-managed" fields to
yield the maximum number of birds for selective
shooting...A run of fifteen straight without dirtying
the second barrel being the pinnacle of success.
For these over the top private affairs, English best
guns are the order of the day. Whether they are
bespoke contemporary made examples or classic
vintage guns of this most gentile pedigree, one
name reigns supreme, Boss.
From the beginning, Thomas Boss only produced
one quality of gun, the Best. This policy of
perfection has continued from the mid-19th
century through to the present day with Boss & Co.
being the "Builders of Best Guns Only."
Much of the credit for the assent of the Boss brand
goes to John Robertson, a gifted designer who in
This fabulous Pre-war Boss O/U 20ga gun shows very little
evidence of use and sold for $189,750 at Julia's October, 2011
auction (note the very rare selector button).
John Robertson with his supreme legacy, the Boss O/U
unveiled in 1909. (Photo courtesy Boss & Co, Donald Dallas).
1891 became a full partner in the firm. Robertson
soon took over the business and added to the
company's reputation by inventing the famous
and ultra-reliable Boss single trigger in 1894 and
the durable Boss ejector in 1898. Unquestionably,
Robertson's supreme legacy has to be the
perfection of the ubiquitous over-and-under
sporting shotgun in 1909. These revolutionary
hand crafted works of art were, and still are,
immensely valuable and sought after by the most
sophisticated collectors and sportsmen. Boss guns
have always been built to the highest standard and
have never claimed to be inexpensive.
In a gentrified dove field, the "Boss Man" is
recognized as possessing the finest tool available
and when used with equal skill, commands instant
respect. Small bore Boss & Co. guns are a great
rarity and coveted by well-heeled shootists.
The issue here is one of supply and demand as
the number of small bore Boss guns ordered
and produced over time is miniscule. When a
small bore Boss is rumored to be in play, suitors
scramble to allocate adequate resources and
position themselves for action without tipping their
hand or the location of the treasure. When a "fresh
to the market" example surfaces at public auction,
a firestorm of hand to hand competitive bidding
ensues. Senses are elevated as are the stakes.
In the past few years, the firm of James D. Julia
Auctions has elevated itself to become the world
leader in the sale of best quality British sporting
guns. Many superb examples of Boss guns,
including ultra-rare small bores, have figured
prominently in propelling Julia's to the top of the
charts. Most notably, a magnificent and minty
pre-war Boss O/U 20 gauge gun, a legacy from a
CT estate, was the focus of an intense bidding war
during the October 2011 auction. The result was,
at the time, a World Auction Record for the sale of
a single Boss gun at $189,750. And most recently
in March 2014, an extraordinary consecutive
SN brace of small frame 28 bore Boss guns (one
O/U and one SxS), the property of a prominent
industrialist's estate, generated a remarkable
$207,000 and $138,000 respectively, the O/U
setting a new world record.
And now, coming in Julia's monumental October
2014 sale, a second fabulous duo of Boss & Co.
guns, this time in .410! These .410 Boss shotguns
were ordered in the 1950s and are from the same
estate as the previously sold 28 gauge guns.
They remain in spectacular and pristine original
condition resting comfortably in their respective
leather Maker's luggage case. Of the 10,200+ guns
Boss & Co. has delivered, just seventeen have been
.410s: thirteen as side-by-sides and just four as
over/unders. Early indications suggest yet another
Boss world record could be in the offing.
By auction time the opening day of Dove season
will have passed, but there are always plenty of
Quail amongst the tall Georgia pines and good
dogs to point you in their direction. The new
owner(s) of these treasures will have perfection in
hand, but at a price...When asked if he had ever
considered owning a Boss gun, King George VI
replied, "A Boss gun, a Boss gun, bloody beautiful,
but too bloody expensive!"... Indeed.