SPECTACULAR PRESIDENTIAL LEFEVER “OPTIMUS” QUALITY SHOTGUN, PRESENTED TO BENJAMIN HARRISON FOR HIS “PROTECTION TO AMERICAN INDUSTRY”; PROBABLY THE FINEST AND MOST IMPORTANT NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICAN SHOTGUN.
SN 10784. Cal. 12 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. This wonderful high grade American shotgun was presented to Pres. Benjamin Harrison, for “Protection to American Industry” as emblazoned on gold inlaid eagle on trigger guard. Similar Lefever guns are known to have been presented to iconic figures, such as Andrew Carnegie. A testimonial used for many years in Lefever’s advertising from Harrison dated December 14, 1894 reads: “My dear sirs, I have your kind letter of the 11th. The gun made for me by the Lefever Arms Co several years ago is still in perfect condition. I have shot it a good deal and with most satisfactory results. I am obliged to you for the offer to do anything that might be necessary to put it in repair, but it does not require any, so far as I can see.” This gun has 30″ chopper lump bbls fitted with hand matted concave rib with Lefever’s usual square shouldered dolls head extension. Tops of bbls are engraved “WHITWORTH FLUID STEEL” and “LEFEVER ARMS CO MAKERS SYRACUSE N.Y.” The only marks on bottoms of bbls are the SN. This early Lefever hammerless gun has all of Lefever’s compensating features designed to take up wear on any point of contact, including tapered screw set into front bbl lump; tightening of which would spread sides of lump to compensate for any side wear (not used for very long). Bbls are also fitted with Lefever’s compensating loop. Early self-compensating self-cocking action using cocking levers with roller ends (instead of later cocking hooks), and early type pivoting top lever with compensating screw behind dolls head mortise, has usual Lefever features of ball and socket hinge, automatic safety which can be rendered non-automatic with screw on top strap, trigger pull regulating screws on sides of lockplates (found on high grade guns), and pin type cocking indicators. Other early features include compensating screws through bottom of action to regulate mainsprings, and lockplates with attached sears. Gold-plated triggers have checkered finger blades. Water table is marked only with SN. No grade markings appear as is usual with “presentation” guns to cloak value. Action is beautifully filed with beads around fences which transition into ogee bosses on bbls, and then to fine beads and fillets around bottom of action. Lockplate tails are rebated. Top lever has filed-in V-shaped molding. Fences are relief carved with shamrocks and acorns. These acorns may symbolize the growth of American industry, and are found on a few other high grade Lefevers. Action is engraved with about 50% coverage of very well cut scroll within geometric borders. A fine scene of a woodcock is on bottom of action, and Lefever patent dates are engraved on coiled ribbon on trigger plate. Lockplates are engraved with exceptionally fine, varying sized, open, shaded scroll within knotwork borders. Floral accents are at front portions. This fine scroll surrounds oval vignettes of exceptionally well detailed dogs in hunting poses; pointing setter and pointer honoring point on left plate, and pointing pointer with setter honoring, on right. “LEFEVER ARMS CO” is in diagonal band across the front of each lockplate. Blued trigger guard has scroll matching action surrounding oval scene of flush gold inlaid quartering American eagle, wings outstretched, holding a banner in its beak engraved “PROTECTION TO” “AMERICAN” “INDUSTRY”. Eagle has background of engraved conifers. This exquisite engraving is signed “Spangler S C” under left dog scene (A. E. Spangler, noted American engraver of high grade shotguns). SN is on trigger guard tang which extends to nicely finished horn grip cap with grooved edges. Very fine, honey colored, well streaked, and slightly flame figured Circassian walnut capped pistol grip buttstock measures 13-7/8″ over orig leather faced Silver pad with short spur. Deeply carved beads around lockplates terminate in arrowhead drop points. Checkering pattern is exceptional with typical point pattern toward action, but with more closely spaced fancy crenelated sections extending toward comb and with flourishes into butt which are separated from grip checkering by ribbons. Bottom section of grip checkering is even more closely spaced, perhaps 40 LPI, and is separated from front portion with arcaded ribbons having diamond points. A vacant gold shield is on toe line. Removal of grip cap reveals stockers signature, “D. GIDDINGS”. Splinter forend has fancy inlet horn tip with varying sized checkering matching style of butt, and Lefever’s push-button release. Button is relief gold inlaid “BH”. Bore diameter: left – .752, right -.752. Bore restrictions: left -.034 (full), right -.033 (full). Wall thickness: left -.029, right -.026. Drop at heel: 3-3/16″, drop at comb: 1-5/8″. Weight: 8 lbs. 0 oz. LOP: 13-7/8″. PROVENANCE: This gun is illustrated in STEEL CANVAS by R. L. Wilson, on p. 238, wherein the author states “In every respect the Benjamin Harrison Lefever is one of the finest expressions of the gunmaker’s art in America.” Paul Tudor Jones II Collection. CONDITION: Exceptionally fine, original, as found. Bbls retain 90 – 95% orig blue, with some light marks overall, thinning on sides, with some light cleaned pitting on tops of rear portions. Action retains 80 – 85% orig case hardening color, silvering on high points, especially relief engraving on fences, as well as top lever, and thinning around bottom section from normal hand wear. Lockplates retain over 90% of their muted color. Trigger guard retains most of its orig bright blue, flaking and silvering at grip. There is some lifting of gold on triggers. Forend release escutcheon is mostly silver. Stocks retain over 90% their orig french polish finish with numerous nicks, dings, and scrapes associated with several years of normal field use. Checkering is lightly worn, especially that of forend, which has a few dings. Orig pad is deteriorating and crystallized with chipping and cracking at toe and heel. Bores are excellent, with a few very light scattered pits, mostly in right bbl. Gun has not been cleaned for quite some time. Action is tight. Bbls are on face. An iconic Lefever worthy of the most advanced collection. 49941-9 MGM176 (75,000-125,000) – Lot 2429Click here to view rotating image
Please Note: All prices include the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium, which is paid by the buyer as part of the purchase price. The prices noted here after the auction are considered unofficial and do not become official until after the 46th day.