Image Lot Description


NSN. Cal. .380 approx. Groove diameter. 7 deep rounded rifling grooves. This extraordinary rifle exhibits the very highest quality throughout as befits a royal presentation piece and is also an exceptional rarity being a repeating rifle built on the Lorenzoni/Berselli system with a rotating breech accessing separate ball and powder magazines contained in the butt and operated by a silver lever on the left side. The action itself is of fire-gilded bronze. The 25 inch swamped, octagonal, superb Damascus barrel is engraved “Sebastian Hauschka A Wolfenbuttel” (1695-1775). One of the greatest masters of 18th century German gunmaking, Hauschka was appointed maker to the Court of Prince and Duke August Wilhelm von Braunschweig-Wolfenbuttel. As a Court maker, Hauschka was required to make the most elaborate guns for presentation to foreign monarchs including The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI, King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia, a gun for Empress Maria Theresa of Austria ordered by the Prince of Salm, and the present rifle for King Louis XV of France. The flat lock of steel with separate priming magazine of fire-gilded brass has a rebated tail and deeply moulded bevels. The cock is en suite with the lock and displays Hauschka’s characteristic artistry in steel engraving. All furniture is of brilliantly fire-gilded brass. Trigger guard is fluted at bow and spurred at wrist with decorative filed finials. The buttplate which offers access to the magazines has a broad tang with hinged receptacle and a spring loaded cover retained by a button catch. The inside of the lid is engraved Hauschka Pinxit, Latin for “Hauschka Painted Here” refers to the replaced portrait of Louis XV contained within. All features and embellishments on King Louis XV’s rifle exemplify the highest order of the gunmaker’s art. The gold on the barrel is inlaid and engraved rather than damascened. The most important of these inlays is the personal insignia of the French King himself, consisting of mirror image L between an X and a V in an oval with crossed laurel leaves behind, surmounted by a Sovereign’s crown and all surmounted by a sun in splendor. Other gold inlays are of Louis XV as a helmeted warrior with elaborate border over an oval cartouche with the Bourbon lilies, the three fleur de lis. The gilded action is finely engraved with acanthus at the breech end. Another portrait of Louis XV in a tricorn hat flanked by two of his hunting dogs appears on the top of the action drum. The tang is engraved with a classical Romanesque laureled head. The rebated section of the lock-plate is chiseled in low relief with scrolls and engraved with a stag. A grotesque face is engraved behind the cock. The buttplate is cast and chased in high relief, nearly in the round, and a Sovereign’s crown adorns the door of the magazine. The stock is of the finest, highly figured, stump walnut with exceptional quality relief carving of acanthus scrolls, dragon heads, and grotesques. The molded and sculpted borders extend along the sides of the toe which is incised with the inventory number of the French Royal Cabinet d’Armes #464. The butt is adorned with masterfully engraved silver plaques featuring mythological beasts, Putti, and scrolling wire after designs in the pattern books of Jacquinet and DeLacollombe (1705) in the so-called Berain style similar to the Le Conte gun made for Louis XIV and inlaid in silver by Jean Berain at Windsor Castle. The right side is inlaid with Putti and a griffon and the left a Putti over a Sovereign’s crown. The fore-end is of stump walnut, pinned to the barrel, relief carved with a false ramrod held in by fire gilded brass thimbles. PROVENANCE: The Cabinet d’Armes of Louis XIII. This historical masterpiece was discovered in 2013. Then part of the estate of a recently deceased U.S. Military Officer, who discovered the gun in 1945 in a pile of abandoned weapons that were to be burned and destroyed. This specific gun, with its stock sticking out of the pile, caught his eye, and because of its great beauty, he removed it and eventually brought it home. Accompanying this lot will be a notarized affidavit from a member of the family discussing the discovery of the gun in 1945 and its chain of possession since that time, having been handed down directly through the same family. NOTES: The Cabinet d’Armes begun by King Louis XIII was the single most important collection of firearms ever assembled. The Cabinet d’Armes was set up in the Louvre Palace and first cataloged in 1673. A second inventory took place in 1717 and the third and final inventory began with the reign of Louis XVI and was completed in 1775. This final inventory included Louis XV’s Hauschka rifle, number 464. Whether one accepts the theory that the Cabinet was housed at the Bastille, the Louvre, or the Garde-Meuble Museum, the events of 1789 took their toll on the Royal Collection and superb pieces were dispersed all over France and eventually throughout the world. Although the gun had some imperfections when found, it was in remarkable condition, and in much finer condition than many of the other firearms discovered over the years which had been in the inventory of 1775. A Wheelock #94, formerly in the Hank Visser Collection, was badly damaged when it was found and was missing its entire barrel attachment. The magnificent Wheelock #29, formerly in the Joe Kindig Collection is missing its trigger guard and the grand Flintlock 34 by Pierre Le Bourgeiosa Lisieux regarded by the Metropolitan Museum curator, Randolph Bullock as “the most beautiful gun in the world”, was finally acquired on behalf of the museum after a 50 year long pursuit. During the auction of the Collection of William Goodwin Renwick Jr. on December 20th, 1972 by Frank Partridge for the sum of £125,000 or $312,500. A purchase price of $312,500 today would equate to nearly $2 million.

In June of 2009, letters from Louis XV was sold in Paris. Among them was a note from the King to his cousin, Duc de Penthiver, referring to an incident involving the King shooting his horse by accident, “The wild boar, which was very large, charged at me….. my rifle misfired when I saw him and I did not have time to turn him aside….(the bullet) wounded my horse in the buttock“. King Louis may have been carrying this very rifle on this infamous hunting trip! CONDITION: Now in museum quality condition. When it was originally acquired from the family of an American military officer (who had rescued it from a burn/destruction pile of weapons), the gun was in as found, closet condition. Some of the elaborate wire inlays in the stock were loose, there was also a crack in the stock near the rear of the action, and a few other rather insignificant imperfections, which included a couple of small missing pieces of silver and a replaced mother-of-pearl portrait hidden beneath the lid of the stock. The gun was properly and thoroughly cleaned and what little restoration work that needed to be done was done in the finest order by one of the foremost authorities on early firearms restorations (We also have numerous photographs of the gun before it was cleaned up thus a before and after presentation). This is an extraordinary work of art of significant historical consequence and in the finest of preserved condition. An absolute focal point of even the most sophisticated and advanced collection. The likelihood is that you will never, ever again in your life have an opportunity to acquire a historic and extraordinary Royal firearms such as this. 53211-1 (175,000-275,000) – Lot 1138

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Auction: Firearms - Spring 2018
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