In the early hours of the 15th April 1912 the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg. Sailing from Southampton to New York on her maiden voyage she carried 2,224 passengers. More than 1,500 did not survive.
Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his wife Lucile were 1st Class passengers and famously escaped in Lifeboat #1, the Captain’s personal lifeboat. This was capable of holding 40 people, however it was launched with just 12 people on board.
After the sinking, Duff-Gordon was the only civilian that was called to the inquest of the sinking. He was accused of bribing his way onto the lifeboat and then paying the crew not to return for survivors. He was eventually acquitted but his name had been dragged through the mud and would not recover.
The report stated:
“The very gross charge against Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon that, having got into No. 1 boat he bribed the men in it to row away from the drowning people, is unfounded”
Letters have recently emerged backing up innocence.
“Presently there was a little boat at the end, what they called the emergency boat, the officers standing there told some stokers to man the boat and no other women were there, so Sir Cosmo asked if we could get in, and we said we would if he could come.
“The dear officers let us, and we dropped into this boat, then they let it down to the water.”
The group were later picked up by the Carpathia. Her words back up Sir Cosmo’s testimony to the inquiry into the sinking.
The letter also talks of the terror and confusion:
“We rowed away from the ship, which was sinking fast, so to get away from swell or sucksion.
“I . . . saw all the lights go out, and the very last of her, then the terrible explosion of rumbling, followed by the cries and screams of the hundreds in the water.”
Sir Cosmo was the most famous survivor of the Titanic and even appears in James Cameron’s epic film Titanic with Leonardo diCaprio and Kate Winslet.
During the Second Boer War 1899-1902 Captain Walker was part of Searchlight Section of the Royal Engineers. This role included the operation of searchlight equipment on all twenty of the British Army’s armoured trains under Lord Kitchener.
Walker introduced the motorized engine to the British Army during the Boer War. He gives an account of him buying the car in Cape Town and using it for his daily operations “Several months ago I noticed a locomobile car at Cape Town, and being struck with its simplicity and neatness, bought it and took it up country with me….. It also performed some very useful work in visiting out-stations, where searchlights were either installed or wanted……undoubdtedly the best piece of work done by the car so far was its trial trip with trailer, when it blew up the mines at Klein Nek” (The Romance of Modern Invention by Archiblad Williams).
This account was also used in a Daily Telegraph article in 2001 by David Burgess-Wise
” WE think of the car-phone as a modern phenomenon, but it first made its appearance at the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. It was in 1901, during the South African campaign, that the enterprising Captain RS Walker of the Royal Engineers went to war against the Boers with a Locomobile steam car which he had bought in Cape Town.
Its most daring feat was blowing up the Klein Nek minefield with a dynamo driven off the back tyre. Its usefulness as a communications vehicle was limited: in those pre-radio days the maximum range of the telephone was precisely one mile – the length of the wire linking the car to its base station.”
1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War:
The Queen’s South Africa (QSA) Medal Clasps: Belfast, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Laing’s Nek
The King’s South Africa (QSA) Medal Clasps: South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902
—A copy of Captain R.S. Walker giving evidence of the accidental wounding of a Corporal W. Hayward of Search Light Section 22ndFeb 1902—
By 1904 he was Major and he had qualified as Interpreter in Modern Foreign Language – French 1stClass and by 1909 German 2ndClass. In 1910, he was stationed in Gibraltar.
World War I:
March 1917 became Commander Royal Engineers for
Mentioned in despatches in 1915 and again in 1916 by General Haig. He was temporary Lt. Colonel in 03/06/1916 and awarded D.S.O for Distinguished Service in the Field. In 1917 he was mentioned in despatches again “Mentioned in Despatches by General Sir Douglas Haig, G.C.B., Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in France, to the Secretary of State for War, for distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty.” Again, in September 1917 mentioned in despatches and acting Battalion Lt. Colonel.
Killed 30thSeptember 1918 age 46 part of VI Corps probably killed after the Second Battle of Bapaume (31stAugust-3rdSeptember 1918) during subsequent Allied attacks. Possibly killed at Battle of Canal du Nord 27thSept-1stOct 1918, a battle that saw twelve Victoria Cross’ awarded.
An exceptional pair of 12-bore sidelock’s, by William Powell, serial no’s:14672/14673, the W. Baker 1913 patent action engraved with border engraving and virtually full renewed colour-hardening, with gorgeous slender fences, the top levers engraved ‘1’ and ‘2’ in gold, with classic double trigger’s and well-figured walnut stocks.
The ‘Twelve Twenty’ action is a design for a 20-bore action with 12-bore barrels. It is a rare design and beautifully crafted.
Records show that this pair was made for a Thomas Leslie Bookless on 29th October 1948. Born in Newcastle in 1909 to parents Walter and Minnie. Married Jeanne Moffat in 1935.
He was a Moto GP driver in the 1930’s and competed in 1930 Junior race in MGP he finished 6th with a time of 4.04.46 with average speed of 56.14mph. Then raced in the senior event later that same year, riding a 348 Velocette. He also raced in the Senior MGP in 1932 on a Norton bike.
Racing image also included: Velocette. Entry No.28. T.L. Bookless. Ramsay Parliament Square, Isle of Man Junior Manx Grand Prix 1930.
Snipet of the race” There was a few minor crashes which, was hardly surprising under the conditions, but none were serious. Velocettes had occupied the first six places since the first lap, and their delightful roadholding and steering were proving invaluable under the treacherous conditions, and there was no repetition of the remarkable state of affairs at the S-bend before Greeba bridge three years ago when on several occasions there was seven and eight riders off at a time, and trying to collect themselves and get away before another slithering machine came to take their own motor out of their very hands ! The fourth lap, however, brought bad news, for Muir’s machine gave up and, his wonderful ride was at an end, after establishing a 4-minute lead over Harding. The vacancy on the leader board was thus taken up by another Velocette in the hands of T. L. Bookless, giving the first six on the fourth lap as….”
PLEASE NOTE THE TROPHY IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE SALE
Rare composed pair of non-firingJ&W Tolley 1879 Patent Sidelocks, 1883/1884 (Location: Nicholas Brawer Gallery, New York)
Rare composed pair of non-firingJ&W Tolley 1879 Patent Sidelocks, 1883/1884 (Location: Nicholas Brawer Gallery, New York)
A superb rare pair of 16-bore sidelocks, by J&W Tolley, the 1879 patent actions masterfully engraved with beautiful border, acanthus and foliate-scroll, together with the rear of the dipped edge lock plates engraved superbly with a charming set of game scenes of partridge and grouse in natural setting, with ornate carved fences, the trigger-guards engraved with running hare, the barrels finished in original steel, classic double-trigger, the Homer patent 1877 forends with push-forward release, with well-figured semi-pistolgrip stocks.
J&W Tolley was first recorded in Birmingham in 1859 however they opened London premises over the years and this pair we built in their shop on Conduit St as mentioned on the rib. This dates the gun to 1883/1884 as this was the period of trading at this premises. The original records were lost due to bombing during WWII.
A fine pair of 12-bore sidelocks, by Joseph Lang & Son, serial no:15174/5, the beautiful sidelock actions engraved with best foliate and bouquet engraving, the carved ornate fences also engraved with bouquet engraving, the top levers and ribs numbered ‘1’ and ‘2’ in gold, with barrels polished in their original steel finish, with single-triggers and well-figured walnut stocks.
The makers have confirmed that this pair were made 15th August 1912 for a Mr J.P. Anderson.
Joseph Lang set up on his own in 1921 having worked for a number of years for Alexander Wilson. It appears he may well have had some help along the way having married one of James Purdey’s daughters! He was then credited with the introduction of breech loading sporting arms due to the improvements he made on an existing French design.
The business changed names many times over the years and was even in agreement with Abercrombie & Fitch of New York to act as an agent. In such high regard the business was held, records shows that in 1933 they had well over 6,000 customers including eight Dukes and two hundred and fifty four Lords.
A superb 12-bore sidelock, by William Richards, the action with best deluxe foliate-scroll engraving with ‘Wm. Richards’ engraved in an acanthus scroll, the highly ornate fences finely carved with leaf decoration, the top lever, top tang, underside and trigger guard also highly decorated with engraving, a classic double trigger and well figured walnut stock.
William Richards had several addresses over the years and this serial number equates to 1895. This period of 1870-1909 the business was located at 27 Old Hall Street, Liverpool.
A 12-bore sidelock, by Thomas Wild, the action with a handsome game scene, on one side a Pointer dog and on the other pheasant, both in natural setting, together with diamond lozenges of foliate-scroll engraving, the top lever and fences also ornately engraved, the barrels in original steel finish, with classic double-trigger and well figured walnut stock.
Thomas Wild is just one of the names that this business has carried over the years. The earliest was Benjamin Watson 1723-1777. Thomas Wild was the son-in-law of Benjamin Watson’s grandson.
A 12-bore sidelock, by Dudley Williamson, the action with two charming game scenes, on both sides it depicts a Pointer dog flushing game birds, surrounded by fine acanthus leaf engraving and foliate-scroll, the fences with side clips and top tang also engraved with foliate-scroll, the trigger-guard beautifully engraved with a pair of hunting dogs, a classic double-trigger and well figured walnut stock.
Dudley Williamson is recorded to have been trading from 1820, which was based on Waterloo Road, London. The business is only recorded on Waterloo Road from 1906-1920. There is interesting reference to Dudley Williamson being a witness at the Old Bailey during a murder trail in 1909 by shooting. The defendant having purchased cartridges from Dudley Williamson.
The proof marks tell us that it was first proved in Birmingham post 1904 then reproofed in London.
A fine 12-bore sidelock, by Henry Atkin, described as ‘Best Quality’ in the makers records, the action with fine foliate-scroll engraving that expands throughout the action, further subtle engraving to the carved fences, top tang and top lever, the underside and trigger-guard also engraved, a classic double trigger and figured walnut stock.
The records show that the gun was made in 1903 and is recorded as being 12-Bore “Best quality, top lever, bar action sidelock ejector”.
Henry Atkin is thought to have been the first employee of Purdey in 1814. However it was Henry Atkin’s son also named Henry that opened this business in 1877 having apprenticed also under Purdey. The firm gained recognition and fame through these guns being used by the Hurlingham Club and Gun Club and this resulted in the business prospering.
A 12-bore sidelock, by John Frederick White, the action engraved throughout with bold foliate-scroll, with fences and top tang engraved ensuite to action, with lever cocking-indicator, push-forward underlever and classic double-trigger, with well-figured walnut stock.
John Frederick White was a regional gunmaker operating from Market Hill, Woodbridge, Suffolk in the late 19th century. He is recorded from 1883-86.
A 12-bore sidelock, by James Lang, the bright plain action with some foliate-scroll engraving set in beautiful lozenges, together with some border engraving, the fences and underside carved ensuite to the action, with classic double trigger and well figured walnut stock.
The records for this gun clearly show the gun was completed on 17th July 1888. The makers original description of the gun states “Rogue Top Dolls” then signed by Osborne. Presumably an employee of James Lang at the time.
An early impressive 12-bore sidelock, by Frederick Beesley, the beautiful action with foliate-scroll engraving and ‘F. Beesley From Purdeys Patent’ in scroll banner, the carved ornate arcaded fences beautifully engraved ensuite to the action, with classic double-trigger and well-figure walnut stock.
Frederick Beesley (1846-1928) was a superb gunsmith and inventor. He is often described as ‘Inventor to the London Gun Trade’ due to his designs and patent that he sold to James Purdey in 1880, whom he used to work for. This design was undoubtedly his most famous. However he continued to design and sell patent’s to other makers throughout his career.