September 5-7, 2023 Firearms & Militaria
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 9/5/2023
In terms of American exhibition shooting, particularly at the turn of the century, there is no figure more famous than Annie Oakley. Born Phoebe Anne Moses in 1860, her remarkable shooting skills helped provide for her family after her father passed away from pneumonia, as she would trap and shoot game with her father's Kentucky rifle, selling it to a local grocer. By chance, that grocer happened to also sell to a local hotel, where a traveling trick shooter named Frank Butler was coming to put on a show. Butler challenged the local hotel owner, to whom Annie's grocer was selling products, that he could outshoot any local, with a $100 wager to boot. The owner took him up on that offer and arranged for him to shoot against Annie, who agreed to shoot against a very surprised Butler, and beat him by a single target. Butler began to court Annie, and the two were shortly married. Annie traveled with her husband, who continued to make his way around America, holding exhibitions, until May Day 1882, when Frank's normal partner was ill. Annie filled in for him, and the rest, as they say, is history. Annie's skill and charisma won her instant favor amongst the crowds, and she adopted the stage name Annie Oakley, sewing her own costumes. In 1884, Annie met Sitting Bull, and the two immediately grew close as part of a mutual respect for each other, with the relationship so personal that Sitting Bull adopted Annie as a surrogate daughter. In 1885, she joined the legendary Wild Bill's Wild West Show. Annie's shooting accomplishments and her time with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show are well documented, but one niche legend is incredibly interesting and relevant to this lot. In 1887, during a trip to England, Annie was shooting at the Gun Club and struggling to hit the legendarily fast blue rock pigeons with her Parker. Charles Lancaster happened to be in attendance and noticed that heavy and sharply dropped shotgun was a poor fit for the petite Annie; he refitted her and gave her instruction in the finer arts of wingshooting, and her score improved remarkably; approximately 10 of 50 to 41 of 50. Lancaster subsequently presented her with 4 shotguns, 2 20 bores and 2 12 bores, and this gun appears to be one of the 12 bores. According to an authentication certificate from Charles Lancaster, the gun was built in 1888 for Annie Oakley as a 12 bore double-barreled hammerless with 28" barrels. The dates are a little muddled at this point, as an 1887 letter does recall Annie shooting Lancaster shotguns, but it seems discordant to have been presented with 4 matching perfectly fitted guns in 1887 only to order another less than a year later. According to Charles Lancaster, the gun was subsequently cut in 1889 to 24" "in Paris"; the only explanation that this cataloger can come up with for the special notation is the Universal Expo in Paris, where Annie was shooting. It is well known that Annie preferred Schultze powder, but the length of the Europe trip depleted her reserves, forcing her to use local French powder. During one of her exhibitions, the French powder burst her gun barrel, which would have necessitated the resizing of the barrels. The gun is also recorded as converted to an ejector in 1889, and underwent renovation in both 1895 and 1896 with barrels, stock, action (twice!), barlock, and forearm replaced; the 1896 renovations are most likely a retuning of the gun, as the newly fitted parts likely did not interface well with the ejectors. In 1937, the gun was sold by Charles Lancaster to a W.E. Lockwood Jr., Exton, Pennsylvania; if the gun had been built for Annie and returned to Charles Lancaster after her passing in 1926, it stands to reason that Charles Lancaster would have sold the gun again, this time with the Oakley association. The gun reflects those renovations, and is fit with 28" barrels with a faint Charles Lancaster address in rib, matching serial number on bottom, appropriate proofs for a chokes 12 gauge, and "CL" for Charles Lancaster. Splinter tip forearm with point pattern checkering is friction fit. Charles Lancaster boxlock action with floral scroll engraving, marked with serial number on water table and on tang; double triggers, and automatic safety. Stock of a fairly plain wave grave has a Prince of Wales pistol grip with point-and-wave checkering about the wrist and is constructed with sidepanels, checkered butt, and a German silver vanity place with a rocker engraved "JCR"; the engraving is not factory and appears much later than the gun, inexpertly cut. Annie was known to have not cared much about the engraving and artistic quality of her exhibition guns, and it appears that this is a gun she used hard, probably as one of her primary pieces, and had refit several times, which makes sense if she found a gun she liked and found reliable. CONDITION: Metal exhibits handling marks throughout and heavily softened legends from rebluing. Lump resoldered on underside of barrel. Forearm with softened checkering throughout, but is notably soft where one would have held the gun, and the checkering towards the tip has much better definition; there is a live crack at the base between the iron and iron screw. The boxlock is essentially dove grey with softening and what could be imagined as case color patterns in the most protected areas. Stock is very good with handling marks throughout and some deeper impressions, one crack on left side panel. Mechanically fine, ejectors work well, bores are excellent with cleaned even orange peel towards breeches. This is an incredibly important piece of Annie Oakley paraphernalia and represents an extremely important era of her career; do not miss this.

Barrel Length
Drop at Comb
1 - 9/16"
Drop at Heel
2 - 3/4"
FFL Status
12 Gauge
Length of Pull
13 - 7/8"
Charles Lancaster
Charles Lancaster Letter
6 lbs
Serial Number
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $100,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $252,000.00
Estimate: $200,000 - $400,000
Number Bids: 13
Auction closed on Thursday, September 7, 2023.
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