Rare 16th-Century Carbine Achieves £27,280 at London Auction

Rare carbine discovered by antique expert Mark Littler at local talk sells for £27,280 at London specialist Thomas Del Mar’s auction

Mark Littler, an antiques and collectables consultant, based near Sandbach in Cheshire, discovered the rare 16th-century carbine earlier this year at a talk followed by a valuation at Tattenhall in Cheshire. He immediately realised its importance and arranged for it to be included in Thomas Del Mar’s June Auction where it was sold for £27,280 (including buyer’s premium) against an estimate of £8,000 – 10,000 to a private collector.

Mark says: “I am really pleased that the carbine did so well at Thomas Del Mar’s auction, almost three times its top estimate. I am glad I could advise the gentlemen who brought the gun to the valuation talk to sell it for the best possible price at this specialist auction. I immediately thought ‘this is a great gun’ and I knew it wasn’t very likely to make this much money in any of the local auction houses.”

Mark had spoken to the owner and explained that this gun was probably rather more valuable than the family had always assumed and the owner consigned the gun to Mark for further research. After a short while doing his own research Mark, who has an extensive knowledge of the auction market, called London-based specialist arms & armour auctioneer Thomas Del Mar who was able to explain just how significant it was and Mark recommended to his client that such a rare gun had to be sold with the leading expert in the field.

Thomas could confirm that Mark’s research was indeed correct and that he had found a fine 60 bore German wheel-lock carbine, which had been made in Suhl/Thuringia in the late 16th century. It is an outstanding piece due to its beautiful art work and will be included in Thomas Del Mar’s next auction of Arms & Armour on Wednesday, 28th June and is estimated to fetch £8,000-10,000. It has been in the Davies-Colley family of the Newbold Estate, Bruera near Chester, since around 1890.

How the family came to own the carbine is no longer known, but interestingly a pair of pistols with a similar treatment of the barrel and with the same mark as the present carbine and also with a double eagle on the lock, were formerly in the Saxon Royal Collections, Dresden and sold at Sotheby & Co, London on 23 March 1970. Another pistol decorated in this manner was sold by Thomas Del Mar at Sotheby’s Olympia in June 2003.

The leafy tendrils on the barrel and lock are characteristic of Suhl firearms of this period, a number of which have stocks carved en suite. Similar ones are preserved in the former Saxon Electoral Armoury, now the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden.

The 63.5 cm barrel shows five allegorical figures, probably depicting the liberal arts and also exotic birds, a hound and a rabbit. Other engravings found on the gun depict a dog formed as a marine monster, an owl and a rabbit, a devils mask, flowers and fruit. Struck with the maker’s mark (Neue Støckel 2767) over the breech, engraved tang signed ‘HW’ and stamped with the maker’s mark en suite with the barrel, it is fitted with a raised wheel-cover, which is decorated with the double eagle displayed of the Empire.

Mark Littler is an ‘Antiques and Collectables Consultant’ based near Sandbach, Cheshire. He set up his business in 2016 to value, advise on, and sell antiques on behalf of clients, helping them get the best deal possible either at auction or by private sale. He gives regular talks to local groups and always asks people to bring along interesting items. He studied art history graduating from Manchester University with an MA in Museum Studies in 2009 and has worked for various auction houses as a generalist valuer and auctioneer since.

Thomas Del Mar Ltd was founded in 2005 and has been holding sales bi-annually entitled “Thomas Del Mar Ltd in association with Sotheby’s” since then. Thomas was formerly Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Department of Arms, Armour and Militaria and assisted Sotheby’s with sales in London, New York, Denmark, Zurich, Billingshurst and Hanover.

The sale of works of art from the Royal House of Hanover included arms and armour which sold for £4,764,004 ($8,392,610) which continues to stand as a World Auction Record for an ancestral collection in this field. Thomas continues to work as a Consultant to Sotheby’s on valuations and sales of major collections.

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