Holts Auctioneers: 25th Anniversary of Corporate Membership of the GWCT


While the country sweltered in the heat of an extraordinarily hot summer, Holts auctioneers turned up the heat on the British gun trade!

Holts, Europe's leading auction house for fine modern and antique guns specialise in selling not just individual guns but also in the promotion and marketing of gun collections worldwide. “We achieve maximum hammer prices for modern and antique guns, rifles, Section 5 firearms, edged weapons and militaria, along with good quality sporting items and memorabilia”.

Holts have been keen supporters of the GWCT for many years and have been Corporate Members since 1993. Based on the Sandringham Estate with their sale room in London, Holts hold four sales a year (March, June, September & December) and sell in excess of ten thousand lots annually. Holts hold regular Valuation Days throughout the UK and Europe and have offices in every region.


Holts held their 15th annual charity clay shoot during the August heatwave. The event took place in sweltering heat on the stunning Royal Sandringham Estate by gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen. The event was to raise funds forThe Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) as well as the local Church of St. Peter, Wolferton appeal.

A total of 33 teams shot five simulated drives representing grouse, walked up partridge, driven pheasant, decoying pigeon and teal. Winning team was “Landmark Dusters” with a team from Boss & Co. Gunmakers coming second. There was a strong showing of teams representing the British gun trade supporting the event.

Alongside a highly competitive sporting event there was an auction of items donated by Holts friends and corporate associates. A provisional total of £34,000 was raised from the clay shoot, auction and donations.

A full 3 course lunch was provided by “The Shotgun Chef” William Alldis who found time to enter a team as well as cater for 192 people. Entertainment was provided by talented local opera singer Jack Ollett who received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his performance.

IMG_0402  Credit Jo Langer

More seriously, Teresa Dent CBE, The GWCT Chief Executive gave a presentation on the immediate and long term work of the trust to broaden the development of ethical game conservation. Nicholas Holt said: “What a wonderful day, I would like to extend a huge thank you to all those who took part and to the very generous sponsors.”

At the end of a flaming June, Holts second auction of the year at the new saleroom at Holly Hedge House, Blackheath showed another strong result with a percentage of 70% of the 719 Lots offered sold on the day and with a hammer price totalling over £800,000. 

The breakdown of the buying market did throw up some changes, with the UK still supplying approx. 51%, of the total value sold but Continental Europe being less present than at previous auctions, accounting for just 23% of the sale by value (compared to nearly 45% in the March auction). By comparison, the ‘rest of the world’ doubled their input to supply the final 21% of the total, with the United States accounting over 80% of this.

The highest individual result was taken by a fine pair of J. Purdey & Sons lightweight self-opening sidelock ejectors, Lot 1302, achieving a hammer price of £30,000 against their estimate of £20,000 – 25,000. The biggest surprise of the day has to fall to Lot 1502, a very rare John Dickson 16-bore ‘Skeleton’ round action non-ejector, one of just three known to exist. Modestly priced at £3000 – 5000 due to some issues with condition, the hammer finally fell at £20,000. Best English guns and rifles were, as ever, the high flyers in the modern section of auction, the familiar names of Boss, Holland & Holland and Purdey leading the field in prices realised. 


The market for antique weapons continues to go from strength to strength. In a trend that has been ever increasing, the interest in the vintage post 1840 percussion and obsolete calibre guns is very strong. Again it was to fall to a Purdey to take the high spot in this section with Lot 640, a very rare .360 (No.5) double rook rifle coming in mid estimate at £12,000. Lot 525, a remarkably well preserved Joseph Harkom double barrelled percussion sporting gun in its case with an almost full complement of all its original accessories flew over the estimate of £4000-6000 to be hammered down at an impressive £8,500.

Packing a commercial punch quite out of proportion to its physical size, a very fine example of a Liliput vest pistol, Lot 675, (complete with box and the 1927 dated firearms permit issued to its first owner, a Swedish lady schoolteacher) certainly caught the imagination of the room and the estimate of £800-1200 swiftly rose to more of a Brobdingnagian result of £2000 on the hammer.

Holts next auction will be on Thursday 20th September at Holly Hedge House, Blackheath, with viewing on Tuesday 18th & Wednesday 19th. The Tuesday viewing will include drinks and canapés form 6pm, where Holts will be joined by Jo Langer and Eleanor Usbourne form the GWCT London Office.

Booking is essential, if you would like to come along, please email: enquiries@holtsauctioneers.com

GWCT Corporate Membership

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