PM’s gun on target for a top price

A rare 'Russian' Purdey which was presented to Harold Macmillan by Russian president Nikita Kruschev
A rare 'Russian' Purdey which was presented to Harold Macmillan by Russian president Nikita Kruschev

Gun enthusiasts from all over the world are expected to vie for the privilege of buying an enormously important and historically-significant 12-bore which will be the highlight of Pulborough-based firearms specialist Gavin Gardiner’s first auction of the year.

The item which is stirring up huge international interest is a rare Russian Purdey which was presented to Harold Macmillan by Russian president Nikita Kruschev during the British prime minister’s state visit to Russia in 1959 – one of the key points in the Cold War.

The 12-bore, which has never been fired and is in mint condition, with presentation inscription on a gold plaque, was made to Purdey specifications by the Tula State Armoury.

It is expected to sell for between £20,000 and £30,000 at Gavin’s auction of fine modern and vintage sporting guns and rifles on Wednesday, April 17, at Sotheby’s in London.

“The gun was presented to prime minister Harold Macmillan by Nikita Krushchev during the historic 1959 visit to Moscow at the height of the Cold War,” Gavin said.

“It is of superb quality and is exquisitely finished with a presentation gold plaque set in to the stock, and it remains unused in its original presentation case. It has remained in the Macmillan family ever since.

“During a period of extreme tension between the East and the West, the visit was remarkable as it was the first visit of a major Western leader to the USSR since the second world war.

“Harold Macmillan was committed to curbing the arms race and played a major role in negotiating the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, the first important treaty signed between the US, USSR and Britain since the end of the war.

“We are delighted to be offering this rare and historic piece in our forthcoming auction at Sotheby’s in London, and anticipate a great deal of interest from all around the world.”

Gavin is the only specialist firearms auctioneer to hold sales in the heart of London’s West End, where he has two auctions each year, as well as his prestigious Scottish sale at Gleneagles in August.

Also included in his April sale will be a good selection of fine English and European sporting guns by makers such as Purdey, Holland & Holland and Boss & Co.

An exceptional pair of recently-completed English over and under guns by London-maker Charles Lancaster carry an estimate of £35,000-£45,000, while a fine pair of Boss 12-bore assisted-opening sidelock ejector guns carry a similar estimate and a fine pair of 12-bore self-opening sidelock ejector guns by J Purdey & Sons are estimated at £18,000-£24,000.

The European guns include a scarce 12-bore single trigger sidelock ejector over and under gun by the renowned Italian master, Ivo Fabbri. Estimated at £25,000-£35,000, the gun is exceptionally well-finished and engraved, and also comprises two further pairs of barrels in its original case.

For further information contact 01798 875300 or 07831 645551 or visit