This isn't a diamond in the rough...but more like what was once a diamond that got "roughed up"! Have you ever been intrigued at the sight of a fancy exotic sports car that's been wrecked with blown a piston through the hood because it was suddenly...almost affordable? ( I think I could fix that!) How about a relic Henry rifle priced for a fraction of what a good one normally brings? If yes, then this shotgun might be for you. There is a small group of collectors out there who still appreciate a piece of art even when that piece of art has lost all or most of its function...and to an even smaller group of us, the damage or decay incurred to a piece of art becomes art in and of itself.
If you had lived in the 1850's and wanted to buy one of the best double barrel shotguns in the world, then few could have rivaled this percussion shotgun made by Sameul and Charles Smith of London. They were the leading makers of shotguns in the 1850's and not even a revered Purdey double barrel of the same vintage could match their quality. When this gun was new, it must have been stunning with browned damascus barrels, oil finished deluxe burl English walnut, ornate furniture, and case colored locks with intricate engraving. They were simply the best at their craft! Furthermore, this was almost certainly one of a cased pair as the top of the barrel and action are engraved with the number "2". This is a wonderful example of their work and something that is rarely encountered in the United States. Unfortunately, someone fired this gun with an overloaded charge and ruptured the right barrel. Fortunately, the shooter probably survived with nothing more than minor burns and a face full of soot with a good measure of shame in knowing they ruined such a fine gun. Its now just a piece of art more than a functional shotgun but it still echoes its glory. The metal is now grey and the wood has lost its luster but it still proudly displays its burl, its perfect checkering, and some of the most fantastic engraving you will ever see. The engraving alone would cost thousands to duplicate by a master in today's world. The action still lets you know this is no ordinary shotgun when you cock the hammers...I can't describe it but when you feel the hammer click at half and full cock, you just know this was gun's action was made by hand....its got attitude...and you'll kind of feel unworthy. The burl walnut is solid with no chips, cracks and a couple of minor fissures in the burl....if french-polished, it would look fantastic but I have left it completely untouched. This would have been fanastic example of a high-quality English percussion shotgun but its still a great piece of art.