Make: John Rigby & Co.
Model: Exposed Hammer Underlever Class C Shotgun
Serial Number: 15009
Year of Manufacture: C. 1880 (http://www.doublegunshop.com/dgsnos4.htm)
Gauge: 12 Gauge, 2 5/8” Shells
Action Type: Side by Side, Exposed Hammer, Dual Trigger, Rotary Underlever Shotgun with Extractor
Markings: The top of the barrel rib’s markings are very shallow but read “J. Rigby & Co. Dublin & London Class C”, the underside of both barrels are marked “TB”. The underside flat of the barrel set is marked with a sequence of London proof marks that correspond with manufacture between 1875 and 1887, consistent with the serial number date, the flat is also marked “13N / 12B / NOT FOR BALL” on both sides of the lug, with the serial number (found again on the watertable of the receiver and forend bracket). The forend catch is marked “1297”. The watertable is marked with a crown over “V” and a smaller illegible mark, the firewall is marked with a “TB” monogram and “1022”. The lock plates are marked “Jno. Rigby & Co.”, the lower tang has the serial number. The hammers have ‘dolphin’-like engraving on top, there is absolutely beautiful floral, rosette and scroll engraving on the receiver and its components, found again on the forend bracket and release lever. Please see our pictures of this beautiful shotgun!
Barrel Length: 30”
Choke: The right bore is fix choked about Improved Cylinder (0.717”), the left measures the same.
Sights / Optics: This shotgun is mounted with a small bead, screwed into the low profile concave solid rib, which tapers from 0.400” at the chambers to 0.313” at the muzzles.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The splinter forend has a beautifully engraved lever, which allows removal of the stock; the forend has a small chip losses around the upper areas, with two small repairs at the rear. The checkering looks to have been re-cut, the stock was lightly re-varnished. The wood underneath the lever has some inconsistent depth and extended checker lines, please see our pictures. The butt stock has a strait, checkered wrist and absolutely beautiful grain and also looks to have been professionally refinished as the condition of the butt exceeds that of the forend and metal surfaces; the job was done well and there are only faint hints at the job, suggesting whoever did it knew how and then some. The fit to metal is proper in most places, with a slight gap in fit to the tangs, which could also be attributed to age; there are a few small chip losses at the lower tang. The stock has a few small dings and tiny splinter losses by the lock plates; all said, these stocks have survived quite well for their age and intended use. Drop at comb is 1 1/8”, drop at heel is 1 ½”, the stock is cast-on for left handed shooters, it looks like a small amount of material was removed from the stock on the left of the comb, but again, this goes unnoticed until close inspection. The LOP measures 13 3/8” from the front of the rear trigger and 14 1/8” from the front of the forward trigger to the back of the metal butt plate; the plate has light to moderate depth dings and mild erosion, the fit to wood is crisp, there are some dried spots of persistent varnish. The stocks rate in about Very Good overall condition as professionally restored.
Type of Finish: The barrel set is browned Damascus, no finish remains on the other items, though we believe the hammers and lock plates were originally case colored, the receiver was probably blued.
Finish Originality: The surfaces have been cleaned.
Bore Condition: The bores are gray. There is very light erosion towards the muzzles, gaining in depth and occurrence towards the mid and aft portions of both barrels. There are a few tiny bumps from marks on the outside of the barrel set. We do not recommend firing this shotgun given its Damascus barrel construction.
Overall Condition: This shotgun retains about 20% of its metal finish seen as the original browned finish in protected areas on the barrel set. The lock plates have a few areas that look like silvered case coloring, the engraver’s base line etchings are still visible next to the Rigby lettering. The barrel set has definitely had its surfaces cleaned at some point, evident by the shallow rib lettering, however the Damascus patterns are still highly discernible. The set has a few areas of pitting and some marks that translated as bumps on the inside of the bores. The receiver has gained patina with some cleaning marks that look to have progressed over different sessions, please see our pictures. The hammers have crisp engraved ‘dolphin’ detailing with some evident grind marks towards the bottom portion. The hammer and underlever checkers are still highly formed. The screw heads are mildly tooled with a few areas of moderate screwdriver use, all are serviceable. The markings are faded on the rib, the engraving is highly discernible, the markings on the protected areas are crisp. Overall, this shotgun rates in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. This shotgun has a rotary underlever that opens the barrel set, exposing the extractor. The firing pin return springs are broken and do not reset the pins to their rear position. The hammers have strong springs and the triggers are smooth. There is mild play in the barrel to receiver fit. We have not fired this shotgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None
Our Assessment: From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rigby_%26_Company “John Rigby & Company (or John Rigby & Co. (Gunmakers) Ltd) is the oldest gunmaking firm in continuous operation in the English-speaking world. Rigby has a distinguished history of technological advancement for both sporting and military application. Rigby rifles, guns and pistols have played prominent roles throughout the British Empire and particularly in Asia and Africa. The company was established by the first John Rigby in Dublin, Ireland, apparently in 1775; his grandson, also John, opened a London branch in 1865; and Dublin operations had ceased by February 1897. The Company is now based in Vauxhall, central London, under the supervision of Managing Director, Marc Newton”…” The third John Rigby, born in 1829 in Dublin and educated in science at Trinity College, took over in 1858 when William, his father, died. It was this John Rigby who brought the firm to international prominence. In 1865, capitalising on the awards his family’s guns had earned at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 and at the Paris Exhibition of 1855, in 1865 John Rigby opened a store at 72 St James’s Street in London’s West End. Sometime in the 1890s, Rigby sold his Dublin operations to Trulock & Harriss (keeping, however, his customers in Ireland) and became a bona fide member of the small circle of elite gunmakers who catered for London society. Like his grandfather, the third John Rigby was a top target shot. He won several Wimbledon Cups (the premier long-range rifle championship in the United Kingdom) and, for 28 years, he helped form the Irish national shooting team. Rigby also won the Abercorn Cup and the first Gordon Bennett Cup, and was Irish Champion three times. Between circa 1860 and 1875, the Rigby .451-calibre muzzleloader was the match rifle of choice throughout the United Kingdom. In October 1874, one such rifle was presented to Lt. Col. George A. Custer: the Irish team had dined with him, and President and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, in Chicago. The Irish were on an American tour following the first International Rile Match at the Creedmoor Range in New York. There, John Rigby had posted the highest individual scores among all competitors.” This shotgun comes to us from an historic company with epic craftsmanship! This is a beautiful rotary underlever side by side shotgun in 12 gauge, with breathtaking engraving and a one of a kind butt stock! This shotgun probably belonged to an individual of importance, given the expense a hand-made item like this would have cost. It is now available to own and should make for a wonderful addition to any collection. Please see our pictures and good luck.