A rare 164-year-old rifle uncovered in Oxfordshire has sold for thousands of pounds at auction.

The musket, invented by Sir Joseph Whitworth, a mechanic who rose to become a renowned inventor in the 1800s, was one of several antique guns to excel in Hanson Holloway’s Ross April sale in Banbury.

The percussion volunteer musket, dated 1858, engraved ‘Joseph Whitworth Patent’ and considered one of the earliest examples of a sniper rifle, sold for £3,600. 

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Oxford Mail: Picture: HansonsPicture: Hansons

Other top lots included lot 215, a Colt 1851 model Naval percussion six-shot revolver No 175, £4,700; lot 216, a Colt 1851 model Naval percussions six-shot revolver No 36800, £4,700; lot 217, an Adams percussion five-shot revolver No 8525R, £1,700, and lot 342, a Tranter patent model percussion five-shot revolver No 3378, £1,600.

Jasper Marsh, valuer at Hanson Holloway’s Ross, said: “These five antique guns collectively achieved hammer prices of £16,300. The collectors’ market is strong for these investment pieces which demonstrate early mechanical engineering.

Oxford Mail: Picture: HansonsPicture: Hansons

“Whitworth rifles have particular historical significance. They were invented in 1854 and became known as ‘sharpshooters’ due to their accuracy. They were used by Confederates in the American Civil War and claimed the lives of Union generals including John Sedgwick, one of the highest-ranking officers.

“Interestingly, in 1860 Queen Victoria, who made Joseph Whitworth a Baronet in 1869, fired a shot from a Whitworth rifle and struck the bullseye. On October 2017, a surviving example of a Confederate Whitworth rifle sold at auction in America for $161,000 (£122,900).”


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