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The cased .36 calibre cane by GE Lewis of Birmingham, above, complete with pump, made £550. The two late 19th century rifled air canes, top, sold together for £500.

Muzzle loader

An 80-bore muzzle-loading air rifle of c.1800, below, was sold at Thomas Del Mar with an extra modern barrel for £1900. Propulsion was provided by compressed air pumped into the leather-covered steel butt. The hammer serves only as a cocking lever to reset the mechanism.

Unexplored market

Even modern airguns have their market and every now and then collectors lock horns over a particular example.

This was the case at Holt’s (25/15% buyer’s premium) sale in London on December 8, when this .177 Webley and Scott underlever target air rifle, below left, an early 1960s model known as the Mark 3 Supertarget, sold for £1300.

This was a scarce pre-production model with factory-fitted sling swivels and a period leather sling. It retained the majority of its factory finish, though the figured walnut half-stock was dented in places and cracked at the hand.

The price was the highest ever seen for this type of rifle and way beyond the £200-300 estimate.

Robert Morgan of Holt’s admitted that the competition had taken him by surprise. “Granted, this lot is a nice example, but we were surprised it went for so much. I would have been less surprised if it was boxed, but it wasn’t.

“The price raced up very quickly as two bidders competed for it. It just goes to show what an unexplored market air rifles can be.”