“Acey (who passed away last year at the age of 82) was quite a character,” recalls Castor. “He loved high-end guns with pretty wood and fancy engraving, and when we went in London in 1984 one of the first stops he made was the Holland & Holland shop.” Lockhart commissioned H&H to make him an utterly unique pair of 20 bore game guns with highly-figured wood and personalized engraving. Both guns feature 26-inch ejector chopper lump barrels, coin finish, 5 lb., 8 oz. weight and choked improved cylinder and improved modified.
The wood in each gun is gorgeous, highly-figured walnut with a hand-rubbed oil finish on a straight, English style stock.
The guns also feature hand-detachable locks, double triggers, splinter fore ends and checkered steel buttplates and a maker’s trunk with all the accessories still wrapped in paper.
“Acey always was a sucker for pretty wood in a gun,” says Castor. “He’d spend thousands of dollars on exhibition-quality blanks just because he thought he might like to use it on a gun some day.”
But as beautiful as the wood is, it’s the phenomenal engraving that sets this pair of guns apart. Lockhart commissioned master engraver Philip Coggan to create “The Texas Trio of Quail” that includes all the native species of quail found in Texas; bobwhite, scaled and Gambel’s, as well as images of eagles. The guns and engraving took three years to complete, and in 1987, three years after first walking into the H&H shop in London, Acey Lockhart finally got his ultimate quail guns. Except he never shot a quail with either of them.
“Yes, that’s the funny thing,” says Castor. “As far as I know, Acey never took them quail hunting. In fact, he bought them specifically for whitewing dove hunting, and he only used them once for that, on a trip to Mexico.” It was during that trip that Castor says the guns were briefly confiscated by the Mexican government as Lockhart’s hunting party was coming back into the United States. The Mexican government refused to return the guns until Lockhart paid a fine. “Acey got mad and never went back to Mexico after that,” says Castor.
In 2005 Lockhart decided he wanted to sell the Texas Trio H&H’s, and that’s when George Caswell owner of Champlin Firearms in Enid, Oklahoma first came into contact with the guns.
Caswell, who brokers some of the finest sporting arms in the world, says the engraving on the Texas Trio guns are about as good as it gets. “Many times, you’ll have a master engraver do the scenes, and someone else will do what we call the ornamentals, the scrollwork, etc.” explains Caswell. “But Mr. Coggan signed the engraving in six different places, which indicates he himself did both the scenes and the ornamentals.”
“Here’s a guy (the engraver) who never saw an American quail in his life,” says Caswell, “and I’d say he did pretty damn good job of it.”
Caswell has quite the history with these guns. This will be the third time they’ve passed through his shop.
“I originally sold the guns to a guy here in Oklahoma in 2005, and actually got the chance to hunt with them,” says Caswell.
“I then traded them back in 2007 and sold them again, to another guy here in Oklahoma, and now I’ve got them back again for the third time.”
Caswell says it’s not unusual to see high-end guns like the Texas trio H&H’s pass through his shop more than once. “That’s just sort of the nature of the business. It certainly makes it interesting.” So what’s the price for this spectacular Texas Trio? A mere $135,000, and Caswell says that’s a bargain for what you’re getting.
Anyone who says guns can’t be high art hasn’t laid their eyes on this spectacular, custom-made matched pair of Holland & Holland shotguns commissioned in 1984 by a wealthy Texas businessman. These bespoke beauties took three years to complete, and feature some of the most stunning and detailed engraving ever seen on a shotgun.