Inherited JD Dougall shotgun

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Nancy Charteris 688
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:54 pm

Inherited JD Dougall shotgun

Post by Nancy Charteris 688 »

Inherited this gun. Has engraved on it By Special Warrant to H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh. Underneath engraved JD Dougall Patent Lockfast and serial number 3295. Family history has it a gift from a Royal Family member to ours during a hunting trip. Curious as to manufacturer year of gun and who may have been the Royal who owned it. Close to the end of the butt of the gun there is a circular engraving , size of a dime with letters but so cursive that it is hard to make out letters.
John 39
Posts: 343
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Re: Inherited JD Dougall shotgun

Post by John 39 »

Hi Nancy,

Your gun dates to about 1875, If you could send us some close-up pictures of it and the medallion and the proof marks under the barrel flats, maybe we could tell you more (Send to gunclub@btconnect.com). The full history of the firm is in our Historical Database - but you have to pay a membership fee. What I will give you free of charge is an extract from it :

"In 1872 J D Dougall was appointed Gun and Rifle Manufacturer to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), who ordered a Lockfast gun. From about this date Dougall guns carried the Prince of Wales' feather crest on the action, or words referring to the Royal Appointment. The firm was also given an appointment to the Duke of Edinburgh (Alfred) but the precise date this occurred is not known."
John 39
Posts: 343
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Re: Inherited JD Dougall shotgun

Post by John 39 »

UNFORTUNATELY WE CANNOT PUT UP NANCY'S EMAILED PICTURES, BUT THEY WERE GOOD ENOUGH TO SEE WHAT WE NEEDED TO SEE

Nancy,

If you take the barrels off the and look underneath the barrel flats will show the proof marks, any chance of a photo of those? I can’t read the initials in the silver disc, any chance you could do a drawing of them and take a photo of it?? My wife is excellent with calligraphy. I’m surprised the disc is silver and not gold because this is a “best” quality gun, the engraving is superb and the gun looks like it is in very good condition.

John
John 39
Posts: 343
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Re: Inherited JD Dougall shotgun

Post by John 39 »

Hi Nancy,

The initials on the escutcheon seem to be M J A M which does not ring a bell for me. They definitely are not those of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. On the Duke’s gun I would expect a gold escutcheon. The other thing is that nowhere on the gun can I see the logo for the Prince of Wales (three feathers). This suggests the date of the gun is 1872 or 1873. The gun has “Hare Ear” hammers (stick right up – later guns had lower more curved hammers).

I don’t think the gun was a gift from the Royal family but it is likely it was a gift from a member of the Royal Party. If you can find out exactly when it came into your family’s ownership you might find out more.

Your gun, hoping it has mirror like barrels with no rust pits, will be worth quite a lot of money. Say £2000 but this is a wild guess. There are plenty of people who would like to own it.

When making a gun as soon as the barrels are fitted to the action the gun is sent for Viewing to the Proof House. They check it and if they find any faults the gun maker abandons any further work. If it passes, the maker more or less completes it and sends it back for proof when overloaded cartridges are fired in it. If it survives it goes back to the maker for “finishing”, then it is sold. The “Crown over V” proof mark is for the Viewing, the other marks including the GP mark are for the final proof. This gun was probably part made in Glasgow then sent to London for Viewing, final proof and finishing. London guns were always considered the best so many gunmakers always had the guns proved in London. I can’ decipher the mark nearest the end of the chambers, it seems to be the London G P Provisional Proof mark. This is an extra step after viewing often used on expensive guns.

Old gunpowder is called Black powder. It was used from time immemorial but was of different qualities depending on manufacture and intended use (in cannon, smooth bored guns, rifles and pistols). It was highly corrosive, slow to burn and needed long barrels in order to develop the power needed. From about 1887 Nitro powders gradually replaced it and J D Dougall was very much instrumental in this. This gun made in the early 1870s was for Black powder only and should not be used with Nitro, which might blow up in your face or instantly remove your hand or arm. Black powder cartridges can be bought today but are expensive and cleaning a gun after using them is a pain. Boiling water down the barrels, then oil, then repeated cleaning over the next two or three days – check after a month, 3 months and six months.

John
Kirk Lubbes 260
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2021 7:48 pm

Re: Inherited JD Dougall shotgun

Post by Kirk Lubbes 260 »

“NO CHARGE CAN HURT THIS GUN”
By Kirk Lubbes
captrkirk@yahoo.com

So states an original charge card in Lockfast 12 bore, serial number 3175, such was J. D. Dougall’s confidence in his patented design. May 1860, No. 1182. This gun is one of the three Lockfast guns which we will study in this article

First, a little background on the Dougall family of gun makers. There were six gunmakers in the Dougall family. They were: John Dougall; J. D. Dougall Sr.; and J.D. Dougall’s sons; John Dougall, J. D. Dougall Jr., and Norman Dougall. J. D. Sr. being the inventor of the Lockfast.

James Dalziel (J. D.) Dougall Sr. was born in 1819. His gun making business has its roots in his father’s fishing tackle business. While J. D. Dougall used the 1760 establishment date in his advertising, Boothroyd [1] states that John Dougall (J. D.’s father) started his business in1808 as a fishing and fowling maker, later to specialize in needles and fishing hooks.

The following listing “Fishing & Fowling, Tackle Makers, Dougal John, 83, Tron-gate” appears in The Commercial Directory of Scotland and Ireland 1820-21 & 22. The following year the business has moved to 63 Tron-gate. In 1830, again relocating to 52 Argyle Arcade [4].

In 1841, the company name was changed to James D. Dougall, Fishing-Tackle Manufacturer and Gunmaker [4]. Dougall’s newspaper advertisements for the years of 1845, 1847, 1849, and 1850 [5] tell the story of J.D.’s transition from focusing on fishing tackle to gunmaking. Early in the 1845, in his Glascow Post Office Directory (GPOD) ad, there is only a single line related to shooting: i.e., advertising gunpowder, shot and cartridges, gun repair. The rest of the ad is associated with fishing. Buy March 24, 1845, the Glasgow Herald, Dougall announces that he has “engaged a first-rate Gunmaker and is prepared to execute all orders in that department…” His follow-up 1847 GPOD ad is about ¼ shooting sports related. This ad also states that he sells “Forgings and Gun Materials of all kinds.” By 1849, he is manufacturing guns and all but one line in his GPOD ad is about guns.

J. D.’s gunmakers’ workshop is at 80 Mitchel Lane, Glascow, and using his 51 and 52 Argyle Arcade address as a warehouse according to the Glasgow Herold (23 November 1846 and 5 July respectively). Beginning in 1850, his growing firm’s Scottish operations are at 23 Gordon Street, in Glasgow. Dougall is employing eight men making fishing tackle and another six men making guns at Gordon Street. [XXX]

On 15 October 1857, he advertises in Glasgow Herald, “New Breech-Loading Fowling Pieces and Rifles are now manufactured by J. D. Dougall. He also advertises the same in The Field stating, “In addition to the manufacture of the very superior Fowling-Pieces which have gained the Advertiser so great celebrity as a gunsmith, he has now respectively to state that he is preparing to take Orders for BREECH-LOADING FOWLING PIECES…” [ISC]. Apparently, by 1857, he is a well-established as gunmaker of percussion guns and is changing over to manufacturing breechloaders.

Dougall was an early proponent of the pinfire. We know that he was selling both pinfires and central fire Lockfasts in 1866. [London Daily News, 14 August 1866].

He introduces his Lockfast action in London in 1862 and wins a gold medal. By 1863, Dougall’s business was apparently successful enough to open a second location at 59 James’s Street, London (which remains open until 1883), after which he traded as J.D. Dougall and Sons at 8 Bennet Street, St. James’s until 1893 [6]. The London 1881 census notes that Dougall’s London operation employs 10 men.

For those unfamiliar with the Lockfast action, a quick tutorial. Dougall had studied the weaknesses in the Lefaucheux action. He designed a slide and drop action in which a side-lever slides the barrels forward on a concentric cam and allows them to drop, rotating on the hinge pin to correct these weaknesses. The locking mechanism consists of a boss (a steel disk) attached to the standing breech (Figure 1), aligned with each barrel; and a barrel under-lug. The breech-end of the barrels slide over the bosses (Figure 2) and the barrel lug engages the action. The action closes by pulling the lever back, which forces the two round bosses into the chamber, sealing it, and locks the single barrel lug over the action frame. The action completely encases the cartridge in steel, eliminating the weakness at the interface between the barrels and the standing breech. It is an extremely strong action design, made during the transition years from percussion to centerfire.

Lockfast’s were built in at least the following gauges: 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 bores. The 4-bore was a single barrel punt gun with a forend being an oarlock. The others were double guns. He also built Lockfast double rifles in a wide number of calibers including gauge rifles and howdah pictols.


Figure 1 Figure 2

Apparently most Dougall Lockfasts were high quality guns. I have only seen two field-grade guns in my 10 years of collecting. Lockfasts were expensive guns. A Dougall advertisement in an Australian newspaper lists four grades of Lockfast guns: Highest, First Special, Second Special and Minor. Prices range for a 10 bore range from £54 to £29; for the 12 bore, from £50 to £17. Cases were available for all grades, except the Minor. The average wage for a London laborer in 1870 was just under a British pound a week. A Dougall highest-grade Lockfast would be about a year’s salary for the common man. Of course, Dougall’s customers were gentleman.

The first gun we shall investigate is the aforementioned Lockfast, serial #3175. This is the gun that sparked my interest in collecting Dougall’s guns. I discovered it at the Vegas gun show 14 years ago and was taken by the fact that it was designed to be used both as a muzzle loader and a cartridge gun; and the charge card that stated that “no charge can hurt this gun.” [I have always wondered what J.D.’s lawyer must have thought about this statement.]

Lockfast #3175 was built about 1877. It has 31 inch damascus barrels, cylinder bored. It’s Damascus barrels are stamped “Best”. Length of pull is 14 ½ inches. The gun weighs 7 ¼ pounds and balances on the hinge pin. The locks are signed Stanton non-rebounding locks. The buttstock is well-marbled and retains heal and toe plates to protect the butt when it is being loaded as a percussion gun. Engraving coverage is about 75%. The forend is attached with a cross-pin, late hold-over from earlier guns, and unusual, for a gun built this late.

In 1870, Dougall appointed Gun and Rifle Maker to HRH Prince of Wales. As with this gun, most Lockfast guns afterwards, have engraved on the rib, “J. D. Dougall Gun and Rifle Manufacturer to HRM The Prince of Wales, 59 St. James St. London” and the top tang is engraved with the three Price-of-Wales feathers.

The original, as found (Figure 3), gun case contained tools to convert the gun from a cartridge gun to a percussion muzzle loader. These tools include:

1) Two special brass “cartridges” numbered to the gun and designated for the right and left barrels (Figure 4). Each cartridge has a hole in its base through which the muzzle-loaded charge can be ignited. The interior of these brass inserts are tapered from the ignition hole, to funnel the percussion caps flame to the powder charge. Dougall patented a “conical tapered base for cartridge head to reduce powder space,” No. 3746 of September 1876 which is reflected in this “cartridge” design.
2) Two special nipples with tubes to vent the percussion cap ignition flame into the rear of the special cartridges (Figure 5).
3) A Bartram nipple wrench to remove the firing pins and replace them with the percussion nipples. The wrench also serves as a socket wrench for insertion of a turn screw bit and striker disk tool.
4) Powder measure marked Dougall and Bartram. The powder measure is marked for a 12 bore dispensing 3 to 4 ½ drams of powder. W. Bartram and J. D. Dougall patented this and the shot measure below, “variable powder and shot measure with funnel and cut off lever,” patent number 1984 of September 1869.
5) Shot measure marked Dougall and Bartram. The shot measure is marked for a 20 bore dispensing 1 to 1 ½ oz of shot. One can only imagine the amount of shot in the 12 bore measure.
6) Bartram nickel-plated capper/decapper tool.
7) Bartram nickel-plated roll/crimper tool.
8) Cleaning rod and various other small tools.

Thus, the case therefore contains examples of all three Dougall’s patents, from the Lockfast gun to the tools.

To convert the gun from cartridge to percussion, the nipple wrench was used to remove the firing pins and replace them with the specially designed percussion nipples. The numbered brass “cartridges” were inserted into the breech and the action locked. The gun was then loaded like any muzzle loading shotgun. The bosses on the standing breech sealed the chamber to prevent and potential gas leaks.


Figure 3

The label and charge card are original to the gun and numbered to the gun. Both are mounted in a case which appears original to the gun.


Charge Card in Case above

These “conversion” guns were apparently made for Englishman stationed in colonial areas where cartridges might be difficult to come by, thus and allowing the hunter to change over to percussion, if need be.



Figure 4 Figure 5

During my research for this article, I discovered that Dougall had also made an earlier onversion gun that “can be used as pin or central fire and extracts cartridges, 12 bore, 6 lbs, 13 oz weight” [19 July 1867]. This gun was for sale by Dougall as a used gun. Note the gun has extractors, which would not have been necessary on a pinfire.

The next gun that we shall investigate is an 8 bore Lockfast. It was purchased from Cabella’s after nearly two years of negotiations. The wait was worth it because these large bore guns were often used by market hunters and, as such, are generally in poor condition. This gun is, however, an exception. It has seen little use. It retains most of its original case colloring and browning.

The gun was made for export, probably to the US. It lacks a definitive proof mark required by British law, and not required for guns being exported. Thus the reason for its lack of use may be the 1913 Weeks-McClean Act which made the use of 8 bore for hunting migratory water fowl illegal in the US.

Now to the 8 bore gun’s stats. It serial number is 3055, built probably about 1872. It weighs in at 12 pounds, the barrels alone weighing 6 lbs., 6 oz. Barrel length is 36 inches. The chamber length is 3 inches. The barrels appear to have a small amount of constriction, measuring at .827 inches at the muzzle, the standard 8 bore being .835 inches.

It has a rather straight stock with a drop of only 2 inches. While it is somewhat difficult to tell through the darkened, original finish, the stock appears to have significant pattern. The gun has a steel butt-plate, reminiscent of a muzzle-loader. The LOP is only 14 inches. Its balance point is 2 inches forward of the hinge pin. The gun swings easily belying its weight. Engraving is limited to boarder engraving. While the rib states “J. D. Dougall Gun and Rifle Manufacturer to HRM The Prince of Wales, 59 St. James St. London,” it lacks the Prince of Wales feathers engraved on the top tang found on most Dougall’s of this period. Even though this gun was intended for hard use, the quality is evident.

The third Lockfast that we will consider is hammerless pigeon gun. Unlike Lockfast hammer guns, hammerless Lockfast’s are relatively rare. While strong, they were, compared to snap actions, slow and awkward to use. In all but a few applications where strength concerns trumped reloading speed, snap actions were preferred and the Lockfast lost popularity.

I had been searching for an example of a hammerless Lockfast for some time. I found a strange link to a Chevrolet Camero discussion website asking for any information on J.D. Dougall shotguns and had attached a picture of a Dougall hammerless Lockfast. I responded to the message and started a dialog with the owner.

After three years of e-mail exchanges unsuccessfully attempting to buy the gun sight unseen, I decided to take a trip to Pittsburg, PA where the gun was located. I would at least have a chance to actually inspect (fondle) an example of a hammerless Lockfast

The owner graciously allowed me to inspect the gun. It turns out the owner was primarily a shooter, not a gun collector. He did not intend to shoot the Lockfast because of his concern over the Damascus barrels, so the gun was sitting in a closet for the entire time he had owned it. After actually seeing the gun, I made the owner an offer to buy the gun that he couldn’t possibly refuse. He did refuse it.

I had left my contact information with the owner and made sure that he placed in the leg-of-mutton case that contained the Dougall, so that if he ever changed his mind, he could reach me.
After I returned home, I wrote the current owner a letter thanking him for allowing me to inspect the gun and shipped him a box of low pressure 7/8 oz. handloads that would be safe to shoot in the gun, should he ever decide to shoot it.

Much to my surprise, two weeks later, I received an e-mail from the owner. He had found a motorcycle that he wanted to buy and could use the money from the Dougall sale. It was mine.

When I had inspected the gun, it felt unusually heavy. The barrels were unusually thick at the muzzle. It also had an unusually wide, unmarked rib. All signs of a pigeon gun. There were no proof marks on the barrel flats. The gun was an export gun and therefore did not have to be proofed. The gun had probably been in the US, its entire life.

The gun itself is basically and Anson and Deeley boxlock which has been modified to cock using the Lockfast sidelever and lock up using the bosses on the breech face. The action is marked “J. D. Dougall and Sons”. The serial number is 4755. The last serial number in Nigel Brown’s British Gun Makers, Volume 1, is the 4400 series in 1894. Extrapolating using Dougall’s yearly production rate, serial # 4755 should have been produced about 1898. This may be one of the last Lockfast’s made since both J. D. Dougall Sr. and Jr. had died by 1894. The firm of J. D. Dougall & Sons, Gun, Fishing Rod and Tackle Makers was officially dissolved on 21 February 1905.

The gun weighs 7 ¾ pounds but feels much heavier because it is very barrel heavy. The balance point is nearly 3” in front of the hinge pin. The barrels measure 31” in length. The chamber is 2¾”. The nominal bore diameter is .743”. The chokes are .037” in the right barrel and .045” in the left barrel. How about that for tight chokes? The wall thicknesses measure .053” and .050”, for the right and left barrels respectively, when measured nine inches from the breech. The barrels are still .045” at the muzzle. Since the barrels are not proofed, it is impossible to know what the original barrel internal measurements were, but I suspect that they are close to, if not the original, based upon the current very thick barrels and tight chokes. The rib is a ½” wide, flat, raised, and machined to reduce glare. The barrel weight, chambers, chokes, and rib dimensions bear out the fact the hammerless Dougall Lockfast is a live pigeon gun.

The barrels are typical of high-grade Dougall guns. The Damascus wire is extremely fine and therefore very difficult to bring out the pattern when browned, but Buck Hamlin of Pevey, MO did a great job on them.

The only proof marks on the gun are the London “View” proofs on the left and right arms of the action flats. Both left and right arms of the actions flats also contain the serial number and “Patent Lockfast” in an oval. Split across the left and right action arms is stamped “Dougall’s Highest Quality”. At least with Dougall guns, one does not have to guess whether a given gun is a “best” gun.

The action is fully covered with tight scroll work. One unique feather of the action is a thin platinum arrow head about ¾” of an inch long and whose point is at the center of the standing breech. The arrow head runs down the top tang, the base of which is about 1/16” in width. The purpose of this arrow head was apparently to aid the shooter in pointing the gun. It seems to be of little practical use, however, since it would be hard to look at while pointing at the bird.

The stock is of well-figured walnut with a Prince of Wales grip (Figure 3). Length of pull is 14” to a checkered horn butt plate. The checkering appears to be 22 lines per inch. I suspect the checkering has been re-cut since it is diamond rather than flat-top. The drop at the heel is a full three inches. Since we know that the gun was made to be exported due to the lack of proofing, I suspect that the gun was originally made for the American market where a head-up style of shooting was popular. For the modern shooter, 3” of drop is excessive.

I have shot several rounds of sporting clays with the Dougall pigeon gun. I can’t say that shooting it is a pleasure. Since it is not well-balanced, it requires a lot of effort to shoot 100 rounds. In order to get the gun to fit, I have to strap on a pad to elevate the stock. Once this was accomplished, the gun is quite useable for clays. I have discovered that the Lockfast action is quite easy and relatively fast to operate. One uses that their right hand to operate the lever and pushes the barrels forward with the left hand. The gun is loaded and the process is reversed. Regardless of the effort needed to fit the gun, it is fun, however, to shoot. If one actually is fortunate enough to hit a clay target with the .045” choked barrel, it is quite impressive.

This Dougall hammerless pigeon gun was designed to be used for a special purpose. It is not fair to judge a gun designed for one shotgun sport when it is being used for an entirely different sport. Can you imagine shooting sporting clays with an unsingle trap gun? While the Dougall hammerless pigeon gun is not ideal for shooting sporting clays, my game, it was not possible for me to evaluate the gun for what it was designed to do. I am glad that I have this rare example in my collection and enjoy shooting it. After all, I am a member of the California Side by Side Society and we shoot anything that goes bang and has two barrels that are parallel to the ground.


J. D. Dougall, Sr. died on 28 February 1891. The firm of J. D. Dougall & Sons, Gun, Fishing Rod and Tackle Makers was officially dissolved on 21 February 1905, ending the Dougall family’s participation in J. D. Dougall and Sons. Charles Ingram Annan was to continue doing business under the same name and at the same address [12].

I would appreciate anyone who has further information to contact me at captrkirk@yahoo.com.
References

Note: Dougall’s last name is often found spelled with one ‘l”, i.e. Dougal in many references

[1] Shotguns and Gunsmiths, the Vintage Years by Geoffrey Boothroyd, Safari Press, 1992, page 152,
[2] The Commercial Directory of Scotland and Ireland 1820-21 & 22, page 153 and The Commercial Directory of Scotland and Ireland 1821-22 & 23, page 138.

[3] Listed in Pigot & Co.’s New Commercial Directory of Scotland 1825-6.
[4] British Gunmakers, Volume Two – Birmingham, Scotland & the Regions by Nigel Brown, Quiller Press, 2001, page 208-209
[5] Robert Pool's Glasgow Collection's photostream
[6] British Gunmakers – Their Trade Cards, Cases, and Equipment 1760 – 1860 by W. Keith Neal and D.H. Black , page 40.
[7] The British Shotgun, Volume One 1850-1870 by Im Crudgington & D. J. Baker, published by Quiller, 2011 edition, page 73 – 76
[8] England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) (Ancestry.com)
[9] The British Shotgun, Volume One 1850-1870 by Im Crudgington & D. J. Baker, published by Quiller, 2011 edition, page 36
[10] http://www.craigwhitseygunmakers.co.uk/ ... ilkes.html
[11] J.D. Dougall Jr. Death Announcement in Baily’s Magazine of Sports and Pastimes
Volume The Sixty-Fifth being Nos. 431-436, January to June, 1896.
London: Vinton and Co., Limited: 9, New Beidge Street, Ludgate Circus, E.C. 1896.
[12] The Edinburgh Gazette of 24 Feb 1905, page 199
[13] British Gunmakers, Volume One – London by Nigel Brown, Quiller Press, 2001, page 235
[14] Proceedings and Transactions of the Natural History Association of Glasgow. Volume 3 (New Series) 1889 to 1892.
[15] Information from query to Internet Gun Club
[16] BELGRAVIA - A London Magazine, conducted by M.E. Branddon, Vol. VI Second Series – Vol. XVI First Series, February 1872, Warwick House, Paternoster Row, London E.C.


First British Pinfire – Lanchaster 1853

[XXX] 1851 Glasgow census.
John 39
Posts: 343
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Re: Inherited JD Dougall shotgun

Post by John 39 »

Hi Kirk,

What you say above is a very worth-while addition to the info on Dougall Lockfast guns. Thank you very much from me and other readers of this post.
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