Vintage BSA/Lincoln Jeffries ephemera and miscellany
Vintage BSA/Lincoln Jeffries ephemera and miscellany
Edwardian Air rifle club photo's
With thanks to Lakey
here are a couple of early air rifle club photographs featuring B.S.A Air rifles
First is an unknown club team posing with their silver cup and two B.S.A underlever air rifles
The second photograph shows Bridgend Air Rifle Club team, again posing with two early B.S.A air rifles the date of this photograph is 1905, so the BSA air rifles shown would have been brand new 'up to the minute' models at the time
Welsh bell target club photos 1905 and 1908
With thanks to Jim for supplying these scans. He is a member of the Bridgend & District Air Rifle League and is researching a possible book on it.
The first pics is of the Bridgend Air Rifle Team and dated 1905 (this is a bigger version of the pic already posted by Lakey):
This photo is title Merthyr Mawr, 1908:
BSA Royal Doulton/Langley Mill Pottery shooting cups
This rare tankard was sold on ebay in September 2011 for £80. (Thanks to Scott for pointing this out). The seller said it was made in 1912 but there's no information as to what kind of shooting competition it was made to commemorate. He gave this description:
Up for auction with no reserve is a extremely rare Royal Doulton Stoneware BSA Shooting cup Tankard, Hall mark Silver rim J.B.C&S Anchor for Birmingham Lion Passant , Royal Doulton impressed backstamp on base plus number 929 and G590, height appx 12.8cm ( 5ins ), excellent condition no chips cracks or restoration for complete accuracy there are 2 very very tiny divits in the Silver rim which is only expected for the age of this item, any white spots on photo are due to camera flash.
Pics of this jug thanks to Margie.
According to the Rifleman.org.uk website, it was probably made by Langley Mill Pottery and dated to about 1930-31.
BSA original sales invoice from 1923
With thanks to Eddie.
First posted by Eddie.
This in an invoice from the factory to J.G.Banfield and son in Tenbury a hardware shop (still trading at the same address...wonder what's in the celler!)
Anyway, looking at the serial of this no.1 or .177 rifle (13605), It would seem it should most likely be a light model, made in 1921 according to Hiller's book, so would appear to have been in stock at the factory for some time prior to dispatch. It could I suppose have also been an early C.S. model as these appeared around this time....The clincher would be the price of course, so it would be interesting if anyone out there has a retail list for this period which would confirm the model of gun. Also interesting is the paltry 2 shillings for a nickel sight protector!...Oh, for a time machine and a handful of crisp old 'white fivers'!
BSA Royal Doulton Shooting Cup
See also this post:
With thanks to Eddie.
As luck would have it, I stumbled across one of these last weekend at a flea / collectors fair in Shepton Mallet. At first I did a double take, as I had not seen this type before, and surmised that perhaps it was a tankard with the handle broken off that had been restored. However very close examination showed no evidence of this, and the price was very fair, so I took what I thought at the time was a 'punt'.
On returning home and daoing some research as detailed in my answer elsewhere, I was relieved and glad to find online, by way of an image search, an identical cup coming up for sale in the USA at auction. As well as the jugs shown on the excellent rifleman website, this is a third form these Doulton cups were presented in, and of course there may well be more undiscovered types!
Also on re-examining the Ebay tankard, this one is a different, although generally similar shape, and the shields are spaced equidistantly at 120 degrees around the vessel.
It is 5 3/4" high, 4 1/4" diameter at the base, tapering to 3 1/8" at the rim, the rim being hallmarked silver with the marks of Joseph Gloster Ltd., The lion silver works, Hockley Hill, Birmingham 19. The date letter comes up as 1919.
I would presume it is possible to research winners of this year to possibly identify the original owner.
It is well stamped on the base with the Royal Doulton works and inspection marks
Photos of George Lincoln Jeffries
Here are some pictures of George Lincoln Jeffries, the inventor of the Lincoln Air Rifle. They were very kindly supplied by his great-grandson, Alan Jeffries.
George Lincoln Jeffries (GLJ) was born in 1847, the son of George Jeffries, who was a gunmaker in Norwich, Norfolk. GLJ worked in his father's business until 1866 when, aged 19, he left to work in the Birmingham gun trade. Just seven years later, in 1873, he had his own sporting gun manufacture and repair business.
By the turn of the century, he had moved into his premises at 121 Steelhouse Lane and was making shotguns, muzzle and breech-loading air canes, plus associated air cane accessories. He also sold a range of foreign-made break-barrel airguns.
Between 1901 and 1904 GLJ made a number of prototype air rifles and patented his fixed barrel and breech and underlever cocking system in 1904 in the UK, Belgium and Germany. (source: John Knibbs)
<u><i>The following photos are supplied to this forum on the understanding that they are not reproduced elsewhere without the permission of Alan Jeffries</i></u>
Pic 1: This shows GLJ (right) at Bisley demonstrating his Lincoln Air Rifle in July 1906
Pic 2: Also taken at Bisley, at a pistol competition, GLJ is the man wearing the bowler hat. Alan says it was probably taken on the same day as the photo above, as his clothing is the same. (I had to crop this pic to comply with Network54's "no firearms" rules)
Pic 3: This shows GLJ on the right and his son Lincoln Parkes Jeffries on the left
Pic 4: This was taken in the mid-1920s and shows GLJ on the left, Lincoln Parkes in the middle, and his son Arthur on the right. Alan says of this pic: "The car, I believe, was an Eric Campbell. I still have the shooting stick that GLJ is holding."
Pic 5 shows LJ with friends/family? having tea in the garden. Note the wind-up gramophone.
Pic 6: This shows GLJ outside 121 Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham. The man on the left is Mr H Sprawson, a crack shot who scored 108 consecutive bullseyes with the Lincoln Air Rifle. In the company's literature it mentioned that Lincoln Air Rifles were tested by the marksman who achieved that score.
Outdoor bell target shooting in 1906
With thanks to Eddie and the new owner, Matt.
A great study, a real photo postcard posted July 22nd 1906 (halfpenny green stamp!) postmarked Reading, to an address in Waverly road Reading. The Venue is the Reading Post Office Air Rifle Club ranges, and on close examination the flag bedecked target is a mechanical bell type, with a pot of paint visible on a shelf to the right.
Two guns immediately visible, one being used, and a one held by a waiting shooter to the right. Unfortunately no information on what the event was, which is a shame.
Birmingham newspaper cuttings 1905-1906
Thanks to a suggestion from Lakey, I've been scouring the online British Newspaper Archive (cost £10 for one month's subscription) for mentions of Lincoln Jeffries, BSA air rifles etc, and quite a lot has come up. The archive consists of scans of 252 local newspapers across the UK, and titles in Birmingham, Litchfield, Tamworth and elsewhere have yielded a lot of information on the bell target leagues and related stories in the years before WW1.
It has to be said that if you don't refine your searches carefully, the word 'airgun' returns a lot of stories involving accidents, vandalism, lack of airgun licences, and even airgun-related deaths - including one I read from 1894 involving an air cane. But since the archive covers more than 8 million pages of local news across two and a half centuries, coverage of this 'dark side' of airguns is hardly surprising.
I've already done a post on the 1903 Birmingham airgun 'riots', as detailed by Frank Spittle, in the 'Resources/BSA/Lincoln Jeffries-related articles' section of this forum, with quite a few cuttings about the attempt by Birmingham magistrates to ban airgun competitions in public houses. Here are some other cuttings of interest, with more to follow.
A mark of how important airgunning had become, particularly in the West Midlands, is evident in the fact that in 1905/6 the Birmingham Daily Mail had a regular (weekly?) column on airgun matters. It mainly covered the bell target leagues and related matters. Briefly it even had (poorly-conceived and badly executed!) artwork introducing the column. Examples were:
The 'special contributor', whoever he was and assuming it was just one person, clearly had his ear close to the ground and he made some sensible suggestions that were apparently taken up - for instance on making sure the gas lighting focused on the bell target and in the room was kept constant throughout the match, so the playing field was level for both teams.
Contributions that make good reading include the following excerpts:
Also in the Birmingham Daily Mail is an interesting report from 4th October 1905 on the BSA company's annual report, announcing a trading profit for the year of £78,000, which seems a decent amount of money considering it was peacetime, although John Knibbs says that shortly earlier the company was in a "depressed" state, in mid-1904, and "scratching around" for contracts to keep its workforce employed.
Of special interest is the account of the report which talked about having decided to make an air rifle - the "most efficient in the market" - which presumably refers to the contract Mr Knibbs says was signed with Lincoln Jeffries in early 1905. Here are the relevant parts of the story:
More here from the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on how the Birmingham airgun trade was growing on the back of the "little short of marvellous" growth in the number of airgun clubs:
Letter from BSA circa WW1
With thanks to Pete for letting me scan this. It was a little too long for my scanner so I've done two scans to get it all in.
Unfortunately the letter is undated. But the BSA expert John Milewski commented about this letter on the BBS: "I would hazard a guess at either WW1 or immediately post war. The header mentions the Lewis machine gun, which BSA made during WW1 and the range of air rifles is limited to the No 1 and No 2 models, which became the norm in 1919."
It was included with a number of other BSA items, two of which were pre-WW1 and one of which was dated 1920.
Edit: It's just occurred to me that the comma after "Birmingham" on the letterhead looks a bit odd and I wonder if it was a practice from the War years to remove the address of the factory from official documents so as to confuse the enemy, even though the London headquarters address remains?!
1909 international shooting pendant
With thanks to Mick for pics of this wonderful commemorative pendant. If you look closely on the front, under the two shields, there are two LJ-type spade lever air rifles.
A friend of mine points out that this commemorates a postal match, reported in <i>The Sporting Goods Review</i> in October 1909. Britain won, it said. The message on the pendant (and the fact it was given at all) suggests very good grace on the part of the losers.
Mick also supplied pics of this pendant, although a BSA connection is not obvious.
Bell target club pellet dispensing machine
Thanks to Jim for these pics. He picked up this Watkins of Shrewsbury pellet dispensing machine, which allowed bell target club shooters to buy a small number of pellets on the night. It was bought with a job lot of (rusty) pre-WW2 BSA air rifles in "South Wales near Bridgend".
He says: "I am involved with the Bridgend and District air Rifle League (Bell target). An elderly gent gave me a call and asked if I was interested in some old target rifles and the machine was included. He reckons they have been in store for 50 years. The rifles back it up - they are all BSAs from around 1925/30, and must have come from a club."
We know from the 1909 The Book of the BSA Air Rifle that BSA itself sold the Watkins machines, among other makes, and that the following brochure states that it dispensed the pellets in "small tin boxes":
Details of the guns are:
Improved model D No 20014 43 1/4" long
CS 48601 43 1/4" long (1 hole trigger block )
Factory fitted peep sight and a front sight hood cover
CS 43926 43 1/4" long (1 hole trigger block )
CS 41602 45" Long (3 hole trigger block )
CS 41654 45" long (3 hole trigger block ) peep sight fitted
Edit: the administrator of the web site www.pennymachines.co.uk says Watkins made machines for a variety of small goods and he posted the pics below:
"Although several seem to have turned up in the States, they are British made, manufactured by T J Watkins of Watkins Patent Delivery Machines, Shrewsbury, for dispensing small consumables such as matches, air rifle pellets, billiards chalk, gramophone needles etc. in clubs, hotels and theatres for one or two old pennies."
With thanks to John M for this pic of the sort of reusable tins used in these machines:
This one minus its internal parts sold on Ebay in June '19 for £326.
Thanks to Bruce Jr for these pics:
BSA Book of The Air Rifle (with accompanying letters)
John M was lucky enough to win this lovely condition The Book of The BSA Air Rifle (British edition) on the US Ebay and was kind enough to share these scans of both the book and the accompanying literature. He has been investigating the company that imported it the US.
"Prices are in English, whereas the Colonial edition does not carry prices.The accompanying provenance tells us a US customer enquired about buying a BSA air rifle directly from BSA in March 1912. BSA responded in April and suggested he buys a rifle from their US agent based in Cleveland, Ohio. They also sent, under separate cover, a copy of <i>The Book of the BSA Air Rifle</i>, which explains the British prices. The book still has most of its original envelope but it looks as though some philatelist has cut off the stamp or stamps for their collection. There is a further letter postmarked May 8 1912 from the US dealer to the enquirer."
Here are the scans, followed by John's research findings.
"I have carried out a limited amount of research on F.W. King, the Ohio dealership, which the original owner of my 'new' book was directed to, back in 1912...
The F.W King Optical Company
Located in Cleveland Ohio, USA.
In March of 1912, a prospective BSA air rifle purchaser located in Michigan contacted the company and was referred to F.W. King of Ohio by BSA. Although located some 200 miles from the enquirer, Kings were the nearest agents for BSA at the time. Kings pointed out they had several shipments of BSA air rifles under way and purchasing direct from them would save the purchaser importation complications, which were described as an 'infernal nuisance'. BSA had also sent the enquirer a copy of <i>The Book of the BSA Air rifle</i>, which conveniently dates this surviving edition to 1912. The accompanying correspondence from BSA and Kings also add provenance to the book. F.W King traded in scientific instruments, sporting goods, and could supply sporting glasses and protective eyeware for shooters as well as the guns themselves."
The following advert is from From Sept 18 1913 issue of Arms & The Man (Courtesy of Cornell Publications):
Attempts to recreate BSA cyilnder etching
See also this thread from 2010:
With thanks for these pics from Shaun at ISP air rifles.
He says: "I’ve had a go on my bsa cadet major and it’s reasonably successful I’m currently working on the airsporter and club etchings, I need to sort the bsa standard etchings out as I have a couple I’ve restored and it would finish them off nicely."
BSA underlever in LWT's 'Just William episode
With thanks to Matt for the heads up.
Copyright London Weekend Television.
See 9 minutes in:
Streatham cadets using Military Pattern air rifles
With thanks to Matt for these pics of Streatham Cadet force in 1906.
See also here:
BSA in air rifle club pics 1923-4 and 1930
With thanks to Dave.
John M, on the Airgunbbs.com, wrote: "I am familiar with many of the named individuals in these pictures; they were Guernsey based shooters and between the wars were among the most successful air rifle match shooters within the U.K. and Channel Islands in that Guernsey shooters including these gents won a greater proportion of medals than anyone else. Ironically, they were not fans of bell target shooting as they thought scoring was too imprecise and preferred paper target matches such as the 1930 SMRC Championships... Kingsland won the 1930 SMRC championships, which were part sponsored by BSA, who generously donated 2 fine cups for top team and top individual...
"Kingsland were up against the L.M.S. Temperance Institute in the first round and beat them robustly by 576 to 481 points. Kingsland’s Mr E Despointes was the only shooter to score a perfect 100 in the first round and set the pace for the series. To show this was no fluke, Despointes did the same again in the third round, when his team beat St Martin’s, also from Guernsey 575 to 551. Kingsland were up against Southampton Gas Co in the Semi Finals and beat them 575 to 560, which placed them in the Final against the North United team from Guernsey. There was little point in staging the Final on the mainland and both teams shot it out shoulder to shoulder in their own locality. Kingsland won with a team score of 578 against 566 by North United, earning each team member a silver medal with a gold centre, whilst the runners up were awarded a silver SMRC medal each."
BSA company history (video)
This official government history rather skates over the period BSA/Lincoln Jeffries air rifles were being made but is interesting nevertheless.