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    Annie Oakley: 12 Gauge Parker Brothers Shotgun. Serial #48767 Annie Oakley once wrote that "my first real gun" was a double-barrel Parker Brothers hammer shotgun. We do not know precisely when she obtained this 12-gauge Parker hammer double, but it saw a lot of use. Though we can never know for sure, it may have even been her first arena gun. On August 23, 1886, near the end of her second full season with Buffalo Bill's Wild West, Frank returned it for her to Parker Bros. to be reconditioned. She took it with her to England in 1887 as Buffalo Bill's show moved to Earl's Court, London, to be a featured attraction for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Her performance with it in the arena dazzled the Queen -- who called her a "clever little girl" -- and aroused the admiration of the Prince of Wales and other shooters.

    However dazzling she was in the arena, her first match in London shooting at the lightning-fast English Blue Rock pigeons was less than successful. The great gunmaker Charles Lancaster told her that he could fix the problem. Her gun did not "fit" her properly. The barrels were too long, the "drop" -- the angle of the stock -- was too steep, and the gun was too heavy, "about 7½ pounds" Annie remembered. Lancaster built her a double to new specifications, including a weight of just slightly over six pounds. It was ready for her to use about midway through that London season.

    This Parker is almost certainly the gun she used in her first performances at Earl's Court before the crowned heads of Europe. According to the factory specifications, it had 30" barrels and nearly a 3" drop. And at 7 pounds, 9 ounces, it weighed almost exactly what Annie remembered.

    Annie and Frank left Buffalo Bill's Wild West early and returned to the United States just before Christmas, 1887. That is likely when they made a present of this gun to Frank's brother Will: Parker Bros. records show that Will sent it to the factory on the first of February 1888, to be refitted with shorter barrels choked for hunting rather than competition.

    This is one of the most important of Annie Oakley's show guns -- certainly the earliest known of her "real guns" -- and it is iconic in her development as a shooter. This Annie Oakley gun will be accompanied by a letter of authentication from Paul Fees. This lot will be accompanied by a family letter of provenance.

    For more information about Annie Oakley and the family provenance of this lot, please click here.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2012
    10th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
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