Joseph Lang and the Sporting Gun

My husband is always telling me that we need to stock more mantiques, mantiques being those antiques that are of particular interest to men. With this in mind we have acquired a rare Victorian deactivated sporting gun (with an accompanying deactivation certificate) by Joseph Lang (Figure 1).

Joseph Lang was a very influential figure in country sports and the development of recreational guns. He first set up his own business the “Gun and Pistol Repository” in 1821, eventually buying out the entire stock of his prior employer the gunmaker Alexander Wilson in 1825 to becomes Londons largest gun dealer. During this time Joseph Lang sold the highest quality sporting guns, including those produced by James Purdey. His association with Purdey steadily strengthened with Joseph Lang marrying Purdey’s daughter Eliza in 1828.  Joseph Lang’s first son Joseph was born in 1829, and his second son James was born in 1835. Joseph the younger was then apprenticed to James Purdey and Joseph the younger then joined his fathers business in about 1853.Joseph Lang 1

Figure 1 Joseph Lang Sporting Gun

Joseph Lang the elder was renowned for playing a key part in introducing the breach-loading gun to British sportsmen. Prior to this guns were loaded the traditional way via the muzzle and these new fangled breach loading guns steadily creeping into use on the continent were viewed with scorn. Joseph Lang didn’t really agree with this, and in a radical move started to manufacture high quality breach loading shot guns for the British market. Being a businessman with a good view on taking commercial opportunities and being recognised as a very good shot, he then went on to prove the value of the breach loader in shooting competitions in which he out-shot competitors who used the old fashioned muzzle loading guns.  Needless to say, demand for his guns increased and he provided custom made guns to leaders in Victorian society, including the Prince of Wales in 1868.

Our particular example is a hammer action 12 bore shot gun with intricately engraved double barrels. The gun carries the makers name Joseph Lang (Figure 2a and 2b). along with the serial number 3834, dating it to 1867, the year before the Prince of Wales bought his Joseph Lang. This gun will be for sale at the Wetherby Antiques Fair on the 27th and 28th of July 2013, and potentially for sale if we still have it at the Stafford Bingley Hall Antiques Fair on the 9th, 10th and 11th of August 2013. Come and see and get a 20% discount on this gun or any other item of our stock if you can tell us you have read our WordPress blogs.

Josph Lang 3Joseph Lang 2

Figure 2a showing a closeup of the firing assembly and ejector system, 2b shows the makers name Joseph Lang.

For further information on Joseph Lang, see Best Guns by Joseph McIntosh

Advertisements

The Fischer & Mieg Jug circa 1860

Fischer and Mieg was founded in 1802 by Johann Gottlob List and Friedrich Höcke under the company name of Friedrich Höcke. The company was then sold to Christopher Reichenbach and Christian Nonne in 1811 who gained financial support from Martin Fischer. The company grew and acquired a license to produce porcelain in 1822. The company was then taken over by Christian Fischer who married Emma Karolina von Mieg. Christian studied at the National Manufactory in Sèvres, France and is credited with the formalisation of Bohemian shapes and designs. The company, then known as Christian Fischer was sold to his son, Rudolf Karl Fischer, and son in-law, Ludwig von Mieg, giving rise to the company name Fischer and Mieg. The company was sold within the family several times until in 1908 it was sold to Wilhelm and Victor Maier. Wilhelm and Victor Maier maintained the brand but sold out to Oepiag and Epiag in 1920. However, they continued manufacturing porcelain under the name Fischer and Mieg until it was nationalized in 1946 to form part of Starorolský Porcelán.

Fischer & Mieg Jug Blog1Fischer and Mieg were renowned for the very high quality of their porcelain and also for their exquisite designs. Take for example the Fischer and Meig jug in Figure 1. This jug is quite unusual, not just because of the stunning decoration but also because of the lovely design (Figure 1). The jug is of a lovely tactile, well balanced ovoid spoutless form. It is 8 & ½ inches (21.6cm) high and is decorated in a very eye catching pattern consisting of hand painted gilded green and red flowers with gilded green foliage inhabited by green gilded birds. The over all effect is quite stunning.

The base of this particular jug is unmarked. However, we also have a number of plates in the same pattern carrying the Fischer and Mieg  impressed mark for 1860 -1870. The jug is in an excellent condition with no chips cracks or repairs. The enamels are in a lovely condition but there is some age related wear to the gilded decoration. This is to be expected in a piece that is around 140 to 150 years old. The jug is currently  for sale  via our Ruby Lane shop.

History of The Helvetia Watch Company

The history of the Helvetia watch goes way back to 1848, when a certain Louis Brands established a sales office for manufacturing watches. By 1880 Louis and his brother César set up a watch manufacturing business, La Generale Watch Co (General Watch Company). Clearly names for their product were required and the two brothers picked a number of names for their watches including Patria, Jura, Celtic and Helvetia, with Helvetia, being the female personification of the Swiss nation, bearing testament to the Swiss origin of their watches. The watches produced by the Brands brothers were highly thought of and by incorporation of the new lever movements in 1885, they produced timepieces that were accurate to within an astounding 30 seconds per day. Four years later the General Watch company was producing more than 100,000 watches per year and became the largest producer of watches in Switzerland. They formed collaborations with other manufacturers, most notably Audemars Piguet and produced highly desirable watches such as the minute repeating wrist-watch in 1892. This was way ahead of its time bearing in mind that wrist watches only gained popularity during the 1st World War.

By 1894 the General Watch Company had developed a new type of watch movement incorporating the revolutionary idea of having component parts that were interchangeable. This of course decreased manufacturing costs, made the manufacture of watches more efficient and also made watch repair easier. I simple name for this new product was required and it was the companies banker Henri Rieckel who came up with the simple and quite elegant name Omega. The Omega brand was a tremendous success and by 1903 it was decided that Omega would split from the General Watch Company as an independent enterprise, with the General Watch Company focusing its attentions on the manufacture of cylinder watches under trade names such as Helvetia.

In the depression of the early 1930s the Swiss watch manufacturing industry was in turmoil. There was a significant risk that many watch manufacturers and allied businesses would face bankruptcy. To prevent this the Swiss government and the Swiss banks provided funds to form Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG (ASUAG) as a vehicle to allow watch manufactures to pool resources and thus protect employment. ASUAG basically consisted of two arms, a conglomerate of movement blank manufacturers and movement part manufacturers, and a conglomerate of watch assembly companies under the company name of the GWC (General Watch Company) Ltd.  HelvHelvetia Naval Pocket Watch FIg 1 for Blogetia was one of the brands made by this newly merged company. At the time GWC Ltd made high quality watches for both the domestic and the military market. Emerging from the early 1930s was a growing trend toward rearming. This drove developments in the watch industry with the German military for example ordering high quality watches from Swiss manufactures incorporating design features such as the then new (1934) Incabloc shock proofing. Other countries followed, although the UK for example tended to buy comparable watches but of a lower specification that lacked the Incabloc shock-proofing modification. ThusHelvetial Watch Blog  Figure 2a Helvetia watches, being one of the major brands of GWC Ltd, found their way into the armed forces of both the German and Western Allies. Helvetia military pocket watches are currently quite readily available, although there are some quite rare examples such as the mid 1930s Royal Navy Helvetia pocket watch shown in Figure 1. This particular silver nickel cased black dialed Helvetia pocket watch carries British broad arrow, the Royal Navy Pattern No 301 and the serial number 4014547 on its back and has a Swiss made Helvetia signed caliber 32A movement (Figure 2). Understandably such watches had a habit of disappearing a fact that is probably related to the high losses of shipping experienced by the British Royal Navy during the 2nd World War.

After the 2nd World War, GWC Ltd continued to make high quality watches under the Helvetia name, including this absolutely stunning wrist watches. (Figure 3).  In 1968 the Helvetia movement factory in Reconvillier was bought by the SGT (Societe des Garde-Temps SA) although it seems the that the Helvetia  watch factory in Bienne remained independent. Sadly the invention of the quartz movement in the 1970s had a seriously negative impact on the manufacture of Swiss mechanical watches and Helvetia was one of the victims of this new innovation. UntitlHelvetia Blog Figure 3b

The Penrose Antiques Ltd Ruby Lane Shop

Well things have changed, our Ruby Lane shop has grown substantially and the number and range of stock items available has increased tremendously.  We now have a range of silver by excellent silversmiths such as the Bateman family and William Comyns. We also stock lovely porcelain including Royal Worcester, Old derby, first period Worcester and Crown Staffordshire to name but a few and pottery from makers such as Davenport, Doulton, Allerton, Spode and  Elsmore & Forster. We also have some lovely glass, 18th Century English Delft, high quality vintage watches (including military watches) and a few boxes, although good boxes seem to fly out almost as fast as we find them. At the moment we have a truly beautiful Regency rosewood and mother of pearl twin chamber tea caddy complete with the typical Georgian wooden ring handle and  typical elegant Regency moldings, see below. Boxes link this are normally quite distressed or have been questionably renovated, but this one is a real peach and in a lovely original condition. The stock is changing on an almost daily basis so it is definitely well worth visiting on a regular basis.Regency Tea Caddy 1a

%d bloggers like this: