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Revised: 10/2/2010 

Theodore Roosevelt, in many ways, was one of the most unique presidents of the United States. A man who personified the ultimate macho image coupled with the most honorable sense of right and wrong. He was also one of the most ardent naturalists and conservationists ever to hold office. During his tenure, some of the greatest advancements in conservation were implemented. There is so much to say about this remarkable man but in the book, Theodore Roosevelt, Outdoorsman by R. L. Wilson, the introduction serves as a great definition of the man – “Theodore Roosevelt was one of the greatest of American Presidents, and one of the most versatile and accomplished individuals ever to hold that office. His public and private record of achievements during his sixty years of life (1858-1919) is remarkable. He was a social reformer and trust-buster, statesman and diplomat, rancher and hunter, naturalist and conservationist. In addition, he was a soldier, explorer and author. He also held the offices of Vice-President and Governor of New York. He was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, co-organizer of the Rough Riders, builder of the Panama Canal, and founder of the Boone and Crockett Club. Roosevelt’s colorful and forceful personality endeared him to the people of his time. To all Americans he was a great exemplar of courage, hardihood, and self-reliance. Through his daring exploits in public office and private pursuits, Americans experienced vicariously a life of excitement, action, and adventure. At times, he almost seemed larger than life itself. Not only did he beckon all Americans to the “strenuous life”, but he set the pace and pointed the way. By precept and by example, he taught his countrymen to shirk no responsibility, shun no duty, flinch from no danger. He personified the highest American ideals and infused the nation with a new consciousness and pride”. This gun, a gift from the President of Fox Gun Company, was one built for, presented to, and owned and used by Theodore Roosevelt on his famous 1909 African safari. After Roosevelt’s death, it passed to his son Kermit; then to his son, Kermit Roosevelt Jr. It was then sold privately and now for the first time in history is being publicly offered for sale. This exciting shotgun is considered to be the most historic and important shotgun known to exist.

THE HISTORIC PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT FOX “F” GRADE SHOTGUN. SN 13292. Cal. 12ga. Even without the Roosevelt connection, this A.H. Fox shotgun is one of the finest American made doubles ever produced. Add in the Roosevelt provenance, and it becomes historic nearly beyond comprehension. This great shotgun has 30″ barrels, choked MOD/FULL with matted, tapered, concave rib, single ivory sighting bead, 2-3/4″ chambers, extractors and dbl triggers. Top of the right barrel over the chamber area is marked “MADE EXPRESSLY FOR HON. THEODORE ROOSEVELT” and the left barrel “BY A.H. FOX GUN COMPANY PHILADELPHIA U.S.A.” Breech ends of barrels have 1/8″ band of scroll engraving with a gold line through the rib. Frame is spectacularly engraved with ribbon on each side marked “ANSLEY H. FOX” and has full coverage intricate patterns of foliate arabesque scrolls and oak leaves throughout with a gold setter on the left and right sides. Hinge pin is inlaid with 4 gold diamonds on each end. Bottom of the frame is engraved with a large round vignette that depicts a scene of 3 partridge feeding in a woodland background. Top tang has “SAFE” inlaid in gold and trigger bow has extremely fine floral scroll with an oval vignette of a duck in flight over a marsh scene. Mounted with dark, mineral streaked, French walnut with very fine, about 30 lines per inch, full checkered splinter forearm that has fleur-de-lis and ribbon carving. Buttstock is checkered to match and has checkered side panels with fleur-de-lis and the checkered round knob pistol grip with fleur-de-lis and ribbon carving, 14″ over its original serrated hard rubber buttplate. Bore diameter: left -.727, right -.725. Bore restrictions: left -.038, right -.015. Wall thickness: left -.038., right -.038. Drop at heel: 2-1/2″, drop at comb: 1-5/8″. Weight: 7 lbs. LOP 14″. This is accompanied by an oak and leather trunk case that measures 33-1/4″long x 9-5/8″wide x 3-5/8″deep that is for a firearm with 30″ barrels and is marked on the front edge of the top “MADE IN ENGLAND”. Interior is green felt lined and compartmented for a stocked receiver and barrels with various other compartments containing a 2-piece ebony and brass shotgun cleaning rod, 35″ long unassembled; three sections of a “C. M. POWERS GUN CLEANER” solid brass cleaning rod whose handle also contains a small oiler; another section of a steel cleaning rod with jag end and a German silver clamp-like handle with cleaning rod marked “PAT APPL’D FOR”. In addition, there is an ebony handled turn screw with German silver ferrule marked on the blade “HOLLAND & HOLLAND”. Most certainly this turnscrew is from President Roosevelt’s “Big Stick” Holland & Holland double rifle which he also carried on the African safari. A covered compartment in the right end of the case contains an unusual double-ended flat metal box-wrench, 4-3/4″ long that retains about 75% of its original black paint and is purported to be an Evinrude outboard motor wrench which Mr. Roosevelt and Kermit were known to have used on their Amazon expedition. The compartment also contains a partial metal tube of “ANTI-RUST / BIG CHIEF / GUN GREASE” and a quantity of tow. The left front compartment contains what appears to be the original handle from the case to which are attached numerous strings from old luggage tags, one of which is from a warehouse in New York. Another partial tag is from the United States Lines. The main front compartment contains two pieces of material which are purported to be part of Mr. Roosevelt’s pajamas. The lid and bottom of the case are partially covered by numerous applied travel labels, some applied over their predecessors, mostly illegible with mostly illegible handwriting. One, however, on the right end of the lid appears to be a Uganda Railway label. This label is very ancient and dark brown with severe losses. There has been speculation offered that this case may have been from Mr. Roosevelt’s Holland & Holland double rifle. Accompanied by a copy of Theodore Roosevelt Outdoorsman, R.L. Wilson. Also included is an A. H. Fox Gun Company factory letter over the signature of John T. Callahan, Arms Historian for A.H. Fox, Savage & Stevens which identifies this shotgun as an “F” Grade, 12ga, with chokes MOD/FULL, walnut stock, 14″ LOP, 1-5/8″ drop at comb, 2-1/2″ drop at heel, 7lbs. 8oz. Notes: (from face of card) trigger pull right bbl 5lbs, trigger pull left bbl 6lbs, auto safety (the word ejector was present but crossed out) “This gun is for exhibition purposes and must be as perfect as skill can make it.” “Thin comb” (underlined), shop records simply say “Exhibition Gun. Mr. Fox will select stock, frame & barrels”, (from reverse of card) “Pres. Roosevelt”. The date on the record shows the gun to have been started on September 18, 1908. No completion date or shipping date is present but itmust have been February 1909 based on letter from President Roosevelt. Also accompanying are copies of the cited production card. In addition, there is a letter over the signature of Roe S. Clark, Arms Historian for the Savage Firearms Company, dated February 26, 1975, addressed to Thomas C. Kidd of Zionsville, PA, wherein he details the same information as above. This being the 100th anniversary of the completion of the extraordinarily famous Theodore and Kermit Roosevelt African Safari expedition of 1909-1910, it is extremely appropriate in offering President Roosevelt’s Fox shotgun to relate its history and historical significance to accompany this sale. Beginning some time in early 1908, knowing that he no longer planned to run for a second full term as President, Mr. Roosevelt began planning a major hunting safari. Initially he had contemplated an extended trip to Alaska but soon changed to an African hunting safari and concentrated his efforts in that direction. He had been there previously with his family in December of 1872 and January of 1873 and apparently decided that such a hunting trip would be more appropriate. After considerable correspondence with internationally known African hunter Fredrick Selous, international conservationist Edward North Buxton and Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, the primary character of The Man-Eaters of Tsavo fame, convinced President Roosevelt that such a safari was feasible. President Roosevelt, being the inveterate letter writer that he was, corresponded with a great variety of experts from a very wide range of disciplines including sculptors, photographers, taxidermists, zoologists, other hunters and of course, the Winchester Arms Company to obtain suitable firearms. He also communicated regularly with his son Kermit regarding almost every detail and decision that would have any affect on the expedition. The media kept the world informed of the President’s intentions regarding the safari which prompted various manufacturers to write the President. One of the correspondents, in a letter dated August 13, 1908, Mr. Ansley H. Fox, President of the A. H. Fox Gun Company, wrote: “the directors of this company, having read of your proposed hunting trip, have instructed me to offer to make to order for you the finest gun this company can produce”. For whatever reason, President Roosevelt responded that he would decline the offer. However, the President apparently quickly changed his mind and in a letter dated September 10, 1908, wrote to Mr. Fox stating: “when I wrote you, I did not intend to take a shotgun to Africa. I find, however, that I would like to take such a gun, provided that at close quarters I could use it with ball also. In other words, I should like in case of an emergency to have it loaded with ball and use it as a spare gun for lion. Now I have rather a pride in taking American rifles on this trip, and in the same way I should like to take an American gun; but of course you may have by this time decided that you do not care to repeat your very kind offer; in that event will you tell me what the cost of such a gun as I have described, twelve-bore and plain finish would be?”. And in a postscript: “of course the use with ball would be wholly exceptional; normally I should use it for geese, ducks, guinea fowl & etc.” Mr. Fox apparently responded immediately advising that his company intended to provide the President with the finest shotgun his company could manufacture. In so doing, Mr. Fox had created a difficult situation for his craftsmen because the Roosevelt expedition was scheduled to leave in only 6 months and obviously the shotgun had to be delivered well before that time. As fate would have it, the Fox Gun Company had plans to exhibit at the Grand American Handicap which was scheduled for late spring of 1909 and their plans, which were well under way, included two “F” Grade shotguns. These two shotguns were serial numbered 13291 & 13292. The work order card indicates that production of number 13292 began on September 18, 1908 while number 13291 wasn’t started until about three weeks later. Number 13291 was to become the magnificent “F” Grade exhibited at the Grand American Handicap Trap Shoot later that year. Fox gun, number 13292, was finished in sufficient time to be delivered to President Roosevelt, probably in Late January or early February 1909, as the letter on White House stationery, dated February 11, 1909, to Mr. Fox reads in part “the double-barreled shotgun has come, and I really think it is the most beautiful gun I have ever seen. I am exceedingly proud of it. I am almost ashamed to take it to Africa and expose it to the rough usage it will receive. But now that I have it, I could not possibly make up my mind to leave it behind. I am greatly obliged to you, and I am extremely proud that I am to have such a beautiful bit of American workmanship with me”. Then five days later on February 16, 1909, President Roosevelt again wrote to Mr. Fox “do let me thank you most warmly again for that beautiful gun. It is so beautiful that I take pleasure in just looking at it. I shall keep it as long as I live, and when I die it shall go to my son Kermit who accompanies me on my African trip.” And so President Roosevelt’s Fox shotgun is documented as having been delivered to his hand. With the increasing publicity and notoriety of the President’s African expedition, it soon morphed into something he had apparently not originally envisioned. While President Roosevelt was reasonably wealthy, the expenses for this large an expedition rapidly exceeded his ability to pay. After a discussion with the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, it was decided that they would raise $50,000 toward the expenses of the expedition, but added three scientists to the party. The President received and additional $50,000 from Charles Schribner, the magazine and book publisher, for him to write articles to be published in their magazine, which were later consolidated into the now famous African Game Trails. Andrew Carnegie contributed another $25,000 and an additional $30,000 while the Presidential party was in Africa. The total cost, not including donated arms and equipment, amounted to over $150,000 which in today’s money would equate to approximately 3 million dollars!! In that day, the Presidential succession took place on the 4th of March and on March 23, former President Roosevelt and Kermit departed Hoboken, NJ, aboard the steamship Hamburg with a stopover in Naples and a transfer to the steamship Admiral to finish their journey to Mombasa, British East Africa. Among the hundreds of crates, cartons and cases of the expedition’s gear, were 20 cases of firearms, ammunition and accoutrements. Case number 12 contained “one Fox double-barreled shotgun, one leather compartment case for Fox shotgun, one leather case for Fox shotgun and one jointed cleaning rod for Fox shotgun.” Case number 6 contained 300 brass 12-gauge shot shells with loads ranging from “single ball” to “dust”. After arriving in Mombasa, the party traveled to Nairobi where they hired at least 260 porters to transport the expedition’s equipment and supplies. The expedition began on April 21, 1909, and ended March 14, 1910 when they reached Khartoum. Very little is recorded of The President or Kermit having used this Fox shotgun, nor are there any known photographs of either of them holding or carrying it. However, there is one mention in a monthly essay by Mr. Roosevelt, published in Schribner’s magazine of October 1909, wherein he said “I had a Fox No. 12 shotgun; no better gun was ever made”. Another account in African Game Trails, speaks of using the Fox double barrel to shoot a large rabbit-like creature. There are other references to harvesting Egyptian geese, yellow-billed “mallard”, francolin, sand grouse, spur fowl and any number of other game species for the pot and for study specimens. After the Roosevelts’ returned from Africa in 1910, nothing is known about the Fox shotgun until Theodore and Kermit took it with them on their ill-fated 1913-1914 “River of Doubt” Amazon expedition which was published in Mr. Roosevelt’s book Through the Brazilian Wilderness. This expedition nearly killed Mr. Roosevelt, he having contracted “jungle fever” and a serious leg wound which are said to have shortened his life by at least 10 years. Apparently at one point during this expedition, when the situation had become almost untenable, Mr. Roosevelt was prepared to abandon all of his equipment and have the party make their way directly to safety, but was persuaded by Kermit to remain, which saved the Fox shotgun. President Theodore Roosevelt died peacefully in his sleep on January 6, 1919 and, as promised, passed his Fox shotgun to his son, Kermit. Upon Kermit’s death in June, 1943, the Fox shotgun was left, with his estate to his wife Belle and then to his son, Kermit Jr. In 1974, Kermit Jr., and the Roosevelt family made a decision to dispose of the family firearms and, through a firearms dealer intermediary who sold the Fox shotgun to eminent Fox historian and outdoor writer, Thomas C. Kidd of Zionsville, PA, along with Kermit’s custom Springfield rifle. In a letter dated 30 March 1977, on Kermit Roosevelt & Associates, Inc. letterhead, over the signature of Kermit Roosevelt, to Mr. Thomas Kidd, he states that “the Fox shotgun belonged to my grandfather, Theodore Roosevelt. It was specially made for him, he took it to Africa on his safari of 1908-9 and specified that after his death, it should go to my father and not to be sold”. In another paragraph he states, in effect, that the Fox shotgun and Springfield rifles he had inherited from his father “…were never part of the Sagamore Collection. They stayed in my mother’s house in New York until her death and at that time they were turned over to me.” Also accompanying is a notarized statement from Thomas C. Kidd dated February 21, 2000, wherein he identifies this shotgun, by serial number, and states that he had purchased it in 1974 from an intermediary agent selling items for Mr. Kermit Roosevelt and his immediate family members. He further states “the gun’s provenance path is unbroken, as the historically important gun has been in the personal collection of Thomas C. Kidd, located at…in Zionsville, Pennsylvania, since its acquisition by the above mentioned from the Roosevelt family in the fall of 1974”. In addition, there is a bill of sale for this shotgun from Thomas C. Kidd to an undisclosed buyer which is dated February 22, 2000. The fact that this is “the most historical American double barrel shotgun ever made” is hard to debate but it is also certainly one of the finest American shotguns ever made. Combine this with the fact it was owned by one of the most incredible men to ever hold the office of President of The United States, and finally consider that it was used on one of the most famous of all African safaris. In summation, one must conclude that this is a true American treasure. It is unquestionably the epitome of the ultimate American shotgun and hard to conceive of another that could ever eclipse it in importance. PROVENANCE: President Theodore Roosevelt; to Kermit Roosevelt; to Kermit Roosevelt, Jr.; to Thomas C. Kidd Collection; to a private collector. CONDITION: Extremely fine. Barrels retain nearly all of their fine original factory blue with just a couple minor handling marks. Receiver retains strong original factory case colors on the sides and in the more protected areas with the bottom thinned but still with visible color blending with hand-worn silver patina. Stock is sound with sharp checkering, expected nicks, dings & button drag marks and retains its original finish with hand-worn patina through the grip. Forend is sound with sharp checkering, some minor handling marks and retains most of its original finish. Mechanics are crisp with non-automatic safety and bright shiny bores. Case is worn and fragile with finish loss on the edges and some loose stitching. Handle is detached and inside the case (as mentioned above). Straps are deteriorated and broken with their remnants inside the case. Interior is moderately to heavily soiled and stained but with light wear. Bottom front edge of the wood around the lock is cracked but lock is still functional. The tools and implements are fine except the brass cleaning rod which appears to have been used as a punch to dislodge a stuck article from a gun bore as both ends are battered. JR 275 4-40555 BDT167 (please contact Firearms department for estimate)

Auction: Firearms - Fall 2010
Please Note: All prices include the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium, which is paid by the buyer as part of the purchase price. The prices noted here after the auction are considered unofficial and do not become official until after the 46th day.