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Available Guns

John Robertson of London, made in 1931

20 Gauge, A & D Ejector, side-by-side shotgun


We are very pleased to be able to offer this delightful little 20 gauge gun by John Robertson (the celebrated man behind Boss & Co.). Whilst Robertson and his team concentrated on the hand-crafted Boss guns, many customers would ask for more affordable guns, often for keepers and young sons. Robertson realised the importance of fulfilling these requirements, but at the same time did not want to compromise the reputation of Boss & Co. He therefore provided a line of boxlock guns carrying his name on the gun, John Robertson. It's interesting to note that the rib of the barrels has the Boss & Co. London address of that period. and the gun carries a Boss & Co. serial number.

The gun is in fine condition inside and out with partial scroll engraving and 'John Robertson' engraved in banners on the side of the action. The gun is fitted with a lightly figured long stock, with fine chequering and the barrels measure very well and the bores are unmarked inside and out. The gun has had new barrels fitted in 1954.

In order to prepare the gun for sale we have given the gun a full service, strip and clean, the stock and fore-end wood has been sympathetically cleaned and re-oiled, all the chequering has been cleaned out, the barrels have had their ribs stripped and relaid and furniture re-blacked and pins re-coloured. 

  • Price: £4500
  • Action: Anson & Deeley, top lever with Scott spindle and Purdey bolt, rocker safety and Anson push-rod fore-end.
  • Gauge: 20
  • Barrel material: Steel
  • Barrel Length : 28in
  • Chambers: 2 1/2in
  • Proof: Birmingham Nitro Proof at 20 (.615) in 1954
  • Bores:  .615 (R) & .615 (L)
  • Walls: .033 (R) & .033 (L)
  • Chokes :  IMP CYL (R) & 1/2 (L)
  • Rib: 5/16in -> 1/4in
  • Ejectors: Yes, Southgate type 
  • Stock dimensions: 14 7/8in to heel, 14 3/4in to centre, 15 1/4in to toe, Drop at comb 1 5/8in, Drop at heel 2 1/16in 
  • Cast Off: 3/8in
  • Weight: 5lb 8oz
  • Location: Dunkeld

John Robertson - The man behind Boss & Co.

Boss & Co, a name so highly regarded it has become the gun of choice for those seeking the very best money can buy. Thomas Boss was the name behind the company, Boss being a common surname in the 12th and 13th centuries, but while Thomas is rightly credited with the foundation of Boss, the making of Boss can be accredited to a Scotsman named John Robertson.  John’s father, John Ireland 'Gunner' Robertson founded his own gunmaking business in Haddington, East Lothian in 1830, situated at 1 Hardgate, an address that still exists and the building remains largely unchanged. Robertson senior had a reputation as a master gunmaker who made guns with incredible accuracy and precision and, according to the Donald Dallas book ‘Boss & Co Best Gunmakers’, Robertson was also the first to fit a telescopic sight atop a rifle during the 1830s. In 1839 John Ireland Robertson and Jean Dudgeon had their third son, christening him John Robertson, a child who would later become the owner of Boss & Co. As he grew, John was immersed in his father’s renowned and highly regarded gunmaking business where he leant his own craft under the direction of his father. 

In 1858 Robertson made the decision to leave Haddington for Manchester to join gunmaker Whitworth. This decision was taken for a number of reasons, one being the fact that his father’s gun business was seeing a steady decline, as provincial demand for guns waned. The second was a feeling that he had to move South to be at the forefront of the gun trade, despite there being a number of highly-regarded Scottish gunmakers at that time. After 4 years at Whitworth, where he gained a huge amount of experience in gun and rifle manufacturing, Robertson left Manchester in 1862, moving further south to Westley Richards in Birmingham. Robertson spent a short 2 years in Birmingham, his interest captured by their development of breech-loaders, but the lure of London was too tempting to ignore. 

1864 saw Robertson finally make the move to London where he found work for James Purdey. At the time Purdey, like Boss, produced high quality guns and welcomed skilled journeymen like Robertson. During his 9 years at the company he became the right-hand man of James Purdey, a position that afforded him the opportunity to develop his skills in business leadership while continuing to be a hands-on gunmaker. After many years as an indemand journeyman, he longed to run a business of his own where he could unleash his knowledge and skills while feeding his neverending passion for innovation. In 1873, aged 34, he went his own way and rented premises in London where, rather than create his own brand, he used his reputation to gain work as an outworker for the leading gunmakers of the time. Unsurprisingly his reputation and experience meant he was soon working for most of the leading gun manufacturers of the time, and his business expanded rapidly. 

Across London Boss & Co was being run by Edward Paddison, a nephew of Thomas Boss who apprenticed to Boss in 1838 and owned the company from 1872. In 1890 he sought a partner to help reinvigorate the company as he had aged and found managing the business a struggle. Robertson has long-supplied skilled work to Boss and had sent plenty of large bills, some of which remained unpaid. Having had first-hand experience of his work, Paddison had little hesitation in offering Robertson a half-share in Boss. The deal would see outstanding debts cleared, leaving a sum of £600 to be paid by Robertson to complete the deal. Upon the death of Paddison in 1891 his half share was passed to a nephew who had little interest in anything other than drawing his share of profits. Eventually, in 1893, Robertson bought out the other half share and became the sole owner of Boss, having had to re-mortgage his home to release the required funds. Boss & Co was now, finally, under his sole control. Robertson maintained his trade business alongside Boss & Co, but soon the Boss business expanded rapidly. This expansion was accredited to his new approach and innovations at Boss attracting more interest and more sales. 

To cope, many staff had to move from the trade business across to Boss to keep up with the increased demand Robertson had attracted. Before his ownership Paddison had continued to make guns in the same way he had done for years, with reliability taking the lead over style. Robertson changed that almost immediately and set about streamlining their guns, adding grace, shape and form with no loss of reliability. This desire for visual appeal led to him designing the Boss Hammerless Ejector in 1897, a mechanism that had beauty as well as reliability and is an action still in use at Boss to this very day. The invention of the Hammerless Ejector led Boss to be known as the racehorse of best guns, their sleek appearance giving similarity to the lines of a muscled thoroughbred horse. The lithe beauty and form of the Boss Ejector allowed Robertson to create the now world-famous Boss Over and Under gun in 1909. 

Robertson did not invent the O/U but he created an Over and Under gun that was elegant, shapely, strong and far lighter than any other on the market. Immediately it set the standard and became the benchmark, a celebrated design that remains unsurpassed. So good, the Boss O/U is one of the most copied gun designs in history, but nobody builds one better than Boss.  Robertson is also credited with the invention of the first reliable single-trigger in 1893, an invention that enabled both barrels to be fired with one trigger, rather than the more commonplace two. Robertson had studied the single trigger since 1890 and defied press and customers alike who said it couldn’t be done with the required reliability. Not only did he show a working double-trigger, that he allowed media and customers to fire, he also built a triple-barrel gun to further demonstrate the effectiveness of the single-trigger. Once again, it fired perfectly during a non-stop test. The singletrigger was produced from that day forwards and has since been heralded as the last development of importance in modern guns. Boss now had more to offer than ever before, reliability and quality mixed with innovation and style. A winning combination that would set Boss on a fast-track to be the very best, setting a standard the company would follow for years to come. While Boss are known as Builders of Best Guns Only, the best gun being a London gun, it was a Scotsman who elevated Boss to be the best in the world.