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Holts Auctioneers

December 12, 2013
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


28 1/2in. nitro reproved barrel (in 2013) with tangent rear sight and broad blade fore-sight, cleaning rod, receiver marked 'STEYR 1904', some external rusting overall, the stock stamped with the UVF open palm and 'U.V.F. FOR GOD AND ULSTER' logo, together with a bayonet, crossguard serial numbered 397

Provenance: The vendor has kindly supplied us with the following information pertaining to a former owner of the rifle:

"Alexander McCreary Dickson lived all his life in County Down, N. Ireland where he was a well respected member of the farming community. He served on local councils and various agricultural and hunting group committees and has a local school named after him. He was a keen horseman and an elder of the local church.

In 1914 he joined the Royal Irish Rifles ( though under military age) and was awarded the M.C. for conspicuous gallantry in action on 1st July 1916 ( at the Battle of the Somme we believe). He led his platoon into the enemy first trench, and on being driven out, led them forward again and was severely wounded in two places, but still carried on. When finally forced back he was the last to leave, and brought a wounded man with him. Though his jaw was broken he refused to be attended to till he had reported to his CO."

The rifle was discovered in Dickson's home twenty years after his death and has passed by descent to the vendor.

Other Notes: This rifle was originally part of a cache of arms involved in the Larne gun-running operation.
The smuggling exercise was master-minded by Major Frederick Crawford and Captain Wilfrid Spender on behalf of the Ulster Unionist Council, to equip the quite recently formed Ulster Volunteer Force (U.V.F.) with nearly 25,000 rifles and between 3-5,000,000 rounds of ammunition. The U.V.F. had been set-up to fight against the imposition of Home Rule and Crawford was tasked with the procurement of arms. He approached several manufacturers including Steyr and DWM, and after several failed attempts, due to Customs intervention, the Larne plan was hatched.

Crawford secured the services of the S.S. Fanny to transport 216 tons of arms and ammunition, and amongst that consignment were 11,000 Mannlicher rifles built by Steyr in Austria. The arms were loaded aboard the ship on 30th March 1914 on the Baltic island of Langeland and she was ready to set-sail when Danish Customs seized the ship's papers. They had thought the arms were destined for Iceland where there was growing dissent by militants who sought independence from Denmark. However, the Fanny managed to leave harbour and steamed into a gale to hide from her pursuers until she was in international waters. Meanwhile, Crawford had bought another ship, the S.S. Clyde Valley, and she steamed out to meet the Fanny off the Irish coast and on the 19th April, the entire cargo was transferred between vessels. The crew then falsified the ship's name and the Clyde Valley became the S.S. Mountjoy II.

It had been arranged that another ship would enter Belfast Lough and arouse Customs suspicions to act as a smokescreen to the real operation that was about to take place at Larne. The 'Mountjoy II' docked in Larne harbour without hindrance and her cargo was transferred into two smaller vessels that took it to Donaghadee. Here the arms were transferred into many hundreds of motor cars, as the Belfast Evening Telegraph later reported, "It was an amazing sight to see this huge procession of cars stretching nearly three miles in length descending upon the town with their headlights ablaze". The guns and ammunition were then taken to safe houses and secret dumps.

This was the very first time that motor vehicles (civil ones in this case) had been used in any great number for a military operation. Quite naturally the operation aroused enormous interest while it was taking place, but the police did not act or stop any of the cars.
The cache of arms was never to see 'active service' as the outbreak of WWI sidelined political considerations in Ireland. Many of the U.V.F. members enlisted with the British Army's 36th (Ulster) Division and the 10th and 16th (Irish) Divisions. These regiments saw bitter action on the Western Front - (the 10th being amalgamated with the 16th following heavy losses at the Battle of Gallipoli), and by the end of the war both divisions were practically eradicated after further heavy losses at the Battle of the Somme and the 1918 German Spring Offensive.

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Accepted forms of payment: American Express, MasterCard, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer


Auction House will help arrange shipment, at buyer's expense

Buyer's Premium

£1 - 5,000: 25.0%
£5,001 - 75,000: 22.5%
£75,001+: 20.0%

From: To: Increment:
£0 £199 £10
£200 £499 £20
£500 £999 £50
£1,000 £1,999 £100
£2,000 £4,999 £200
£5,000 £9,999 £500
£10,000+ £1,000

Extended Bidding

5 minutes/bid

Contract of Sale - Terms and Conditions

Holt's charges a premium to the buyer on the hammer price of each lot sold at the following rates:
25% up to £5,000
22.5% from £5,001
20% from £75,001
VAT is payable on the premium at the applicable rate. VAT is also applicable to the hammer price when stated at the foot of the lot description as follows:

Items marked † are subject to 20% VAT on the hammer price under the prevailing UK VAT rule for newly manufactured goods.
Items marked * are subject to 5% VAT on the hammer price as an antique import.
Items marked ** are subject to 20% VAT on the hammer price as a modern import.
Where imported goods are purchased the following rules apply:
For UK VAT registered buyers buying in the course of their business - upon production of the buyer's VAT registration number, the VAT on the hammer price is payable to Holt's but HMRC will allow its refund by way of a VAT input tax deduction. A C79 Notice will be issued by HMRC to the buyer following purchase.

For other EU VAT registered buyers buying in the course of their business - upon production of the buyer's VAT registration number, the VAT on the hammer price is not payable to Holt's. Buyers must declare the purchase in their own member state and follow the appropriate procedure.

Where goods are exported to outside of the EU, refund of the VAT on the hammer price and the buyer's premium will be made by Holt's providing the UK Customs declaration has been completed and proof of export given to Holt's. Goods should be exported within 30 days of the date of payment.

Where non imported goods are exported to outside of the EU, Holt's will refund the VAT on the buyer's premium providing the UK Customs declaration has been completed and proof of export given to Holt's. Goods should be exported within 3 months of the date of payment.

With the exception of exported goods, VAT included in the buyer's premium is not recoverable.

For further assistance with any of the above please contact Holt's Accounts Department.
Purchasers must hold a valid licence to possess the item they are bidding on unless prior arrangements have been made with Holt's to store the item on their behalf whilst variations are sought. This may incur a nominal storage charge. Section 5 items may only be bid on by current Section 5 licence holders without exception. A valid Section 5
authority must be produced in order to view prohibited weapons. Overseas buyers should be aware that items classified as Section 5 prohibited weapons under UK law will incur additional shipping charges regardless of their classification outside the UK.

Buyers should make arrangements with Mrs Kay Ridley in advance of the sale date should they wish to pay by cheque. All major debit and credit cards accepted. There is a 3% fee for all credit cards, 4% for American Express.

Purchasers are responsible for shipping charges and licensable items can only be sent to a registered RFD.

Purchases may be collected on the day of the sale or by appointment from our gunroom in Norfolk. Cleared funds need to have been received and the necessary licence produced. It may be possible by prior arrangement (minimum seven days notice) to organise collection from a valuation day or delivery to a Registered Firearms Dealer.

Holt's request that items purchased are collected within one calendar month of the sale. Items not collected after one calendar month following the sale will incur a storage charge of £1 +VAT per day per item unless express arrangements to the contrary have been made beforehand with Holt's.
Buyers of items covered by Section 7 should refer to chapter 9 of the Home Office 'Firearms Law - Guidance to the Police' for eligibility and restrictions.

We are unable to send ammunition and cartridges by postal courier.

Holt's Auctioneers deal in GBP only.

Proof and Condition of Firearms:

Please note that the descriptions of firearms in the catalogues are restricted to external examination and the status of proof. Firearms are not stripped as a matter of course and it is recommended that any purchase is stripped and cleaned and that the firing and safety mechanisms are checked by a qualified gunsmith before use.

Firearms sold with a Certificate of Unprovability or Proof Exemption have been examined by a Proof House but not subsequently proved. These firearms are being sold as items of interest or curiosity and are not to be considered as safe to use.



1. The Auctioneers means Holt & Company Auctioneers Limited of Modern and Antique Guns.
2. 'Deliberate forgery' means an imitation made with the intention to deceive as to authorship, origin, age or source, which is not so described in the catalogue and which has a value materially less than if it had been in accordance with the description in the catalogue.


1. Whilst every care is taken in the preparation of the catalogues, the Auctioneers accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies contained therein.
2. Purchasers and vendors are in direct contract with one another in respect of each individual Lot. A separate collateral contract exists between each buyer and Holt's.
3. All transactions to which the Auctioneers are a party shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of England and Wales.
4. Holt's trade in pounds sterling GBP


1. Lots shall be held to be at the buyer's risk upon collection by, or on behalf of, the buyer.
2. Legal title shall not pass to the buyer until the purchase price together with the premium has been paid in full.
3. Holt's charge a Buyer's Premium at a percentage of the hammer price as follows:
25% up to £5,000
22.5% from £5,001
20% from £75,001
VAT at the appropriate rate is applied to the Premium.
4. Buyers will be required to supply to the Auctioneers their names and addresses and if required, a deposit, immediately after the fall of the hammer.
5. Commission bids will be executed free of charge but must reach the Auctioneers by 6pm on the day preceding the sale. Telephone commission bids must be confirmed in writing.
6. The buyer shall not rely purely upon the catalogue description but shall satisfy himself as to the physical condition and the description of each Lot.
7. Interest calculated at 2% above the base rate prevailing at National Westminster Bank PLC shall be payable at the Auctioneers discretion on any accounts not settled within 7 days of date of original invoice. Interest received on the hammer price will be remitted to the vendor concerned.
8. Items bought in the Sale are to be collected (or shipping arrangements made) within one calendar month from the Sale otherwise storage charges at the rate of £1+VAT per Lot per day will be incurred.
9. The Auctioneers shall have the discretion to re-enter items in a subsequent Sale which have been paid for but not collected within three calendar months from the Sale. The purchaser accepts that he/she becomes the vendor and that the storage charges will also be deducted from the hammer price.
10. All shipping charges will be invoiced separately. Purchasers may not withhold payment on the main invoice in order to make one payment for both.
11. By making a bid, prospective purchasers acknowledge acceptance of these conditions.


1. In the event of any dispute following the sale of a Lot, the Auctioneers, only upon receipt of a written notice of the facts within three months of the sale, will investigate the claim and may rescind the sale provided that:
2. The Lot is returned in the same condition as at the time of the sale;
3. Written proof of the forgery accompanies the Lot and the buyer demonstrates to the reasonable satisfaction of the Auctioneers that in light of the catalogue description the Lot is a deliberate forgery;
4. The general opinion of scholars and experts at the time of the sale would have indicated that the Lot was a deliberate forgery: or,
5. Scientific processes in existence at the time of the sale would be established that the Lot was a deliberate forgery.
6. The benefit of this condition is not assignable.


1.1 We are selling the Lot on your behalf as your agent and you therefore
undertake to us that:
1.1.1 you are the owner of the Lot or, if you are not the owner of the Lot (whether or not you have notified us that you are acting as an agent for a principal), you are duly authorised by the owner of the Lot to sell it;
1.1.2 save as disclosed to us in writing, you sell the Lot with full title guarantee free from all liens, charges, encumbrances and third party claims;
1.1.3. you are legally entitled to sell the Lot and you are legally capable of conferring on the Buyer quiet possession of the Lot;
1.1.4 you have complied with all requirements, legal or otherwise, relating to any export or import of the Lot, all duties and taxes in respect of the export or import of the Lot have (unless otherwise agreed in writing with us) been paid and, so far as you and any principal for whom you act in relation to the Lot are aware, all third parties have complied with such requirements in the past;
1.1.5 you have notified us in writing of any material alterations to the Lot and provided us accurately with all information (including any concerns expressed by third parties relating to the authorship, attribution, condition, provenance, authenticity, age, suitability, quality and origin of the Lot) in relation to the Lot, or any Description of it, of which you are aware or which is in your possession or of which any principal for whom you act in relation to the Lot is aware or possesses;
1.1.6 you have notified us of all information of which you are aware or reasonably ought to be aware relating to the present or past ownerships or use of the Lot (including any association of the Lot with persons or events of note).
1.1.7 in so far as you or any principal may become aware of any information (including any concerns expressed by third parties) in relation to the Lot, or any Description of it, after this agreement has been made, you will promptly inform us of it;
1.1.8 unless you notify us in writing to the contrary at the time the Lot is delivered to us, there are no restrictions, (whether copyright or otherwise), affecting the Lot or our rights to photograph or illustrate the Lot, or reproduce (in any manner and in any media) photographs or illustrations or any text of any information or Description of, about or relating to the Lot provided by you or on your behalf.
1.2 You authorise us to give to the Buyer on your behalf the undertakings or information referred to at paragraphs 1.1.1 to 1.1.8.
2.1 You agree to indemnify us against all claims, proceedings, liabilities,
costs, expenses and losses arising from:
2.1.1 any actual or alleged breach of any undertaking or obligation by you
to us, whether by act or omission or otherwise;
2.1.2 any injury, loss or damage caused to any person by you;
2.1.3 our exercising any of our rights, powers and/or duties if we have reasonable cause for believing that:
2.1.3.i we and/or you may be or are restrained by order of the court or other competent authority in respect of the Lot, or may be or are otherwise not legally entitled to sell the Lot; or
2.1.3.ii the information about the Lot given to us by you or on your behalf is inaccurate or misleading in any fraudulent respect; or
2.1.3.iii the Lot is a Forgery;
2.1.4 our receiving or recovering (or seeking to recover where you have authorised us to do so) the Purchase Price
2.2 Whenever it becomes apparent to us that the Lot is the subject of a claim by someone other than you (or that such a claim can reasonably be expected to be made), we may, at our absolute discretion, deal with the Lot in any manner which appears to us to recognise the legitimate interests of ourselves and the other parties involved and lawfully protect our position and our legitimate interests.
3.1 The Lot will be sold Without Reserve unless a Reserve has been agreed with us or we have accepted a Reserve under paragraph 3.5 or if paragraph
3.6 applies.
3.2 An agreed Reserve or the agreement that the Lot is to be sold Without Reserve cannot be altered without our written consent.
3.3 If the Property Receipt states a figure for the Reserve, that is the agreed
Reserve with which the Lot will be sold.
3.4 If the Property Receipt states that the Reserve is "zero", "AD", "NR", "sell" or "0" or that the Lot is to be sold Without Reserve or that there is no Reserve, it is agreed that the Lot will be sold Without Reserve.
3.5 If the Property Receipt does not contain any of the statements referred to in paragraphs 3.3 or 3.4, the Lot will be sold Without Reserve unless by written notice received by us at least 24 hours prior to the start of the Sale, you ask us to place a Reserve on the Lot at a particular figure and we accept, in writing, that figure as the Reserve.
3.6 If the figure you give for the Reserve on the Property Receipt or in a notice under paragraph 3.5 exceeds the lower figure of any Estimate for the Lot which we have notified to you, we can refuse to accept it as the Reserve. If we do so, we will give you notice of this and the Lot will be offered for sale Without Reserve unless you agree that the Lot is offered for Sale at a Reserve set by us.
3.7 All Reserves will be in the currency of the country in which the Lot is to be sold. Any Reserve placed in any other currency will be converted into that currency using the mid market exchange rate at the close of business on the day before the Sale as quoted to us by National Westminster Bank Plc.
3.8 Where the Property Receipt states that we are given "discretion" in relation to the Reserve, you authorise us if we deem it necessary in orderto sell the Lot (regardless of estimate) to accept bids for the Lot at up to 10% less than the Reserve. You authorise us to refuse a bid(s) from any Bidder, including from the highest Bidder, and whether or not there is a Reserve if such refusal is reasonable for the protection of your and/or our interests in the circumstances.
4.1 In the event of a Lot failing to reach its reserve we shall be entitled to charge you a commission of 10% (plus VAT) of the reserve price, unless we have previously agreed to an alternate charge.
5.1. If you withdraw any Lot after the Contract has been signed, we reserve the right to recover from you any expenses incurred.
5.2 If you withdraw any Lot from sale after the Lot has been catalogued, we reserve the right to charge you a withdrawal fee of up to 35% (+ VAT) of the lower estimate (or reserve price, if there is one) plus any expenses incurred.
5.3 We retain the right to withdraw Lots at our discretion at any time for any reason.
6.1 Unless otherwise agreed in writing, we will assume the risk of loss or
damage to Property received from the Seller where possession of such is actually taken by one of our authorised representatives or one of our employees. The risk for property placed into the possession of a third party, for onward transmission to us or to one of our authorised representatives, shall not be assumed by us until the property is actually received by one of our employees or authorised representatives. Once assumed the risk shall stay with us until:-
(i) it passes to the Buyer; or
(ii) if the item is unsold, when released by us direct to the seller. Where
released by us via one of our authorised representatives or via a courier
instructed by us (with the charge incurred reimbursed by the seller) the risk
will pass to the seller only when he is in actual possession of the property.
Where, under firearms licensing laws, such release can only be made to a
third party, namely an RFD holder, our assumption of risk will terminate
upon actual possession by that third party. Under these provisions any
claim made by a seller for non-delivery / damage must be made to us within
7 days of the date of delivery or intended delivery. We will not accept liability
for any claim made after this period.
6.2 Holt's Auctioneers shall charge reimbursement of insurance fees at the
rate of 1.5% of:-
(i) the Hammer Price of the Property, if sold;
(ii) the mid estimate, if not offered for sale (or our reasonable estimate of
auction value where there are no pre-sale estimates).
6.3 If damage or loss occurs whilst the Property is at our risk, the maximum
amount of our liability shall be as set out in Condition 6.2(i) and (ii), as
applicable, less Seller's Commission and Expenses.

We will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by:- (i) normal wear and tear, gradual deterioration or inherent vice or defect; (ii) proofing and / or repair processes; (iii) war or radioactive contamination.
7.1 We act as agents only and therefore shall not be accountable to you for any sum until payment has been received from the buyer. Whilst we will use our best endeavours to obtain payment from the purchaser on your behalf, we cannot accept liability if the purchaser fails to make payment.
7.2 The seller accepts that items requiring proof before sale will be submitted to the Proof House and any work reasonably required for successful proofing will be undertaken on behalf of the seller at his cost.
7.3 Whilst we take every care in the preparation of our catalogues we cannot accept responsibility for any inaccuracies contained therein.
7.4 You authorise us to deduct the sale commission (at a minimum of £11.50 per lot (plus VAT)) in addition to illustration charges from the hammer price.
7.5 We shall have discretion to enter items into any one of our sales, additionally, we have the discretion to re-enter items into a subsequent sale in the event of a lot being unsold. The seller accept that the reserve will be reduced by an appropriate margin.

Data Protection:
We may use your data to notify you about changes to our services or to provide you with information about upcoming auctions or events which we feel may be of interest to you. We will not disclose your data to any third party. You have the right to request us not to use your information for these purposes by contacting Holt's Auctioneers Ltd. at Church Farm Barns, Wolferton, Norfolk, PE31 6HA, or by e-mail at [email protected]
"Us", "Our", "We", "The Auctioneer" Holt's Auctioneers Ltd
"You", "Your" The Vendor
"Forgery" an imitation intended by the maker(s) or any other person to deceive as to authorship, attribution, origin, authenticity, style, date, age, period, provenance, culture, source or composition, which at the date of Sale had a value materially less than it would have had if the Lot had not been such an imitation.

Shipping Terms

Auction House will help arrange shipment, at buyer's expense

Contract of Sale

See full Terms & Conditions.


Whilst every care is taken in the preparation of the catalogues, the Auctioneers accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies contained therein.

Buyers Premium & Taxes

A buyer's premium will be added to the hammer price of all Lots sold at the following rates: 25% up to £5,000, 22.5% from £5,001, 20% from £75,001.


Within 7 days of original invoice.

For Sale from Holts Auctioneers