Antique Gun Auction Fetches Millions
The first-ever Chinese firearm with an imperial reign mark offered at auction was sold by Sotheby’s London for just shy of £2 million. The musket, an exquisitely designed gun, was crafted for the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty—considered the greatest collector of the arts in Chinese history. In addition to the imperial sign, the elegant firearm also sports four incised characters which indicate its unique ranking. The exceptional grading, te deng di yi—which translates to ‘Supreme Grade, Number One’—makes it one of the most important firearms ever produced for the Emperor. Created using luxurious materials, imperial guns were made in very small numbers. The Qianglong Emperor, who is also considered to be the longest-reigning emperor in Chinese history, is unlikely to have ever held a gun in battle but is said to have regularly used muskets whilst out hunting.