A rare firearm that was built for an Indian prince who became something of a Victorian celebrity in rural Tayside will go on sale this week.
Maharajah Duleep Signh, the last Sikh ruler of the Punjab, is one of the most celebrated historical characters in Highland Perthshire.
Born in Lahore in 1838, he succeeded his father as rule of the Sikh Empire – which was more than twice the size of the UK – when he was just five years old.
He was exiled to Britain at the age of 13, when his kingdom was annexed by the East India Company in 1849.
The Maharajah moved into Castle Menzies, near Aberfeldy, where he became known as the Black Prince of Perthshire. He was often seen out and about in full Highland uniform.
During his time in Scotland, the prince became a close friend of Queen Victoria.
Now Bonhams, one of world’s oldest auctioneers of antiques and fine art, is offering a chance to own a piece of his colourful history.
On Thursday, a 28-bore single barrel gun made by J Purdey and Sons for the prince will go under the hammer with a starting price of £1,100.
The firearm- described as a “child’s hammer gun” – is believed to have been bought for one of his two oldest sons: Victor, who was 11 at the time, and nine-year-old Frederick.
The gun was made in 1877, after the prince left Scotland. When the lease on Castle Menzies expired in 1858, he rented a house at Auchlyne, about five miles from Killin, from the Earl of Breadalbane, before moving to the Elveden Estate in Norfolk, on the Suffolk border.
A Bonhams spokesman said it was at his English country estate that the prince gained a reputation as “the fourth best shot in England”.
“Subsequently, his two oldest sons Victor and Frederick became two of the best shots in England,” he said. “On one remarkable day in the early 1890s, they bagged 846 partridges before lunch.”
Two firearms owned by Victor and Frederick have previously sold at auction for more than £11,000.
The Prince and his wife Bamba Muller had six children but tragically their first son lived for just 24 hours and was never named.
Last year, the Sridasmesh Sikh Pipe Band led an international pilgrimage to Kenmore Church to perform a lament at the heir’s recently restored grave.
Duleep Singh died in Paris in 1893 and was buried in a churchyard in Suffolk.