Artist friend Nance McManus sent me this wonderful image by the 20th century Russian artist Ivan Bilibin.

I wasn’t aware of him, but there is a lot on Wiki here, including many wonderful paintings and other images.

I won’t be owning one soon– Sotheby’s asking price for “The Hunt” was in the middle hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Greener Guns and Books

The first William Greener started an English gunmaking dynasty that still lives on. (English guns at least have not yet declined and fallen, though affording a new one can be difficult).

I own one of Greener’s products, a 10- bore Damascus duck gun from the 1880’s, still in service. (I got it from the vaults of Kirby Hoyt’s Vintage Guns).

It has far finer engraving than most wildfowl guns, on the distinctive sculpted “Facile Princeps” Greener action.

The first William wrote the first of several gun books that his family created , one of which is still in print.

The first edition was called “Greener on Gunnery” and came out in 1831.

A couple of years ago my friend Jeff Nicoll, physicist, arms negotiator, Virginia gentleman, and all- round scholar, conceived of the odd idea that we should have an entry for a word in the Oxford English Dictionary. He thought the proper term “Best Gun”, as in London Best, should be that word, and asked me to find an early reference. I did, in the original Greener. Jeff decided to get a copy, and when we were done, he gave it to me.

But being as it was Jeff, it was no “ordinary” copy. For one thing, it had the bookplate of the legendary cricketer W. R. Grace.

But Jeff also knows my Russophily, so I guess he figured the inscription from the first William to “The Emperor of all the Russias” might please me too.

I don’t think I ever had as moving a gift– scholarship, guns, books, and history. Thanks, Jeff!