Historical information

Hollis Brothers were first recorded trading from 11 Weaman Row in 1840 but appear to have started trading a little earlier. The firm later became Isaac Hollis & Sons and claimed establishment from 1814. Richard & William Hollis were recorded trading in Bath Street Birmingham from 1814 to 1818 so it may be that the Hollis brothers were descended from them. The brothers were Isaac Hollis (1815) and Frederick Hollis (birth date unknown), but Frederick died 20 December 1839. Isaac was recorded in the 1841 census living in Weaman Row. He was a 25-year-old gun and pistol maker, married to Emma 1821. They had two children, Isaac (1837), and Henry (1839). After Frederick died, Isaac carried on trading under the name of Hollis Brothers until 1845 when he re-named the business Hollis Brothers & Co who traded up to 1848. In 1844 Isaac entered into a short term partnership with William Tranter at 10 & 11 Weaman Row, presumably to complete a particular contract or supply certain parts, this partnership lasted until 1849.

In 1848 Isaac took in Isaac Brentnall Sheath as a partner, and the firm of Hollis & Sheath was established, expanding into 10 Weaman Row. Hollis & Sheath were licensed makers of percussion breech-loading guns. in 1861 the firm changed its name to Isaac Hollis & Sons on the departure of Isaac Brentnall Sheath. Isaac Sheath died in July 1875 By about 1870 Isaac Hollis and Henry Hollis had taken over the day to day running of the business. Isaac Hollis was responsible for the overall management and the marketing of the firm's products. Henry was responsible for manufacturing. The firm became volume producers of inexpensive trade guns and sporting guns for the South African and the British colonies.

In 1870 the firm opened a shop at 44a Cannon Street in London; in 1871 this moved to 83 Cheapside. Isaac Hollis Jnr died October 1875 in Birmingham aged 37. He was never married and in 1876/1877 Henry registered a limited liability company, Isaac Hollis & Sons Ltd, but by 1879 they were again trading as Isaac Hollis & Sons. From 1879 the London shop was at 6 Great Winchester Street.

From 1932 to 1933 the London business traded as Hollis, Bentley & Playfair Hollis, Bentley & Playfair finally closed in Birmingham in 1953.


The shotgun is not in pristine condition and is not very significant historically or valuable, although made by a well known and respected manufacturer of firearms there are many better examples of Issac Hollis and Sons shotguns in collections and for sale. This particular example is of a standard pattern for utilitarian use of which many were made.

Physical description

Shotgun, double barrel, 12 gauge, with cleaning rod. Right barrel has been cut shorter and has sharp edges on the muzzle. Metal stock extension, cleaning rod comprising 3 pieces that screw together. Gun is stored in a black painted, wooden case with hinged lid. Inscribed "I. HOLLIS & SONS", SN 84245.

Inscriptions & markings

"I. HOLLIS & SONS". SN on stock “84245”. Badge on both sides “Crown [symbol] / BV”. “Crown [symbol] / NP”, “12G inside Diamond [symbol]”, “NITRO PROOF”, “STEEL 84245”
Paper note included with gun, written in felt tip pen “ENTERPRISE”.