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A Shotgun for Clark Gable’s True Love

A Golden Shotgun in the Golden Age of Hollywood

During the happy years of their marriage, not only did the couple enjoy tending to their own livestock, they also were active hunters. Gable even had in his contract with MGM that he would make “no pictures during the hunting season.” A quick online search will reveal no shortage of photos showing both husband and wife hunting together, most often for ducks or upland birds. Gable owned numerous firearms, some of which were gifts from Carole, who quickly picked-up the hunting bug after the two were married. A period article in “Ladies Home Journal” recounts that on her first duck hunt with Clark, she bagged more ducks than he did, and he couldn’t have been happier about it. It should come as no surprise then that in 1940 he presented this extravagant and rare golden shotgun to the woman who was his hunting buddy as well as the love of his life.


Carole Lombard golden shotgun

Even at a distance, this O/U shotgun is striking; it’s bright gilt parts contrasting sharply with the blued barrels and rib. The receiver, single trigger, trigger guard, and release lever are all lavishly gold plated and have been set wonderfully into deluxe stock complete with fleur-de-lis checkering on the forend and wrist. Stippling texture covers the receiver, rib, break lever, and trigger guard, while a diamond-shaped gilt plaque on the right forend indicates the shotgun’s provenance with a simple inscription: “1940, To Carole. Love, Clark.”

Clark Gable shotgun inscription

However, it is this same forend that gives the viewer the first hint that it is not a typical fowling piece. A closer inspection reveals this to be a side-opening shotgun, one of just 14 hand-made by gunsmith and Erich Klebe.

P1000679-small

Klebe was born in Berlin on September 23, 1893 and served as a gunsmith’s apprentice at the age of 13. After 5 years, he began work for a gun dealer in his hometown and quickly found himself handling and repairing the hunting pieces for Paul von Hindenburg, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and other high ranking German officials. Klebe tells of building guns with curved stocks for men with a blind eye so they could sight their rifles with their good eye, and building iron frames on which a taxidermist could mount the Kaiser’s trophies. He also served as an armorer during The Great War. In August of 1923, he and his family emigrated to the United States, and took up residence in Minneapolis, MN. There he worked in residence at sporting goods store Kennedy Sports rent free due to the amount of customers he attracted to the business. It is even said that baseball great Ted Williams owned one of Klebe’s custom shotguns.

Read the rest of RIA’s post on the gun below.

https://www.rockislandauction.com/riac-blog/clark-gable-shotgun-for-carole-lombard?utm_source=Rock+Island+Auction+News&utm_campaign=b46ff7685c-202004_25_Clark+Gable&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1f4b8db853-b46ff7685c-148925473

6 thoughts on “A Shotgun for Clark Gable’s True Love”

  1. There have been a few side-opening O/U shotguns (and a SxS design as well) over the years. The prior side-opening O/U’s I’ve seen documented were from the British “best gun” house, J. Dickson & Son, of Scotland. Today, JD&S are known for their “round action” guns.

    Another unusual double-gun action to look at is the Darne’ shotgun, with the sliding breech, from France.

    Reply
  2. If I remember the story right my great grandfather new Carol from when he was a chauffer for her. I could be wrong, heard this story years ago from my mom and don’t want to open the can of worms that is asking. Supposedly he they saw each other across the street right before she died but there was too much traffic to get across and were busy. Just said we’ll have to get together soon and then she was in the news a few days later.

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    • Kirk,

      The shotgun was designed for a Right handed shooter.
      This link will show the Old Gun Smith holding one of his guns with the action open.
      http://www.nashwauk.net/images/graphics/webpic1.jpg

      the gun was originally designed for a Trap shooter so that the “ejected” hulls would fly out away from the shooter. The guns also had a 3 position safety. Safe, Fire and Trap where the safety would remain in fire position.

      Reply
  3. Looking at the gun… Was it set up for a left-hander, or was the idea to make it as awkward as possible for a right-hander to load with the off-hand?

    I’m trying to make that opening-on-the-right work for me as a right-hander, and it’s not happening. I would want the hinge on the outside, not the inside, and roll the shotgun away from my off-hand with the barrel opening upwards.

    Or, am I missing something? The way this looks, the lady it was built for was a lefty.

    Reply

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