Friend of Hemingway's pistols auction at Bonhams

A pair of 40-Bore pistols owned by accomplished big game hunter Major Dick Cooper - best friend of Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke and a friend of Ernest Hemingway - are to be offered at Bonhams, Knightsbridge as part of its Fine Antique Arms and Armour sale on April 29.

The pistols, by John Manton & Son, are expected to sell for £6,000-9,000.

When Hemingway went on a safari in 1934, it was Cooper who played host to him at his house in Babati which subsequently featured in Hemingway's book Green Hills of Africa.

Cooper also advised Hemingway on the guns he should use on a hunting expedition in East Africa.

Major Cooper became friends with von Blixen in 1927 when he was taken on a three-month safari with von Blixen's company, Tanganyika Guides Limited.

Years later von Blixen, who was married to Out of Africa author Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen), wrote to Cooper: "After nearly ten years of hardships endured together and many bottles of whiskey shared, I dare to affirm that we are the best friends in the world."

Von Blixen left his rifles to Cooper on his death in 1946.

Having settled in the United States after World War II, Cooper kept on his farm in Africa (near Lake Manyara, Tanzania), and is said to have died in 1952 by drowning in a Cape buffalo hollow.

Cooper enjoyed the unusual distinction of having shot down a low-flying German aircraft from the trenches in France in 1917 with his .450 Holland & Holland rifle, normally used for shooting deer.

Major Dick Cooper was, of course, just one of many exceptional people to be associated with Ernest Hemingway. Another was Fidel Castro, whose meeting with Hemingway was photographed by Castro's personal photographer, Alberto Korda, and sold at Dominic Winter's auction, this month.


Images: Bonhams

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