The following text is reproduced from The Times (London), Thursday 30 June 1881, and deals with the sale of the Soper Rifle Factory.
In Liquidation. – The Soper Rifle Factory, Reading. – Important unreserved Sale of the whole of the valuable Plant, Machinery, Tools, and Stock in Trade appertaining to the manufacture of the world renowned Soper Rifle; also the Letters Patent of a new Tricycle, the special tools for making same, and some half-dozen finished Tricycles of an entirely new design, together with the general contents of a first-class gunmaker’s shop (which will be removed from the retail establishment in Friar-street to the above factory for convenience of sale).
Mr. GEORGE RUSSELL BUTLER has received instructions from the Trustee of Mr. William Soper’s Estate to SELL by AUCTION, at the above Factory (which adjoins the Great Western Railway Station at Reading), on Wednesday and Thursday, the 6th and 7th of July, 1881, at 11 for 12 o’clock punctually each day, and exceedingly valuable and complete MACHINERY, Special Tools, Stock in Trade and Effects, comprising the entire contents of the factory and of the retail shop in Friar-street. Among the principal items may be mentioned, double-geared, slide and screw-cutting lathe, single speed lathe, set of four valuable milling and slitting machines, together with the very costly specially designed steel tools used in the manufacture of the Soper rifle, perfectly new slitting and drilling machines, by Muir, of Manchester, a quick speed treadle drilling machine, a segment sawing machine, numerous tools in good condition, about 115 Soper rifles (the list prices of which vary from six to 22 guineas), valuable match rifles with Sharp’s, Henry’s and Soper’s barrels, a large number of barrels (Sharp’s, Metford’s, Henry’s, and Soper’s), stocks, and other component parts of rifles, about 30 sporting guns, ammunition, two mechanical rests of the Government pattern as used at Woolwich, clinometer, anemometer, a well-built shooting shed (20ft. by 16ft.) at the Reading Rifle range, and the usual appurtenances of a gunmaker’s shop, together with a valuable 1880 patent for improvements in velocipedes, a few special tools for making a new kind of tricycle, and six new tricycles complete. The whole to be sold without the slightest reserve to close accounts. The attention of gunmakers, machinists, sportsmen, and others is specially directed to this important sale, whereby an exceptional opportunity is afforded of securing machinery, rifles, and other things of a most expensive character at prices far below the actual cost of manufacture. Both the machinery and stock are in excellent condition, much of it being equal to new. On view two days prior to sale. Full details in catalogues to be obtained of the Trustee, Chas.H. Andrews, Esq. 1, Gresham-buildings. Basinghall-street, London, E.C.: of the Auctioneer, 6, Market-place, Reading.
The stock of barrels including Metford and Sharps is of interest. An 1880 advert for The Soper Rifle Factory, Reading, notes that they are able to supply customers.
with the Best Barrels that can be made on the Metford, Henry, Sharp, Soper, or other systems allied to his [William Soper] Action.
This advert goes on to list prices for Match Rifles, Military Pattern, Express Rifles, Sporting Rifles and Carbines. They were all available fitted with either a Soper of Henry rifled barrel. For an additional two guineas the Military and Match Rifles could be fitted with "Sharp or Metford Barrels."