This stunning work of art was hand engraved by Swedish born Nils Hultgren who in the 1950's was regarded as the world's greatest gun stock carver. Mr. Hultgren lived and worked in Pacific Beach and was also known for carving the altar at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Balboa making this very special rifle a part of San Diego history. It can be viewed for a limited time by local customers before it is placed on auction nationwide. We expect this rifle to sell for between $5,500 - $7,500. Read the article below written in 1957. This is just a sneak preview. There will be many more photos in the coming week.
Pacific Beach Wood Carver Called World's Finest Practitioner of Art
by Gil Cummings (The Sentinel, Wednesday, July 24, 1957)
Wood carving is sometimes called a lost art.
This falls considerably short of the truth, as anyone who has visited the neat, well-equipped shop of Nils O. Hultgren at 4677 Cass St., will affirm.
The shop's walls are lined with wood carvings which he has done over the years. The subjects vary from scenes depicting Panamanian natives to a lifelike elephant with genuine ivory tusks.
There is also a scene in which a family of birds is being raised in the overturned helmet of a soldier, and an amazingly fine relief of the famous World War II scene of six Marines raising the flag atop Mt. Surabachio.
There also are figures of people in various costumes - and one, based on an Esquire drawing, which has no costume at all whatsoever.
These and other carvings have won Hultgren awards in many exhibits both here and in Panama where he worked as a machinist during World War II.
All this work comes under the heading of a hobby.
Hultgren's real work, through which he earns his bread and cheese, is transforming the lowly but utilitarian rifle stock into a think of beauty.
Not uncommonly some enthusiast presents him with a well-loved rifle or shotgun whose stock has become scarred and ugly. Under his skillful hand the scars disappear, the shape becomes streamlined and may even carry the inlaid figure of some game animal in ivory.
Other times he starts from scratch and builds and beautifully carves the complete stock from a bit of rare wood taken from his extensive supply. Most of this material is so fine that he must buy it at many dollars a pound.
The completed gun is the finest specimen of the wood carver's art and, happily, is finished with a varnish that will withstand wear and weather - often seven or more coats.
Hultgren, a smallish man with an obvious pride in his craft, learned wood carving as a boy in his native Sweden.
He came to this country as a seaman in 1923, landing in Philadelphia. From there he moved to Johnstown, Pa, where he worked in the steel mills.
Later, he worked as a wood carver for the Victor Talking Machine Co.
Pennsylvania also has another claim to fame in his life: he was married in Altoona.
A machinist of no mean skill, he went to Panama at the war's outbreak to ply that trade. However, good wood carving continued to give him his greatest sense of achievement, and in addition to the work previously mentioned he built and carved the altar in St. Andrew's Cathedral in Balboa.
When the war ended, he went to Los Angeles where he remained until he came to Pacific Beach four months ago.
Some of the credit for bringing this fine craftsman here must go to Gene McIntire, an enthusiastic hunter and a strong admirer of Hultgren's gunstock carving.
Work done by Hultgren looks expensive - and by most standards it is.
One of his stocks, affixed to a fine barrel and firing mechanism, brought $4,500. This, however, was an especially plush job. More run-of-the-mill stocks bring from $250 to $300.
In addition to McIntire, Hultgren has carved stocks for such well-known local gun fanciers as Dr. Bernard Ederer, La Jolla, and Earl B. Smith, Dr. Tom Mitchell and Max Thudersheim, Pacific Beach and Henry Bugenhagen.
If you should be in the market for a beautifully carved stock, Nils Hultgren, who has been described by authorities as the world's finest craftsman of his kind, can make it for you.
But you'll have to call on him personally. He has no telephone. Doesn't believe in