Feed on
Posts
Comments
16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553

16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553

Bespoke. In the shotgun world, it describes a custom made. A side-by-side or over under for you. Gauge, wood quality, engraving, grip style, barrel length, chokes, weight, triggers, and stock dimensions are a few of the features we imagine “bespeaking”.

But in the Golden Age of gunmaking, bespoke went beyond this. In the case of this side-by-side by John Dickson & Son – Scotland’s most famous maker built a shotgun on London’s famous Beesley action.

The Beesley action is ingenious. But compared to other sidelock designs, it’s complex and a pain to build. That’s why so few makers copied it.

Atkin used the Beesley on their Spring Openers, and Francotte used it on a few of his Best-quality sidelocks. But that’s about it. If other makers used the Beesley action, I haven’t seen these shotguns.

16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553

16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553

So why did Dickson do it? They created the Round Action, one of the most elegant side-by-sides of all time. Why would they build a shotgun on another company’s design? I suspect it’s simple: that’s what the customer wanted.

Lot 150: JOHN DICKSON & SON. A RARE 16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553: 28in. nitro reproved chopperlump barrels (in 2013, require bluing), rib gold-inlaid ‘2’ and engraved ‘JOHN DICKSON & SON. 63 PRINCES STREET. EDINBURGH’, 2 3/4in. chambers, bored approx. 1/4 and 1/2 choke, wall thicknesses below recommended minimum, incorporating Beesley patent self-opening system, patent no. 31 of 3rd January 1880, toplever gold-inlaid ‘2’, automatic safety with gold-inlaid ‘SAFE’ detail, bold acanthus scroll engraving with decorative borders, the underside with a cartouche engraved ‘JOHN DICKSON & SON. EDINBURGH’, (some wear), 14 1/2in. replacement stock, weight 6lb.

16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553

16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553

Provenance: The makers have kindly informed us that this shotgun was completed as No.2 of a pair of ‘best sidelock hammerless ejectors (Purdey actions)’ with 28in. barrels in September 1913 for A.M. Spence.

Estimate £1,500-2,500

5 Responses to “Did John Dickson & Son build Purdey shotguns? Yes…”

  1. J-P Daeschler says:

    Nice article Greg. Dickson built many guns on other makers actions and Patents and in this case, as you pointed out, its what the customer wanted.
    In total Dickson built ten guns on the Purdey/Beesley action, this one being the fifth one.

  2. Gregg says:

    J-P-

    Thanks for the comment, kind words, and info. Do you think Dickson made the action, or do you think they bought it in the white from Purdey?

    The lifters on this one look a little different from what I’ve seen on most Purdey-made guns

    Gregg

  3. William Juch says:

    Gregg-
    Been awhile since I’ve seen you at Doc’s. Didn’t know you worked at NE Arms. Hope you had a good season. Here are some of my conjectures.

    This pair of guns was made after the Purdey Patent ran out. Thus, consider the lifters look somewhat like a Henry Atkin “spring opener.” It is HIGHLY unlikely the action was purchased from Purdey. W.C. Scott did have a license from Purdey to make the Beesley gun. They had the capability of creating the forgings all the way to finishing. So Dickson could have gotten the entire gun made up by Scott. Recall that Alex Martin, for example, had many of their best sidelock built in Birmingham, Celtic engraved and all! Otherwise a specialist forging company supplied the rough action to those who did the rough machining. The work could have been farmed out to the London or Birmingham trade makers who understood the Beesley action or Atkin version. There were several London-trained Scots gunmakers who were peripatetic. Dickson might have finished the gun. So far, I have not been able to find a mention of this action being sold or gun made up in the Beesley records.

    Look for article (Tim Wilkes and) I wrote entitled “Conventional Wisdom” in the February/March edition of Fieldsports Magazine. You may find it relevant to this discussion, or just a good read….

  4. William Juch says:

    I believe from the Proof Marks that this gun was probably built in London. Note that it has a more recent metric proof.

  5. Gregg says:

    Yeah – that’s a London proof mark on the action. It must have been built by some outworkers for Dickson. The Dickson records specify “Purdey pattern”, so I doubt it’s an Atkin Spring Opener. But who knows?

    Thanks for the comment.

    Gregg

%d bloggers like this: