The title “gunmaker” has always had always had a broad definition, especially here in America. Some of our gunmakers did make shotguns and rifles from scratch (or mostly from scratch). But others bought parts from overseas and then assembled, stocked, and finished off the firearm over here.
Many more American “gunmakers” were retailers who had their firearms built in their name by real gunmakers in the UK and Europe. Charles Daly is the most famous of these gunmaker-retailers, and until around World War II, side-by-sides carrying his name were made in Germany. From the looks of the shotgun you see here, William Donn was following a similar business model.
William Donn was gunsmith/gunmaker who worked in the Peoria to Chicago area from around 1870-1910. For while he has was partners with his brother, John. Later in his career he was on his own. Sometimes during in this second phase he imported this shotgun from the UK.
This side-by-side was made by Thomas Kilby of Thomas Kilby & Son, Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham, England, Kilby was a famous British barrel maker, and it looks like he also supplied finished SxS shotguns to retailers in the United States. While most ofhte work looks British, I’m not sure if Kilby also had the stock carved. He may have, or Donn may have had it done over here. Regardless, it’s a beautiful shotgun, and one I would love to call my own.