A beautiful pair of shotguns by George Gibbs…

George Gibbs, Gun Maker, Trade Label
George Gibbs, Gun Maker, Trade Label

George Gibbs is a gunmaker we don’t hear a lot about today. Even though he helped design one of the most successful hammerless shotguns of the 19th century, and his son partnered with William Metford to create one of the finest falling-block rifles of the 1870 and 1880s, you would be hard pressed to find a hunter or shooter who recognizes the firms name today. This is a shame, because many of the guns built by George Gibbs, Gunmakers are fantastic.

This George Gibbs .450 3 1/4″ Double Rifle is one example of just how nice a Gibbs can be. The pair of sidelock shotguns you see here are two more. Graham Mackinlay has these guns now. Made as a true pair of Best-quality side-by-sides, they’re in beautiful shape.

    George Gibbs Sidelock Ejector Shotguns. Pic courtesy Graham Mackinlay
George Gibbs Sidelock Ejector Shotguns. Pic courtesy Graham Mackinlay

Pair of 12 gauge George Gibbs Sidelock Double Barrel Shotguns: These are ‘best’ grade sidelocks and have been in one family from new. Both guns retain a large amount of colour hardening. The actions and locks are engraved with incredibly fine acanthus scroll. They have 29″ steel barrels with fine sunken top ribs which read, ‘George Gibbs Bristol and 35 Savile Row, London W (barrels Sir Joseph Whitworth fluid pressed steel)’. The guns are in their original leather case with named accessories, striker pot and disc key. The highly figures stocks are 14 3/4″ with leather-covered pads. The barrels of these guns are in phenomenal condition and will last several generations. It’s rare to find some fine guns in this condition. Price: £ 25,000

    George Gibbs Sidelock Ejector Shotguns. Pic courtesy Graham Mackinlay
George Gibbs Sidelock Ejector Shotguns. Pic courtesy Graham Mackinlay
    George Gibbs Sidelock Ejector Shotguns. Pic courtesy Graham Mackinlay
George Gibbs Sidelock Ejector Shotguns. Pic courtesy Graham Mackinlay
George Gibbs Sidelock Ejector Shotguns. Pic courtesy Graham Mackinlay
George Gibbs Sidelock Ejector Shotguns. Pic courtesy Graham Mackinlay
    George Gibbs Sidelock Ejector Shotguns. Pic courtesy Graham Mackinlay
George Gibbs Sidelock Ejector Shotguns. Pic courtesy Graham Mackinlay

Good gun alert: a 12 gauge J.W. Tolley hammergun…

J.W. Tolley 12 gauge hammer sidelock double shotgun
J.W. Tolley 12 gauge hammer sidelock double shotgun

I bought my first hammergun 10+ years ago, and I’ve been a nut for them ever since. Breechloading hammerguns were a major step in the transition from percussion firearms to modern hammerless double barrels. Unfortunately, the  breechloading hammergun period peak quickly and then fell off just as fast.

J.W. Tolley 12 gauge hammer sidelock double shotgun
J.W. Tolley 12 gauge hammer sidelock double shotgun

Breechloading hammerguns came on the scene in the 186os, first as pinfires, then as centerfires. But by the late 1870s, these shotguns were falling out of fashion. That’s because new side-by-sides like Anson & Deeley’s boxlock and W. & C. Scott’s  sidelock were coming onto the market.

These “hammerless” designs caught shooters’ attention, and then a bigger and bigger chunk of the new-gun market. Even though most makers offered hammerguns into the 20th century, the numbers of them ordered would never  surpassed their progeny again.

J.W. Tolley 12 gauge hammer sidelock double shotgun
J.W. Tolley 12 gauge hammer sidelock double shotgun

That bring us to this very nice vintage 12 gauge J.W. Tolley hammergun. Made in the early 20th century, it’s what I would call an late-era hammergun, and it was delivered towards the end of the gunmaker’s career.

James William Tolley was born in 1832 he started his business in Birmingham around 1858. His company was successful and by 1879 they had a reputation for large bore double barrelled guns and rifles. In about 1883 the firm opened a shop in London and around 1894 they even had a shop in New York City. Around 1919, J & W Tolley seems to have merged with Holloway & Naughton and by 1955 guns were no longer being made under the J & W Tolley name.

The 12 gauge you see here has a “New Bond St. London” address on it, so it was made around 1905 or so. It looks to me like it’s a medium-grade hammergun in very nice original condition. I especially like the color on the action and the original blueing on the Sir Joseph Whitworth’s Fluid Compressed Steel bbls. Overall, it’s a heck of a nice double, and a great way to start your own obsession with hammerguns.

J.W. Tolley 12 gauge hammer sidelock double shotgun
J.W. Tolley 12 gauge hammer sidelock double shotgun

Crazy Purdey…what the heck was the owner thinking???

12 bore J. Purdey, serial #10532
12 bore J. Purdey, serial #10532

J. Purdey shotguns have always been custom made, and for the most part, if you could afford it, they would build it. It’s obvious that the gentleman who ordered James Purdey #10532 could afford an awful lot.

This 12 gauge, bar-in-wood hammergun is coming up at Sunday at this auction in Italy, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who is looking at it and wondering what the original owner was thinking when he ordered it.

It has three sets of barrels (two damascus, one fluid), two original stocks and forends, but only one set of locks. I guess you could call it a “Half a Pair, Plus One.” The case is odd, too. You don’t see a lot of Purdeys in French-fitted cases, or with such a wide array of accessories. This one even has ivory-handled tools.

12 bore J. Purdey, serial #10532
12 bore J. Purdey, serial #10532

Here’s more info on the gun from the auctioneer’s site:

A Purdey double-barrelled centerfire gun in its original case Provided with a set of three different pairs of barrels: the first one, damascened, with rib marked “J. PURDEY & SONS. 314 1/2, OXFORD STREET, LONDON”, stamped with Victorian marks at the lower part and the writings “13 IV”, “12 B” and “NOT FOR BALL”; the second pair, identical to the first one, but stamped “JP” at the lower part on top of the writings; the last pair, blued, with blue finishing, rib with same mark followed by “MADE OF SIR JOSEPH WHITWORTH’S FLUID-PRESSED STEEL.”, with remains of Victorian stamps and number “12” at the lower part. All smooth, 12 gauge barrels, 76 cm long. The locks and the receivers finely engraved with racemes and small floral motifs, hammers and trigger guards en suite; plates signed “J. PURDEY & SONS”, opening levers with blue blueing and mark “PATENT”. Also provided with two butts of different briarwood, both checkered at the neck and decorated with a gold plaque at the bottom, engraved with same monogram. The gun is complete with two fore-ends, one marked “STEEL BARRELS”. All components (butts included) marked with serial number “10532”. The metallic parts keep most of the original blueing. Kept in its original, wooden case, lined with red velvet and covered by leather, with transportation handle (damaged); complete with Purdey label and two more labels, one marked with the gun serial number. Complete with original tools, having ivory handles. The owner commissioned a research at the Purdry archives and found out that a double-barrelled gun cal. 12, number 10532 was made in 1879 for “Mr. Park”, with 30 inch barrels and a set of extra barrels.
dimensions: length 117,5

12 bore J. Purdey, serial #10532
12 bore J. Purdey, serial #10532

Who the heck was Guyot?

Shooting sportsman around the world know that there are a lot mysteries in the world of fine firearms, even today when the web makes information so easy to find. One of these mysteries is the gunmaker, or gunmakers, Guyot.

Over the years, I’ve come across a bunch of double barrel shotguns with the name Guyot on them. They have come in a variety of grades – from field-grade boxlocks to Best-quality sidelocks. All of them appear to have been from France and they have all been very well made.

Guyot, Arqer. A Paris, 18 Rue de Ponthieu

A few year ago, the gunsmith James Flynn wrote this article about a 16 gauge Guyot shotgun a customer had sent him. It originally appeared in Shooting Sportsman magazine. Here’s an image of gun, courtesy of Mr. Flynn:

James Flynn Guyot 16 gauge double-barrel shotgun

This guns looks to have been made in the 1880s. With a bar-in-wood-style action and a push-forward underlever, this is an unusual hammerless gun. These features were more popular on hammerguns, like on this Purdey from Steve Barnett Fine Guns, but almost never seen on hammerless models. The gun also has Whitworth fluid compressed steel bbls and it’s a non ejector. I suggest you read the whole article and check out the pics to learn just how interesting and well made this gun is.

Hey London, eat your heart out.

Here’s another Guyot sidelock, courtesy of Lewis Drake and Associates. This is a 12g, Best-quality game gun, marked N. Guyot, Paris. It was made in the 1930s and it’s in near new, original condition:

12g Guyot, Paris, sidelock shotgun


Description from Drake’s site:

“Guyot, Paris, best 12ga. lightweight sidelock game gun. Wt. 6 3/4 lbs. Stock dimensions: 14 1/2″x 1 5/8″x 2 3/4″x straight. Superb 28″ chopper lump steel barrels with 2 1/2″ chambers and mint bores (.726″/.726″), choked .011″/.020″, with good wall thickness (.030″/.033″), retain 100% of the original black finish. Nicely engraved action with ejectors, hidden 3rd. fastener, bushed firing pins, articulated front trigger, and automatic safety. Beautiful bar action sidelocks with intercepting safety sears are of the highest quality and, along with the action, retain 95% of the original hardening colors. Nicely figured straight grip stock with checkered butt and splinter forend retain virtually all the original finish.”

Nice, huh? Looks at how the forend iron matches up and fits into the action. I’ve seen Purdeys that aren’t as well made.

Here are more pics of this fabulous gun. As you can see, it’s a best quality – I would say on par with some of the finest guns made in the UK.

Here’s another N. Guyot, Paris, sidelock, pic courtesy of Safari Outfitters. I saw this gun at a show last winter and I thought it was a Purdey:

Another 12g Guyot, Paris, shotgun

It sure looks like Guyot was influenced by Purdey’s engraving pattern and overall style. The toplever is also Purdey-esque and the gun has chopperlump Whitworth-steel bbls — like a Purdey. Notice that the hinge pin screws in from the right-hand side on this one. On the Guyot above, it comes in from the left. Why? I don’t know. Also, the screw that fastens the lock to the action is blued on this gun. On the other one it’s color-case hardened. Again, I have no idea why.

Beautiful boxlocks, too.

Along with sidelocks, I’ve also come across some fantastic boxlocks by N. Guyot, Paris. Some of them have looked Belgian and reminded me of Francottes (I’ve heard of Guyots bearing just Belgian proof marks). Others have had their own look. Here’s a 16g, image courtesy Cabela’s Gun Library:

16g Guyot boxlock shotgun

As you can see, this N. Guyot boxlock is a top-quality shotgun. It features Sir Joseph Whitworth fluid-compressed steel bbls (very English), ejectors, a hinged front trigger, and it looks like it intercepting safety sears (these would keep the gun from firing if the hammers dropped without the triggers being pulled).

Those dimpled pin/screw heads are real Continental, too. I like how the action is filed up on the gun, especially the shoulders/double beads on the sides. Whoever made this gun put a lot of time and work into it. Just look at the metal-to-metal fit. Very well done.

And finally, here’s a pair of 16g Guyots, also courtesy of Steve Barnett Fine guns. These are sideplated boxlocks with exquisite, full coverage engraving. Again, these are very nice guns.
Pair of 16g Guyots


So what do we know?

Not much, really:

-A number of gun makers and gun retailers who traded under the Guyot name.

-They spanned a timeframe from the last 19th to the mid 20th century.

-They made some very nice guns.

-They may have had some guns made by Francotte or by other makers in the Belgian trade.

Here’s what I’ve found out about the gunmakers going by the name Guyot:

This listing of Guyots from a guide to Europeans who were involved in the gun trade

And that’s about it.

Do you know any more about them? Do you have one?

Contact me and we’ll talk.

Thanks

Gregg@Dogsanddoubles.com

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