Here’s a late alert for something that great to have if you’re a serious Purdey collector: It’s a genuine James Purdey & Sons Ltd. Catalog, probably from the ’60s. It’s on Ebay.com now, and the auction ends today @ 12:12PM EST.
Old catalogs like this are great reference tools. I like them because they give you the chance to see just how the maker promoted and sold his guns – which features they called to mind, the terms used to describe certain models, etc. These old catalogs also let step into the mind of a buyer from 50-60 years ago to see the options they were presented with.
The 1860s were tens years of change for James Purdey & Sons. The impetus was the breechloader, and at end of the decade, Purdey would step into the modern era of shotguns with the two patents which would changed sporting guns forever.
Breechloaders were introduced to the UK at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and after several years of refinements by makers like Joseph Lang, these revolutionary doubles started to catch on with shooters throughout the UK.
Slowly, London’s famous gunmakers followed this trend. According to Donald Dallas’s book Purdey: The Definitive History, the James Purdey sold their first breechloader in 1858. The following year, 68 of the 205 firearms the firm made were breechloaders (the rest were muzzloaders). By 1862, this ration had flipped. Of the 193 guns Purdey made, just 51 were muzzleloaders.
The three shotguns you see here were made in 1866, just months after Purdey made their first centerfire, breechloading shotgun (#699s, delivered in late 1865). In these guns, you can see just how quickly Purdey’s shotguns evolved, and how some shooters were reluctant to embrace all the changes going on in the shooting world.
Back in the 1860s, centerfires were revolutionary new ideas. A London gumaker named G.H. Daw introduced the first successful model to the British market in 1861. Easy to load and operate, it caught the interest of shooters right away. By the mid 1860s, other gunmakers were turning out their own versions of this design.
James Purdey & Sons made their first center fire shotgun in 1865. The gun you see here was made in 1866 – back when the company was still just James Purdey. Guns like this were the basis for every other shotgun Purdey made. Even though this one is 186 years old, it’s nitro proofed, on the face, and 100% shootable today. Check out the original oak case, too. It’s serial numbered to the gun, and information about the correct loads for the gun are handwritten on the maker’s label. Very cool.
Lot 1051: JAMES PURDEY UNDERLEVER SxS CENTERFIRE SHOTGUN: Cal. 12 Ga., 2 3/4”. S# 7244. Bbls. 30” of fine damascus steel. Recent London reproof for Nitro with 70mm chamber length markings. Cyl. & cyl. bores. Top rib marked “J. Purdey 314 1/2 Oxford Street. London.” Rnd. Body action with Jones underlever & back-action locks marked “Purdey”. Top tang between hammers marked “PATENT”. Converted rebounding, pinfire-style hammers with retractable firing pins (Purdey-patent #424 of 1865). 75% Coverage of very fine foliate scroll engraving (consignor states probably by J. Lucas). Key fastened splinter forearm of fully checkered walnut with engraved steel tip & escutcheons. Straight hand stock of checkered fancy English walnut with nameplate on toe line. LOP: 14 1/8” over original steel shotgun butt. DAC: 1 1/2”. DAH: 2 1/2”. Neutral cast. Weight: 7lbs. Minimum wall thickness L .032 & R. .026.
CONDITION: 90% fine, London-quality restored browned on bbls. finish showing nice damascus pattern. Locks & action have traces of remaining case colors in protected areas with balance fading to silvery gray. Trigger guard has area of original blue under lever with balance fading to gray having spots of light pitting on tang. Stock & forearm show wear with nearly smooth checkering having numerous heavy handling marks & scratches. Forearm has chip at right side of bbl. channel. Stock has semi circular added wood repair right side of trigger guard tang. Bright bores.
UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: Original oak maker’s case with correct Purdey label featuring handwritten notes regarding proper loads. Serial-numbered to gun. Red felt fitted interior. Case in fair to overall good condition. ESTIMATE: $3500-5500.
James Purdey & Sons is famous for their custom made shotguns. Every shotgun or rifle they produce is “bespoke”, and customers can order their guns in just about any configuration they desire – and can afford. Most variations have to do with stock configurations, barrel length, gun weight, chamber lengths, etc.
But customers can also order specific finishes on their guns. In the case of the Purdey you see here, the customer requested that the action feature a unique “Black Finish.” Completed in 1945 for a Baron Petitt, this gun is a 12 gauge made for 2″ shells. It’s coming up at Holt’s 3/20 sale.
Lot 1447 J. PURDEY & SONS: A 12-BORE (2IN.) SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 25655: 28in. Whitworth-steel nitro chopperlump barrels, rib engraved ‘J. PURDEY & SONS. AUDLEY HOUSE. SOUTH AUDLEY STREET. LONDON. ENGLAND. MADE OF SIR JOSEPH WHITWORTH’S FLUID PRESSED STEEL.’, the left tube engraved ‘ENGLAND’, the short rib gold-inlaid ‘2″ CASE’, 2in. chambers, bored approx. imp. cyl. and 1/2 choke, right wall at 18, self-opening action with removable striker discs, automatic safety with gold-inlaid ‘SAFE’ detail, cocking-indicators, best fine acanthus scroll and floral bouquet engraving, retaining much original black finish, 14 1/2in. stock with sling eye, weight 5lb. 8oz.
OK – here’s a late one. Carol Watson’s Orange Coast Auctions is having a sale today, January 25. There are bunch of good looking doubles coming up, everything from Purdeys & Francottes to American stuff. The auction starts at 10 am – Pacific time. So if you jump on it now, you should be able to get some bids in.
Lot 446: Francotte Pre-War VL&D mkd 20g Boxlock SxS Shotgun: #36563, 20 ga., 26” matte game rib blue barrels choked IC/Cyl. with one steel bead, tightly banknote and foliate engraved, case hardened boxlock frame, auto thumb safety with gold inlaid ”S” to upper portion, single select trigger, auto ejectors, Greener crossbolt safety, checkered Prince of Wales pistol-grip walnut stock and forend, with Pachmayr Old English butt pad with black spacer. Gold ovoid plaque to bottom of stock with initials ”EWB”. In more modern Brady shotgun case. Condition is excellent. Barrels retain approx. 80% original blue with thinning to both left and right tubes between recoil shield and top of forend. Case colors have thinned and silvered yet still retain approx. 40%. Checkering remains sharp. Action is crisp, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of wood: 13”; 13-1/2” to end of pad. Est.: $3,500-$5,000.
Lot 453: Parker 12g VHE Grade SxS Shotgun, 32″ bbls:#172765, 12 ga., 32” blue barrels choked Full/Full, game rib with double ivory bead, case hardened frame, ejectors, checkered straight walnut stock and splinter forend, with later added black Pachmayr butt pad. Mfg’d 1917. Condition is excellent. Barrels retain approx. 98%+ inky blue and may have been redone at one point. Frame with 20%-30% vivid case hardened hues in protected areas. Checkering is crisp and stock exhibits some very minor refreshing. Action is crisp, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of wood: 13-5/16”; 14-1/4” to end of pad. Est.: $3,500-$5,000.
Lot 459: Parker 16g CHE Grade SxS Shotgun: #148460, 16 ga., 28” game rib barrels choked Full/Mod., engraved game scene case hardened frame, double triggers, ejectors, manual safety, select imported pistol-grip checkered walnut stock with splinter forend and silver ovoid marked ”From Westminster Gun Club to WRL” to bottom of stock just forward of toe area. Originally mfg’d in 1908. Watertable marked with patent dates, and ”CH/148460/4”; central barrel lug marked ”1” for frame size; bottom of right barrel marked ”(clrcle)/A/3/8”. Condition is about fine. Barrels retain approx. 94% what appears to be original lightly thinning and toning blue. Engraved case hardened frame retains approx. 30% case colored hues mostly in protected areas, with sides and bottom of frame toning a silvery gray. Stock remains in very good condition with moderate flattening to checks, light scuffs and pressure dings, with later added red rubber butt pad. Wear to forend is slightly more pronounced. Action is smooth and fine, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of stock: 13-3/8”; 14-1/8” to end of pad; 1-9/16” drop at comb; 2-1/2” drop at heel. Est.: $10,000-$15,000.
Lot 460: Parker 12g BHE Grade SxS Shotgun: #127771, 12 ga., 30” game rib barrels choked Mod./Mod., engraved game scene case hardened frame, double triggers, ejectors, select import straight grip checkered walnut stock with splinter forend and gold ovoid to bottom of stock just forward of toe area. Originally mfg’d in 1904. Watertable marked with patent dates, and ”5/127771/B”; central barrel lug marked ”2” for frame size; bottom of right barrel marked ”K” and ”4/5”. Condition is fine to near excellent. Barrels retain approx. 96%+ original lightly thinning blue with one small clean spot to left tube. Engraved case hardened frame retains approx. 85% lightly thinning colors with most of the losses at balance point and triggerguard tang. Stock remains in very good condition with light scuffs, moderate impressions, slight flattening to checks, and modified with a red rubber butt pad. Action is smooth and fine, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of stock: 13-1/4”; 14-1/4” to end of pad; 1-9/16” drop at comb; 2-1/2” drop at heel. Stock appears to have neutral cast. Est.: $18,000-$24,000.
Lot 463: Boss & Co. Best Quality 20g SxS Sidelock Shotgun: #6656, 20 ga., 28” smooth ribbed blue barrels choked IC/Cyl., chamber depth of 2-5/8”, single bright bead sight, tight scroll and rosette engraved case-hardened sidelock frame, with gold-inlaid cocking indicators and safety markings, auto safety and ejectors, highly figured checkered straight walnut pistol-grip stock with teardrop flats and splinter forend, with original leather butt pad. Top of rib marked ”Boss & Co. 15, Dover Street, Picadilly, London, England”. Mfg’d 1920. Condition is excellent. Barrels appear to have been re-blackened at one point. Frame and sideplates retain approx. 90%+ case hardened hues. Stock is excellent with fine tight checkering. Action is crisp, bores are bright. In original leather-covered oak case with large format Boss label, original snap caps and oiler, and initials ”WCP” embossed to top; case shows scuffs, scratches, and some staining. Length of pull to end of wood: 13-5/8”; 14-1/2” to end of pad. Drop at comb: 1-1/2”; drop at heel: 2-1/4”. Est.: $30,000-$50,000.
Lot 465: Best Quality James Purdey & Sons 12g SxS Sidelock Shotgun: #23153, 12 ga., 30” matted game rib barrels choked IC/IC with 2-3/4” chambers, case hardened banknote and rosette engraved frame and sideplates, finely checkered English straight-grip walnut stock with splinter forend, and later added red rubber butt pad. Top of barrel marked ”J. Purdey & Sons, Audley House, South Audley Street, London”, and ”Made of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s Fluid Pressed Steel”. White ivory front bead, double triggers, manual safety with ejectors, cocking indicators, and ovoid plaque at bottom of stock. Mfg’d 1925, with only 97 produced that year. Condition is excellent. Barrels retain approx. 97%+ English rust type blue. Case hardened frame and sideplates show 92% vivid case colors, with the balance point toning and silvering slightly. Stock and forend appear to be refreshed somewhat, with forend checkering being of a slightly coarser pattern. Stock with only light marks from handling. Action remains crisp, bores are bright. Length of pull to end of wood: 13-5/8”; 14-1/2” to end of pad. Stock with very minor right-hand cast-off. Drop at heel 2-1/8”; drop at comb 1-5/8”. Est.: $20,000-$30,000.
Lot 466: Francotte 20g Abercrombie & Fitch mkd SxS Shotgun: #88627, 20 ga., 26” matte game rib blue barrels choked Imp./Mod., case hardened boxlock frame with sideplates, gold-inlaid ”S” at auto safety, auto ejectors, Prince of Wales grip with checkered walnut stock and splinter forend, with red Old English butt pad. Barrels marked ”Abercrombie & Fitch Co., U.S. Agents New York”. In what appears to be its original Abercrombie & Fitch marked brown leather burgundy-lined case, with two A&F 20 ga. snap caps, and original hang tag with specifications, including weight (5.5 lbs.), drop: 2-1/2-1-1/2-14-3/8”; chamber length 2-3/4”; with existing length of pull now 14-5/8” . Condition is fine to near excellent. Barrel assembly shows only minor thinning, with minor thinning at balance points of frame. Case hardened frame and sideplates retain approx. 80% silvering tones. Stock with light to moderate flattening to checks and minor scuffs from handling. Est.: $4,000-$6,000.
Lot 468: Francotte 20g SxS Shotgun: #3218, 20 ga., 27” matte game rib blue barrels choked Full/Mod., case hardened boxlock lightly engraved with hunting dogs and game scenes, straight-grain checkered oil-finished English walnut stock with red Pachmayr butt pad and splinter forend. Condition is excellent, appearing new and unfired, with only light marks from handling. Nicely presented in a contemporary suede-lined Italian leather case. Length of pull to end of pad: 14-3/4”. Est.: $4,000-$6,000
Lot 472: Win.-Parker Repro. 28g DHE Grade 2-Bbl SxS Shotgun: #28-3259, 28 ga., 26” game rib blue matte barrels choked IC/Cyl.; and 28” game rib blue matte barrels choked Full/Mod.; roll-engraved game scene case-hardened boxlock frame, checkered straight-grip fancy walnut stock with engraved steel skeleton buttplate and splinter forend. All features are standard to this model, including auto safety, auto ejectors, single brass bead front sight, and double triggers. Condition is excellent, appearing new and unfired, in original leather case, with Parker marked snap cap, instructions, and warranty card. (For purpose of photography, the original dried factory grease was removed from the exterior barrel assemblies.) Length of pull: 14-3/4”. Est.: $4,000-$6,000.
Is this the finest Purdey bar-in-wood side-by-side hammergun in America? The seller thinks so, and he might be right.
Many people who collect vintage doubles think Purdey’s bar-in-wood hammerguns are the most elegant side-by-sides ever made. I don’t know about the “most” elegant — I prefer lift-up models by William Powell & Son – but Purdey’s bar-in-woods are right at the top.
The one you see here is #11090, and it was made in 1881, and it looks like it’s in excellent original condition. Purdey built their first centerfire shotgun in 1865, and by 1868 (gun #7744), or maybe even earlier, they were making centerfires with bar-in-wood style locks & actions.
Many other makers made them, too, including Westley Richards, William Powell & Son, Stephen Grant, Army & Navy. A few companiess even built them with hammerless actions, including Purdey and Edinburgh’s McNaughton.
Here’s more about #11090 from the seller:
12 gauge James Purdey & Son Bar-in-Wood Double Barrel SxS Shotgun: You are looking at the best documented and best preserved 12 bore Purdey Bar in Wood Hammer shotgun available. Built in 1881, This gun is featured in the premier book on Purdey’s by Donald Dallas published in 2000 with three photos and a copy of the “Dimension Book” page with all specifications for Purdey # 11090 ( see photos ). It is almost unbelievable that the gun and the original case is in the pristine condition as found after 133 years.
This Purdey was made for Paul Fitter and his initials are still in the silver oval in buttstock and on the outside of case. The gun remains in perfect shooting condition and I have used it quite well in Vintage Sporting Clays events with lite Winchester AA target loads. The Damascus barrels are perfect…30″ with original CYL / F chokes, 2 5/8″ chambers , Bores are .735, hidden third bite, and not a rub, scratch or dent to be found. The action is tight as new and at 6lbs 15 oz. the gun balances beautifully.
The dimensions are shown on the work sheet and remain as is. The wood has been freshened a bit to remove old oil, etc. and the original horn buttplate is in excellent condition. The original case colors are strong and the fine Purdey rose and scroll engraving is vivid.
I am interested in finding a collector / Vintage shooter who is willing to continue to preserve this fantastic piece of Purdey’s history. You will not find a better example anywhere in the U.S.A. Price: POR
Purdey 10 ga. Double Barrel Side-by-Side Shotgun: 31″ Whitworth chopperlump barrels with semi-concave game rib, 2-7/8″ chambers,1-1/2 oz proof, choked full/full (.039/.039), double triggers, and auto ejectors. Large frame sideclipped third fastening action engraved in the traditional Purdey fine rose and scroll, retains 95% original rich case color hardening. Stock of striking figured French walnut with rich black figure and contrasting red and gold fiddleback with open pistol grip with carved cap measures 14-5/8″ to a checkered butt. The triggerguard retains virtually all the factory bright charcoal blue. Weighs 8 lbs, 3 oz., housed in its original case with accessories. Built in 1905. Price: $39,500
J&L WILKINS SXS 20 GAUGE: 28″ 012 AND 021 FACTORY 3″ CHAMBERS DOUBLE TRIGGER EJECTORS SPLINTER FOREARM ENGLISH GRIP FANTASTIC WOOD EXCELLENT CONDITION WITH LIGHT HANDLING MARKS 5LB 15 OZ X 2 X 1 7/16 X 15. Price: $7,950.00
Double triggers, Splinter forend with an Anson release, Straight hand stock at 14 5/8 x 1 3/8 x 2 3/8″ over a 1″ pad with a 1/2″ spacer, It will go 14 1/4″ if you remove the spacer and leave a 1″ pad, Slight cast-off for the right hand, 16 Bore weight at 6 lbs. 5 oz., 45% coverage of period engraving, The original barrel blue at 98%, The gun retains 99% original bright & vivid case colors, The stock finish is original and at 97-98%, The checkering at 98%, The blue on the floorplate, trigger guard, trigger guard tang and forend metal is 99%, The bores are as new from breech to muzzle, The gun is smack on the face with plenty of bite, The barrels ring with a nice chime. A very unusual chambering in a Webley, not a lot of 16 Bore Webley’s out there. This is flat out one excellent plus conditioned gun for you 16 game gun users. Price: $4,950.00
BERETTA Model 470 Silverhawk – 12ga – 28″ M / F – English Stock: 1997 – 3″, M / F (.020 / .035), Single Selective Trigger, Selectable Ejectors (On/Off), English Stock, Splinter Forearm, LOP 14-3/8″ to a 1/2″ Decelerator Pad, Drop 1-3/8″ to 2-1/8″, Neutral Cast, Weight 6 lbs. 12 oz. Very Nice 98+% Condition Overall. Not shot a much. Lever well over to right – lots of bite left. Price:$1,975.00
Quiet elegance — those words do a great job of describing Purdey’s standard shotgun. While James Purdey & Sons did make some of the finest doubles in the London, their standard, best-quality guns were never the flashiest in the city.
Instead of using grand gestures to grab your attention, Purdeys use subtle touches and tremendous quality to achieve subtle, refined, and more tasteful look. You can see the results in the 12 gauge game gun pictured here. Made between the World Wars, when the London’s gunmakers turned out some of the finest side-by-sides in the world, it’s coming up to auction next week at James D. Julia’s Fall Firearms Sale.
EXCEPTIONALLY FINE JAMES PURDEY SIDELOCK EJECTOR SINGLE TRIGGER LIGHT GAME GUN WITH ORIGINAL CASE AND ACCESSORIES. SN 23737. (1927) Cal. 12 ga. 27″ Chopper lump bbls are engraved “James Purdey & Sons. Audley House. South Audley Street. London.” and “Made of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s Fluid Pressed Steel” on narrow, deeply swamped game rib, fitted with red front and mid beads. Bbl flats are stamped with London nitro proofs for 1-1/8 oz of shot. Bottoms of bbls are stamped with SN. Bbl maker’s initial “H” (for long time Purdey craftsman William Hill) is on bottom of left bbl. Splinter is engraved “Made in England”. Tube nos. “58724” and “58725” are on loop. Case hardened, Beesley patent, self-opening, sidelock action features automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), bushed strikers, raised rib tumbler end cocking indicators, and Purdey non-selective single trigger. Action and lockplates are engraved with exceptionally well cut small scroll with rose bouquet highlights in “house” style. “J. Purdey & Sons” is at the bottom of each lockplate, and also on bottom of action over “London”. Small bow trigger guard is engraved with medium scroll and with SN at grip. Well figured and nicely marbled, dark European walnut straight grip buttstock measures 14-3/8″ over checkered wood butt, and features standard point pattern checkering with mullered borders, drop points, and a gold oval on toe line engraved “G. P.” Matching splinter ejector forend has Anson release. Iron is stamped with actioners initials “FH” (Fred Hughes). Bore diameter: left-.734, right -.735. Bore restrictions: left -.007 (IC), right -.008 (IC). Wall thickness: left -.031, right -.030. Drop at heel: 2-1/4″, drop at comb: 1-3/8″. Weight: 6 lbs. 1 oz. LOP: 14-3/8″.
Maker’s oak and leather case with brass corners and push button latch has round brass central medallion and inset leather tag embossed with an early owner’s name on top. Front of lid is embossed “Made in England”. Interior is lined in scarlet cloth with gold embossed black leather Purdey label and charge card (for this gun) on lid. Case contains two 2-pc rosewood and brass cleaning rods with brush, mop, jag, and Turks head, pull through cleaning kit in black morocco wallet, action cleaning brushes in red morocco wallet, broken case extractor, 2 black wood handled turnscrews, striker disc tool, bone striker case with spare strikers, Purdey marked square oil bottle, and snap caps. Also included is a booklet “Instructions for Purdey Guns”, an inventory of items in case, and two keys.
PROVENANCE: Abercrombie & Fitch tag with specifications and price of $875.00 affixed to trigger guard.
CONDITION: Excellent. Action retains 60 – 70% orig case hardening color, silvered on bottoms and beads. Lockplates retain 85 – 95% orig case hardening color, left being the strongest. Top lever and forend iron retain most of their orig blue, slightly silvered Stocks retain nearly all of their orig rubbed oil finish with a number of minor marks.. Checkering is slightly worn and dark. Bores are excellent, smooth, bright and shiny throughout. Action is tight. Bbls are on face. Ejectors are in time. Trigger works. Case leather is excellent, with little discoloration,and a few bumps and rubs. Charge card is slightly foxed. Accessories are very fine. Pamphlet is slightly squished from being fit to case. A very fine, well balanced, fast handling, high condition gun from the 1920’s. Price: $15,000-$25,000
Ten gauge Purdey shotguns are not very common, so when one pops up, it catches my attention. The one you see here is at Alex Cooper Auctioneers in Towson, MD, and it goes off today, September 28 @ 1:00 PM EST.
Interestingly, this one is nitro-proofed for 1 1/2 oz loads. That’s the same amount of lead than a 12g, 3 1/2″ shell throws. But a ten gauge does it better and throw better patterns because of its larger bore size. It’s also built to handle the recoil, so it will do less damage to you, and itself, when you pull the trigger.
James Purdey & Sons 10 gauge Double Barrel Sidelock SxS Shotgun: London, 1905, made on order of J. H. Smith, Tuxedo Park, NY; blued double barrel, 31 in. L.; engraved case-hardened frame; checkered burl walnut stock and forearm; with original case and several accessories (including barrel rods, cleaning tools, and loading tools). Estimate: $20,000 – $25,000
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Before there was golf, there was pigeon shooting. At one time this game/sport was one of the most popular pastimes in America. Cities and towns across the country had clubs dedicated to pigeon shooting, and the local papers reported on the shoots like they were high school basketball games. Big money was won and lost at pigeon shoots and serious competitors had double barrel shotguns custom made for the game.
Today, most of the pigeon shooting clubs are gone. But many of the guns built for the ring are still around. With long barrels, tight chokes, a heavy proof, and a pretty high stock, the James Purdey side-by-side shotgun you see here may be one of those double barrels. It looks like it’s in fantastic original condition, and today it would be the perfect gun for sporting clays, high, driven pheasants, or to just check out and appreciate.
JAMES PURDEY & SONS – 12 ga.SIDELOCK EJECTOR SELF OPENING PIGEON GUN : 31’ BARRELS CHOKED 7/8 & FULL (.030/.045 ) – SIDE CLIPS & THIRD FASTENER – STRAIGHT HAND STOCK MEASURES 14 7/16” OVER PAD X 1 3/8” X 2” – PROOF IS 1 ¼” WITH 2 7/8” CHAMBERS – CASE COLOURS 75% – HAS RAISED MATTED PIGEON RIB – MADE IN 1926 – CASED IN ORIGINAL OAK & LEATHER . Price: $39,000.00
Auctions are exciting. You never know what you’re going to find, and you never know who is going to show up to bid. Can you get buys at them? Yes. But you can also get burned.
Affiliated Auctions & Realty in Tallahassee, FL, is having their Fine Art & Military auction this weekend. There are a few shotguns in the sale, including this decent looking Purdey.
From what I can see, this shotgun looks like it’s in decent, original condition. But there are a few things about the shotgun that worry me: the right-side lockplace tooks proud to the metal and the wood around it looks too worn. The bbls look a bit sketchy, too.
I reached out to the auctioneer for more info on this stuff, but they never responded to my emails. This makes me give this sale 4-stars for Buyer Beware. If you want this gun, be sure you take a good, close look at it. If you’re brave and want to bid online, remember this: New bbls, done right, cost at least $12,000.
Here more info about the shotgun, as provided by the seller:
James Purdey & Sons Best 16 gauge Double Barrel Shotgun: With ties to the well known Welaunee Plantation of Leon County, Florida. 26 inch barrels with solid rib. barrels marked “J Purdey & Sons Audley House South Audley Street London” on left barrel, and “Made of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s Fluid Pressed Steel” on right. Marked “Made in England” under fore end, and numbered “1” and marked “WN” on inside surface of actual fore end piece. Serial number 24019 marked on lower tang behind trigger guard, on each barrel under fore end, and on inside surface of fore end. British crown over “V” proof on water table, as well as well as more proof marks on barrels on either side of lug. Action and side plates have an extensive tight English scroll and rose engraving, extending to blue break lever, trigger guard, trigger guard plate and forearm hardware. Side plates boast the “J. PURDEY & SONS” name on each side. Tang mounted safety with gold “SAFE”, and break lever engraved with a “1”. multi point checkered walnut forearm and grip with tear drop flats. Escutcheon on bottom of stock is monogrammed “MF” from the original owner, Margaret Fleischman of Welaunee Plantation, who gifted the gun circa 1960 to the grandfather of the seller. Bores are bright and clean, and bluing on barrels is about 85-90%, with some thinning and fading from handling. Most of case coloring remains visible, but slightly dulled on receiver. Stock shows significant handling, under dark patina, with what appears to be light moisture damage to finish near butt plate. Gun is in overall good condition, retaining the classic elegance of a fine sporting gun, and an intriguing journey from north Florida sporting plantation history. This lot has a reserve. EST $13,000-$18,000
Engraving on top-quality doubles is unusual. While it’s one of the least functional features, it’s also one of the most important. Done right, engraving can make a gun (and a gunmaker); done wrong it can ruin both. London’s top firms realized this early only. To ensure that their best-quality guns featured equally impressive engraving, gunmakers paid their best engravers top wages.
James Lucas was one of these top engravers, and at the peak of his career he was earning one of the highest salaries in London gunmaking trade. He was worth it, too. From 1855 to 1915, Lucas was Purdey’s head engraver, and during that time worked with another Purdey engraver named J. Mace, Sr. to develop the fine, tight scroll work that went on to be come the “rose & scroll” pattern that defined Purdey’s doubles.
The shotgun you see here is one of James Purdey & Sons first breechloading centerfire shotguns. Made in 1867, You can see how the engraver (proably Mr Lucas himself) was working out the tight, densely-packed scrollwork that would become Purdey’s famous house style.
When it comes to high-end side-by-sides, Purdey is the name most people know. The one you see here is a 20 gauge, built on the company’s famous Beesley-patent action. It’s a modern gun, built in the early ’90s, and it’s in fantastic original condition. A friend of mine was kind enough to show me see this shotgun yesterday. It’s a fantastic piece. Take a look at the pics to see why James Purdey & Sons is so famous for making fine doubles.
I also snapped some pics of a Holland & Holland double rifle that I saw the same day. The H&H was made for a larger cartridge. But because the cartridge was a black-powder load that generated lower pressures, H&H made this rifle much smaller and trimmer.
James Purdey & Sons is one of the world’s most famous gunmakers – and for good reason. They’ve been making some of the world’s finest rifles and shotguns for almost 200 years. This video is an interesting look inside the company. It’s good, but long (1 hour and 30 minutes). To make it easier to watch, here’s a cheat sheet of times & topics. The things I do for you!
00:00 – 10:00 – General History, with Richard Purdey
10:00 – 27:48 – Evolution of the Purdey Shotgun
27:49 – 32:40 – Inside the Purdey Factor – Barrel Making
32:41 – 39:20 – The Action
39:21 – 50:00 – The Locks
50:00 – 55:30 – The Triggers
55:30 – 1:11:12 – Stocking, unique jobs of Purdey Stockers
1:11:12 – 1:17:28 – Engraving
1:17:28 – 1:30:15 – Regulating & Finishing
Constantine & Pletcher in Cheswick, PA, is having their fall, 2012, Sportsman’s Auction this Sat, 11/17 @ 3:30pm. They have a bunch of Parkers double barrels coming up, including an 8 gauge and a 12 gauge with 36″ bbls.
There are also a couple interesting Purdey side-by-sides, and a real nice Alexander Henry percussion shotgun. See the links below for highlights.
James Julia’s annual fall firearms auction is on October 1st & 2nd this year. As always, the sale is full of nice double barrel shotguns. This 20 gauge James Purdey side-by-side is one of the nicest by far. Just check out the condition — all original and almost brand new. On top of that, it was made by the hands of Ben Delay and J Aldous, two of the finest craftsmen this famous London maker has ever had. That makes this more than just a nice shotgun, it makes it a link to a part of this gunmaker’s most cherished past.
Here’s the complete listing on the gun from Julia’s website:
SN 26697. (1957) Cal. 20 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 26″ Chopper lump bbls with flat, narrow, matted game rib, are engraved “J. Purdey & Sons Audley House. South Audley Street. London. England.” on tops. Bbl flats are stamped with post 1954 London nitro proofs for 2-3/4″ – 3 1/4 ton – 1oz shells. Bottoms of bbls are stamped with SN. Barrel maker’s initials “J.A” (J Aldous) are on bottom of left bbl. Tube nos. 65905 and 65906 are on loop. Case hardened, Beesley patent, self-opening, sidelock action features non-automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), bushed strikers, raised rib tumbler end cocking indicators, and Purdey non-selective single trigger. Action is beautifully engraved with best quality, house style, small scroll with rose bouquet highlights. “J. Purdey & Sons.” is on the bottom of each lockplate and action, which is also engraved “London England”. Scroll engraved small bow trigger guard extends to composition grip cap. SN is at grip. Nicely marbled, dark European walnut full pistol grip buttstock measures 14-5/16″ over checkered wood butt with classic scroll engraved heel and toe plates added by A & F at customer’s request. Stock also features well executed drop points, point pattern checkering with mullered borders and a gold oval on toe line engraved with a very fine rendition of flying woodcock surmounted by “Pierce”. Matching splinter ejector forend has Anson release. Actioner’s initials, “B.D” (Ben Delay) are on iron. Messrs Delay and Aldous were two of Purdey’s most skilled craftsmen of the day. Their talents are on display with this gun.
Bore diameter: left -.615, right -.615. Bore restrictions: left -.024, right -.004. Wall thickness: left -.031, right -.030. Drop at heel: 2-5/8″, drop at comb: 1-7/16″. Weight: 5 lbs. 14 oz, LOP 14-5/16″. High quality oak and leather case with brass corners and central medallion is embossed “Pierce” on top. Case is lined with burgundy cloth with gold embossed black leather label on lid, and contains an assembly of unmarked accessories incl. a pair of turnscrews and striker key with black handles, bone striker bottle with spare strikers, 2-pc brass and rosewood cleaning rod with mops and brushes, broken case extractor, black Morocco wallet with pull-through cleaning equipment, brown leather wallet with action cleaning brushes, Purdey marked square oil bottle and snap caps, as well as 1929 edition instruction manual entitled “Purdey Guns”, and the key.
PROVENANCE: Factory records indicate that it was completed for A & F in Oct. 1957. A & F records indicate it was sold to Grant Pierce in 1957. All other specs match except weight, which was originally 5 # 15-1/2 oz. (Most likely gun was ordered for “stock” with very long unfinished butt to be completed to customers specifications at A & F.)
CONDITION: Exceptionally fine, retaining nearly all of its orig finishes on wood and metal. Bbls are slightly silvered at muzzles with a few inconsequential marks. Action is very slightly silvered on beads and fences, and retains nearly all of its orig varnish. Hinge pin retains a considerable amount of its orig fire blue, as does safety button. Trigger guard bow and thumbpiece of top lever are slightly silvered. Stocks have some minor marks. Bores are excellent, bright and shiny throughout, with no visible imperfections. Ejectors are perfectly timed. Trigger works flawlessly. Case leather is very fine with a number of slight bumps and rubs. Straps and handle are very fine, as is interior cloth, with some slight soiling and compressions. Accessories are excellent. An investment quality, beautifully balanced, lightweight upland gun, barreled and actioned by two of Purdeys long time employees, both were building Purdey guns during the halcyon days of the 1930’s. 4-46132 MGM157 (35,000-55,000)
If I won a bazillion dollars tomorrow, one of the first things I would do is build a collection of kick-butt British doubles. And this 12 gauge Purdey sidelock would be one of the first guns I would buy.
It looks like it’s in fantastic original condition, and it’s definitely from one of gunmaker’s best periods. If it’s all good, it’s one of the finest Purdeys I’ve seen on the market in the last 5 years.
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.
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
Even though the barrel is engraved “J Purdey 314 1/2 Oxford Street London” and it wears the other proper marks (serial #2869), I don’t think the entire gun was made in London. To me, the stock and triggers don’t look British. Then there’s the lock and hammer. It lacks the crispness and refinement that I would expect to see on a rifle coming from 314 1/2 Oxford Street London in 1837. Compare it to this and to this to see what I mean. Also, it’s strange that the lock isn’t marked. There’s no “Purdey”on it anywhere, something I would expect to see.
So what is it? I think it’s an American-made, half-stock percussion plains rifle built around a 16 bore J. Purdey barrel. Of course, I could be wrong. Regardless, it does look high quality. It will be interesting to see how much someone is willing to pay for it.