The Finest Craftsmanship

Number 86, built in 1818

Number 86, built in 1818

Foremost, for the field

At Purdey, our engraving has traditionally been understated.

The earliest surviving Purdey firearm dates back to 1815, and bears extremely simple markings. Our name, in gothic script. Our Princes Street address. Our ‘sunburst’, which we still use today. And a few discreet scroll and leaf emblems.

Yet even at the outset, that work was finely crafted. The underside of double flintlock gun ‘number 86’, built in 1818, displays beautiful deep engraving. And, as awareness of the engraver’s art grew, so too did demand for his talents.

Number 7902, built in 1869

Number 7902, built in 1869

Guns of great elegance

Sea serpents and stags appeared on some of the earliest Purdey guns and rifles. By the 1850s, our scroll engraving had become finer, and more profuse.

Number 7902, of 1869, shows game scene engraving quite uncommon of the period; two dogs on the trigger guard, running after a pheasant.

Such delicate engraving gave Purdey guns a great elegance. By the mid-1870s, Purdey had become synonymous with quintessential London ‘rose and scroll’, or Purdey scroll as we term it. It is often emulated; the finest form of flattery.

An entirely new art form

In the closing decades of the 19th century, there was increasing demand for more ostentatious decoration, notably carved, chiseled and pictorial work. By the early twentieth century, Harry Kell in particular was leading this new genre. Working for Purdey, his exquisite game and animal scenes rapidly increased demand for these more ornate styles.

Today, engraving is very much a matter for each customer’s preference. Purdey fine rose and scroll is still frequently asked for, and will always be included in the price of a traditional Purdey. Yet it is also possible to stipulate game scenes, and more flamboyant gold inlays or other unique ornamentation.

This once modest stage of the finishing process has become elevated into an international art form. Highly prized, and highly collectible, such designs may take up to six months to complete. 

Purdey engraving remains as practical today as in the time of James Purdey the Founder. Yet it has the power to significantly increase a gun or rifle’s appeal, collectability and individualism.


Our Gunroom team at Audley House in Mayfair would be delighted to meet you and discuss your requirements

The Purdey Brochure

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