“When we finish a Purdey gun, our aim is to make it beautiful. And to make it work beautifully, for a hundred years and beyond.”
The art of engraving guns developed alongside the gentlemen’s sport of game shooting. Not only does it help turn the shotgun from a cold metal object into a thing of beauty; it traditionally served a practical purpose, with discreet engraving softening the face of the metal, lessening reflection which might otherwise turn game.
Engraving is a personal choice, and one central to our bespoke service. Whether you would like a classic Purdey style, a variation on it, or something inspired by a personal passion, is entirely up to you.
Purdey fine scroll
From the 1860s onwards, our guns have been known for their standard fine scroll, sometimes referred to as rose-and-scroll, first introduced by the engravers Lucas and Mace. The way in which James Purdey & Sons have consistently produced the finest examples of this style has resulted in it often being called ‘Purdey scroll’.
Traditional Rose and Scroll
Traditional Rose and Scroll is the most frequently requested engraving style, and is included in the price of your gun. It is usually associated with a colour case hardened finish.
The taste for large scroll and large scroll and game scene inscription dates back to the late-nineteenth century, when carved, chiselled and pictorial work became popular.
Contemporary Purdey engraving is much influenced by the Kell school, which engraved many Purdey guns in the first half of the twentieth century. Up until the 1950s, more lavish examples of gold work had usually only been commissioned by the Maharajahs of India. However today, gold inlay is an increasingly popular way of embellishing Purdey guns, inspired by the arms and armour of the Wallace Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tower of London.
We are always happy to assist our customers with reference to our engraving archives. There is no reason not to immortalise favourite shooting dogs, for instance, which you can commission to see running down the lock plates and body of the action.
The ‘finishing’ of your gun is known as ‘putting together’. It is one of the most complex stages of the build. Putting together is a two-part process, and takes around 75 hours, spread over about three months.
When the gun reaches our finishing shop, it is then a matter of assembling all the intricately crafted wood and metal parts. The finisher in the first half of his finishing must regulate the mechanism of the gun for function and reliability. In the second half of his finishing process, he will concern himself with the look of the gun, namely the final colour and polish of the wood and metal.
Purdey finish their stocks to a high gloss rather than a matt finish. The slacum oil finish Purdey uses is a true oil finish, and is still based on the traditional formula handed down from Ernest Lawrence. Slacum finishing takes up to six weeks, with in excess of twenty coats being applied.
The finisher, on completing your gun, will then take it to our shooting grounds, and test it as if in the field.