The finest Craftsmanship

At Purdey, our engraving has traditionally been understated.

The earliest surviving Purdey firearm dates back to 1815, and bears extremely simple engraving: our name, in gothic script; our original Princes Street address; and a few discreet scroll and leaf emblems.

Yet even at the outset, that work was finely crafted and finished. The underside of double flintlock gun no. 86, built in 1818, displays fine deep engraving. And, as awareness of the engraver’s art grew, so too did demand for his talents.

    Sea serpents and stags appear on some of the earliest Purdey guns and rifles. By the 1850s, as the amount of metalwork grew, our scroll engraving became finer and more profuse.

    No. 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 enhanced the natural elegance of Purdey guns. 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 highest form of flattery.


    In the closing decades of the 19th century, there was increasing demand for more ostentatious decoration, notably carved, chiseled and pictorial work. Examples are still highly prizes, and feature in the finest gun collections. By the early twentieth century, Harry Kell in particular was leading this new genre. Working for Purdey, his exquisite large scroll and game scenes rapidly increased demand for these more ornate styles.

    Today, as then, 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 ornamental gold inlays or other unique flourishes.

    This once modest stage of the finishing process has been elevated into an international art form. Highly prized and sought after, 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, individualism, and collectability in the future.