Purdey Bicentenary Trio of Guns

James Purdey & Sons crafted a commemorative trio of guns to mark its bicentenary year in 2014. This unique and highly collectable Purdey Bicentenary Trio comprises two shotguns and one double rifle.

Each historic model was carefully chosen to represent key design, innovation and craftsmanship milestones in the company’s 200-year history of outstanding design, innovation and craftsmanship. Each gun features engraving and decorations representative of the era it was first made, as well as the Purdey bicentenary logo and a specially allocated serial number.

Following the sale of the trio, Purdey have donated a portion of the proceeds to both The Prince’s Trust and The Gunmaker’s Charitable Trust in order to support their charitable efforts.

    This hammerless ejector game gun has been in continuous production since 1880. It features two factors unique to Purdey: a self-opening action designed by Frederick Beesley (known as the “Beesley action”), which speeds up reloading time, and supreme attention to detail in its manufacture ensuring every gun fits properly, has perfect balance and shoots consistent patterns — all qualities that define a Purdey shotgun to this day.

    Purdey has been making the over-and-under gun since 1923, but its reputation for making the best in the world was cemented when it acquired James Woodward & Company, a London gunmaker noted for its outstanding over-and-unders, in 1948. A new design was launched in 1950 and has been progressively refined over the past 60 years — it is still in production today. The Purdey Bicentenary Trio model has been made from Damasteel, a specialised steel devoid of impurities and with a tensile strength three times greater than steel normally used for gunmaking, using state-of-the-art 21st century techniques. The Damascus patterning is unique to each gun and needs no further embellishment.

    In the 1850's, developments by James Purdey and his son, James the Younger, transformed relatively low-velocity, short-range rifles into rifles that could not only use more powerful charges, they were faster, more accurate and had longer ranges. They did this by boring deeper grooves in the barrel — removing the need to ram bullets down onto the powder charge, which was a time-consuming process — and providing a corresponding two-winged bullet, which was breech-loaded. The resultant high speed and flat trajectory of the bullet reminded James the Younger of the new express trains at the time, which travelled at speeds higher than anyone had previously imagined, so the term “express rifle” was born.

    The accompanying treble Motor Case took its inspiration from a case made for King George VI. It is built in oak and leather with a red goatskin interior lining.

    The London made Display Cabinet is made from the finest mahogany. A shallow drawer is home to the brass plaque that celebrates all the craftsmen associated with the build of the collection. Another drawer, lined with the same red goatskin from the case, houses the accessories and gold plated cleaning equipment. Impact-proof, tubular glass, discreet lighting and a turntable base enables the Trio to be seen from any angle.

    The Stages in Building the Trio

    Stock blanks selection, Machine Shop, Barrel Shop, Action Shop, Locks and Triggers, Proof Testing, Ejector work, Gun Stock and forend wood, Engraving, First stage Finishing, Rifles Regulating, Case making, Barrel making, Second stage Finishing and Hardening, Cabinet and Case making.

    Selecting the Gun Stock Blanks

    Chairman Nigel Beaumont selects stock blanks in the Long Room, as did James Purdey the Younger more than a century ago.

    The Machine Shop

    A forged Damascus billet, wire-cut for hand-crafting.

    The 12-bore Side-by-Side Game Gun

    The 12-bore Side-by-Side - Barrel Shop

    Paraffin smoke-blacking. For a perfect, watertight fit.

    The 12-bore Side-by-Side - Action Shop

    Preparing the action to joint on the barrels

    The 12-bore Side-by-Side - Action Shop

    Gunmaker Phil Butcher stamps his initials.

    The 12-bore Side-by-Side - Locks and Triggers

    Master gunmaker Keith Ward’s lockwork, now fitted to the action.

    Proof Testing the 12-bore Side-by-Side

    Using a Proof House stamping tool.

    Proof Testing the 12-bore Side-by-Side

    The side-by-side action and barrel flats, their proof stamps clearly visible.

    The 12-bore Side-by-Side - Stocking

    Letting in the locks of the side-by-side.

    The 12-bore Side-by-Side - Engraving

    Wez Tallet, deep-carving the breech ends.

    The 12-bore Side-by-Side - Engraving

    Harry Kell-style game scenes, engraved by Brad Tallet.

    The 12-bore Side-by-Side - Engraving

    Fine Purdey Rose and Scroll, engraved by Dave Tallet.

    The 12-bore Side-by-Side - Finishing

    Oil is rubbed in entirely by hand, just as in 1814.

    The 20-bore Damascus Over and Under Game Gun

    The 20-bore Damascus Over and Under - Action Shop

    Filing away the bottom edge of the lockplate.

    The 20-bore Damascus Over and Under - Locks and Triggers

    Keith Ward files the trigger for a right-handed shooter.

    The 20-bore Damascus Over and Under - Locks and Triggers

    Master gunmaker Keith Ward cutting the trigger shape by file.

    Proof Testing the 20-bore Damascus Over and Under

    Proof stamped over-are-under barrels – you can make out the letters O and U.

    Proof Testing the 20-bore Damascus Over and Under

    A tester’s book, showing where on each barrel the proof mark must go.

    Proof Testing the 20-bore Damascus Over and Under

    A selection of stamping tools, detailing bore size, cartridge length, nitro proof and date.

    The 20-bore Damascus Over and Under - Stocking

    Dickie Bailey lets in the left-hand lock plate.

    The 20-bore Damascus Over and Under - Stocking

    The lock bed is ‘made off’ against the metal action.

    The 20-bore Damascus Over and Under - Engraving

    Preparing to engrave our name on the Damascus bolsters.

    The 20-bore Damascus Over and Under - Engraving

    Tony Maidment, engraving the forend iron.

    The 20-bore Damascus Over and Under - Finishing

    Both lock plates are chemically etched, using a secret process.

    The .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle

    The .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle - Barrel Shop

    The 'chopper lump' barrels for the .470 rifle.

    The .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle - Action Shop

    Using a smoke-black lamp to join the barrels to the action.

    The .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle - Locks and Triggers

    Jeff Denton’s last triggers, after 44 years with Purdey.

    Proof Testing the .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle

    A pair of proof test cartridges, in the barrel chambers.

    The .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle - Stocking

    Ian Smith headed up and let in the .470 lock plates.

    The .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle - Stocking

    The forend, chequered at 26 lines to the inch.

    The .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle - Stocking

    The cheek piece is marked out then shaped entirely by hand.

    The .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle - Engraving

    It takes weeks for Simon Coggan to engrave the deep gold-inlaid scenes.

    The .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle - Engraving

    Faithfully recreating Victorian rifle game scenes.

    The .470 Nitro Express Double Rifle - Engraving

    Fine hand-engraving; a hallmark of a best London rifle or gun.

    The Making of the Cabinet

    Master cabinet makers, producing a unique show-case.

    The Making of the Cabinet

    Years of experience create an object that will stand for centuries.

    The Making of the Cabinet

    Flat sections of wood are transformed into a work of art.

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