Purdey Firearms



2015-06-26 10:45:04

Purdey Firearms are guns produced by James Purdey & Sons British firearms manufacturer.

Background & history of production

James Purdey has worked as head stocker for gunmaker Joseph Manton, and went on to found his own company in 1814, a year prior to the Battle of Waterloo. Purdey set up his gunmakers in Princes Street London, soon moving to Manton’s former premises in Oxford Street in 1826.

Queen Victoria is recorded as purchasing a pair of Purdey pistols in 1838. Later on that century, and into the 20th, Purdey supplied ornate guns and rifles to Indian princes.

James Purdey the younger took over the running of the company in 1858. Over the next few decades, there was huge development in the design of guns and rifles, moving from muzzle loading flintlock rifles to breech-loading hammerless ejectors. James Purdey the younger kept at the forefront of these design advances, taking out several patents over the years. Purdey firearms moved from flintlock, to percussion cap, to hammer centre-fire guns and then self-opening hammerless guns.

In 1882, the company moved from Oxford Street to South Audley Street and Mount Street, where it now still stands. Athol Purdey took over in 1900 and ran the business successfully, including supplying parts to the War Department during World War I. His sons Tom and James took over the firm for the 1930s.

Aside from Holland & Holland, Purdey is the only firearm manufacturer to hold a British Royal Warrant. The Purdey name is synonymous with the very finest in sporting shotguns and rifles.

Collecting guide

Pudey firearms are the cream of the crop. They stand for elegance and luxury. Therefore Purdey guns often sell for vast amounts, particularly if attractively engraved as many of them are, and even more so if they were once owned by a notable figure.

Notable auction sales

  • Exceptional pair of S. J. Kelly–engraved 20-bore self-opening sidelock ejector guns by J. Purdey & Sons. Sold for £96,000 at Bonhams in December 2010.
  • Exceptional pair of Ken Hunt-engraved 12-bore sidelock ejector over-and-under guns by J. Purdey & Sons. Sold for £96,000 at Sotheby’s in August 2005.
  • Exceptional pair of 20-bore single-trigger over-and-under sidelock ejector guns by J. Purdey & Sons. Sold for £111,650 at Christie’s in March 2004.
  • Exceptionally fine Ken Hunt gold encrusted 12-bore single-trigger self-opening sidelock ejector pigeon gun by J. Purdey & Sons. Sold for £120,000 at Christie’s in December 2006.

Notable models of firearms

  • Purdey Side by Side game gun
  • Purdey Over-and-Under gun
  • Purdey pigeon gun
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