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Si.F

info on old William Powell

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I am looking for a bit of info on an old family gun, and  know there is a wealth of knowledge out there...

My Uncle has a William Powell sbs, doing a quick search from photos he sent i think it is around 1887-1896 from proof mark. However, on the action is a date 1884 but i think this might be a patent date? (as in photo)

he is not the best photographer but I think serial number is 93500. I will probably be looking to renovate at some point as has been in family for at least 2 generations but last fired around 40 years ago. If anyone has any info of what type, make, age etc I would be hugely grateful. Have been "googleing" but limited success so far

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Contact William Powell in Banbury, as they bought the company several years ago, they should have all the records from the original William Powell company?

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I have two Powells;

Gun No 4661 is a bar in wood hammer non ejector made 1871

Gun 12837 is a sidelock ejector made 1921.

The serial number is engraved on the tang behind the trigger guard, and on the steel 'barrel side' of the forend, as well as on the barrels themselves.

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good idea about contacting them

checked the serial number, is actually 9500  and not 93500 and is indeed on the tang behind trigger guard.

it is 12g as has a 13 over 1 on barrel, think is boxlock non ejector

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I will look up the patents and come back to you  .A patent ran for 16 years so the gun will date at some time in that span. The Anson & Deeley [1875 ?]patent will be for the action , the other of 1884 not sure about but the 3770 will probably be the number of guns made using that patent or rather the the number of time it was used .Almost certainly black powder .Is it an ejector as the cam would indicate  .? This could be the second patent , but as said I will look them up .

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Patent 14526 of 1884 was the first of several relating to what we now call the Deeley box ejector .The 12815 I find no direct reference to but assume it relates to the action patent of 1875 and that the number is that of the gun built under that patent .However there were numerous patents and improved patents taken out by Anson and Deeley /Westley Richards in the 1870/1880 period so it could relate to theses .

At the time there were dozens of patents taken out many of which would not have been granted to day and may of which were involved in long court disputes ,Deeleys long battle with Thomas Perkes over this ejector system for example .

I do have a record that Powell gun NO 9206 was built in 1891 and 10009 built 1895 so your gun will be some time in the early to mid 1899's 

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thanks all for info.

on the internet after searching there is quite a bit of history regarding William Powell & sons. have also contacted https://www.williampowell.com/ so will see when they get back to me. will also organise a trip to them in Banbury to see about cost for restoring 

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2 hours ago, Si.F said:

thanks all for info.

on the internet after searching there is quite a bit of history regarding William Powell & sons. have also contacted https://www.williampowell.com/ so will see when they get back to me. will also organise a trip to them in Banbury to see about cost for restoring 

Yes I believe the firm of William Powell were about before the Crimea war? And remained in the Powell family until they sold up some years ago, they were in Carrs Lane, Birmingham, but moved to Banbury, when the new owners took over!

During my lunch break, or sometimes when passing, I used to pop into the shop regularly for bits and pieces, and knew the shop manager David quite well! In fact 35+ years ago I purchased a mint, 1926 William Powell best, SBS Boxlock Ejector with chopper lump barrels (Originally sold for £74:10s!) from them (it was a commission sale due to a bereavement)....As soon as I picked the gun up in the shop and threw it to my shoulder, I could tell it was for me.....it could have been made for me! It retained/retains near 100% of its colour hardening, had/has a dark, wonderful subtly figured stock and was/is truly a thing of beauty.....it is still my go to game gun!...it came with its original oak and leather case complete with original 2 piece ebony cleaning rod, oil bottle, snap caps and other accessories, and a copy of an entry in the ledger showing the date it was sold, its price, description, original spec and who it was made for.........I have shot most avian quarry species from snipe and Woodcock through Pheasant and Partridge to Grouse and Ptarmigan with it from South Devon to the Highlands of Scotland and many places in between, I will never part with it and it will go to my son when my shooting days are over!

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David ran the 'business side' including the mail order business.  The William Powell business was one of the first in fieldsports to develop a major catalogue mail order business.  The gun making side was run by Peter Powell, who was the younger brother.  Peter served as a guardian of the Birmingham Proof House as his ancestors had before him.

They had been at the premises in Carrs Lane since the 1860s(?).  The building was initially no 13, but later the street was renumbered and the Powell premises became no 35, Carrs Lane.

I met Peter on a number of occasions and he was a very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful person, I didn't really know David.  As well as having true 'Powell' guns made in Birmingham (quite a bit done 'in the trade' I believe), the introduced a 'Heritage' range which were made in Spain (by Arrietta I believe) for Powell's - something about which they were very open and stated in their catalogue (unlike some other English 'makers' who don't publicise where their guns are mainly made.)  The shop was 'fronted' by Mr Russell if I remember right.

I believe there was another generation (not sure if they were David's family or Peter's family), but I understand they chose other career paths.  Peter and David were past 'normal retirement age' and sold the business to Mark Osborne, who now runs it from Banbury.  As far as I know they no longer make guns in the UK.  The current present range is sourced in Spain and Italy.

The Carr's Lane premises were always a lovely quiet and hospitable place to visit right in the centre of Birmingham (beside Marks and Spencers!)

I am aware that there is currently a history of the business (book) in preparation.

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If I recall correctly the guy who 'fronted, the shop was David Russell? I too met the Powell Brothers on a few occasions, and yes the shop was a very welcoming place, no pressure selling and they always had time for customers.......prior to the sale, Powells was I understand, the oldest gunmakers to be still in continuous ownership of the original family?

William Powell guns were so well thought of, the firm were referred to as the Birmingham Purdey......as were the firm of W R Pape known as the "Purdey of the North"

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10 minutes ago, panoma1 said:

Powells was I understand, the oldest gunmakers to be still in continuous ownership of the original family?

That may well be true in the UK, but worldwide - I suspect the honour goes to Beretta. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beretta

Powells were 1802 I think.

I met Peter again at the Ragley game fair (2016?) and he was then on the Powell stand still doing a bit for the old firm. (This was after the sale)

1 hour ago, JohnfromUK said:

The shop was 'fronted' by Mr Russell if I remember right.

I always knew him as Mr. Russell.  Another very helpful and always friendly man.  He knew his stuff on fishing and sold me a trout reel (with 3 interchangeable spools for floating, intermediate and sinking) and rod I still have, setting the lines on the spools for me.

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16 hours ago, Si.F said:

thanks all for info.

on the internet after searching there is quite a bit of history regarding William Powell & sons. have also contacted https://www.williampowell.com/ so will see when they get back to me. will also organise a trip to them in Banbury to see about cost for restoring 

As the company is no longer in the hands of the Powell family I would get several quotes for any work as I am sure there prices  will not be cheap . Its all a matter of deciding how far you want to go , I suggest you set yourself a budget  and then discus what can be done for that . 

With a gun of its age and its proof status any restoration work should be to make the gun look well cared for for its age  , not to try and make it look "new" , doing so will detract from the gun and its value .. The action needs to be tight as in not sloppy or loose and functioning . Bores as clean as possible . Woodwork clean but not bright polished with the checkering cut up in such a way that it is not sharp but fully cut , barrels OK to black/brown , lightly brushed action and up to you if you have the furnitures blacked , personally would have the brushed or just the lever , trigger guard  blacked ,flame blue all pins .

I have seen far to many old guns ruined with over enthusiastic renovation so the above is what I would have recommended had you brought the gun to me and have done similar to the many hundreds of guns I have worked on .

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7 hours ago, Gunman said:

As the company is no longer in the hands of the Powell family I would get several quotes for any work as I am sure there prices  will not be cheap . Its all a matter of deciding how far you want to go , I suggest you set yourself a budget  and then discus what can be done for that . 

With a gun of its age and its proof status any restoration work should be to make the gun look well cared for for its age  , not to try and make it look "new" , doing so will detract from the gun and its value .. The action needs to be tight as in not sloppy or loose and functioning . Bores as clean as possible . Woodwork clean but not bright polished with the checkering cut up in such a way that it is not sharp but fully cut , barrels OK to black/brown , lightly brushed action and up to you if you have the furnitures blacked , personally would have the brushed or just the lever , trigger guard  blacked ,flame blue all pins .

I have seen far to many old guns ruined with over enthusiastic renovation so the above is what I would have recommended had you brought the gun to me and have done similar to the many hundreds of guns I have worked on .

very good advice thanks

I do like the idea of doing a "partial" renovation as want to keep the character of the gun due to the history being in the family rather than it looking new (would also be cheaper!)

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