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Kon

Old Birmingham made Shotgun

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Hi, I recently purchased some old hammered shotguns and try to define their age and Gunmakers if possible. I am threading here for one of my shotguns, the Birmingham made one. It is 30" shotgun, with no makers name on it. The proof marks are a crowned BP (calligraphy) on barrels and on the action the following marks appear:  BP BV and NP (all crowned), 12c in a diamond, Nitro Proof 1 1/8, 13/1, CHOKE on the left barrel only. (Marked yellow on attached proof mark table)

Also, the number 411 appears on action, forend and barrels, so it must be the Serial Number. A crowned BV also marked on action.

From all the above, I understand it's a Birmingham made shotgun of 1904-1925, 12bore. No indication though for chamber size (assumed 2 1/2) or maker. Could somebody help me with that?

Regards to all!

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Looks to be typical of what was frequently referred to as a "Trade gun" , this is not quite true as a "trade gun" was made for export to the colonies and Empire , but the term stuck for guns made for the home market .

Most of these would have been retailed by local gun sellers rather than specific gun shops , some would have had the name of the seller engraved on the rib  . An example would be ,< Smith and Parker  Lichfield > , S &P were ironmongers who sold a few guns  and cartridges .

1&1/8 is the shot load the gun was proofed for and equates to 2& 1/2" chamber .

The gun itself  would be best described as plain  , simple back work locks and cam lever , minimal engraving .It it is not the most basic but a functioning "tool" that has stood the test of time and is a tribute to the men who made it that it has lasted as long .

As to who made it is any ones guess and I would assume it came out of one of the many smaller shops and having used some of the many outworkers in the trade .

In those days you could buy machined actions , made up locks , furniture's and barrels . So you may have jointed and fitted lever work and filed up your self , then  sent it to the borer , had the gun proofed then to a stocker , back to you for finishing and fitting hammers . Then away to the engraver , the hardener and the barrel browner and back to you for final assembly and preparing for going to the customer . If you look careful you may find initials stamped that indicate the barrel maker , the lock maker etc but these are again very difficult to trace .

This may not be the case with  your gun , but it would be typical of many many guns that came out of Birmingham in this period .

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Thank you for your answer and time! Well, I am aware that I don't have a "treasure" in my hands; I only need to know as much as I can for my shotguns, just for the love of guns and history. Any additional information helps to know my shotguns better! Thanks again 😊😊👍

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Its what we used to call a “barn door gun” and I have seen them used for just that and loaded, most farmers had one and if it wasn’t propping the barn door open it would be behind the kitchen door and loaded ……mind you that was 50+ years ago.

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Posted (edited)

It maybe likely a Thomas Wild or Midland Gun for certainly as others say it is one of those guns where Tom Smith in Colchester, or Bill Jones in Cardiff or Fred Scott in Cumbernauld would have sent a written order for "Six x hammer gun of pattern number 2 to be engraved with our name....".

And they'd have been taken from a rack engraved with Smith's, Jones's, or Scott's name and sent up that half dozen, by train, to him to sell in his ironmonger's shop. Webley of course made for William Evans and other "London" names.

But it is a treasure none the less. For in proportion to the numbers made most Purdey, Boss and Holland guns survive. But these Birmingham made basic grade hammer guns are, each year, reduced in numbers that survive as usuable guns. You've a piece of history. Enjoy it and one day pass it on.

Edited by enfieldspares

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Thank you for your answer! There are no initials marked on shotgun though. I' ve checked some Thomas Wild models and found similar action (same) and even same screws. Still looking to find out. Maby i should try to find something through the serial Number

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Kon said:

Try to find something through the serial Number

That's not as silly daft as it might at first seem. I'd look at past auction catalaogues, or sites like GunWatch and GunTrader and search "hammergun" and see if some come up with the same action and appearance with a three digit serial numbers close to yours. My own thoughts are though that the number is more likely an internal use "build" number when it was made rather than a number from a sequence of such used by a retailer of such guns.

Edited by enfieldspares

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1 minute ago, enfieldspares said:

That's not as silly daft as it might at first seem. I'd look at past auction catalaogues, or sites like GunWatch and GunTrader and search "hammergun" and see if some come up with the same action and appearance with serial numbers close to yours.

From a quick look of Thomas Wild and Midland shotguns, couldn't find a similar one. My shotgun's SN is a 3 digit one (411), which it's kind of weird, since usually the SN is a 5 digit number. Still looking on it, thanks again for all the info! I own now three antique shotguns and I am looking forward to build a nice 10-15 old shotguns collection! But since I love shotguns and history, I' d love to learn all the possible information for each one of my shotguns! I' m continuing the research for my little Birmingham treasure. I ll let you know if I find something solid! Thanks again 👍👍👍

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Posted (edited)

I don’t think the serial number will help you much without a makers name.

Edited by old'un

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I fear your onto a hiding to nothing.......in the absence of identifying marks, the guns history will I imagine, remain a mystery!....but good luck anyway! :good:

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Probably you are right...still, I ll give it a try!!! One way or another, the gun will curry it's own history and maybe I can only imagine it while sitting in my living room and admiring it lying in the gun cabinet

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Posted (edited)

If I was to go for a guess I would say its come out of the Webley & Scott factory.

 

WS.jpg

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Edited by old'un

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Well, up to now, I am gothering all the look-alike shotguns and then one by one I go through forensic style research 😊. Thanks once again 👍

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Yep, and you can bet your life that most of the look-alike guns will have come from W&S factory.

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It`s well worth going some online research to get a clearer idea of how the Birmingham gun trade actually worked. It was a seething cauldron of independent outworkers and specialists making the basic components to be finished elsewhere in the trade, often in the same building.

Hammer guns such as yours were assembled from trade components made by a dozen different manufacturers and it was the intended price of the finished gun that determined it`s quality of finish.

As an example one tradesman may have made nothing but trigger guards. Different qualites were available from him but basically they all looked the same unles something special was ordered.

The same with screws, locks, hammers etc. One of the reasons that all the guns of a similar type to yours all look the same.

One of the most prolific of Birmingham makers was Wrights who supplied finished guns to the trade, including Russell Hillsdons, Churchills, Charles Hellis and many others, and yet they are virtually unknown outside of the trade.

Good luck with finding out more about your gun, you`ll enjoy exploring the Brummy gun trade.

 

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2 hours ago, Kon said:

Probably you are right...still, I ll give it a try!!! One way or another, the gun will curry it's own history and maybe I can only imagine it while sitting in my living room and admiring it lying in the gun cabinet

IMG_20200520_135018.jpg

Interesting cabinet....

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2 minutes ago, HDAV said:

Interesting cabinet....

Well, I love antiques in general, so I ve converted two of those into gun cabinets

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32 minutes ago, mudpatten said:

It`s well worth going some online research to get a clearer idea of how the Birmingham gun trade actually worked. It was a seething cauldron of independent outworkers and specialists making the basic components to be finished elsewhere in the trade, often in the same building.

Hammer guns such as yours were assembled from trade components made by a dozen different manufacturers and it was the intended price of the finished gun that determined it`s quality of finish.

As an example one tradesman may have made nothing but trigger guards. Different qualites were available from him but basically they all looked the same unles something special was ordered.

The same with screws, locks, hammers etc. One of the reasons that all the guns of a similar type to yours all look the same.

One of the most prolific of Birmingham makers was Wrights who supplied finished guns to the trade, including Russell Hillsdons, Churchills, Charles Hellis and many others, and yet they are virtually unknown outside of the trade.

Good luck with finding out more about your gun, you`ll enjoy exploring the Brummy gun trade.

 

Thank you for your answer! I really enjoy digging into history of shotguns! Specially if it's one of my own shotguns. I may never come into a solid conclusion, but I will find some peripheral history...

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It's odd but as a kid in the 1960s I actually used to think that each gunshop that sold guns with its own name on them had actually gunsmiths, barrelmakers, actioners and stockers in a room at the back making the things there. On the premises. Which is as daft really as thinking that each shoe shop had people in the back making the shoes it sold. 

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2 minutes ago, enfieldspares said:

It's odd but as a kid in the 1960s I actually used to think that each gunshop that sold guns with its own name on them had actually gunsmiths, barrelmakers, actioners and stockers in a room at the back making the things there. On the premises. Which is as daft really as thinking that each shoe shop had people in the back making the shoes it sold. 

I did too. Also, I only know of two gun shops which actually do repairs on the premises, and only small repairs at that, and neither do woodwork. 
 

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To old'un 's comment I very much doubt Webley ever sent out a gun with no name . They sent out hundreds with the names of others but it would have had some mark signifying its origin.

 To Scully 's comment .. A lot of  old time gunshops had an in house gunsmith , When an apprentice we had good customers  have someone come up to the factory for couple  weeks to get a few tips and pointers , the same when I later worked in the Birmingham trade . Again many provincial gunsmiths had come out of the Birmingham and London Trades as I did .Some worked for them selves others for workshops connected to shops . 

Sorry to say these Guy's are now few and far between

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Gunman said:

To old'un 's comment I very much doubt Webley ever sent out a gun with no name . They sent out hundreds with the names of others but it would have had some mark signifying its origin.

 To Scully 's comment .. A lot of  old time gunshops had an in house gunsmith , When an apprentice we had good customers  have someone come up to the factory for couple  weeks to get a few tips and pointers , the same when I later worked in the Birmingham trade . Again many provincial gunsmiths had come out of the Birmingham and London Trades as I did .Some worked for them selves others for workshops connected to shops . 

Sorry to say these Guy's are now few and far between

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few years back I took an William Evans boxlock ejector into the gun quarter, on removing it from the slip his first words were, ah, Webley and Scott, no I said William Evans, then the conversation began, about who and what W&S supplied,

He told me that lots of guns were sent out with no makers name on and were then finished by the likes of William Evans, Holland & Holland, etc, whether the internal parts were marked to show its origin I have no idea.

I also had the same comments and conversion when I took it to J. Harris for possible re-stocking.   

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8 hours ago, old'un said:

A few years back I took an William Evans boxlock ejector into the gun quarter, on removing it from the slip his first words were, ah, Webley and Scott, no I said William Evans, then the conversation began, about who and what W&S supplied,

He told me that lots of guns were sent out with no makers name on and were then finished by the likes of William Evans, Holland & Holland, etc, whether the internal parts were marked to show its origin I have no idea.

I also had the same comments and conversion when I took it to J. Harris for possible re-stocking.   

Webley and Scott made guns for so many makers , big names and some that you will never of heard of . Before the Trade Discriptions Act in the early 70's guns for the likes of Wm Evans John Dickson , Bland  ,Cogswell and Harrison left the W & S factory fully finished bearing the names mentioned . After the TDA  they had to be marked as "made for " . This would be on the rib or under the forend the action signed with the name of the name of the "maker ".  Many guns left the factory in the white as barreled actions , some stocked  to be finished by the purchaser . 

I once tried to record all the companies Webley made guns for but still occasional came across a Webley actioned gun that I had not previously seen .

Evans , Lang ,Atkin , Dickson , Cogswell, Chubb , Westley Richards , Churchill, Holland & Holland , Fletcher , Bland , Linsley , Army & Navy , to name but a few .

 

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30 minutes ago, Gunman said:

Webley and Scott made guns for so many makers , big names and some that you will never of heard of . Before the Trade Discriptions Act in the early 70's guns for the likes of Wm Evans John Dickson , Bland  ,Cogswell and Harrison left the W & S factory fully finished bearing the names mentioned . After the TDA  they had to be marked as "made for " . This would be on the rib or under the forend the action signed with the name of the name of the "maker ".  Many guns left the factory in the white as barreled actions , some stocked  to be finished by the purchaser . 

I once tried to record all the companies Webley made guns for but still occasional came across a Webley actioned gun that I had not previously seen .

Evans , Lang ,Atkin , Dickson , Cogswell, Chubb , Westley Richards , Churchill, Holland & Holland , Fletcher , Bland , Linsley , Army & Navy , to name but a few .

 

Interesting, thank you, as you say it was staggering the amount of guns they produced and not just for the UK market.

Its such a shame the way the Birmingham gun quarter was ripped apart and is now but a shadow of its former self, spent many an hour around the quarter in my younger days (60s/70s) always popped in to see Ben Wild (if he wasn’t in the pub) you just had to hope you caught him in one of his good moods, Brian virtually runs the business now manly barrel blacking, he did some barrels for me not long ago and did a cracking job, just wonder how long the remaining businesses can survive.

 

Thanks again for the info, always something new to learn. :good:

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