- James Purdey and Sons
James Purdey and Sons- or simply "Purdey" - is a famous British gunmaker of
London, and the name is synonymous with the very finest sporting shotguns and rifles [ [http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/fortune/0801/gallery.collectorguns.fortune//index.html Ten of the world's finest shotguns] cnn.com24 January, 2008] . [ [http://www.thefield.co.uk/features/153911/The_worlds_20_best_shotguns.html#link The world's 20 best shotguns: Purdey side-by-side self-opening sidelock] "The Field" magazine, 06 November 2007] . Purdeys hold or have held numerous warrants of appointment as gun and rifle makers to the British and other European royal families.
Purdey was established in
Londonin 1814, the year before the Battle of Waterloo. The founder, James Purdey, had previously worked as head stocker for Joseph Manton, the foremost gunmaker of his time. Purdey set up his gun making business in Princes Streetand soon moved to Manton's former premises in Oxford Streetin 1826. As early as 1838, Queen Victoriais recorded as having bought a pair of Purdey pistols.
James Purdey (the younger) took over the running of the company from his father in 1858. Over his lifetime there was rapid change and development in the design of guns and rifles, essentially moving from
muzzle loading flintlocks in the 1820's to breech loadinghammerless ejectors by the 1880's. James the younger was always at the forefront of advances in the design and building of his guns and rifles, and took out several patents for technical innovations over the years, many of which were adopted by other gunmakers.
The company was granted its first
Royal Warrantin 1868by The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, an honour that has been bestowed on the Managing Director of James Purdey & Sons Ltd by each succeeding monarch. Today Nigel Beaumont holds the Warrants of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, HRH Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales.
In 1882 the company moved from Oxford Street to the new premises on the corner of South Audley Street and Mount Street, where it remains to this day. James the younger designed this building to accommodate his showroom, the factory for making guns and cartridges, and later it provided living quarters for his family.
Purdey guns moved briskly from
flintlockto percussion capto hammer centre-fire guns and then to the self-opening hammerless gun of 1880. This hammerless self opening mechanism was designed by Frederick Beesely, a Purdey worker by then, and used one limb of a V spring to operate the internal hammers and the other to operate the self opening feature. Beesely sold the patent to Purdey in 1880 for £55. This was followed ten years later by the incorporation of ejectors. Apart from continual refinement and the optional single trigger mechanism, very little change has subsequently been made to the design of the side by side gun.
In 1900 Athol Purdey took over from his father and ran the business through the prosperous Edwardian years, as well as supervising Purdey's manufacturing of gun parts and other items of ordnance for the War Department during the 1914-1918 war. His sons, James and Tom, both of whom had survived serious injuries whilst fighting in France, joined the firm in the 1920's, and took over from Athol Purdey on his retirement circa 1929.
The Purdey over & under gun is a development of the Woodward patent of 1913 which was incorporated into the company on the purchase of J.Woodward & Sons by Purdey in 1949.
Although James Purdey & Sons Ltd was bought by the Seely family in 1946 it was to remain a family-owned business until 1994. The Hon Richard Beaumont, a Seely nephew and Chairman since 1970, decided to retire and the company was acquired by the
Richard Purdey, six generations down the direct line of descent from the founder, retired as Chairman in February 2007 and Richard Beaumont's cousin, Mr. Nigel Beaumont, is now the company's Chairman.
* [http://www.purdey.com Official Website]
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