*TRULY EXCEPTIONAL PAIR OF .410 PURDEY “GOLDEN AGE” EXTRA FINISH BY KELL GAME GUNS WITH CASE, QUITE POSSIBLY THE FINEST SMALL BORE PRE-WAR GUNS IN EXISTENCE.
SN 25411/25412. (ca 1937) Cal. .410. 3″ Chambers. 26″ Chopper lump bbls with slightly swamped, narrow, matted ribs, are engraved “J. Purdey & Sons.” “Audley House. South Audley Street. London. England.” on tops. Bbl flats are stamped with London nitro proofs for 3″ chambers and 9/16 oz of shot. Bottoms of bbls are stamped “CHOKE” and with SNs. Bbl makers initials “SS” (Sam Simons) are on left bbls. Bottoms of rear lumps are engraved “1” and “2”. Tube numbers “1752” and “1753” are on gun “1”, “1754” and “1755” on gun “2”. Guns were built as a pair, with “1” and “2” engraved on top levers, and on forend irons. Case hardened actions are specially scaled down to accommodate .410 cartridge, with action bars 1.53″ wide and .885″ deep. Firing pins are .848 center to center. Breeches are 1.73″ wide. The scaling down of the Beesley patent self-opening sidelock action is a challenging task, as it’s difficult to accommodate its rather complicated mechanism in small scale. Shorter springs and smaller hammers must do all the work required to ignite the same primer as a 12 bore. Ejector springs need the strength to clear a small, long, fired cartridge. The first of these actions was made by famed Purdey craftsman, Harry Lawrence, ca. 1928. The small actions on this pair of guns, made around 1937, feature side clips (an unusual feature for a .410), automatic safeties (SAFE inlaid in gold), bushed strikers, raised rib tumbler end cocking indicators, and dbl triggers. Actions and lockplates are engraved and carved in a pattern often used by Purdey’s before WWII as “extra finish”. This pattern is so highly regarded that Purdey’s recently used it on the side by side shotgun made as one of their “Bicentennial guns”. On this pair of .410’s, the engraving consists of over 90% coverage exceptionally well cut small scroll with rose bouquet highlights surrounding oval vignettes of game birds, with snipe on left lockplate, and ducks on right. A pair of geese are on bottom front of action, with herons flanking trigger plate mortise. Fences are beautifully carved in full relief scrolling acanthus with floral central whorls. “J. Purdey & Sons” is in small open field on each lockplate. This exceptional engraving is undoubtedly by the revered Harry Kell, one of the top London engravers to the trade. Top levers are blued, and also scroll engraved. Blued trigger guards are engraved with a pair of ducks on bows, and with SNs on tang, which extend to small horn grip caps. Very fine, nicely matched, well marbled, and lightly figured European walnut capped semi-pistol grip buttstocks measure 14-3/4″ over checkered wood butts, and feature classic drop points, point pattern checkering at grips, and gold ovals on toe lines engraved “W. P. I”. Matching splinter ejector forends have Anson releases. Irons are stamped with SNs, and with actioners initials: gun no. “1” with “MT” (Maurice Timbers), and gun “2” with “FW” (Fred Williams). (Both long time Purdey actioners.) Gun no. “1”: Bore diameter at muzzles: left – .384 (full ?), right -.390 (mod?). Wall thickness: left -.030, right -.033. Drop at heel: 2-1/2″, drop at comb: 1-1/2″. Weight: 5 lbs. 3 oz. LOP: 14-3/4″. Gun no. “2”: Bore diameter at muzzles: left – .495 (mod ?), right -.495 (mod ?). Wall thickness: left -.033, right -.032. Drop at heel: 2-1/2″, drop at comb: 1-1/2″. Weight: 5 lbs. 2 oz. LOP: 14-3/4″. Orig makers oak and leather two gun case with brass corners and round central medallion, is embossed “W. P. I.” on top (matching initials on stock ovals). Interior is lined in burgundy cloth, and has gold embossed black leather Purdey label in lid, along with charge card for these guns. Case contains striker key with ebonized handle, long half of 2-pc brass and ebony cleaning rod (short handle missing) with turks head, mop, jag and brush, two pairs of snap caps, Purdey marked square oil bottle, bone striker bottle containing a pair of strikers, red morocco leather case containing action cleaning brushes, and 1911 edition of Purdey instruction booklet. PROVENANCE: Griffin & Howe research with orig specifications and copy of ledger page where the guns were entered into inventory on Dec 14, 1937, and shipped directly to customer, Walker P. Inman. Brief info about Mr. Inman. CONDITION: Excellent. Bbls retain nearly all of their orig factory blue, with only a hint of silvering on sharp edges, mostly along ribs. Actions retain approx 90% of their orig case hardening colors, pleasingly silvered on beads and sides of fences. Lockplates retain essentially all of their fine color hardening. Hinge pins retain most of their orig fire blue, as do tumbler ends. Top levers retain over 95% of their orig bright charcoal blue, slightly silvered on thumbpieces. Trigger guards retain essentially all of what is most likely an exceptional quality restored charcoal blue, engraving remains sharp and clear. Replacement buttstocks retain essentially all of their fine hand rubbed oil finish, checkering has very slight wear. (Guns are accompanied by their orig stocks which have been epoxy bedded in action area to use as templates for present stocks. Present stocks match shaping and styling of originals exceptionally well, the major difference is that new stocks have longer LOP.) Orig stocks are good, retaining nearly all of their orig finish and checkered wood butts (approx LOP 14-1/4″). Gold oval removed from one stock. Forends were refinished at time of re-stocking to match color of new buttstocks. Bores are excellent. Mechanically crisp. Case leather is excellent, still light in color, with a few scratches and rubs. Orig handle is very fine. Interior cloth is good, with some rubs and considerable insect damage in small patches, mostly on partitions. Case was stored in a relatively damp environment, separate from guns, for many years. Accessories are excellent. Top of striker bottle is cracked. After searching factory records, Ronald Gabriel in AMERICAN & BRITISH 410 SHOTGUNS relates that “Purdey built a total of six” (Best 410 shotguns) “before World War II; and another 18 after WWII up until 1982”. A unique opportunity to acquire an unprecedented, investment quality pair of small bore Purdeys. 50031-1 MGM57 (150,000-250,000) – Lot 2291Click here to view rotating image | Click here to view provenance
Please Note: All prices include the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium, which is paid by the buyer as part of the purchase price. The prices noted here after the auction are considered unofficial and do not become official until after the 46th day.