James Purdey, 314 Oxford Street, London.
Pair of 12 bore Back-action Hammergun
No's 8521 & 8522

Year of manufacture: 1871


  No. 1 Gun  
  No. 2 Gun  

Click on these images for more detail.

Heritage Guns' Comment

This pair of hammerguns are a very rare thing in that they have never apparently been broken up nor lost their original case, complete with original charge label. Hammerless pairs of the late C19th can quite often be found together but as hammerguns were superseded, they were almost invariably split up and sold on or gifted to employees and impecunious relations. One reason may have been that No. 1 had suffered a burst RH barrel, long before sleeving had been invented, and the cost of rebarrelling would probably have been considered uneconomical. Put to the back of the gun cabinet as unusable and valueless, it was probably forgotten and the No. 2 gun kept for old times’ sake and the odd day out. Anyway, this fluke of history is a godsend for lovers of historical guns.
Apart from No. 1’s burst barrel, No. 2 was not in a good way either: the barrel walls were thin and pitted so in order to maintain the two as a matched pair, we opted to have them sleeved together so balance, weight etc could be best maintained.
Both guns now balance exactly on their hinge pins and there is only 2oz difference in total weight.
Prior to reproof, both guns had laser-welded repairs to erosion damage on their RH breech striker hole.
The engraving is beautifully crisp on all the hard metal which is testimony to the high quality of Purdey's hardening and there are substantial traces of original hardening colour in protected areas. Both guns carry their delicious, original French walnut stocks and forends, with 14 7/8" LOP’s including 3/4" leather covered recoil pads.
With their excellent MWT’s and 2 ” nitro reproof, these guns are compatible with modern CIP Standard Steel loads and as such present an almost unique opportunity for the lover of hammerguns to have a true, travelling pair unencumbered by the complexity of ejectors, safety slides or auto-cocking mechanisms.
Presented in their relined, original Oak & Leather double case with some cleaning and reloading accessories, original charge card and a digital reproduction label.

Only where the two guns differ have we listed their individual specifications and features below.

Fantastic value for such a rare pair of guns at $24950

On Consignment in USA with MacNab Fine Firearms

The actions bring together two of James Purdey’s iconic designs,
the Purdey Bolt and Island Locks, and feature:
Double triggers;
Back action ‘Island’, rebounding locks;
High ‘Dolphin’ hammers;
Sprung, gold-washed strikers;
Top levers operating a 'Purdey Bolt' by way of a Scott Spindle;
Finely carved percussion fences & Rounded bar;
Cross-bolt, or ‘Wedge’, forend fasteners.
Both guns balance exactly on their hinge pins.
Gun weights 7lb 3oz (1), 7lb 5oz (2)
Engraving style
Best foliate scroll.
Top lever engraved ‘PATENT’ and under-bar engraved ‘PURDEY’S PATENT’.
Action flats engraved ‘No. 1’ & ‘No. 2’, top ribs engraved ‘1’ & ‘2’.
Forends stamped with their gun's serial number.
Trigger pulls measure approximately: Front trigger 3 lbs (1), 3 (2) Rear trigger 4 lbs (both)
The TIG sleeved damascus to steel barrels are 30" in length,
chambered for 2 " (70mm) cartridges and are of brazed 'dovetail' lump construction
with soft soldered ribs. Top rib is of a smooth, concave type.
Birmingham reproof for 70mm nitro powder cartridges in 2021.

Approximate barrel measurements at date of publication:

Nominal Proof Size
Bore Diameter 9" from Breech
Minimum Wall Thickness
Choke Constriction
Right Barrel
18.4mm (0.724") (both)
0.725" (both
0.032"(1) / 0.036"(2)
0.012"(1)/0.011"(2) (IC)
Left Barrel
18.4mm (0.724") (both)
0.725" (both)
0.036"(1) / 0.037"(2)
0.022"(1)/0.021"(2) (Mod)

The original Straight Hand Stocks and Splinter Forends are crafted from highly figured walnut. The stocks are lightly cast-off for a right handed shooter, feature vacant silver ovals and are finished with a 3/4" leather covered recoil pads. The stock of No. 1 has some small, barely visible repairs to the edges bordering the lock plates. The forends are retained by cross-bolt, or wedge, fasteners and are fitted with finely engraved metal tips. There is one small wood inlet to No. 1’s forend edge and two inlets to No. 2’s. 

No. 1 Gun   No. 2 Gun
Highly figured walnut

The approx. 20 lines per inch chequering has been freshened to its original back lock design. The stock is finished with a traditional linseed oil based preparation as used on best guns by one of the top English makers. This finish uses no grain fillers to achieve its deep, smooth lustre, only many hours of alternate build and flatting off of the surface.

Approximate stock measurements at date of publication:

Pull to Heel
Pull to Bump
Pull to Centre
Pull to Toe
14 5/8" (both)
14 7/8" (both)
14 7/8"(1) / 14 15/16"(2)
15 3/8"(1) / 15 1/2"(2)
Drop at Comb
Drop at Face
Drop at Heel
1 1/2"(1) / 1 7/16"(2)
1 7/8"(1) / 1 3/4"(2)
2 3/4"(1) / 2 11/16"(2)
Cast at Comb
Cast at Heel
Negligible(1) / 1/8"(2) approx.
1/16"(1) / 3/16"(2) approx.

For the purposes of these measurements, 'Drop at Face' is the 'drop' measurement taken on a line perpendicular to the
line joining the trigger and centre of the butt at approximately 8" from the trigger (front trigger on a double trigger gun).

Patents Exhibited include:
'Purdey; Bolt' patent no. 1104 of 1863;
'Scott Spindle' patent no. 2752 of 1865;

Stanton's rebounding lock patent no. 367 of 1867.