British gun and rifle maker James Purdey & Sons is continuing its bicentennial anniversary with a trio of guns that represents the brand’s history of fine craftsmanship and lifestyle.
Purdey will only manufacture a single Bicentenary Trio to mark its milestone anniversary and reflect the exclusiveness of the high-end shooting community as well as the skill required to produce the featured guns. Sport shooting has recently undergone a type of renaissance with a gained interest among ultra-high-net-worth individuals looking for exclusive experiences.
“Our Bicentenary Trio is a unique set aimed at an individual collector, featuring three guns made in the modern era of Purdey gun-making from the late Victorian era to modern day,” said Nigel Beaumont, chairman of James Purdey & Sons, London.
“The set, cased in an exceptional commissioned gun cabinet, will be on display in our historic Long Room at Audley House in Mayfair [in London] throughout our anniversary year of 2014,” he said.
Purdey’s Trio collection features guns that highlight the brand’s skill and attention to detail throughout its 200-year history. Each gun will be stamped with Purdey’s bicentenary mark and a special serial number.
The first gun in the Trio is the 12-bore side-by-side game gun first manufactured by Purdey in 1880. The 12-bore is considered to be a classic example of a side-by-side sporting shotgun and has been made in the original fashion except for the addition of ejectors in 1888.
Purdey’s 12-bore shotgun also features the gunsmith’s Kell School game bird engraving developed by Harry and Henry Kell in the 20th century. The Kells developed their engraving style based on Purdey engraver James Lucas’ much-replicated Fine Rose and Scroll pattern.
Also in the Trio is the Damascus 20-bore over-and-under game gun first developed by Purdey in 1923 with the final version crafted in 1950 after the gunmaker acquired James Woodword & Company in 1948.
The Damascus is forged from Damasteel, a metal that is three-times stronger than the steel traditionally used in gunmaking. The use of Damasteel ensures that no impurities emerge and provides a unique pattern on each gun’s barrel.
Lastly, the Trio includes the .470 nitro express double rifle as homage to founder James Purdey’s passion for rifles.
Prior to the 1850s, muzzle-loading rifles were complicated to load but Purdey developed deeper barrel grooves and two-winged bullets as a solution that resulted in greater velocity, accuracy and range.
This innovation led to the exportation of the Express around the world and the gun being touted by big game hunters. Also, the rifle was revered by India’s maharajas in the 19th century who commissioned engravings of exotic hunting scenes, now depicted in the Trio version.
All guns in the Trio feature Purdey’s name inlaid in gold script either on the lock plates, the underside of the gun, on the barrel or action bars.
For traveling ease, Purdey has created a motor case for the Trio made of oak and leather lined with red goatskin. The French-fitted motor case, designed after King George VI’s in the 1930s, will include three gold-plated tools with horn handles.
To display the Trio at home, Purdey designed a gun cabinet with a 360-degree view of the guns inspired by a stand found in the gunmaker’s Long Room at Audley House, London in the 1880s.
Purdey commissioned the craftsmanship of the cabinet to Hatfield’s of London which built the stand from mahogany using antique sawn-cut veneers.
The increased interest in shooting and its associated lifestyle has spurred gunmakers to introduce themselves to new consumers through lifestyle positioning.
For example, Purdey showcased the lifestyle of the brand through a video for its new collection that displays the social aspects of hunting.
The video, titled “In the field,” goes through an entire day of hunting while giving close-up shots of the new Purdey guns. Purdey’s video likely resonated with gun enthusiasts and hunters by highlighting the lifestyle aspect of the brand (see story).
Though deeply rooted in heritage, ecommerce has helped make shooting lifestyle brands become accessible to a global consumer.
For instance, British gunmaker and lifestyle brand Holland & Holland brought its heritage and craftsmanship to United States consumers through an ecommerce Web site that gives shooting enthusiasts the opportunity to shop the brand’s wares.
Holland & Holland created its ecommerce site to act as an adjunct to its New York Gun Room and other authorized retailers nationwide (see story).
With traditional shooting rising as a hobby enjoyed by the affluent, Purdey has seen growth outside its mainly British market.
“Purdey has a strong customer base in the U.S. both for guns and rifles as well as for clothing and accessories,” Mr. Beaumont said.
Jen King, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York