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James Purdy & Son logo
James Purdey & Sons
Country of Origin

Great Britain

Location(s)

London, UK

Founder(s)

James Purdey

Year of Founding

1814

Owner(s)/Parent Company

Compagnie Financière Richemont, SA

Key People

Nigel Beaumont (Chairman)

Weapon Types

Rifles
Shotguns

Area(s) served

Worldwide


James Purdey & Sons are a British firearm manufacturer, founded in London, England, in 1814. Alongside Holland & Holland, James Purdey & Sons are one of only two firearm manufacturers in the world to have been given Royal Warrants from the British Crown.[1][2]

HistoryEdit

The origins of James Purdey & Sons can be traced back to the mid-1700s, when James Purdey's father, James Purdey, began working in London, making barrels for several gunsmiths near to the Tower of London. Purdey (ie the founder of the firm) followed in his father's footsteps and became an apprentice to Thomas Keck Hutchinson in 1794, aged 14. Purdey then founded the firm in 1814, after completing his apprenticeship in 1805 and working for (then) renowned gunsmith Joseph Manton.[3]

Fledgling BusinessEdit

James Purdey & Sons early trading began on a high, largely due to James Purdey's own reputation around London. His business also became renowned for its repair service, as well as the hunting accessories that they also sold. By 1826, James Purdey & Sons had made enough money to purchase a shop on Oxford Street, that of Purdey's former master Joseph Manton.[4]

A couple of names became associated with James Purdey & Sons at this time. The first was a certain Charles Darwin, whom entered the store to purchase equipment for the voyage of HMS Beagle in 1831. The second was Queen Victoria whom, upon her coronation in 1838, ordered a pair of double-barrelled pistols, which were later presented to the Imanm of Muscat.[5]

Purdey the YoungerEdit

James Purdey & Sons plaque

The Green Plaque that hangs on Audley House to this day.

James Purdey's first son, unsurprisingly, also named James was born in 1828. James the Younger, as he was known, followed his father's footsteps and became an apprentice aged 14, before taking over the firm in 1858.[6] It was around this time that the firm began to move away from flintlock designs to more modern percussion lock designs, before eventually switching to breech loading rifles by the 1880s.[7]

James the Younger also built Audley House in Mayfair as a showroom and family home, which remains the property of the Purdey family to this day.

Twentieth CenturyEdit

The Purdey family continued to run the firm through both World Wars, although sales suffered heavily, particularly after the Second World War. In 1947, after 132 years of family ownership, Jim and Tom Purdey sold the firm to Hugh and Victor Seely. Their nephew, the Honourable Richard Beaumont, took over the firm in 1955 and combined the firm with an adjoining plot on the next street, opening up a shooting wear business alongside the gunsmithing firm (on the advice of his wife).[8]

Modern DayEdit

Beaumont sold the firm in 1994 to Swiss based Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, replacing himself with Richard Purdey (great-grandson of James Purdey the Younger) as Chairman. To this day, James Purdey & Sons continue to trade from their base in London.[9]

ProductsEdit

James Purdey & Sons have been known, throughout their 200 or so years of existance, for producing high-quality rifles and shotguns for hunting purposes. Typical prices for one of James Purdey & Sons' designs begin at £70,000, although they are all custom built and hand made.[10][11] During the World Wars, James Purdey & Sons were enlisted by the British Government to produce tools, parts and equipment for the armed forces.[12]

ClienteleEdit

James Purdey & Sons, as stated above, are known to have had some notable clients for their firearms. By far the most famous of these was Queen Victoria, whom is known to have purchased several firearms from them during her reign. In 1878, Queen Victoria issued James Purdey & Sons a Royal Warrant, a tradition that each successive monarch has done since her reign. Ten years earlier, the then Prince of Wales, Edward VII had issued his own Royal Warrant to the firm.[13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)
  2. Holland & Holland Official Website: http://www.hollandandholland.com/history.php(Accessed 16/12/2013)
  3. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)
  4. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)
  5. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)
  6. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)
  7. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)
  8. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)
  9. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)
  10. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)
  11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Purdey_and_Sons (Accesed 16/12/2013)
  12. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)
  13. James Purdey & Sons Official Website: http://www.purdey.com/heritage/purdey-history/ (Accessed 16/12/2013)

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