Not sure about a Double Rifle

dougfinn

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Hi all. I’ve been looking at an antique double rifle online and am rather confused as to who is the actual maker. The side locks are engraved with J. Beattie, the action is stamped on the flats with P. Phillip & Son and the barrels are marked E. Harrison & Co. 226 Strand. It’s in .500 bpe. Now some research I’ve done says that Beattie was a seller of other’s guns as well as a maker himself. Could this specimen be built by one of the other two makers named on it and Beattie was the seller, or did some makers farm out some of the work and put the components together and put their name on it? The only possible concern I have is that this gun was put together by someone using spare parts, which would be a big concern to me. Thanks in advance and I’m looking forward to hearing your responses.
 

AZDAVE

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In the 1800's it was common practice for one company to make locks another actions and yet another barrels and a Gun Maker to assemble the final gun.
""Gun-makers" did not usually manufacture the parts for their guns or even assemble them: in keeping with the traditional nature of Birmingham's manufacturing industries, parts were manufactured by independent specialist sub-contractors and assembled by "fabricators" or "setters-up", the "makers" commissioning and marketing the completed guns. In the late 18th and early 19th century, barrels were mainly manufactured outside the quarter (in Aston, Deritend, Smethwick and West Bromwich), and locks were mainly sourced from the Black Country, but other parts were usually manufactured and assembled within the Quarter. In the late 19th century, Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham listed more than fifty specialist trades involved in gun manufacture, "till late years most of them being carried on under different roofs".[8]"
 

Red Leg

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In the 1800's it was common practice for one company to make locks another actions and yet another barrels and a Gun Maker to assemble the final gun.
""Gun-makers" did not usually manufacture the parts for their guns or even assemble them: in keeping with the traditional nature of Birmingham's manufacturing industries, parts were manufactured by independent specialist sub-contractors and assembled by "fabricators" or "setters-up", the "makers" commissioning and marketing the completed guns. In the late 18th and early 19th century, barrels were mainly manufactured outside the quarter (in Aston, Deritend, Smethwick and West Bromwich), and locks were mainly sourced from the Black Country, but other parts were usually manufactured and assembled within the Quarter. In the late 19th century, Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham listed more than fifty specialist trades involved in gun manufacture, "till late years most of them being carried on under different roofs".[8]"
Absolutely correct - particularly the Birmingham trade. Though in this case, it is a bit unusual to have the action and barrels carrying obviously different maker's names. Virtually all barrels were outsourced, but typically wore the name of the final gunmaker or seller. Based on the caliber alone, we can assume this is a late 19th century rifle, and I would not be surprised if was rebarreled at some point by Harrison - particularly if the current barrels are fluid steel.

Unless you have a lot of experience using and buying doubles (rifles or guns) be very careful of an online purchase. Any 120 year old assembly of steel and walnut can have a host of issues - the vast majority of which can not be seen in a photograph. I could own a matched pair of bespoke Holland & Holland Royals for what my little bit of education has cost over the last several decades.
 

dougfinn

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I’m sort of siding with you RedLeg. The barrels are fluid steel and the gun looks to be in very good shape, so I suspect it received a refreshing sometime in the past that might have included new barrels. It all raises a bit of a red flag so I’m going to take a pass on it. Thanks for the replies guys.
 

Hunter4752001

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From what little I know about antique double rifles, the provenance of the piece maybe more critical to its value than its physical condition. Who carried it and what they did with it. An old 303 maybe of little value, but the 303 used by Col Patterson to kill the Tsavo lions would be beyond value.
 

dougfinn

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Totally agree Hunter, but doubles that come with provenance are way out of my price range unfortunately. What I look for is all original condition with a good bore. Engraving, good wood and Damascus if I’m lucky. I may never shoot some of my oldies but I like them to be in good enough condition that it would be possible. My search continues.
 

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Totally agree Hunter, but doubles that come with provenance are way out of my price range unfortunately. What I look for is all original condition with a good bore. Engraving, good wood and Damascus if I’m lucky. I may never shoot some of my oldies but I like them to be in good enough condition that it would be possible. My search continues.
Remember on English guns original condition is not nearly as important as the American collecting fixation on original finish. A British gun that was well cared for, was periodically sent back to the maker for TLC. That often included re-blacking the barrels or even re-case coloring the action.

Chasing guns with a provenance is a highly specialized and extremely expensive hobby. You are on the right track focusing on the Birmingham trade. They were extremely well made, and don't carry the same cache' (or price) of a London built rifle of similar quality.

Just be careful. Unless you are buying a used gun from one of the major makers like Wesley Richards, many - probably two-thirds - offered for sale have issues. They can be relatively simple like being off-face to very complicated and very, very, expensive. Having someone assist who knows their way around these wonderful old dowagers is a real help.
 

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Hi all. I’ve been looking at an antique double rifle online and am rather confused as to who is the actual maker. The side locks are engraved with J. Beattie, the action is stamped on the flats with P. Phillip & Son and the barrels are marked E. Harrison & Co. 226 Strand. It’s in .500 bpe. Now some research I’ve done says that Beattie was a seller of other’s guns as well as a maker himself. Could this specimen be built by one of the other two makers named on it and Beattie was the seller, or did some makers farm out some of the work and put the components together and put their name on it? The only possible concern I have is that this gun was put together by someone using spare parts, which would be a big concern to me. Thanks in advance and I’m looking forward to hearing your responses.

Likely a rebarreled gun. The brits don’t take kindly to counterfeiting. Replacement barrels usually don’t carry the original maker’s name. I would not buy a 500bpe with 2-3 makers involved.

Many of these guns were 450s that were rebarreled to 465-470-500bpe when 450s were outlawed.
 

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