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They provide excellent alternative to English stuff for those of us who have been "under the feet" of the British Government for years. Please see GunsInternational 100999311 to see nice sample of European game gun. It is no shame to buy something not made in Birmingham, London or provinces. It's all good.

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Originally Posted By: Tamid
Before 1914, only two companies were able to entirely manufacture weapons in workshops...in Leige..: the FN and Établissements Pieper.

Source: the remarkable work of Claude GAIER, Doctor of History and Director of the LIEGE ARMS Museum, Five centuries of Arms manufacturing in Liège, Editions du Perron, Alleur (Belgium)

With all the trade guns from Belgium it would be interesting to understand how many were from those 2 companies and how many produced in other 'states' of Belgium


An excellent book which I hate to confess has sat on my shelf not completely read, your post only tells me I need to actually read it in full.

As to the remarks about the segmented nature of production only reinforces the advice reference Belgian Guns to judge each gun on its own merits.

The lack of more than a few “Name” manufacturers only plays to a discerning buyer’s market which enables one to find a great gun at a good price. Initially all of my good guns came this way as I had less money then.


Michael Dittamo
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Colleagues, information you are interested in is here https://shotguncollector.com/2017/11/23/8190/ and https://wp.me/p461yQ-1SP
Unfortunately,in Russian
It is possible to use Google Translate https://translate.google.com/

Last edited by Robertovich; 03/12/18 03:14 PM.
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I believe Jules Bury figured large in the gun parts business. AIR, he moved on from his "best gun" shop into the more/larger lucrative of supplying gun parts. Several other noted masters joined this effort, I think.

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Rocket man, I am away from my files, but I seem to remember that Bury made guns for himself and for others to sell with their names. But, my memory is that Bury sourced parts from Britte Bros. Then , maybe in the late 40s, was there some sort of almagamation of Britte and Bury ?

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Robertovich, excellent information. Great article.

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DH, as I recall, Bury was one of four makers who really pushed Belgian gun making quality into the level of "best work guns" in the late 1800's.

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Drew,
Nice to read your posts...you and ellnbr are my two favorite posters, even if I don't agree with you guys all the time

Respectfully, I reject the 1914 date...Liege gunsmithing was a cottage industry long before 1914...August LeBeau was long dead by 1914 and he capitalized on outworkers and they cranked out finished guns as did a great number of Liege finishing houses...maybe I misunderstood the posted information...what isn't remembered is that many outworkers were women and children...Back in the early 80's an elderly man, who grew up in Liege, told me that as soon as the sun came up, they would clear the breakfast table and begin filing parts...he and his siblings and family all participated...hid father did the final fitting.

He explained the the parts came rough in a wood bot with one finished piece wired to the top of the box and several simple gauges ( I assume go and no go)...when all parts who finished his father would take the parts to M.L.for payment and a new box of rough parts, usually the same...he made it seems as though they were seriously underpaid......he mentioned the family being so broke that there was times when they couldn't come up with the security deposit for a box of rough (forgings) parts

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Great to have you posting again Robert, and I hope all is well with you and your family.

Interesting reading from Jean Puraye, "Making Damascus Barrels", 1966 published by the Musee d’ Armes de Liege, "The End of the Damascus Trade".

The reasons the trade ended are multi-faceted. While the destruction of the rolling mills, barrel production centers and decimated workforce inflicted by WWI are primary, the trade would have ended eventually.
The change was rooted deep within the fabric of western Europe.
The industrial revolution progressed. Metallurgical developments produced stronger steels. Railroads were built. As the technology to produce stronger steels rose, so too did unionism and the shattering of the guild system.
For many decades, the owners had ruled like barons over their workers. They saw no reason to support state sponsored programs such as schools, health care and the like. They found the federal government intrusive and preferred to cling to their own regional ethnicities. For a time this view was shared by the labor force. Eventually, as the owners increasing used machines, the workers were displaced. The guild could provide the training needed to learn a trade. The small cottage worker found themselves living in more urban setting with decreasing ability to control their own work habits.



As early as 1849 the S.S.M.O.A.L. or Société de Secours mutuels des Ouvriers Armuriers Liège (Mutual Aid Society of Liege Arms Workers) was formed. This early mutual aid society was largely geared to helping workers with things like housing, food, etc.
In 1886 the town of Liege called a meeting of the owners. They had a proposal for them. An establishment of a school to train workers. They suggested that the town would help fund such a school. They would seek funding from the federal government. In addition, they wanted the owners support. The owners drafted a response. They saw no need to educate their labor force. After all, the guild system provided all the education that was required.
One of the 1st truly modern firearms makers in Belgium was Fabrique National. FN was originally founded by a group of owners / investors, Henri Pieper being one, in 1889. It was based on the most modern technology. Large tracts of land were acquired. Huge factories rose, building after building. Labor was needed. There was a rush to the doors as people sought work. FN was looking at a new economy of firearms production. Before a gunmaker-owner simply set a rate for which he purchased parts. He could even pay cottage workers to do the final assembly. Guns per hour, became a new phrase on the owners lips.
The work force suffered and finally walked out on strike in 1895. Strikes were not unheard of in Belgium, but were a rare thing for the arms industry. At this time the Union des Fabricants d'Armes U.F.A ( Union of Arms Workers ) approached the officials of Liege. They lent their support and the L'école d'Armurerie de Liège ( School of Liege Gun makers ) was founded in 1897.
A sense of national pride was growing in Belgium. With the advent of the railroad, relatively rare and exotic commodities were becoming common place. Oranges, lemons, spices, clothing were now available. People had the bicycle as a means of transport. Things were looking up. The only problem was money. To purchase all this took cash. The owners were staunch. They had paid your father 2 francs per barrel, what made you think your barrels were worth 3 francs? Things came to a head in 1908. The barrel makers guild found themselves locked out. The people of Nessonvaux and Liege opened their hearts and their doors. They took in the children of the barrel makers guild and provided them with food and shelter.
One of the voices of change was Léon Troclet. He supported the workers cause. He called for even more schooling. Léon Troclet was one of the founders of the Belgium Labor Party and of the F.G.T.B. , La Fédération générale du travail de Belgique (The General Federation of Belgian Labour ), one the largest unions in Belgium.
The strikes continued unfortunately. In 1912, the Lochet factory was embroiled in a strike.

Working at home with what looks to be 7 children



Everything changed after Germany invaded neutral Belgium August 4, 1914.


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Interesting read Drew. My fist question to mind is, has the world changed? And the answer in almost all countries is no we still heve same problems, slightly changed in a more modern world but, still the same. Companies continue to rely on the lowest paid workers where ever they are, China being the pointing finger today. Yesterday it was Taiwan and before than Japan and after China who....South America or Africa....take your pick. Does industry work any differently than a 100 years ago. No it doesn't. Where are the most sought after electronics coming from. Reading the label it could be from Mexico, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Philippines, and slowly becoming prominent countries in Africa. The cottage industry still thrives but in a global market place.

My original post wasn't to understand how micro and macro economics work, but more to decipher who in Belgium made complete guns and when reading the mfg'er label on a gun, in this day, can you really understand what is under the surface in workmanship and quality?


Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
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