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Aug 5th, 2016
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Was curious to see if there really is a difference? I have read done in the London style or Birmingham made, based on the engraving . Is there really a difference? I would think if you paid enough any Bham gun could easily be a London Gun. Any insight or pics would be great!

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Engraving was an outworker job, still is for the most part. The same engravers did guns from all over the country most likely.

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It has taken me many years to figure out that a lot of what I took to be true about 19th century gunmaking, because I read it somewhere, was not.

While I suppose individual London and Birmingham engravers might have stylistic preferences or particular aptitudes, the intertwined nature of the London and Birmingham trade and its use of outworkers would blur any geographical origins.

What I have noticed is an evolution in engraving patterns through the late 1850s and 1860s, and that's as far as I'll go.

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Many provincial makers offered London Pattern sidelocks featuring best rose and scroll or other patterns to customer choice. Dickson featuring Sumner Often the work of Sumner or Kell can be identified on Birmingham products. By the same token, the London makers often turned to Birmingham for actions and components (e.g. Westley Richards @ AA Brown). Characterize it as Symbiotic or Incestuous as you like.

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There were engravers and engravers .Some were true artists others did the job to the price paid .
Look at the work of Henry Morris a Birmingham engraver who ran an engraving shop after WW1. Morris had numerous men working for him and trained many apprentices .Some of his work was as good as any I have seen especially his very fine detailed work.I do know that he trained at either Scott's or possibly Webley prior to the amalgamation and took on his last apprentice in 1959 and worked on until the 60's .

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I have a Brummy "best" that cost as much as an H&H Royal when new. I think the engraving is pretty solid work and stands up to most.

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I believe one of Henry Morris's last apprentices may have been Ron Collings, a very talented engraver currently based in California. I had the pleasure of meeting Ron during a time that he resided in Canada.
We certainly talked about Henry Morris because at that time I owned two guns engraved by Henry. Henry's Engraving was second to none.

Last edited by Roy Hebbes; 06/10/19 08:30 PM.

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Can an "expert" distinguish between London cut engraving and Birmingham cut engraving of the same pattern? I think definitely not. Can an "expert" make a pretty good guess based on the pattern itself? Yes. Yes because house patterns are fairly well known and because most boxlocks were made in Birmingham (which dramatically eases the question). The question if engraved in London or Birmingham falls into the same category as was the gun made in London or Birmingham. A much better question is, "What was the original quality level of this gun?"

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I concur with all the comments above: generally there is no correlation between engraving style or quality and the geographical origin of the gun.
Given the higher wages and costs of London production, I think it would be fair to say that the quality of a TRULY London made gun is ON AVERAGE higher than one from Birmingham and hence the execution may be better. Many top outworkers moved to London for the higher wages but then many stayed and made a good living in Birmingham.
When I look at the work that came out of the P Webley organisation and was retailed by the like of Lang, Evans and Blanch I see engraving of fantastic quality, easily as good as (presumably) London guns made of the same era.
I have always wondered about the Kell style engraving that Blanch used on there Best gun between the turn of the Century and 1st WW. I know that these guns are basically of Birmingham origin but the engraving is so 'Kell' I have always been tempted to think they were engraved in the Kell studios. But we will never know for sure: was there a Birmingham studio doing Kell style work?!

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Toby,

Kell style includes the "creeping vine" engraving often seen on Blanch guns?

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