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Gentlemen,

I regard myself as a bit of a Dickson collector (but not as bad as Charles Gordon!) and I own a bunch of Dicksons in many configurations (percussion to round-action). I have been fascinated with this particular gun manufacturer simply because of locality, as I spent my teenage years and early career in Scotland.

Over the years I have amassed a lot of info on the weapons produced by this great firm and for the ones I cannot own I like to learn a little bit about them. Every now and then you get surprise and come across an undocumented feature, certainly as the round-action model progressed in development.

For those of you that own guns made by this firm, I hope that you would be willing to share some of the info on your gun with me. I am especially looking for specs you can reveal on the gun, including serial number and any patent use number stamped on the bar of the action (could be by Lancaster, Purdey, WM Scott and JD&S) and/or anything unusual about the guns.

2012 has finally brought me some spare time to start to pull all this info together and comes at a time when I should be able to submit much of this info to Donald Dallas, as he starts the task of putting a Dickson book together.

If you can contribute anything regarding Dickson, please PM me.

Best Regards
J-PD

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J-PD, I arranged the changing of the guard on a very nice Dickson self-cocking hammergun with the original 3 sets of damascus barrels and the original case. If you're interested I will contact my buddy, (the current owner) and see if he'd be interested in passing on some info.

Black and Tan
Unregistered
Black and Tan
Unregistered

FP,

I own a Dickson boxlock. I have been unable to determine whether this piece was made in Birmingham (which I suspect due to it having Birmingham proof marks) and then put together by Dickson, or, conversely, was made by Dickson and proofed in Birmingham. Do you have any recommendations on researching the question? Dickson's current management have steadfastly declined to answer any correspondence.

Best,

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Use the phone;131-225-4218. Just ask them to read the book for your serial#,and if you are pleasent to them they will send you a photo of the entry.

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J-PD,

Having already exchanged details on my pair of Dicksons with you, I'm prompted to hope that you will eventually be writing a book. Burrard, as I recall, particularly liked the Dickson action and plenty has been written about trigger plate actions and their mechanical benefits. But a comprehensive book about Dicksons would be a delight to add to my firearms library.

Don't doubt that some of us owners would readily forward high resolution digital photos should you advance in such a project.

Regards,
Tim

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Randall,

Ok, sourced-in boxlocks is a contentious story with Dicksons.

The real early stuff, circa 1890's, came in in-the-white from Birmingham, pre-stamped with a A&D patent use number. Engraving, stocking and finishing likely happened in Edinburgh. They had the workforce to do it, at this time Dicksons had at least 10 men and 6 boys in the workshop.

Dicksons then went through a long period of making up their own A&D 1st Quality boxlocks completely in Edinburgh. There is correspondence and photos to support this. In tandem, 2nd and 3rd quality Boxlocks were likely completed in Birmingham.

Once we get pass the 1950's we see the names of S. Wright & Son, Holloway and W.M. Scott making completely finished guns for Dicksons. The last run of boxlocks as late as the 1970's were by all means Webley & Scott 700 series and even engraved on the barrels "Specially Made for John Dickson & Son".

PM your serial number and I'll see what I have. Period boxlocks came with the names of Capital, Waverley, Caledonian and were associated with their grades, 1st, 2nd and 3rd quality.

Regards
J-PD

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Hi Tim,

Thanks for the info on your guns, I sent some interesting stuff to you on what was probably on the bench at the same time as your guns!

The Dickson book is currently being put together by Donald Dallas. Having already completed the DMB and Charles Gordon books, the Dickson story was a natural step to complete the set.

My spare time at the moment is consolidating all the info I have picked up over the years and feeding this into Donald in a legible format! Donalds focus at the moment is the family tree and it has already turned up some surprises including a previously unknown living descendant of the last John Dickson!

Regards
J-PD

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Good news, J-PD,

Anticipate the book with pleasure. Would be willing to provide hi-res digitals of my Dicksons with the original Damascus barrels (rebrowned by Dickson in 1986) including (if I can get it) some rivelling near the chambers) and the new set of Italian steel barrels made by another a few years ago with modern London proof marks. Can PM me.

Yes, found the details, especially about the trio likely on the bench the same time as my gun No. 2, very interesting.

Regards, Tim

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A well known Birmingham maker {W&S} made quite few blocks for Dickson's in the 70's to my certain knowledge.Engrave "Specially Made for John Dickson " as previously mentioned. This was because of the Trade Description Act that had come in to force which meant that no one could claim that they had made somthing without doing 50%[?} of the total work .Guns prior to that were just marked John Dickson . They were if I recall correctly filed up to give the impression of a round action and had a scalloped back ,but I will stand correcting on that point.I have seen numerous box locks of standard pattern bearing the Dickson name as well as H& H style side locks.

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In a somewhat related question, I have a beautiful 1890 era Mortimer & Son boxlock ejector. Were those guns made in Scotland or were they out worker crafted in Birmingham? They seem to have uniquely short fences and a very "Scottish" style of action filing.

I ask about this question here because Dickson owns Mortimer.

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Last call on the any Dickson gun info you want to share/submit.
First draft of book is complete and under review and now just sorting out some gun pictures.

Thanks again
J-PD

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Finally, a book about John Dickson, it’s about time!!!

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J-PD,

Can scan and email the gunbook notes on my pair of Dicksons if that would be of use to you/Dallas.

Best of the Season,
Tim

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Thanks for the offer Tim but we have access to all the paper records and they have been sorted and cleaned up.

Donald has even found the lost first ledger in the shop which Dickson never knew existed. It shows that Dickson started his numbering at about 1000 back in 1840. The first book is actual in better condition than some of the latest ledgers! Turns out there were some guns before this but with no number and named Wallace (his old master) but built by Dickson.

The book will lay to rest a lot of myth too.

Rumour was Dickson built guns for Lord Byron, Admiral Nelson and Queen Victoria (a rifle for the loyal Mr. Brown!). However, the guns for Byron and Nelson were built by Mortimer out of London and the order from Queen V was actually in the Alexander Henry records.

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Hello Fletchpair and other fine Gents

I’m currently doing some work on an early 12 bore round action, I though while I had all the experts here I would try and see if could get an answer to my question as well as provide any info and or pictures on this particular piece for your research.
As you can see there is quite a bit of damage to the front end of the full length trigger plate, and since I cannot find a round action that has this particular long plate for comparison I’m not sure how it was finished…whether it was squared off or finished with a slight concave contour.
Any info or pictures of a similar model would be of great help

Thanks in advance

CJ







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CJO

I recently repaired a round action of that early type. Quite soon in production they went to the shorter plate. I think I've seen four or five like that, and they were all cracked or broken.

If I remember correctly, the plate was finished square, with a bevel. You may have to build up material so the barrels do not gape open so much, this is what causes the breakout.

Good luck with the welding. I have repaired quite a few round action trigger plates, and the iron has not been of the purest kind. Get ready to herd a lot of slag around.

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Thanks Mike, as you can see I have welded it already but I'm not totally happy with it yet..looks like I need to go further, I only took it as far as the metal that was left..actually slightly further but I think I need to bring as far as the curvature of the knuckle.
Ser # on this one is 3672

Any thoughts?

CJ





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Nice work as usual CJO

Mike Rowe is correct, the early ones eventually crack like this. Combination of a loose gun and the cocking slide and extension on the fore-end iron that pushes the slide slamming back and forward. Letting the locks off with the barrels off does not help at all too. I guess Dickson figured this out and moved to the shorter tongue trigger-plate to reinforce this area.

The gun you have there for repair is about as early as it gets when it comes to round-actions. The serial number you provide puts it within the first 28 round-actions made.

The first round-action was No. 3658, built for W.S. Davidson in January 1881 with "Gauge 12 Locks on Trigger Plate". The year earlier Dickson had the patent for the cocking slide which would eventually appear in the round-actions to help cock the locks.

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Nice work. Thanks for sharing.

OWD


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www.DogsandDoubles.com
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What that guy can do, CJO is beyond amazing!!!! smile
What do you think happened there?

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Cool job! I wouldn't have been able to tell if the part was broken or not at all!

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CJO
Yes, you can go further than that. Go past the curve of the knuckle, then bevel the front edge to match that curve.
BTW What is the patent use number on that gun? Is it a side lever or top lever?

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Sir,

I know that Dickson owns all the records of Alexander Henry. Does the Dickson Dallas book contain a chapter about Alexander Henry? If not do you know if Dallas is going to write abook about Alexander Henry. I have some very nice and unique Henry rifles that I could photograph and send information on them if such a book or chapter is in the works.

Larry

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Hope I'm not too late. If you will give me an e-mail address I will send you the info on my round action specimen.




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can provide whatever information would be useful on the following:
#5334 round action -original 29" damascus barrels 21/2"--63 prince street
#5419 round action--resleeved 29" teague barrels 23/4"63 prince street-
#16074 12 ga scalloped boxlock--27"--proof marks are birmingham 1925-1954--barrels stamped john dickson and sons---no adress
dickson said it was a trade gun and said they didnt know more---i would like any information on this awesome game gun
#4825 20 ga staight boxlock--graham mackinlay estimates 1930 says the serial number obviously does not run with basic dickson #s--i have not talked to dickson about this gun but will in the next few days--can you shed any light on this?
they all stop birds in the air and are a joy to handle
very keen to see the dickson book

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Thanks for the insight Mike,Fletchpair

You are absolutely correct….I think the poor fitting fore-end must have had something to do with the break on this one, looks like the wood had shrunk quite a bit over the years, and no longer fit the contour of the barrels…. this, combined with the loose fit between the F-E iron and the F-E loop allowed enough wobble on the knuckle to pinch and bend the end of the plate upon opening the gun.
I smoked the wood back on to the barrels…fortunately there was enough wood to do this, and welded up the iron, now that the F-E is properly fitted I think I have substantially reduced the chances of a reoccurrence.

Mike, I will build up the plate a bit more as you suggested and engrave to match.
The gun is a top lever non ejector…patent # is on the picture

Thanks and all Best

CJ








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I can give you info on a John Dickson round action ser#5757 26" sleeved bbls, steel on damascus, with no engraving except for a little border. Work was done in England. Very nice lite gun but because of lack of engraving it looked plain.

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Great info guys keep it coming!

PM me for my email address to send any info you want to keep private. Some of you have submitted info and pictures that will be included in the book and current owners names have been removed, but you already know who you are.

LD1 - Sorry no chapter on Henry and no plans for a Henry book from Dallas yet. He is busy revising the Purdey book for the bi-centenary edition next year. (Henry's great grandson is now a member on this board and has submitted so great info already)

Dickson built over 100 Henry Patent Rifles, they all carried a Henry patent use number, but the why would you buy a Henry rifle from Dickson when you could walk a couple of streets away and have the same thing from the original manufacturer?

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How about R. Gordon Cumming's John Dickson double rifle he took to Africa in 1850?? smile

"The most perfect rifle I have ever used"

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Treblig,
R. Gordon Cumming was in Africa during the mid 1840's. His Dickson was a BIG rifle; I believe a 6 bore 2-groove double. Much better for elephant than his Moore and Purdey 16 bores which he was forced to use once he "lost" the Dickson due to a barrel blowing up. It would be great to find its specs in the ledgers, but it may have been made for someone else and he bought it used before his trip. Still, there could not be too many rifles like it made.

I believe I have his Purdey 16 which he also bought used. He took it to India when he went there with the military in the 1830's It was built in 1832, From counting listed rifles in Unsworth, the 10th double rifle Purdey made.

Best and Happy New Year!

Mal

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As always, Great stuff Mal!!! smile
What did he say about his Purdey? "A Good friend" Must have saved his life a few times.
But he really liked that John Dickson and praised it throughout the book.

Yep, building and USING dangerous game guns since the 1830s, I'd say the English know a little something about building guns!!


Thanks Mal!!




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Yes, As I recall "a good and old friend, I used it on the plains of Hindustan when I was a young Subaltern there." Unsworth illustrates it in its case with most of its original accessories.

Unsworth also relates that it was put to auction by a member of the Gordon-Cumming family; but "could not be the rifle used in Africa, as it was much too early". I guess he didn't read Roulin's introductory chapter where the above info is found. I have closely read the entire 2 vols. "Five years of A Hunters Life" looking for more clues about my rifle but found nothing definitive. The case does look as if it has seen a LOT of careful use like sliding around in a waggon for 5 years. The rifle has most of its original finish [barrels rebrowned long ago], as is correct for a used but cared for peice. It is neat in that it has grip safety and external intercepting safety sears. The case contains spare mainsprings and 2 bullet molds, one for a short conical bullet. There is also a large bone container for nipples.

I think the Dickson 2-groove went through Julia's auction a few years ago; after he had the barrels replaced upon his return, and before he went on his lecture tours relating his African experiance. As I recall, the patchbox was engraved with waggons etc. My guess is it was rebuilt and re-engraved, as the rifle was in fine condition, but showed that it had some heavy use before refurbishing.

Best, Mal

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Mal, I have looked through the early records and no mention of Roualeyn Gordon Cumming so you are right in thinking he may have bought it second-hand. Look out for an extract about his Dickson rifle in the new Dickson book though.

As for which rifle it could be, this is difficult as not calibres are recorded and some shotguns had additional rifle barrels fitted and the calibre of the rifle barrels is not recorded!

The rifles that passed through Julias in the last few years were No.1087, a double 8 bore and No.1089, a 60 Cal double.

There was a lot of press coverage in Edinburgh during the 1850's on the trials of Dicksons two-groove rifles and how well they worked and how accurate they were. Dickson built a small number of long-range experimental rifles which were sighted for 1000 yards and was one of the first companies to introduce a telescopic sight to benefit the range of the rifle in 1850 (rifle No.1406). Dickson's were building this type of rifle from the mid-1830s, some 20 years before Purdey coined the term 'Express'!

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Come on Fletch there's got to be someway or somehow we can track down this Dickson. smile

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A friend of mine had a double barreled Dickson .54 two groove rifle, and shooting round balls it was by far the most accurate and well regulated double muzzleloader I have ever seen.

It put most cartridge doubles to shame. But, that's what one would expect from a Dickson.

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Although my Purdey percussion express rifles shoot winged conical well, they REALLY shoot patched round ball; and with half the bother. Something about the 1 turn in 60 inch twist, I think.

Best,
Mal

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Just wondered if you had gotten my info JP. Thanks.

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Hello Fletchpair, Mike Rowe

The welding is done, worked out quite well, after studying the engraving on the rest of the gun carefully I believe that I came close to replicating what was there before, I just need to antique the cut and blend the finish
Next will be a nice leather pad to lengthen the pull a bit…… the owner seems to be quite happy so far

CJ









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Just a follow up for all that have asked - the Dickson book is at the publishers (Quiller) now and will be available next Autumn. There will be only a 1000 copies, available through the Dickson shop in Edinburgh or direct from Donald Dallas himself.


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And how can we get them through Mr Dallas?

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Try here, Justin, but note that the Dickson book is "in progress" with no word on how to order it yet...

http://www.donalddallas.com/books.html

Regards, Tim

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Thanks Tim

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Hello Fletchedpair,

I know I'm too late for the book, but I just recently became a John Dickson owner too. You may find interesting the story about my John Dickson/Alex Henry, 20-.577 cal. Double rifle.

http://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=339889#Post339889

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Hi Buckstix,

Thank you for the info you posted, I actually picked up the info on your rifle some years ago through a previous owner. You have a really nice piece there and with great history too.

Cheers
J-PD

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D.Dallas website now gives an email address to express interest in buying the Dickson book.

Regards

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Fear not faint hearts the Dickson book is not due for publishing until August 2014.
New book about Purdey just been released.

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Originally Posted By: salopian
Fear not faint hearts the Dickson book is not due for publishing until August 2014.
New book about Purdey just been released.


Salopian;

What is the new book on Purdey, who is author and where is it available for sale?

Bv

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The new Purdey book is a revision of Donald's first Purdey book to coincide with the bicentenary of Purdey.

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J-P;

Thanks.

Bv

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Cost is Ł75 from Quiller Publishing.
I have to say that I think that Donald Dallas is a bit naughty (In my opinion) because he seems to do this with all his books. Brings out a brilliant book that you just have to have at Ł75 then eighteen months later brings out volume two, same as volume one plus maybe thirty pages and it's another Ł75!
But maybe it's just me being tight?

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Does anyone know if Donald Dallas is planning another printing of the John Dickson book? I unfortunately didn't get a copy before they sold out. Not many used copies showing up!

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You may want to try Dickson’s to see if they have any left.

Ken

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Hi Ken,

I tried Dickson and Graham Mackinlay. So far no luck. Donald Dallas' own site also shows out of stock.

Any idea how much info this book has on rifles vs shotguns? I own 3 rifles but no shotguns of theirs at this point.

Regards,
Chris

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Chris,

The book is focused on the round action, but it does provide some information on Dickson rifles especially the early years prior to 1887. The book also has a short chapter on Charles Gordon and his guns built by Dickson.

Ken

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Sidelock

Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 126
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It's available at Coch-y-Bonddu Books LTD via Abe Books UK. The price is $202.34. I've done business with Coch-y-Bonddu Books, nice outfit.

Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 320
Likes: 44
CJF Offline
Sidelock
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Offline
Sidelock
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Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 320
Likes: 44
Thank you Borderbill. I’ve ordered a copy

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