Original English 1893 James Purdey Best Side by Side Sidelock Ejector Game Gun with Original Case Named to Charles Steele
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is gun #2 of a matched pair. The location of Gun #1 is unknown and heard lost or destroyed. This incredible example was made by Purdey in 1893. The engraving on it is simply fantastic. It was most likely cut by James Lucas. From 1855 to 1915, Lucas was Purdey’s head engraver, and he helped to develop the fine, tight scroll work that became the “rose & scroll” engraving pattern for which the best-quality British doubles are known for.
12 Guage. 2-1/2″ Chambers. 30″ inch barrels are engraved James Purdey & Sons, Audley House, South Audley Street. London. and Made of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s Fluid Pressed Steel on narrow concave rib. Barrel flats are stamped with London black powder proofs and Guage. Bottoms of barrels are stamped with serial number 15112. Tube numbers 14849 and 14850 are on loop. Beesley patent self-opening action features automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), bushed strikers, engraved arrow head tumbler end cocking indicators, and double triggers. Action is engraved in typical Purdey house style rose and scroll. Engraving is exceptionally fine and well detailed, most likely by J. Lucas, head engraver. “J. Purdey & Sons” is on each lockplate, and “Purdey’s Patent” is on bottom of action. Scroll engraved trigger guard has serial number 15112 at grip. The ejection lever us also exceptionally engraved and personalized with CS for Charles Steele.
Well streaked and lightly figured walnut straight grip buttstock. Classic drop points and point pattern checkering are at grip, and a round brass escuthchen is on toe line with #2 engraved. Matching splinter ejector forend with Anson release and marked with serial number 15112.
Original makers oak and leather case with brass corners and central circular medallion engraved C. Steele, is lined in scarlet cloth. Original paper Purdey label and the original charge card for this gun, are on the inside of the lid. Case contains tools and parts. The case is original but was expertly restored at great expense by Huey Gun Cases in 2016.
Overall Condition of the gun is Excellent. Barresl retain nearly all of what appears to be their original blue, with some slight silvering and thinning from normal hand wear. Action and lockplates retain nearly all of what appears to be their vibrant origing case hardening color, silvering on beads and fences. Engraving is very sharp and clear. Top lever and trigger guard retain most of their origing bright blue, silvering at thumbpiece and grip. Stocks retain nearly all of an old oil refinish, grain open. Sharp edges are slightly rounded, checkering is crisp. Bores are excellent with a hint of frosting toward breech ends of both barrels. Action is tight.
Charles Steele (1856-1939) was a partner at J. P. Morgan & Company, and a partner in the law firm of Seward, Guthrie & Steele. He was also involved in the affairs of the Metropolitan Opera and the Protestant Episcopal Church of America, and served as senior warden of both St. Thomas Church, New York City, and the Church of the Advent, Westbury, N.Y. A great lover of church music, Mr. Steele studied organ with Dr. T. Tertius Noble at St. Thomas, and in 1922 he contributed $200,000 for the purchase of two houses so that the choir school could have a permanent home. Three years later, in 1925, Steele contributed another $300,000 to endow the choir school. Charles and Nannie Steele also maintained a home in Westbury, N.Y., where an Aeolian organ (Op. 1126) was installed in 1910; this organ was later removed by Ernest M. Skinner and installed in the Church of the Advent in Westbury. Charles Steele died on August 5, 1939, at the age of 83, leaving an estate valued at over $30 million. His funeral was held on August 7 at St. Thomas Church, conducted by the Rt. Rev. Ernest M. Stires, Bishop of Long Island and former rector of St. Thomas Church. At Mr. Steele's request, Dr. Noble was flown from Santa Monica, Calif., to play the organ and direct the boy choir for his funeral.
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