James Purdey & Sons Limited is considered one of the top makers, if not the top maker, of fine sporting guns and rifles in the world.
Its reputation for excellence was set soon after James Purdey established the business in London in 1816, and it quickly became the gunmaker of choice for gentry and royalty. From 1868 on, the company has been granted Royal Warrants of Appointment from members of the British monarchy, a prestigious honor allowing a manufacturer to advertise royal patronage.
Purdey guns are bespoke, meaning they are crafted to fit the shooter. The firm makes only about 75 guns per year, most of them shotguns used in hunting or target shooting, though some buyers are collectors and therefore never shoot them.
It can take as many as 750 man-hours to handcraft a Purdey gun (and from 18 to 24 months of actual time on the calendar), which serves to justify the hefty prices, from GBP34,000 to well over GBP100,000 for a single gun, depending on whether a customer wants any elaborate engraving on the metalwork or other features that can add tens of thousands of dollars to the price.
At the company’s factory, about 35 workers, all of them men, ply their trade largely using hand tools, each craftsman handling one section of the gun—the barrel, the action, or the stock. Purdey also draws on a pool of highly skilled, independent engravers.
In its entire history of nearly 200 years, James Purdey & Sons has made only a little more than 30,000 guns, each one individually numbered.
The company was owned by the Purdey family until 1946, when the Seely family acquired it. In 1994 it was acquired by Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, a global luxury goods company based in Switzerland that owns many other famed brands, including Cartier jewelry, Piaget watches, Montblanc writing instruments, and Alfred Dunhill leather goods, menswear, and accessories.* (*encyclopedia.com)