Recently acquired the Vouzelaud sidelock (the 12ga, not the sideplated 20) mentioned on a previous thread. Jos. Donnay is the name I find on the lock. Either Belgian or French. Any information??? Thanks.
I sent an email to a few contacts. Have to wait until they are done eating cheese and drinking wine and/or making love to see what they say.
Any chance of seeing a photo? If you can't get photos up on the board, email them to me and I'll do it.
That gun has some different dimensions-can you shoot one with 14 1/4 LOP and 2 1/4 drop? Nice, long, barrels, if you are into that sort of thing. Looks to be at the heavy end for French shotguns, also. Pheasant gun?
It'd be about impossible to show a photo of the lock with the name. Had to magnify significantly to read it. But appreciate the efforts, Ted.
The LOP was off by almost an inch. Close to 15 1/4, which is way long for me. I'm going to have it made a little longer than 14 1/4, but not by much. High doesn't bother me. It will be a pheasant/sporting clays gun, and should work nicely on driven birds in Scotland. I've mostly used lighter pheasant guns, and 7 is about as heavy as I'd go, but OK for an open country gun. Hunted the other day with an Ithaca SKB 12ga at the same weight.
Interesting that the barrels and action are of Belgian origin. Proofmarks mostly gone on the flats, so can't read much in the way of details--looks like the flats got polished somewhere along the line. But the French reproof mark--R under a crown--is very clear on both the flats and the water table (where the Belgian perron is also very clear). Did Vouzelaud bring in barrels and action from Belgium and stock it themselves, or did they import it, finished, from Belgium? Maybe I should try contacting them after the holidays.
Hmm. Reproof doesn't happen to actions brought in from Belgium and finished. Reproof happens after significant repair or modification that caused dimensional changes to the barrel and/or action after initial, existing proof.
Not sure what you have got there. Going back to at least the mid 1980s, Vouzelauds business model could be summed up as "We sell highly decorated boxlocks, and don't get our hands dirty doing it". The guns were built and proofed in St. Etienne, pretty much guild guns with a name on them. But, Vouzelaud is an old company, and likely had contacts outside of France. What else went on, as far as one-offs, or, true customs might be hard to discover from where we sit today.
Do enjoy it. I know I would. Might be hard to sell or trade, but, the pheasants won't notice.
All I have turned up is a Donnay that was a dealer in Lille, last century. Pretty good chance it wasn't anybody who had anything to do with your gun.
I also found the reproof odd. However, everything checks out. Bore measurements are on target with the 18.4 mm stamped on both barrels (.723/.724). Chokes and other particulars check out with what is listed on the Vouzelaud "characteristics" label in the case: sidelock, 2 3/4", 76 cm barrels, chokes 1/10 and 2/10 (.005/.012--pretty much skeet 1 and 2). The PV under something (doubtless the rampant lion, but very hard to make out) shows well enough on at least one side of the flats. There's also a "JD 187" on the flats, which I think is too much of a coincidence not to tie it back to Joseph Donnay, whose name is on the inside of the locks. (Given the perron on the water table, I'm pretty sure he's Belgian rather than French.)
It has the hidden 3rd fastener, often seen on Belgian guns. Very tight, does not show much use at all. Checkering is at least 28 lpi, and the wood virtually unmarked. Excellent trigger pulls (front articulated) at about 3 1/2 and 4 1/2. All in all, a very nice gun.
Ted the name is inside the lockplate with the name stamped so it can be seen between the legs of the mainspring. I guessed it was the name of the lockmaker. As I have come to the conversation, if the barrels were sleeved would a French re-proof reflect that? Mark
I've never seen a gun that was sleeved in France. I don't really know that sleeving is common in France, or even if a sleeved gun would pass view at the Proof house in St. Etienne.
French proof is pretty stout.
I think Mark's question comes from the fact that the barrels have what looks to be the very typical monobloc engraved lines on the barrels, which could also cover up a sleeve joint. Yet the lumps look as if they're chopper. Yet another mystery. If it's sleeved, it's an extremely good job. Can't tell from looking at the bluing, where you can often detect sleeving.
I've handled few French guns that were chopper-lump, but, those guns always proclamed "Demi-bloc" on the flats-those are bragging rights, from what I've seen.
If your new gun is indeed a chopper lump gun, there should be no line engraved to hide a monobloc (a different kettle of fish) or sleeved joint. If you deduce that it is, indeed, a "sleever", we still don't know if that work took place prior to, or after, re-proof.
And we still don't know if sleeved guns are considered for re-proof in St. Etienne. I have my doubts, but, can't say for sure. 1370 BAR of French smokeless proof would quickly separate the junk from the treasure, I would think.
I still doubt the pheasants will notice.
Ted, I also found the line engraving on the barrels odd. Like you, I've never seen a French (or Belgian, for that matter) sleever. Agree that the pheasants would not notice, although it would impact the value. However . . . the fact that this one is clearly marked "Vouzelaud" on the water table, in addition to a nice, stylistic V on the trigger guard, and has a Vouzelaud characteristics tag plus maker's label in the hard case (although I'm fairly certain the case is a good bit older than the gun) would seem to tie it closely to a well-regarded French maker. Although one that's not particularly well-known in this country. From what little I've read about Vouzelaud, I got the idea that they probably sell guns other than their own. However, in this case, they've clearly marked this one as theirs--even though it is not of pure St. Etienne origin.
When I was at Bruchet's shop there was a started, and proofed, but, never completed, double rifle (O/U) that was offered to me. It would have been a great deal, as it was chambered in 30-06, and was illegal to own in Europe. The gun was marked Guy Ripamonte, but, had it been finished up it would have been marked Bruchet.
There was lots of wheeling and dealing between the smaller makers on stuff. The Bruchet's bought a double rifle action as a rough forging from Mr. Demas when I was there. They had an order for a rifle of some sort.
They also used SKB O/U rifle actions from time to time, to keep the cost down.
It would have been no big deal to have a triggerguard made for your gun with a V on it, in St. Etienne. Not saying that is what happened, but, that gun would seem to have started out in Belguim, and ended up in France, so, it probably is what happened.
Do enjoy. Seems like a wonderful Christmas gift for you. I hope it works out well, and you don't have to sell it anytime soon. It is easier to buy a French gun than to sell it.
TTT. Paging Raimey . . . does the name Jos. Donnay, likely in the Belgian trade, ring any bells with you???
Have been MIA. How 'bout E. Donnay Lille(Flemish?)?