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Well, most don’t make it into their 90’s either. Working or otherwise.

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Originally Posted by LeFusil
Originally Posted by Ted Schefelbein
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Originally Posted by Shotgunlover
Per kilogram cost a best gun goes about 30 000 dollars while a Ferrari is only about 150.

I have seen the hand stitching of the leather interiors of high end cars, and please do not try to tell me that that type of craftsmanship is not on par with lock making or stocking. It is.

Back in the golden days of gunmaking, the early 1900s, a best gun cost a 1/4 of a naval officers annual salary. Today it costs about double. Something simply does not add up.

Let us hope the new owners will make round actions truly affordable.

I don’t believe the standard of living that a turn of the last century laborer had is comparable to someone in the trade, today.

Remember the famous photo of the English stocker, working into his 90s, (his name escapes me at the moment) who was given a pair of briar pipes in thanks for his decades of labor? I ‘gotta believe a stock maker, working a shift in his 90s, is a guy who is financially cornered, and really doesn’t have a choice in the matter. He is blessed that he can, but, I’d bet he wouldn’t if he had an option.

Those guys aren’t there, anymore. They don’t have to be. That is built into the gun price. There are places where the same turn of the century business model could be utilized, today, think North Korea, China, India, or, anyplace else you wouldn’t want to live. They could make it happen.

But, you wouldn’t buy the gun.

Best,
Ted

Ebenezer Hands. Stocker for Wilkes. He did it that long because he could and that’s what people from his generation did. Retirement was considered a death sentence. Both of my grandfathers were the same way….one stopped farming in his late 60’s and then worked on a crew that built bridges.
The other was forced into retirement in his late 60’s when the plantation closed down and then went to work cleaning the schools. They didn’t have to keep working, they both were smart with their money….they did it because they wanted to. Old school mentalities. Such a foreign way of thinking in this day and age, hard to understand for us modern folk.
I doubt Ebenezer Hands took months off from work to go hunting and he definitely didn’t tell folks he wasn’t taking on anymore work. I know a few old school trained guys that still think the same way Ebenezer did.

I agree with the sentiment but the photo of Ebenezer Hands is in Don Masters book on Atkins, Grant & Lang page 252 . The presenter is W.R.H. Robson of AG&L & Hands is listed a former Watson stocker.

Masters mentions Hands again in the section on AG&L in his Churchill book on page 306 that Hands was still working for AG&L & "as a special concession to his age, he was allowed to leave work at 4PM" & that he died in 1962 @ 91.

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Bruce Owens, the former production manager at Purdeys wrote an article in Shooting Sportsman back in 2012 if I recall right. His revelations about the use of CNC machinery and the economic benefits resulting from this move are interesting. The move decreased dependence on hand work. So let us stop using that "hand work is expensive" excuse.

Modern technology also reduced inventories and the related costs. The writer poses the question whether any of these economies is reflected in the final retail price and comments that this is a question for the marketing people.

Perazzi and their barrel batch testing comes to mind as a case for comparison. They waste one in every 60 barrel sets in pressure testing. They are constantly evolving their product, yet you can still buy an MX8 for ten thousand Euros. How much more overhead than the Perazzi factory do the British gunmakers bear to justify their astronomical prices!

Last time I checked Perazzi were still located in the relatively expensive industrial area of northern Italy, not in North Korea.

Brand name exploitation and ruthless marketing is at work in some cases. And not just in guns. Any mundane item, ie oil bottles, scarves, knives etc bearing a famous maker's name is marked up to the hilt. Not much R&D or hand work goes into a thermos bottle to quadruple its price, a name stamp it all it takes.

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Do you know what a new multi-axis CNC mill(just one of the machines required) costs? Wire EDM, Sinker EDM, CNC lathe? Trained operators and engineers are not cheap. Parts that come off the machines still need a pile of hand work.

Do you know of Ian Clark? Ian supplies many of the Best makers with raw parts including the new rising bites from Rigby. The guns still take many, many hours of highly skilled hand work to complete, even using the most modern technology.

How many guns do Perazzi sell in year? And the British Best makers? Not the same game.


I will agree with you about the oil bottles and scarves.


http://www.bertramandco.com/

ACGG Professional metalsmith, firearms import services.
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Back when they still used hand work a best gun cost 100 guineas, a mass produced BSA boxlock about 25. A ratio of four to one. A best was about a quarter of the annual salary of mid to high level government employee, ie armed forces commissioned officer or civil servant. No wonder back then it was normal for a new shooter to be gifted a best on his 21st birthday.

In the 60s my local gunshop, Whaley's in Hornsey road, sold a Baikal IZ27 for 70 pounds, a Remington 1100 for 120, a Webley and Scott for 156. Our local butcher ordered a Holland and Holland for 1500 pounds. At the time a skilled worker at the Ford Dagenham plant earned about 75 pounds a week. We were still in the hand work era yet prices were affordable, for regular people. The ratio between a best and a medium grade boxlock went to about ten to one.

Today prices for best guns are multiples of the annual salaries of the professions mentioned above. I quote those salaries because they are precisely recorded over the years and a reliable comparative standard. The ratio between best and medium grade guns is off the charts.

Perazzi make about 2000 guns a year. Perhaps if the others charged similar prices they might sell more too, and become serious businesses like Perazzi as opposed to gun boutiques.

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My understanding is that Old British gun workers kept working, primarily because they needed the income. They never earned enough to save significant money, and the State Pension wasn't enough to live on.
My Grandfather hit mandatory retirement age as an electrician for the Council, and immediately went to work in an orchard until age 85. His Council pension wouldn't buy a good bottle of Scotch, in his last year's. My Aunt cared for him.
Things were pretty tough for the elderly, in the 60s and 70s in Britain. The situation is still tough for the working poor, with current inflation.

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According to Rocketman's auction data, a vintage London Best from one of the big four will sell for roughly twice what an equivalent gun, in original quality and current condition, from a Birmingham maker would fetch. That extra cost is the cost of the brand value.

No reason to imagine that isn't somewhat true for new guns. Brand value has real impact. And there isn't much value for Purdey, or Boss or DMB not charging for the value inherent in their brand reputation.

The way into the Best gun market is to build a Best gun and sell it for a price that reflects that you have no reputation....no brand value. Much like DMB did 40 years ago.


The world cries out for such: he is needed & needed badly- the man who can carry a message to Garcia
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Originally Posted by canvasback
....That extra cost is the cost of the brand value.

No reason to imagine that isn't somewhat true for new guns. Brand value has real impact. And there isn't much value for Purdey, or Boss or DMB not charging for the value inherent in their brand reputation....
The perception of value might be why the big name London makers have been purchased by large conglomerates. After profits have been dispersed to companies that have invested in capitalizing on brand reputation, the big names may be operating closer to how McKay Brown does on the shop floor.

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I worked for one of the large drywall manufacturers for most of my adult career. We charged what the market would bear, sometimes we printed money and other times we laid people off and closed plants. I assume D McKay Brown was smart, so when he started he repaired others guns and when he felt strongly enough started building the RA gun under his name. Pretty sure he gradually raised prices in order to cover overhead and profit knowing with his staff he could only make about 20-30 guns a year. If orders poured in giving him a long backlog he probably raised prices until it leveled off at what he considered a adequate period, say 18 months.
I recall reading years ago that most of the workmen for Purdey's and their kind couldn't afford one of their own guns. If you are a small shop like Mckay Brown why would you not charge the most you can to maintain the business at a good level.
I have a friend with several Mckay Browns and admit a bias as I think they are as nice as any gun I have seen including Purdey's, Holland etc.


This ain't a dress rehearsal
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And, DMB has a thriving repair and restoration business taking care of the scions of his brand.

They buy a lot, and they sell a lot.


Out there doing it best I can.
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