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JulesW Offline OP
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Well, I went to an arms and antiques fair yesterday and ended up coming away with a 22 gauge (c.15mm) double flintlock shotgun. Nothing fancy, but well made and in fine condition.
The locks are signed "Cutler", while the top rib simple says "LONDON" and the undersides of the barrels are marked "STUBS TWIST" and "ISH" (or HSI, if they were stamped at 108 degrees from the previous marking!). There are no proof marks and I've not found any maker's marks on the inside face of the locks.
I've identified a Birmingham gun maker called Richard Cutler:
Richard Cutler, 1807-47, & Son 1848-58. Victualler and gunmaker. Lench Street, B'ham 1807-11,
24 Weaman St., 1822-40,
26 Weaman St., 1841-58. (Though the last date may be wrong, since his will is dated 13/05/1857)
... all good, but nowhere can I find a connection with London.
Do any of the knowledgeable members on here know
(a) how a gun by a Birmingham maker with no London premises might come to bear the name of that city on its rib, and
(b) who ISH/HSI might be?
Images below:
[img]https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/gc48...rlkey=vrn64jgl64ozaayp9s583wtae&dl=0[/img]
[img]https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/luee...rlkey=rny9kjqewy8gdxjuhvc38rgx7&dl=0[/img]
[img]https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/jw73...rlkey=4v58wji5o24v2g7k37vm5kryb&dl=0[/img][img]https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/v9qz...rlkey=q2sw9q8kb5p8zi293er743vk3&dl=0[/img]

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Perhaps he was just anticipating the next extension of the London Ultra Low Emissions Zone?

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JulesW Offline OP
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I think a double-barrelled coal-burner is probably the antithesis of Mr. Khan's vision for a cleaner London.

On topic, I picked up this snippet from another forum, but have yet to read further on the matter:

"Shortly before the B'ham proof house opened, in 1813, there was a piece of legislation introduced in Parliament, sponsored by the London gun trade. It required that all barrel markings denote where the barrel was actually made - which would have ended the custom of putting "London" on B'ham made barrels. The legislation went absolutely nowhere when the B'ham makers pointed out that virtually all of the London makers were buying their barrels semi-finished from B'ham, finishing them and having them proved at the London proof house... so even the "real" London barrels were B'ham products.

https://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=15087.0"

If the above is accurate, perhaps it might help frame a date for the gun.

Last edited by JulesW; 09/19/23 04:21 PM.
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My concern is that there are no UK proof marks at all. The word LONDON on the rib was somewhat duplicitous in as much as it could describe a type of twist steel but also imply to the unwary that the gun was made in London. Many examples end up in the colonies in one guise or another.


Hugh Lomas,
H.G.Lomas Gunmakers Inc.
920 876 3745
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In my experience, any percussion or flint gun that is marked "London Twist," "London," "Stub Twist," or variations is going to probably be Belgium or maybe Birmingham made. I have never worked on a quality London gun that lacked the maker's name and address on the rib or barrels. The same goes for Birmingham guns.

The proof is in the proof marks.

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JulesW Offline OP
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Thanks for the replies.
I can't see a more likely origin than Birmingham, -given the recorded presence of a maker called Cutler in the Gun Quarter in the era to which the gun belongs, not to mention a viewpoint undoubtedly weighted by having bought the gun not half an hour's drive from there- hence my puzzlement at the London attribution on the rib.
I can't see anyone counterfeiting a Cutler gun (hardly a name to conjure with, and no minor nuisance to Google for when so many early gunmakers' were also sword cutlers). Moreover there are no stylistic features of the gun itself I would take to be Continental and thus suggestive of a Belgian origin overall.
This brings us to the idea that Birmingham gunmakers in the 1830s (?) bought barrels from Belgium, rather than shopping (much) closer to home. I must confess this seems implausible to me, but as surprise is often a signpost on the road from ignorance to knowledge, I'll keep an open mind, especially if the absence of British proof marks, and perhaps also "STUBS" rather than "STUB" twist, may indicate barrels made abroad. [Edit: see my later post on the likelihood of Belgian barrels in this case.]

Last edited by JulesW; 09/19/23 04:45 PM.
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JulesW Offline OP
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Still niggling away at the things I don't know about the Cutler...
I'm getting the impression that the maker was a "follower" (for which read "poor imitator") of Manton's style, but suppose that once Manton had set the standard, that description might be applied to most English gunmakers of the later 18th and early 19th centuries.
For example, here's a picture of the trigger guard of a genuine Manton: [Linked Image from antiquearmsandarmour.com]
And here's a picture of the same area of Cutler's gun: [Linked Image from previews.dropbox.com]
I'm less interested here by Cutler's emulation of Manton's pineapple finial: though it's a pretty good copy, it's too widely imitated a motif to put much weight on. What interests me more is Manton's depiction, on his trigger guard, of a pointer flushing a bird from a clump of vegetation; and how this is emulated (very badly) by Cutler: indeed, Cutler's engraver, perhaps doubting his ability to depict the pointer's legs, portrayed it lying down: [Linked Image from previews.dropbox.com]
Ahead of it is a bird rising from a clump of vegetation: [Linked Image from previews.dropbox.com]
A similar thing occurs on the tang of the butt-plate. Where Manton (on another gun) has a nicely-realised trophy of arms: [Linked Image from antiquearmsandarmour.com]
Cutler gives his customer this approximation: [Linked Image from previews.dropbox.com]
Anyway, as much fun as I'm having looking for stylistic similarities, none of this resolves the "Stubs twist" and "London" questions, or explains the lack of proof marks, or helps assign the gun to either Cutler's Lench St. (1807-1811), or Weaman Street (1822-1840) periods, or whatever he was doing between 1812-1821... although, I suppose absent proof marks may be more likely in 1807-811 than in the 1820s and after.

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JulesW Offline OP
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Quote
In my experience, any percussion or flint gun that is marked "London Twist," "London," "Stub Twist," or variations is going to probably be Belgium or maybe Birmingham made. I have never worked on a quality London gun that lacked the maker's name and address on the rib or barrels. The same goes for Birmingham guns.

Belgium seems a good bet. Not having previously looked at British sporting gun production pre/c.1800, I hadn't appreciated how much Liège dominated twist barrel production. Having now read this: "By 1700, Liege was producing Twist barrels, and Crolle Damascus by about 1750. After Gen. Napoleon Bonaparte’s expedition against the Mameluks in Egypt and Ottomans in Syria 1798-1799, production of Damascus barrels in St. Etienne and Liege was markedly expanded. [1798 - William Dupein obtains a British patent for a twist gun barrel of iron and steel.] J. Jones was granted a British patent in 1806 for a method of making barrels from scelps or strips coiled around a mandrel and by 1817 Rigby of Dublin was producing Damascus barrels. “Damascus iron” was manufactured in Birmingham by Wiswould and Adams by about 1820 and Charles Lancaster supplied Purdey (and others) c.1811-1826 before establishing his own gun making company. [https://sites.google.com/a/damascusknowledge.com/www/home] I am left feeling that, to equip a gun with "stubs twist" barrels c.1807-1811, Mr. Cutler of Birmingham would in all probability have had to obtain these from Liège.

Quote
The proof is in the proof marks.

And there's the rub: I'm not readily finding information on proof-mark rules/conventions pre/c.1800. Most of my books choose to start at 1850 (presumably for good reason!) A nice set of Liège, Birmingham or London stamps would make everything much clearer. Instead, all I have is the enigmatic "ISH".

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JulesW Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Hugh Lomas
My concern is that there are no UK proof marks at all.

Not just no UK ones, no marks at all. Just "ISH" and "STUBS TWIST".

Originally Posted by Hugh Lomas
The word LONDON on the rib was somewhat duplicitous in as much as it could describe a type of twist steel but also imply to the unwary that the gun was made in London. Many examples end up in the colonies in one guise or another.

Cutler's name on the locks indicates that he was taking a degree of responsibility for his guns, and possibly also some pride in them. At the same time, he doesn't appear to have enjoyed the kind of name-recognition that led to numerous "Richard" or "Purdy"-style forgeries.

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Jules, that is a very handsome flintlock (the photograph of it do not display on my screen this evening - might want to repost). I do not believe that it was mandatory to proof barrels in the UK until the Firearms Proof Act of 1813. You mentioned this earlier. Here it is and it created the Birmingham proof house at the same time:
https://vlex.co.uk/vid/firearms-act-1813-808157429

If so then surely your Cutler is pre 1813 or if it dodged the proof laws a fortune in fines awaited the maker. There are examples of gun makers who were so sanctioned. And thanks for your highly interesting postings on the early use of Damascus in Liège and its gradual infiltration into UK barrel making. Fullerd was the last London barrel maker and he closed shop in 1843.

I may be wrong but if so Diggory Hadoke is as well for his widely used proof chart begins in 1813.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 09/21/23 03:05 PM.

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