Issue 28 October 2021

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Nigel Brown

An Obituary

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People|February 2021

The world of British gun enthusiasts, last week, sadly lost its most important contributor to the knowledge bank of gunmakers, their places of work, serial numbers and chronologies.

Nigel Brown was involved in the gun trade for over thirty five years, serving as a legal advisor to WAGBI, BASC and the BSSC. Nigel was a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers and was elected as chairman of the Long Sufferers Association in 2005.

His major contribution to the wider shooting and gun collecting community is his comprehensive study of gun-makers, compiled in three volumes as ‘British Gunmakers’. Volume One covers London, Volume Two deals with Birmingham, Scotland & The Regions and the last, Volume Three, contributes appendices and additional records pertaining to Volume Two.

For many a gun buyer, Brown’s books are the first point of reference to see who made their gun, when it was sold and what sort of pedigree it has. For officials seeking to verify the age of a gun, for classification or export, a reference to Brown is sufficient to elevate a claim into a fact.

I used to rub shoulders with Nigel Brown every few months at Holt’s or Gavin Gardiner’s, where we would both be looking over obscure stamps and marks on guns, trying to find evidence to support a hunch or confirm a suspicion.

Nigel was always courteous and friendly but clearly absorbed in his work. His legal training made him methodical and equipped him to make a set of reference books that the layman can use with confidence, from what amounts to tens of thousands of individual observations and pieces of information gathered and sorted.

It is no exaggeration to say that Nigel Brown’s books have catalogued, forever, countless pieces of information about Britain’s gunmakers that would have been lost to history, had it not been for his love of the subject, reverence for British guns and dedication to the daunting task he set himself.

Gun Trade Association Executive Director, Simon West, said; “Nigel was a charming and humorous figure who had immense passion for the Trade and particularly fine guns.  His books on British Gunmakers will remain key works in the history of our industry.  He kindly helped me write an article for Hunt magazine last year on the history of the Association.  A lawyer, SAS officer, liveryman and passionate shot but most of all he will be remembered for his very generous donations to the Gunmakers' Trust supporting the ongoing provision of apprenticeships bursaries.”

All of us who work with, collect, or enjoy old guns owe Nigel a great debt. So, raise a glass to him this evening in recognition of his work on our behalf. We will be using his books for many decades to come.

Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on

People|February 2021

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