Before photography was in common use to illustrate gunmakers' catalogues, images were created using wooden blocks with copper drawings relief cut in a mirror image of what would appear on the page.
They remain today as relics of a long-dead process but they are in themselves beautiful pieces of craftsmanship. These blocks were given to me by a long-serving gunmaker who in turn got them from a retired friend in the trade. No doubt they were rescued during a clear-out of drawers in some factory or workshop.
Untold numbers of these must have been thrown in a skip but, thankfully, gunmakers are notorious magpies and I'm pleased to see that these were saved.
They take us back to a time when British gunmakers sold rifles, shotguns and pistols to the general public and no licence was required. The wood-cuts here depict hammer shotguns, double and single shot hammer rifles and two revolvers. The last is of Beesley's famous Purdey sidelock action.
I shall, when I have time, get some ink and make prints of these. It will be interesting to see how they work; all these decades after they were retired.
Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )