RB Rodda 16-bore double rifle

User: Saku

Date: 11 Dec 2006 at 22:09

Dear experts,

greetings from Finland.

I’m posting this thread both to here and to the NitroExpress.com.

A friend of mine is a long time firearm collector with an extensive collection of hundreds of hunting guns and rifles. Mainly he collects Finnish rifles and shotguns but he also has some interesting examples of various foreign arms. In 1988 he purchased a 16-bore RB Rodda double rifle from Holland & Holland in London. The serial number of the rifle is 1093.

SxS double rifles are quite rare in Finland, and I’m writing an article on that particular Rodda double to one of our national firearm magazines, and for that purpose I am trying to gather information on that rifle.

I have collected the basic historical information on the manufacturer RB Rodda, but if you happen to have some hard-to-find references at hand, I would be more than happy to receive something from those sources too.

I already know from the other forum (Thanks Mehul) that the Rodda records are not available. That's a pity, of course, but I'm positive that You guys can help me with this greatly. Every piece of information is welcome. A good thing to start with is to figure out when this rifle has been manufactured.

I’ve planned this for a long time, and last week I finally visited my friends’ place to see the rifle and, fortunately, he was willing to give it to me for a closer inspection for a few weeks.

Yesterday I took some preliminary photos of the rifle, and they can be viewed at http://personal.inet.fi/koti/sakmyk/

So, if you are interested, please, visit the site to see the images.

I will post some specific technical questions to both of these forums. I hope You can help me with those.

The first one is that, what is the idea of stalking safeties that can be engaged into half-cocked hammers, but not into fully cocked. If You check out the last three pictures in the Page2 of the link above, You see what I mean. With this rifle it is so that safeties can be pushed forward when hammers are in the half cock position, but if they are pushed the hammers can not be fully cocked nor lowered to their forward position.

I've thought that the purpose of hammer-intercepting stalking safeties is to enable carrying of a fully cocked hammer rifle while stalking. When the game is close, the safety slides could then be moved to fire position silently. This is obviously not true with this rifle as one has to slide the safeties off and THEN fully cock the hammers. Only thing that I can think of is that this system has something to do with the fact that the hammers in this rifle are not rebounding, and the sliding interceptors are used to secure the loading and unloading.

I'll start to examine the rifle within few days, and I’ll share all the measurements and technical data with You all, if You're interested. Surely you’ll also get an idea of the gun from the images on the link above.

I have also another question: There is an "M.S." in the butt plate load data after the 3½ drams. What do those letters stand for? I guess the drams for BP measurements have usually referred to 'avoirdupois' drams, but why the M.S.?


User: Flashman

Date: 12 Dec 2006 at 19:59

Hi Sakmyk,

That's an interesting rifle which raises quite a few questions! I guess you've got the info on R B Rodda & Co from the database here. If so, you probably won't find anything more anywhere else.

I don't know how one can date the gun from the proof marks, as it's London made and not Birmingham, and it's not a shotgun there is no change in the definitive proof mark as occurred in Birmingham in 1855, and no "NOT FOR BALL" or "CHOKE" mark 1875 and 1887 respectively. The style of the fences and the low serial number suggest an early date, but the Purdey patent thumbhole and 933 use number suggest quite a long time after 1863. I guess Rodda had separate serial numbers for rifles and shotguns, and maybe separate numbers for types of rifle!

The MS is simply part of the abbreviation of Drams to DRms instead of DR. The really interesting thing on the butt plate is the specification of Laurences No 3 powder, and the difference in spelling of "Lawrence" (in the database) and "Laurence" on the butt plate! It was fairly common in those days for people who were related and bore the same name to spell it differently, so the spelling does not necessarily mean that there was not a relationship between the Rodda Laurences and the Lawrences of Purdey fame. If it were not for the Purdey patent, the name Laurence on the gun could date it as early as 1857, but it is more likely to be 1865 or so and not later than 1883 when Frederick Prike bought the firm.

What are the pins coming through the breech face, and is the filling behind them gold or brass? Is this some kind of gas escape and are the pins some kind of spring loaded valve?

User: Saku

Date: 12 Dec 2006 at 21:52

Many thanks Flashman. All that you said is exactly that kind of information that I'm seeking. Keep it coming! This can really help in defining the age of the rifle. As my friend purchased the rifle from H&H in 1988, they told him that it is from 1880, but since there was not any kind of evidence for it, he has cosidered the mentioned year more of an approximation than an exact information.

What's a "use number"? You referred to the 933 as a use number. Does it indicate how many times the Purdey patent was used up to the date when this rifle was constructed, or what?

The pins coming through the breech face are 'loaded chamber indicators'. The cartridge head pushes the pin backwards, and the brass 'filling' that you detected is protruded above the surrounding steel surface. Even with a closed breech you can then tell whether there are cartridges (or empty cases) in the chambers. I've seen similar in some German shotguns from the 1940s and 1950s.


[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2006-12-12 21:53 ]

User: Flashman

Date: 13 Dec 2006 at 20:09

Hi Saku,

I woke up at 2.30 this morning thinking about it, and came to the conclusion they must be loaded indicators because the pins would be in the chamber mouth! Brilliant! Never seen such an early example!

Yup! I could be wrong but I think licensees were given a block of numbers to use, size of the block depending on their own estimates. So it would not be correct to say that gun was exactly the 933rd time that patent was used, but it would be nearly correct.

Yup, knowledgeable as they are, I can't see how Hollands could give anything except a rough date. In my humble opinion that's the latest possible date. I haven't got time now but tomorrow I'll put up a photo and give you some details of a gun which will knock your socks off!

[ This message was edited by: Flashman on 2006-12-13 20:14 ]

User: Saku

Date: 14 Dec 2006 at 05:38


thanks again!

I just can't wait to see those.


[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2006-12-14 05:39 ]

User: Flashman

Date: 14 Dec 2006 at 18:48

Hi Saku,

In Holt and Company's sale today in London is a Rodda 4 Bore double rifle. Have a look at:

It takes some time to load but the wait is worth it! The full view Holts show gives some idea of the size of the rifle, it weighs 22 lbs, I could only hold it on aim for about 5 seconds, I guess that's all the time one would have; my wife got the butt in her shoulder but couldn't get the barrels level let alone take aim! Of course, I should have bought it, a form of life insurance (!), but couldn't afford £30,000. This gun demonstrates the fact that employing a gun bearer was/is not down to laziness, if one is too weary to take a steady aim, one is likely to be dead! Actually, it was probably for bought for use from a howdah. I'm waffling, the interesting thing from your point of view is that the engraving on the barrels is the same as your rifle, except that it is inlaid in gold. Was this a house style? Was it the same engraver? Are the guns of about the same date? I don't know.

I took some pictures::

The following pic gives some idea of the action top:

The interesting thing here is the serial number, they must have used different numbers for different types of gun.

This picture gives the proof marks, but the interesting thing here is the 6! I didn't measure the bore, which is a pity. 6 bores were not common, if it measured .875 that would be 7 bore (nominal 8 bore), but if it measured say .910 - .945 it would be 6 bore (nominal 4 bore).

The rifle has tiny hammer locks, good strong fingernails are an advantage! Unfortunately I didn't clearly establish when they worked, I think they locked the hammers at both half and full cock. At the time your rifle was made all gunmakers were playing with different types of safety. To call these "stalking" safeties is misleading, they were just safety catches to lock the hammers when a gun with non-rebounding locks was open or partly open for loading and unloading, and to lock the hammers at any other time e.g. when a gun bearer was carrying a gun - either loaded or unloaded. I say unloaded because in a crisis half-cocking the hammers before opening the gun is an extra time wasting task.

Now, I'll have a think about dating this, in the meantime, is there any chance you could let me have copies of the pics of your rifle, pics of the proof marks and any other marks would be a help.

[ This message was edited by: Flashman on 2006-12-14 19:53 ]

User: Saku

Date: 14 Dec 2006 at 22:18

Hi Flashman,

there you have a gun! Those photos are great.

It seems that we have much in common... It makes perfect sense for me that someone wakes up in the middle of the night and starts wondering about bits and bobs of an interesting vintage firearm. And another thing we seem to have in common is that also for me there always seems to be far too many zeros in those price tags

That was great information again. The link didn't work for me though, but I got a very good idea of the gun. Well, actually, the link worked (there was no error message) but in the page that opened, there was a statement that "No catalogue entry available for this item".

Regarding the engraving, I quess it was a house style for a quite some time in Rodda to put that exact phrasing on the barrels. I'm not sure, though, but that is the impression I've got.

There are certain similarities like the engraving and outlines of the folding leaf sight. The sight looks exactly the same as in the gun that I have at hand.

On the other hand in that 4-bore there are the dolls' head rib extension, rotary underlever, and differently shaped fences. Also the notch that makes the extractors to work as the breech is opened is fixed and placed at end of the action bar. In this 16-bore the notch is placed in the rear end of the forearm.

I agree with you that they must have used different numbers for different types of guns.

Yes, dubbing these kind of half cock hammer locks as "stalking safeties" is misleading, or, at least it gives a wrong kind of glamour to a system that is simply practical solution for getting the gun ready for use as smoothly and fastly as possible - be it carried loaded or unloaded, as you said.

Put me your email-address in a private message, and I'll post you those pics in full screen resolution.


[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2006-12-14 22:21 ]

User: Oldsarge

Date: 15 Dec 2006 at 00:16

Yum! Yum, yum! Yum, yum, yum! What a wonderful gun!

User: Flashman

Date: 15 Dec 2006 at 19:44

Hi Saku,

I can't explain why the link failed, try going to http://www.holtandcompany.co.uk and then go to lot 632. You need to see Holt's pictures because of the other similarities.

£27500 plus buyers premium is a lot of money but the condition of the gun is as good as one could find. Bores absolutely spotless, stock a little marked, difficult to avoid with such a heavy gun, but the new owner is bound to clean and polish it.

The 4 bore has a Jones underlever and doll's head extension because at the time this combination had the reputation of being the strongest on the market; it was what people expected on a 4, 8 or 10 bore, but not really necessary for a 12 or 16 bore although some makers used it. Maybe the Purdey double bite (plus a third grip of some sort) had not acquired the reputation it later attained!

The fences are were very old fashioned even in the late 1870s early 1880s, but people trusted a gun that was traditional and "looked right", especially so in the colonies and especially in India. The British army might have had rather too many "officers and gentlemen" posing and poncing about with their Purdeys, but 90% of the population relied on guns for their survival.

At the moment I would say the 4 bore is 1880-1885, definitely before 1887, I would think your gun would be 1875-1880, but let's wait and see.

I will email you tomorrow. Very busy and short of time!

User: Flashman

Date: 21 Dec 2006 at 13:10

Hi Saku,

Thanks for the photos. here are the interesting ones:

The similarities are striking ! Although I haven't got a full length phoho of the 4 bore it looks very similar to your 16 bore:

I think this one of the 16 bore is as beautiful and interesting as the Mona Lisa

However !

I really can't add more to what I've said above. I think Holland & Holland were right, whether the dated the 16 bore to 1880 by proof marks, style, Purdey patent use number or a combination of all three. The fact that Laurence re-packaged his black powder and sold it under his own name , plus the fact that he sold the firm in 1883 dates it to about then. The 4 bore with the Curtis & Harvey black powder loading instruction strongly suggests after 1883 but not very long after.

User: Flashman

Date: 22 Dec 2006 at 11:15

Hi Saku,

Over the last 24 hours I have been trying to email you but each time the emial is returned "Email server not working". Do you have an alternative email address?

User: Tiger

Date: 23 Dec 2006 at 15:49

Just a thought chaps, the second thumbhole underlever was patented 14 February 1865, at that time patents were for 14 years so this must have been one of the last uses of the patent before it was unprotected. The rifle would have been started (and probably finished) in 1879.

User: Saku

Date: 26 Dec 2006 at 19:57

Hi Flashman,

I'm truly sorry about that email jam. I ceased all activities on computer for Christmas, and not unitl today I realised that my mailbox had been full for some days - I did some quick cleaning and there's some 10MB available again. I'll try to free more space as soon as I have time...


User: Saku

Date: 03 Jan 2007 at 22:54

Happy New Year to all!

More and more details are unearthing - Thanks IGC! However, I didn't quite follow what made you think that this particular piece must have been one of the last uses of the patent. I must have missed something. Could you specify? Sorry about the inconvenience.

Some further questions:

There is a small screw in between the underlugs in the monoblock. I have considered it to be the extractor lock screw - i.e. in the underside of the extractors' lower guide pin there is a cutting/slot, in which the tip of this screw protrudes and stops the extractor backward movement. By releasing this screw, the extractor could then be removed. Am I on the right track in this reasoning? I not sure of all terms there, but I hope you are able to follow my thought.

What might be the purpose of the blind hole behind the front sight blade? I have tried to figure out some kind of night sight construction that would require this kind of hole, but I'm not so sure about that. On page 96 A. Gray shows a fine H&H front sight assembly. There's also a similar looking hole. No explanation is given to it, though.

Does a name "C.B. Westmacott" ring any bell? This Rodda gun was sold cased, but I presume the case is not original. However, there is the above mentioned name on top of the case lid, and also something else in writing that is worn out and hard to read. I'll take a photo on the case and post it soon.


User: Tiger

Date: 04 Jan 2007 at 15:18

Hi Saku,

At the time the Purdey thumbhole underlever was invented, patent law gave the inventor sole rights to profit from the invention for a period of 14 years, after which anybody could copy the invention and profit from it. Patent protection could be extended for a longer period by payment of a fee. We don't know for sure if Purdey extended the patent when it expired on 10th February 1879, probably not, because by then the top lever was very popular. Why Rodda, or the original purchaser of the gun, chose to have it made with the thumbhole underlever we can't say, if the Laurence / Purdey connection is a fact, that might explain it. Dare we suggest that James Purdey & Sons might have had more of a hand in making the rifle than the use number suggests?!!!

You are right about the extractor locking (or retaining) screw (pin). That is exactly what it is.

The hole in the foresight base is there so that a "moonsight" can be fitted by a gunsmith. This is usually a flip-up stalk with a dome shaped ivory, mother-of-pearl or platinum insert; the idea being that moonlight illuminates the dome and seen by the shooter so that he can aim at the target (rather like a cat's eye / reflectors in a tarmac road). When not in use the moonsight folds away the white bit being protected in the hole.

There was a Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier General) C B Westmacott who was Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment (29th/36th of Foot). He saw service in the Boer war in South Africa, then Ceylon and India. We haven't had time to go into his history in detail, but he may have had the same initials as his father and may have joined his father's regiment. He was born in 1866 and died in 1948. As you say, the case may not be original, and the gun may originally have been his father's. C B Westmacott would not have joined-up before the age of 17 (in 1882) and would have undergone officer training for a year or so before being posted to wherever the regiment was operating - but this is a bit early for a rifle made in 1878/79. For more info go to http://www.google.co.uk and search for "C B Westmacott", you'll get two references.

[ This message was edited by: IGC Staff on 2007-01-04 15:25 ]

User: Saku

Date: 04 Jan 2007 at 21:34

Thanks again IGC. Now I was able to figure out, what you meant with the patent dating.

Great info on this gentleman Westmacott. I really appreciate your efforts.

I also searched last night very quickly with the name and the google.com gave something like ten sites. I didn't so far have time to explore them, and its a bit late again, but maybe tomorrow...

Below are a couple of pictures of the case lid. Can you figure out the lower text? Last word is Reg't, or something like that, where the letter "t" is small superscript ("Regiment" maybe?). The first word is really blurred, and I can't really suggest anything on that.


[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2007-01-04 21:39 ]

[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2007-01-04 21:41 ]

User: Saku

Date: 04 Jan 2007 at 23:20


Is it possible that the moonsight has not been a hinged flip-up type, but a separate part?

I know that it sounds highly impractical that the sight would have been separate and has been attached (maybe to the hole?) only when needed, but the current sight+base seem to be truly minuscule for any kind of permanent fitting of a folding night sight.

The blade height is only 3mm or 1/8", and the base length is 18mm or 11/16".

On the other hand, there's no space for replacement sights or this kind of moonsight in the grip cap. This would speak against my theory of separate part.


User: Saku

Date: 05 Jan 2007 at 13:32

It looks like the initials of the father and son Westmacott were not the same. There's information on C.B.W. here.

There seems to be a one year difference in the date of birth in our references.

Short quotation:

"Claude Berners Westmacott was born in 1865 at Wickham, Durham, son of Percy Graham Buchanan Westmacott and Annette Beatrice (nee Berners). Claude was educated at Eton College...

... Brigadier-General Westmacott was a keen sportsman, and in later years took up Archery with great success...

... C. B. Westmacott died suddenly on 15th March 1948..."

It's possible that the case ts original, but as I discussed this with my friend, I must say that it is also equally possible that the rifle & case met for the first time, when the gun was sold to him by H&H in 1988.

I wonder if I should contact Holland & Holland to ask, whether they have any kind of records on this.

[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2007-01-05 13:34 ]

User: Tiger

Date: 05 Jan 2007 at 18:19

Hi Saku,

Interesting ! We have been contacted by someone who has seen this topic and knows a little about the Westmacott family. Reportedly, as you say, C B Westmacott was born in County Durham. The difference in birth dates is due to the approximation resulting from subtraction of his age from his date of death. His father was P G B Westmacott, an engineer and past president of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (along with George and Robert Stevenson, Joseph Whitworth and other famous engineers). There was a much younger brother who was also named Percy Graham Buchanan Westmacott, he emigrated to Australia where he became a rancher.

Reportedly, C B Westmacott was very likely to have been the owner of the rifle, but it is thought he bought it second-hand whilst on duty in India. He disposed of his guns at some time after his retirement in 1920 and, as you say, took up archery.

The case looks as if it dates from the 1830s - 1850 at the latest! Maybe it didn't have C B W's name until he appropriated it from the family gun room! I guess the inscription below said 1st Bt Worc; Rgt.

I've seen many sight bases with the hole, but must confess that I've not concerned myself very much with them. I've just assumed a moonsight fitted on top. Maybe someone reading this can answer this?

Yes! Why not ask H & H what they know? I would tell them you are writing an article on the gun.

[ This message was edited by: IGC Staff on 2007-01-05 18:22 ]

User: Saku

Date: 08 Jan 2007 at 23:19

Sounds great, IGC! I would be more than happy to be able discuss with someone, who knows details about General CB Westmacott's life. There are pieces of information here and there in the Internet, but they seem to be contrasting/inadequate to some extent. For example, the number of children in the CBW's family seems to vary between one and thirteen depending on the source.

I would be extremely grateful if you could pass me the contact information of this person - but only if he/she is willing to discuss with me, of course.

However, let's put CBW aside for a while.

IGC, there's one thing that you said in an earlier mail. A thing that keeps returning to my head. You wondered if we dare to "suggest that James Purdey & Sons might have had more of a hand in making the rifle than the use number suggests?!!!"

I've learned that guns under Rodda's name are sometimes made by other gunmakers. However, I don't know how common this practice has been, or how long it lasted.

I've read that e.g. Webley&Scott and Cogswell&Harrison made guns to Rodda, but is that for sure? In the history database it is said that "It is highly likely that the high quality guns sold by R B Rodda & Co in the 1880s were made by Cogswell & Harrison."

I haven't thought C&H arms to be of particularly high quality. There are great Coggies around, that's for sure, but still...

Then, the next question really is that: Could it be possible that in the 1870s or 1880s J.Purdey may have had something to do with this, as you suggest (I reckon)? Have any of you readers heard of Purdey making guns to other names?

I'm short of good references, but I tried to gather some images that might tell something. On the other hand, I may be well off the track here, and they actually tell nothing but the fact that already at that time the best selling or most valued items were copied by less famous makers.

At first there's a couple of photos of this Rodda 16-bore, and then there are few pictures on various Purdeys. You may also take a look on the Rodda photos in the earlier posts.

RB Rodda, 16-bore

Purdey hammer guns & rifles, some with Purdeys second patent thumbhole lever and some with Jones underlever. Also cartridge indicator is a Purdey patent from 1866, and can be found both from one of these Purdeys as well as from the Rodda above.

BTW, what particular features of the case made you think that it dates from the 1830s-1850s?


[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2007-01-08 23:32 ]

[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2007-01-09 11:30 ]

User: Tiger

Date: 22 Jan 2007 at 16:24

Hi Saku,

We said that we wondered if Purdey had more of a hand in making the rifle than the use number suggests partly because of the posibility of a Laurence connection, but let's go back in time a little:

Gunmaking was increasingly highly specialised from the 1600/1700s and especially the early 1800s. Some jobs, e.g. barrelmaking was highly specialised well before then. Using barrel making as an example, the "tube" maker (otherwise known as the barrel maker!) usually did nothing else, he then sold the rough tubes to a "barrel maker" or gun "maker" who cut, filed, bored or re-bored them, re-filed them, rifled them (if a rifle), and did everything else that was required. The London gun "makers" were usually apprenticed to learn everything, so their apprenticeships lasted 7 years. Birmingham gun "makers" were usually "apprenticed" in one or two specialised fields, so they served varying apprenticeships of as little as 6 months or as much as 6 or 7 years.

The term "gunmaker" covered everyone from the merchant, factor or agent who never "made" a gun in his life (but some were very knowledgeable and several held patents!) to some of the trade manufacturers who made every part and did every job on their gun in-house. Most "makers" tended to specialise in one type of gun, pistol or rifle. Makers who retailed to the public sometimes "made" some of their guns themselves from parts they made themselves or, more usually, bought-in parts. Others bought-in semi-complete guns and perhaps stocked and otherwise "finished". An ordinary gunmaker tried to employ a range of skills and keep those craftsmen employed long term (especially volume sellers like shotguns), in busy times they bought-in complete and fully finished guns (especially pistols and rifles) - and just put his name on them!

In Birmingham, in the fourth quarter of the 19th century, R B Rodda was a typical "gunmaker" - apart from the fact that they sold only in India. They had a "factory" (first an agent, then a full time buyer, then workshops (about 1850), then a genuine factory) which pre-dated the recorded one (about 1890). One of the reasons the premises were unrecorded was probably down to the fact that they didn't retail or advertise in England any longer, and there was no reason to publicise themselves in magazines, newspapers or directories. They might not even have had their name over the front door! Prior to about 1890 we think Rodda's rifles were probably bought-in as barrelled actions ready for stocking, engraving, regulating etc.

F W Prike worked for Cogswell & Harrison and live with the Harrisons. Harrison advised Prike to buy Rodda when Laurence put it up for sale. It seems that C & H provided Rodda with a London address well into the 20th century. It stands to reason that one of the first places Rodda would go for an item which was not in stock or being made at the time, would be C & H. In Laurence's time, and if there was a Purdey connection, Lawrence might well have turned to Purdey.

The second thing that makes us think there may be a Purdey connection with your 16 bore is the thumbhole action. We would have thought a Jones underlever appropriate, or a top lever (becoming fashionable). As the patent wasn't very popular and was about to expire (bear in mind it was not renewed!), who was likely to use it? Purdey themselves? Bear in mind also (quote from Purdey history in our database): "By 1878 the firm were producing guns in A, B, C, D, and E qualities as well as a boxlock of very poor quality, in the belief that any fairly priced gun with the Purdey name would sell well. It was not until about 1884 that production of these stopped. James II had belatedly realised that customers thought workmen producing lower quality guns would compromise on the quality of the best quality guns."

Whether they actually made them or not, we are sure Purdey not only sold gamekeepers and farmers guns at that time, they also sold un-named guns to the trade (selected traders of course!), but we would never describe Purdey as a trade maker!

Rodda certainly bought guns "in-the-white" from Webley, and W & C Scott, and large bore guns from Tolley, rifles from Leonard and Wilkes.

Regarding the case, We've never tried to date them but they were used from the earliest of days (around 1800) to the middle of the 19th century. We think this style went out in the late 1860s early 1870s when driven shooting became popular and people travelled by train to Scotland and elsewhere. The case has no carrying handle or secure fastening, the handle is fairly useless even for lifing the lid!

[ This message was edited by: IGC Staff on 2007-01-22 17:06 ]

User: Saku

Date: 27 Jan 2007 at 22:42

Hi Tiger,

I reckon that’s what these people call you. I’ve used 'IGC', but having now read these forums further back, I’ve learned that 'Tiger' it is.

Again, you provided much more info than I could ever hope for. Many thanks for that. I have made my first efforts to dig deeper into the history database and follow various leads from person to person and from firm to firm. I have said this before, and I don’t know how to express it still in other words, but being a member here is just great!!!

I may have mentioned that I have only a few good books on doubles to refer to, and there seems not to be much on Purdey thumbhole latch in those books. Therefore, I made some serious googling instead, to find out what guns there are shown in the web, which are fitted with the Purdey second patent thumbhole system.

This survey resulted (in addition to several Purdeys) only a Boss pair in 16 ga, three individual Boss shotguns, one Scott and one Charles Lancaster shotgun, and also one Rodda 16bore DR similar to this one that I have examined. In the C Lancaster the thumblever outline and contour are different to all the others. In terms of “non-Purdeys” we are thus left with a few Bosses, a couple of Roddas and one Scott.

This shows that the patent really wasn’t popular, as you said. Furthermore, the Rodda that I've showed here is equipped with the loading indicators, which is also Purdey patent (1866, No. 1464). As I’ve said earlier in the thread, I’ve seen those in some German guns from the 20th century, but in addition to them I’ve only came across those in Purdeys.

Considering all that you’ve told and what I’ve learnt form various sources, I would say that it is not quite out of the question that this bore gun is actually made by Purdey.

As regards the gun case, it is my mistake that the images above dosn’t tell the whole truth. I should have taken a better photo. On that case there actually are both the carrying handle and the secure fastening. At least I guess that the two belt-like leather straps around the case are the secure fastening that you mean. It is the hinged side of the case that is shown in the picture above. The original carrying handle is replaced with a newer, and the straps are also mismatched. The straps may not be original, but the fastening system itself most probably is – I think so, because the style of the strap “loops” or “guides” (I mean those riveted pieces of leather on the case edges that hold the strap) match the rest of the case and are also delicately press-figured or carved. Given all this, the case might then be from the 1870s, I guess.

I had to return the rifle to the owner a few days ago, but at least I have maybe fifty or sixty photos of it. An interesting thing happened in the last evening before the return, as I suddenly realised that there are traces of some kind of a label at the end of the case. There’s an image below. Can anybody guess or figure out what this label might have been? No. 5009 is the only thing that is clearly visible. If it happens to be the serial of a gun, then the case is most probably not original for this Rodda #1093. It is a pity if that’s so.


[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2007-01-27 22:51 ]

User: Tiger

Date: 28 Jan 2007 at 11:47

Hi Saku,

I used to post as "Tiger" but at the end of last summer, when my posts totalled about 500, we thought it would be better if we put up all our posts as "IGC" and, later, "IGC Staff". IGC Staff now shows 890 posts so, unfortunately, it still looks as if we dominate the forums, and we would rather this was not the case! I suppose it's unavoidable, and understandable. We are on the site updating histories etc just about all day every day, so we are usually the first to see new posts and answer them!

Please believe me when I say that, like other members on this site, we are "students" of just a few of the many aspects gun making history. We know something about these aspects, but we know very little about others. Swapping knowledge is what it is all about!

Yup! I've got an Edwin Wilson 12b shotgun (re-barrelled by H Wilson) with a Purdey thumbhole. I find it awkward to use and I've never got used to it, I don't think it was much of an improvement on the Jones under-lever (which tends to be over-rated and was popular partly because Jones didn't renew the patent so no royalties were payable) but the side-lever was a vast improvement on both. Stephen Grant championed these (and I bet he was pleased not to be paying Purdey any royalties!). This gun was probably sold as a barrelled action, made in Birmingham by one of the big trade manufacturers.

I wonder if the Lancaster you mention is the one at http://www.pantilesguns.co.uk/hammerguns.htm this has gorgeous hammers!

I hardly recognise the case! Your first pics appear to show a mahogony case missing its circular brass handle. The new photos show a leather covered case! What the label number indicates I can't be sure, but it wouldn't be a gun serial number as there is certainly no reason to put the serial number there! Perhaps it is a shipping manifest number. The case might well be original.

A point arises here! It seems to me that a larger proportion than usual of cases intended for India were canvas covered. To Hindus, the cow is sacred (Indian Mutiny and all that!). Would a strict Hindu be happy to use leather and touch a leather covered case? I'll refer Mehul to this point, he might know.

User: Saku

Date: 30 Jan 2007 at 16:58

It was not that Charles Lancaster. It was identical to that, though. I tried to find it again, but it seems that I've lost some critical search term. Purdey 2nd patent thumbhole is expressed in various ways and some sites are thus easily missed.

I continued my survey a bit, and I found still some more guns fitted with that thumb break. However, I didn't find anything contra to the theory of J.P. being the maker of this Rodda.

It might sound strange, but the case IS the same. Why it looks like mahogany, it is kind of a funny story (Well, to be honest, it actually is rather horrible story).

Some time after purchasing of this Rodda my friend decided to find out if its abused/worn out leather case could be restored a bit. He knew a person, who worked in a leather factory, where they produced backbacks, cartridge belts and other leather goods. He assumed that this fellow knew leathers and asked about the restoration.

"Sure it can be restored." replied this leather-pro.

Then my friend continued: "Yes, this fellow promised to do the restoring, and after some time I got the case back, yes... but... I definitely didn't mean that it should be painted."

The case is actually painted with coarse brush!! After hearing this story I remembered that while examining the case I had wondered why it looked a little bit like a wood grain imitation. I assumed that those brush marks were old, and didn't pay much attention to it then. Now that I heard it I cursed silently. It is lucky, though, that he didn't manage to cover the Generals name on the case.

So, it's a (painted) leather case with straps and a firm handle, and all.

[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2007-02-18 05:08 ]

User: mehulkamdar

Date: 17 Feb 2007 at 22:59

Hello Tiger,

While the cow is sacred to Hindus, the bull is not and in most parts of India, bulls can be legally slaughtered for their meat. However, beef is the cheapest meat since very few eat it. There are many Christians of Indian origin who do not eat beef or pork out of some kind of respect for their previous religion before they or their ancestors converted. Leather from sheep or goats would also have been allowed as would have leather from the water buffalo - a much stronger type of leather than cowhide. This is my personal guess as I am not sure what the actual reason for the vastly larger number of canvas cases may have been, but British gunmakers may have wanted to play it safe after the experience of the Mutiny of 1857 where rumours of beef and pork fat being used to lubricate cartridges started a bloody war that left almost a hundred thousand dead.


Good to see you here and I'm glad that you're enjoying your visits. This is a fantastic forum for students of fine British guns and the Historical Database is one of the finest available anywhere!

Good hunting, gentlemen!

User: Saku

Date: 20 Feb 2007 at 06:34

Hi Mehul!!

Actually it was you, who recommended this site to me in another forum. Now, after realising the true value of this site, I want to say that I really appreciate your contribution.

* * * * *

I got one contact from H&H possibly having some further information on this Rodda. That source is yet to be explored, but after doing that I will really get on with the article on this rifle.

I'll let you all know, how this thing proceeds. And I will surely be returning with questions on other guns - like that Greener on shotgun forum.

And Tiger,

I dont't know, how to thank you enough!!


[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2007-02-20 06:35 ]

User: Tiger

Date: 20 Feb 2007 at 12:04

Saku / Mehul, When you are next in the UK set aside a day to join me for a little shooting, a good meal, and a bottle or two. Believe me, I/we have a lot to learn from both of you !

User: Saku

Date: 21 Feb 2007 at 19:29


I promise I will. Thanks for the invitation.


User: Tiger

Date: 28 Feb 2007 at 17:11

Hi Saku,

We referred above to Lawrence / Laurence. In the process of continuing research into the manufacture of gunpowder making we've found that there was a firm at Gunpowder Mills, Battle, Sussex, named Charles Laurence & Son. It would seem that they sold gunpowder under the firm's name, and later amalgamated with Pigou & Wilkes to form Pigou, Wilkes and Laurence. So, the Lawrence who owned R B Rodda didn't sell gunpowder under his own name!

User: Saku

Date: 28 Feb 2007 at 20:40

Thanks Tiger!

Great piece of information!!! - Even though engraving of the regulation/load data on the rifle itself has been a somewhat common practise in British gunmaking, it looks really exotic to an average gun-nut here in Finland That text in butt plate interests readers, that's for sure.

That notice you gave on Laurence & his companions goes directly into the article I'm writing.


[ This message was edited by: sakmyk on 2007-03-01 12:23 ]

User: Tiger

Date: 07 Jun 2008 at 15:10

Email from Eileen McKoy (of Monkseaton Library?) posted by moderator:

I thought Saku might be interested in the following poem that mentions a General Westmacott. If you can, please pass it on to him. Thank you. Thank you. Eileen McKoy

Copy of a Poem that was in the possession of Corporal Robert R.Cooper, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 2nd Battalion, Service Number 7349. Killed in action, France and Flanders, 23/10/16 Born: Old Monkland, Lanaarkshire. Enlisted Hamilton, Residence Coatbridge

Presented to the Northampton Museum on June 7, 2008 by Corporal Cooper's great niece, Eileen McKoy of San Diego, CA

The Brave Northamptonshire Regt
The Gallant 4th Brigade
Tirah Expedition 1894

Eight thousand miles from England
Marched a regiment old and brave
To do their duty for their country
Or to fill a soldier's grave
Whilst the shots fell thick around them
And their men were falling fast
Not a murmur rose among them
From the beginning to the last

Amidst the dead and dying
The shots were falling fast
No one at hand to help them
They fought until the last

In that fatal Saran Sar they fought
With courage brave and true
They died to save their wounded
As all you English know
Caring nought for death nor danger
Caring nought for savage foe
They fought and died like heroes
As all the wide world knows

Though death has snatched them from us
And laid them down in sleep
Their names will live forever
As long as ages keep

They talk of how the Gordons
So nobly fought and died
But they were not the only ones
That fought for England's pride
Just think of brave young Macintire
And his noble little band
They fought like gallant heroes
In that far off distant land

We mourn for our brave comrades
Who nobly bled and died
To uphold England's glory
To uphold England's pride

Again we talk of braveness
And the gallant deeds thats done
But what about young Bonny Ghoorkhas
and the fights which they have won
Then the Kings Own Scottish Borderers
What a splendid name they made
Success to all our comrades
Of the gallant 4th Brigade

Heres health to the brave older Borderers
and the brave young Ghoorkhas too
We fought like lions at Dargai
And took that famous hill

Then came the brave commanders
Who nobly led the way
Oer rocky peaks and chasms deep
And bravely made way
And one man in particular General Westmacott is his name
Always to the front was he
And under fire twas just the same

Then three cheers for our brave officers
And for our non-commissioned too
The same to Tomas Atkins
And so say all of you

Then give honour to our gunners
Who ?wored their guns so true
And searched their height with shrapnel
From which the foeman flew
Then give to them whom honour is due
Their countries choicest praise
Wish them long life and happiness
For the remainder of their days

But now the war is over
And peace has been proclaimed
But should they want us to the front
We're prepared to go again


Composed by
? Y. Leggat, B. Coy
1st Northamptonshire Regt

User: Tiger

Date: 10 Jun 2008 at 12:18

Email from Grumpy posted by moderator:

Hi Tiger,

I have a confession to make........one that is really going to piss you off. I saw a Rodda thumb opening 12-Bore at a country auction viewing last year..........with the action marked both with the Purdey patent legend AND PURDEY MAKERS MARKS !! That the Rodda mentioned above could have been made by Purdey (rather than W & C Scott) is not
impossible, get Saku to check inside.

It was an absolute wreck of a gun that was withdrawn from the sale proper because of being out of proof - perforated damascus barrels not to mention rusted locks, a refusal to open and exceedingly wormy wood ! The gun was later destroyed. It had two sets of London proof marks - the original Black powder marks and c.1904 nitro proof marks. It would appear to have been returned to this country some time ago...............and then stored in a shed for the last 80 odd years ! It didn`t occur to me to take any pictures ( even if I could have worked out how to use the camera on the `phone ) because it was such a junker. I only took note of it because one of my firearms licencing officers has a friend who wanted a cheap wallhanger, and then because it was a Rodda. I meant to tell you about it........but forgot. It didn`t occur to me that it had any other significance.

User: Saku

Date: 17 Jun 2008 at 07:20

I had a chance to peek inside the rifle last Sunday .

There were a couple of stamps previously unknown to me; an asterisk on the rear surface of the action, and "F.S" inside both lock plates. I examined the action, locks and the furniture, and that was all I could find (I have previously checked the buttplate and the grip cap, and there's nothing).

Does those minuscule stamps ring any bells to any of you regarding the possible maker of the rifle?

And does the "F.S" refer to initials of the name of the lock maker person?

I hope you read this, even though your message was posted by Tiger. Were the stamps on the wrecked Rodda similar to those above and below? And what exactly do you mean with ”Purdey makers marks”?


[ This message was edited by: Saku on 2008-06-17 07:22 ]

User: Tiger

Date: 19 Jun 2008 at 14:07

Hi Saku,

I think I can safely say these were not the marks Grumpy saw. He is likely to have seen the name "Purdey" in one form or another.

The "asterisk" or star may be a maker's mark, I don't think it could be a formal or informal trade mark because it is crudely done and has no artistic features.

The F S probably stands for Frederick Spittle. There don't seem to be any other lock makers with those initials.

The Spittle family were long established gun lock makers in the famous gun lock making town of Wednesbury in Staffordshire. There was a John Spittle who was born there in 1816 but in 1851 he was recorded as a gun lock filer at the government arms factory at Enfield lock in London. He had a son named Frederick who was born in London in 1845. Frederick could have been apprenticed with Purdey, it is a very vague possibility, but it exists.

Frederick was recorded as a gun lock maker in 1871 in Ashbourne Place, Wheeler Street, Birmingham, he may have established his business a few years earlier. He was recorded again in about 1875, and probably traded for several more years. In 1881 he was recorded as a boot (!) maker at 62 Soho Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, he is definitely the same person and no other Frederick Spittle, his stated occupation may have been a recording error because it is not likely he changed from being a lock maker to being a boot maker!

It is possible that he worked for Rodda, but more likely that Rodda simply bought locks from him.

[ This message was edited by: Tiger on 2008-06-19 14:17 ]

User: Saku

Date: 03 Jul 2008 at 20:47

Hi Tiger,

Thanks for your reply. I had a chat with Grumpy and he said that in the junk Rodda there was ‘James Purdey & Sons` stamped onto the action flats. However, he suggested that the gun might have been supplied to fulfill an urgent order made of Rodda and that they acquired a suitable gun from Purdey to meet the requirement and maintain that customers loyalties. Possibly only the Purdey lock plates and rib were replaced with Rodda's own.

You’ve told earlier that W&C Scott supplied guns to Rodda. Scott being the maker also in this case seems possible.

The Purdey second patent thumbhole underlever was patented in 14 February 1865, and Scott fitted guns with these from 1866 to 1880. However, it seems that the last five years 1876-1880 these guns were specifically fitted with bar action locks. If W&C Scott is the maker, we could then date this gun to years 1866 - 1875.

A table in Nigel Brown's book (British Gunmakers, Vol. 2) indicates that in Scott production a gun numbered #1093 seems to have been made in 1868. That fits well with the dating above. Brown tells also that Scott records are owned by Gallyon & Sons. I guess, I'll contact them next.

You gave great info on Frederick Spittle. Is there any possibility to find out if Frederck Spittle was in one way or another attached to W&C Scott?


[ This message was edited by: Saku on 2008-07-04 15:23 ]

User: Tiger

Date: 04 Jul 2008 at 17:24

Hi Saku,

Unusual for Purdey to put his name on the action flats, but licensed manufacturers did, along with a use number which on the junk Rodda might not have been visible.

I too, think W & C Scott was the likely maker but FS could be Frederick Spittle and yes, he could have worked for either Scott or Rodda or both! Bear in mind that a gun bought in-the-white from Purdey would not be engraved or hardened, or stocked, and probably wouldn't have any reference to Purdey either inside or outside.

What you say about back and bar action locks seems to indicate you are right. Re the serial number, 1093 is a relatively low number, it could apply to Scott or Rodda.

User: Saku

Date: 27 Aug 2008 at 21:07

Hi Tiger,

In the above I referred to the Gallyon & Sons as owners of the Scott records.

Now that I got their reply it appeared that although they do have the Webley & Scott records, there were none prior to 1911.

So, it seems that I will end my search to this point and finalise my text without the actual information on the maker of this Rodda bore rifle.

Maybe something comes up some day, though.