View Full Version : Moore and Harris percussion shotgun

09-30-2011, 12:47 PM
The new toy arrived today. I bought, at auction, an 1850s percussion blackpowder 12 ga shotgun manufactured by Moore and Harris of London. Initial photos looked good and I must say it is a beauty. The intricacy of engraving is flawless ..... truly a work of art, right down to engraving the screws.







09-30-2011, 03:34 PM
What a beauty JD!

I am impressed with the inletting around the action and the rear tang, as well as the engraving.

So, safe queen or smoke pole?


09-30-2011, 05:02 PM
Just got back from Bass Pro....... just for opinions. Everyone there was very impressed, even a bit `nervous`......... but I wasn`t selling . Even the `boss` came out from the back room to see it. I was told I got a SMOKE`N deal on it. It is enjoyable to be able to show off things of such workmanship. I do not believe in `hangar queens`....... Marcus, it WILL smoke. 8-) .

Cheers, JaDub

recoil junky
09-30-2011, 05:07 PM
I do not believe in `hangar queens`....... Marcus, it WILL smoke. 8-) .

Cheers, JaDub

RIGHT ON!!!!!!!!

Beautiful, just beeeyouteefull!!!


Jorge in Oz
10-02-2011, 02:13 AM
Simply beautiful!!!

10-06-2011, 12:40 PM
Wow, I commented on this thread right after you posted it JaDub. :angry:

Anyway, beautiful piece! Great get! I love it!


10-06-2011, 01:53 PM
Paul, I got really lucky on this one. The more I examine it the more I appreciate it. Some one took A LOT of time on this baby. Interesting to see the two strips of gold inlay on the `breach`........ I`m guessing that it might indicate a `model` or `grade`.

I`d send a few more pictures but I`m having trouble accessing my PhotoBucket account. ?? The bulk-uploader won`t upload. They changed the format a few weeks ago and I`m out in the cold....... grrr.


10-06-2011, 06:29 PM
The more I examine it the more I appreciate it.
That has happened to me more than once, JaDub. I bought a Husqvarna 16 ga SxS hammer gun that I was going to "chop up" to make a double rifle. When I got my hands on it, I fell in love with it! I've since bought a couple more.

Like you, I've been looking for a ML SxS for a while. I envy you this purchase. It is truly a beauty!


10-08-2011, 05:34 AM
Ahhhh you must remember that at the time this gun was built, they were not made but built by hand, that the customer ordered what they wanted from a list in most cases with the makers of the times. However some makers did offer some as standards.

The engraving is pretty standard fare for a sporting shotgun of this period again one must remember the period and who would likely have brought it. It certainly would not be a normal working man so we are talking merchant, clergy, gentry or minor nobility, it's also unlikely that even a craftsman could afford such a piece at that time.

Even by this time the trade had standardised certain types of engraving and in Birmingham's gun quarter there were whole buildings of small work shops doing nothing but engraving. They did not only work on firearms but also jewelry and other weapons and ornaments of quality.

A lot of the London Guns were built on forgings made and roughed out in Birmingham to be finished and fitted up by the London maker. There were loads of lock makers who made and finished just locks for guns and if you carefully remove the locks you will find they are as finely finished inside as on the outside. The English gun trade was noted for this fine work which of course was not cheap but made for excellent long lived firearms that stood up to the rigors of use.

It was interesting to note the comment on the stock fitting and fine inletting of the wood. No CNC in sight when this was made but they used of course decent quality and well seasoned timber not the cheap crappie stuff used today. It was of course fitted by hand by skilled craftsmen. Note that even after about 150 years the fit is still perfect. Can you imaging a rifle made with wood furniture that one could say it's fit would be still perfect in 150 years? .............................................. I doubt it. Kiln dried wood is rubbish compared to the stock on this fine shotgun.

Chances are very good that the records still exist for the maker of this gun. There are collectors and societies of collectors who gather up such records to preserve them. A quick web search produced this:-

William Moore was probably born in 1787. In 1808 he was recorded as being in business at 118 Whitechapel. He was also recorded as being a stocker for Joseph Manton, probably from 1809 to 1820. It is possible that Charles Moore of the firm of that name was his son.

From 1818 to 1853 William Moore lived at Colchester Road, Edgeware. In 1820 he established his own business at that address, but by 1828 his trade had increased to the point where he required larger premises so he opened a shop at 78 Edgeware Road.

In 1829 he opened a stock making business at Court, 4 Whittall Street, Birmingham. This may also have been a purchasing office and finishing workshop.

In 1835 a percussion lock developed by Moore was rejected by the Board of Ordnance.

In 1836 William Moore was appointed Gunmaker-in-Ordinary to King William IV, and in that year the name of the firm changed to William Moore & Co.

In 1837 or 1838 the firm were appointed gunmakers to Prince Albert.

Also in 1837 the business at Court, 4 Whittall Street moved to 35 Loveday Street, it was recorded up to 1845.

In 1838 William Moore and William Harris became partners in the firm of Moore & Harris, also at 35 Loveday Street, William Harris also traded from these premises in his own name (it is likely that William Harris was related to Alfred Harris who traded as a gun barrel maker in Birmingham - see Joseph Harris of Lionel Street).

In 1840 the partnership was recorded at 36 Loveday Street trading as gun and pistol makers; at least some of the guns sold were marked Moore & Harris, London, the partnership probably used William Moore's address. The firm appears to have supplied the trade as well as William Moore in London, some of the guns sold were marked "London" and were proved in London; the partnership also developed an export trade to the USA.

From 1840 to 1845 William Moore also traded in his own name as a gunsmith from 35 Loveday Street (the terms "gunsmith" and "gun maker" were interchangeable at that time), Harris also ceased trading in his own name in 1845.

In 1847 William Moore and William Parker Grey, who had been Clerk and then Manager for Joseph Manton, went into partnership in London at 78 Edgeware Road, they operated as Wm Moore & Grey but Wm Moore also continued to trade as Wm Moore & Co, presumably in respect of one or two aspects of his business.

In 1852 William Moore and William Harris patented a percussion revolver which was produced in limited quantities (Patent No. 69).

In 1854 William Moore and William Grey started to trade as William Moore & Grey from 43 Old Bond Street, but William Grey and his son, F H Grey, also started to trade as William Grey & Son at 41 Old Bond Street. William Moore may also have traded from 43 Old Bond Street as William Moore & Co. Between 1854 and 1859 the firm of William Moore and William Grey, like William Moore & Co, were appointed gunmakers to Prince Albert.

By 1859 in Birmingham, Moore & Harris had expanded into barrel and lock making and in 1861 they moved to the Great Western Gun Works at 91 Constitution Hill.

In 1861 Frederick Beesley was apprenticed to William Grey at William Moore & Co at 43 Old Bond Street.

In 1862 the partnership of William Moore and William Harris exhibited military and sporting guns at the International Exhibition in London.

Between 1862 and 1865 the firm advertised the fact that guns not made by them were being engraved with the name Wm Moore & Co, London.

In 1864, perhaps because of temporary financial problems or because William Moore died (no date is known), the business at the Great Western Gun Works at 91 Constitution Hill was sold at auction; the buyers were a partnership composed of "Moore and Harris" and a Mr Richards. The Moore could have been William Moore or his wife, or William Moore Jnr (?), Mr Richards was probably Westley Richards.

However, the new partnership closed within a year and the business was sold to W & C Scott & Son who valued the firm's USA export market. The firm of Moore & Harris, perhaps now owned by William Harris, probably moved to London, they were known to have been trading in 1867 from 2 Long Acre, London. When they ceased trading is not known, but it may have been prior to 1870 or even up to 1877.

In 1866 Henry Atkin moved from Purdey to work for the firm, he founded his own business in 1877.

In 1867 F H Grey, who by this time had probably taken over from his father, patented internal strikers on hammer guns (No. 2743).

In about 1873 the name of the Moore & Grey partnership may have temporarily changed to William Moore, Grey & Co. In 1878 the firm became a limited liability company, William Moore & Grey Ltd but in 1889 it reverted to unlimited liability.

In 1893, when the Inanimate Bird Shooting Association was formed, a "Mr Harris of Moore & Grey" attended. Apparently, he ran the Wealdstone Gun Club which was based at Harrow.

At some time prior to 1896 the firm registered a patent (No. 18582) for an automatic safety.

In 1896 the firm moved to 165 Piccadilly and in 1902 to 8 Craven Street, Strand. In about 1897 they opened a branch at 11 The Arcade, Aldershot; Aldershot was and still is the "home" of the British army. It appears that, in common with other gunmakers at the time, the firm's sales did not warrant in-house gunmaking facilities, and that they were buying guns from Cogswell & Harrison.

In 1908 Cogswell & Harrison took over the firm, and Robert Grey joined them. This was probably when the Aldershot branch closed.

In 1917 Cogswell & Harrison moved the company to their own premises at 226 Strand and William Moore & Grey ceased to trade under their own name.

In 1928 Robert Grey died, also in that year Cogswell & Harrison left the Strand and operated only from 168 Piccadilly. They later included a "Moorgrey" model in their range of guns, this was a low priced model which was never very popular.

Read more: http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=246653#ixzz1aBX21jK7

Hope that helps.

10-08-2011, 12:48 PM


10-08-2011, 01:06 PM
Brithunter ,

Thanks for the info....... very interesting to find out the backround of a very interesting piece. I can`t seem to locate any other info about this piece but I will keep looking into it. It would be VERY interesting to actually find some of those specific interest groups that focus on these guns. If anyone runs across any further information on Moore & Harris I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.

Now as to the `furniture`.......
How did they `treat` the wood used for these guns? How were they `dried` and how long a process was it? I`m assuming it could be a lost art seeings how contemporary work seems to fall well shy of their craftsmanship. I admit to being a `woodchuck` ( no knowledge of woodworking ) so this process of craftsmanship is certainly an interesting one. And yes, I`m totally blown away by the `tight fit` seen over the entire gun. It is truly a lost art which makes finding such gems so rewarding to find and enjoyable to share with others.

Cheers, JaDub

10-10-2011, 04:49 AM
The walnut used was air dried, no lost art it just takes time, too much time for modern greedy businesses. Firms like Purdey, Holland & Holland etc still purchase air dried wood then they keep it in their own store for a minimum of 5 years before offering to clients for use on their guns. This way they KNOW it's dried properly. I believe it's a year for every inch thickness of timber in air drying then once cut into blanks it's again stored for a time to make sure it's dried. Kiln drying is done in hours/days.

I firmly believe it was this desire for more speedy production and cheapness which brought about the mainstream use of plastic/synthetic stocks and nowt to do with warping and use in the wet. It's about profit and plastic is far cheaper than wood yet the makers often, at first at least, charged more for the plastic stocks.

If you get the chance to examine some modern hand made top quality shotguns you will still see the same quality of in letting. It's far from being lost but of course volume makers are not interested in this sort of quality only pile them up and sell them for as much as we can screw out of the customer.

IHMO a lot of modern guns are not worth the tag prices.

Meanwhile I will see if I can get ahold of a chap from the HBSA and see if he can offer up likely sources of information. I can think of one source but am not sure if he will ask for payment for his information. he is the author of a couple of books on the English gun trade and is often on The Antiques Roadshow on TV.

10-10-2011, 01:13 PM
Forcing hot plastic into a mold is certainly quicker ( cheaper ) than a finely mastered wood stock.... sadly. I`m starting to sound like my grandfather......... "what`s this world comming to ??" Yikes!


10-10-2011, 02:42 PM
I'm afraid that I would have to argue that "plastic" stocks do indeed have "a place" in the shooting world. As has been mentioned, they are "cheap" (as long as they don't have "MossyOak" camo and aren't from one of the "high quality" manufacturers); most of them are stable (except the flimsy, rubber, Hogue without the frame), and they are durable.

Not everyone can afford, or even FIND, a quality wood stock these days. About the best "wooden" stocks are the laminates, and are to my eye, really just a prettier "plastic" stock. HOWEVER, just because I say I PREFER wood, doesn't mean I revile "plastic". As is often the case, we transfer our 'annoyance' to the "object" instead of keeping our focus on the real issue. In this case, the passage of an era.

The era of quality, affordable, wooden firearm stocks is past. I lament that passing, but I don't hate plastic stocks because of it. They are just the "object" that is the result of the passing of an era.

I don't "hate" .17 HMRs although I occasionally put my frustration in those terms. What I DISLIKE is all of the absolute insanity spewed about the cartridge's performance. It isn't the cartridge I dislike, it's the knuckleheads that spew ridiculous claims about them.

I don't dislike "magnums" - I have several. Two of which were my "go to" Hunting guns for decades. Rather, I dislike the methods used to market them. It's easiest to express my distaste for the marketing by SIMPLY saying "I hate magnums", when the reality is that what I hate is the way magnums are marketed. In all truth, I couldn't care less what people choose to shoot. In fact, the more variety of cartridges and firearms "out there", the better off we ALL are.

So, when I can, I choose "walnut and blue", but even at my age, I can't always have what I want. The stock that the 8mm SLT sits in is an ugly, camo, plastic stock. Trouble is, it shoots like a laser. Sure, I wish it had a beautiful walnut stock on it made by one of the great British gun-makers, but alas, it isn't to be. I really don't like teh looks of that plastic stock, but I am loathe to "fix something that ain't broke". In the end, that rifle is a Hunting rifle, and that stock allows me to shoot tiny little groups at long distances. Looks take a back seat to performance EVERY TIME for me. By the same token, I simply refuse to "make lemonade" from this "lemon-looking" stock by CALLING it "beautiful". It isn't. It's 'ugly as sin' to MY eye. It works true enough, but "working" is not "beauty"... it's performance. Beauty and performance are often, but not always, mutually exclusive.

And what is the most important truth is that beauty IS indeed in the eye of the beholder.


10-10-2011, 03:06 PM
Well said!

recoil junky
10-10-2011, 05:32 PM
Plastic stocks are like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. I tried (somewhat successfully) to "fix" the sow's ear on the 700SPS. Sadly it's still a sow's ear, but it's a bit silkier for my efforts.

I have an air dried piece of birds eye maple that I want to turn into a stock for one of my 788's. Yes, you heard me a 788.