Description: J. PURDEY
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A 10-BORE (2 7/8IN.) DOUBLE-BARRELLED ROTARY-UNDERLEVER HAMMERGUN, serial no. 9026,
28in. nitro reproved bold damascus barrels, sunken rib engraved ''J. PURDEY 314 1/2 OXFORD STREET. LONDON.'' and with a starburst detail at the breech end, 2 7/8in. chambers, bored approx. full choke in both, Jones patent rotary-underlever, carved percussion fences, non-rebounding sidelocks with dolphin hammers, best fine acanthus scroll engraving, retaining some colour-hardening and renewed finish, 14 3/8in. figured stock including steel buttplate, weight 7lb. 12oz.
Provenance: The makers have kindly confirmed that this gun was completed in 1873 as No.2 of a pair of 10-bore underlever guns, and sold to Sir St. Geo. Gore.
Sir St. George Gore was a wealthy Irish nobleman, baronet of Gore Manor in County Donegal. He loved hunting and fishing, and in the 1850s he decided to visit the American West. His expedition lasted nearly three years, from 1854 to 1857, taking him to Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas, and cost some $500,000. The exact number of animals killed by Gore for sport is unknown. He himself claimed to have killed 2,000 buffalo, 1,600 deer and elk, and 105 bears.
As a member of the aristocracy, Gore saw no need to rough it in the wilderness. His chief guide was the famous mountain man Jim Bridger, and his company included twenty-seven vehicles, more than one hundred horses, eighteen oxen, and three cows. Gore also had a wagon loaded with weapons, including pistols, shotguns, and about seventy-five rifles. He had a ''large striped green and white linen tent,'' a brass bedstead, a rug, and a portable table. Gore hired at least forty men for a variety of jobs, including cooking, hunting, and tending greyhounds and staghounds.
Gore and his expedition travelled through lands held by various Indian tribes, some of whom resented the slaughter of animals in their lands. At one point a band of Piegans stole twenty-one horses, and in another incident Blood Indians tried to capture more horses. On the other hand, the company traded peacefully with a band of Crows, acquiring fresh horses from them. Officials of the United States also found Gore''s hunting excessive. Superintendent of Indian Affairs Alfred Cumming protested that Gore was killing game that the Indians needed to survive. Another observer, M. C. Meiggs, wrote to the secretary of the interior to complain. Observing that Gore had killed thousands of buffalo, he commented, ''We punish an Indian for killing a settler''s cow for food…. How can such destruction of their game be permitted by their friends in the Government of the United States?'' The government, however, took no action against Gore, who returned to Ireland in 1857.
Literature: Clark C. Spence, ''A Celtic Nimrod in the Old West,'' Montana, 9 (April 1959): 56–66.