A Personal Introduction

My interest in Blanch guns started with my father’s back action sidelock ejector with which I fell in love at the tender age of 10. In contrast to my .410 Webley & Scott bolt action to which I had graduated after a succession of air rifles, its bold foliate engraving and Damascus barrels seemed the very pinnacle of beauty and sophistication.

Some 15 years later, with my father shooting much less, the Blanch came to live with my AYA No. 4 in Cambridge and as a birthday present to him, I paid for it to be serviced, valued and generally restored. During this process it became apparent that the very fine Damascus barrels had been badly repaired at some point in the past resulting in a very thin left tube and we were advised that the gun should be retired. This sad state of affairs prompted me to begin a search for a replacement, finished to the same high standard but in sound condition and the search continues to this day.

This search did have one other result though: I started a modest collection of Blanch breechloaders, both hammer and hammerless and this in turn gave rise to this database.

Over the years of researching, I have had the good fortune to meet many Blanch owners in person and also view many Blanch guns at auction and in gun shops and would make two observations. I have never yet met an owner of a Blanch gun, however modest the model or exalted the owner, who has not had a very great affection for his or her gun. Secondly, I have never come across a poor quality Blanch that was made during their heyday. It must be admitted that some Blanch guns, especially later ones based on continental actions, do not display the fine finishing and engraving of their relations but they are almost invariably attractive, well built guns.

I would like to thank Mr Derek Arnold of John Blanch and Son (Gun & Rifle Makers) Ltd; David Baker, author and gun historian; Bill Harriman, BASC Head of Firearms and the late Geoffrey Boothroyd who have in the recent and distant past all selflessly provided me with much background information and encouragement in my researches.

I would like to thank all the Blanch owners, both private and trade, who have helped in the creation of this database by contributing their gun’s details for inclusion and would stress that further Blanch gun records are always wanted as these listings are only as good as the number of guns represented. There is a questionnaire on the Contact Us page which can be completed and submitted by email or posted to us. The source and location of all gun records are kept in complete confidence or may be submitted anonymously.

Last but not least I would like to thank the Internet Gun Club for permission to use their John Blanch and Son entry and furthermore supplied several of the trade label images in the History page.

Toby Barclay
Kedington, Suffolk.
17th July, 2003

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