W. H. Tisdall & Sons Birmingham & Frederickton NB, makers of fine shotguns in the 1860s

"W. H. Tisdall & Sons. Birmingham. & Frederickton. N.B."

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Question:  “Recently a high school friend from 1955-56 gave me his three long guns. He’s stopped hunting. I continue. One is a fine English/Canadian 12 gauge double hammer shotgun with forge-welded Damascus steel barrels made by “W. H. Tisdall & Sons. Birmingham. &  Frederickton. N.B.”, which you can see is engraved along the midpoint between the barrels. I’ve searched websites for Tisdall shotguns & found a site that indicated this shotgun dates back to the 1860s. Would you have any information on this fine gun maker? Would you know if Tisdall was actually making these shotguns in New Brunswick? Any information you can give me would be appreciated.

…  I took it to a local gunsmith, a Scottish gentleman who served in a special forces unit of the British Army. … He inspected this gun & told me it’s quite good & in shooting condition, provided I use nothing heavier than 1 1/8oz shot loads with not more than 3 drams of powder. In other words, trap shooting loads. He measured the choke of the barrels to find both chokes are the same, between modified and full, begin at the chamber, &  taper consistently to the muzzle. Being forged, he explained, the smithy formed them over a tapered mandrel. The beautiful pattern of the smithy’s work is clear in the photo. It’s extremely intricate. What long labour to make such a fine shotgun!  This gun is a piece of art.  Thanks in advance for any information you might have.”
Follow up E-mail:  “I’ve since learned more about Damascus steel on Wikipedia. Carbon trace elements form the visible brown swirls during the forging process, so the smithy’s blows bring out these intricate patterns which otherwise lay dormant awaiting the forge, hammer & anvil.   Thanks for your interest.”

14 responses to “W. H. Tisdall & Sons Birmingham & Frederickton NB, makers of fine shotguns in the 1860s

  1. I may be able to help on conveying more information on you weapon made by “W. H. Tisdall & Sons. Birmingham. & Frederickton. N.B.” As fate would have it, I had lunch today with an physician that I call on as a pharmaceutical rep and discovered he is related to W.H. Tisdall. We got to talking about going to a gun range and he mentioned his family had been involved in the manufacture of high-quality weapons.
    Without speaking to him I don’t want to give out too much info but his relation will prove obvious. I would be more than happy to ask him if I can get more information on the history and creation of the weapons. Please let me know if I can provide more info for you.
    Robert A. Lozano Sr.

  2. Thanks for the offer Robert! That would be great!

  3. Pingback: Clues to “Tisdall the Gunsmith” in Fredericton « The York Sunbury Museum Blog

  4. I agree that it’s very easy to get hooked on W H Tisdall. My family has owned a Tisdall 13 bore (tight bored 12) Colonial Gun No 1 since my grandad bought it around 1880 or so. He used it until his death in 1947 as did my dad until just before he died in 1972. I’ve been using it at least once a week since long before then.
    Dad had it re-proved for black powder in 1963 and I took it in for proving in 1999, it passed the test with flying colours and I continue to use it for everything from rabbits to geese as does MY son.
    A little known fact is that Tisdall and Greener were almost next door to one another for several years and Tisdall made a lot of Greener’s barrels, they’re very strong and if in good nick will be safe to fire with black or Pyrodex.
    One of the many advantages of a Tisdall is that one can own and fire a good quality and quite pretty English gun without spending the fortune that a Watson or Purdey etc can cost and, as interest in them increases, and it will, those who own or intend to get one soon will have a very good investment as well as a great toy to play with or look at.
    I have just one question: does anybody out there know anything about the Colonial Gun, eg why Colonial Gun and why, for heaven’s sake a bloody 13 bore?
    Thanks and all the best, Dave.

  5. Thanks for the information Dave!!

  6. Hi,
    I have enjoyed the comments from all of you. Yes I have been using a 20g hammer gun for the last few years by W H Tisdall. Its great to use. Round action and lovely to use on Mallards. As we can still shoot lead on water ways as long as its not a 12 or 10g. Anything smaller is ok. Using old type of ammo of course. I have a 12g h/g as well byW H Tisdall.

  7. My father was a W H Tisdall, son of Charles Edward Tisdall who came from the Birmingham family of gunsmiths. He originally emigrated to New Brunswick and thereafter to Vancouver, where he owned a very successful sporting goods store, including gun sales. My brother is quite interested in the family history and I can contact him if you think this connection would be of interest

  8. Hi
    I am restoring an old Tisdall double barrel and wish to know a bit more on its history.
    The top rib is stamped WH TISDALL 47 WHITTALL ST BIRMINGHAM.
    Underneath the right hand barrel is stamped with a symbol of some description and then 11.
    Approximately 50mm further down the barrel and on both barrels is stamped WHT symbol? symbol? 13 symbol?
    About 35mm further down are the numbers 5938 stamped on both barrels.
    Can anyone help?

    • Try Birmingham proof house. The symbols are unique to each gun, but will date it, WHT = W.H Tisdall the 5938 is serial number & 13 may be the gauge? There was a point where some shotguns were make for Police & others of odd gauges, thus preventing criminals using their own shells from a stolen / obtained gun & reduce chance of being used against it;s owner!
      Hope this helps

  9. Not sure how this ties in, but I was researching an vintage brass fly reel, The main point was that it too is marked W.H Tisdall Ltd, Wellington & Christchurch. So New Zealand has another link, and as it was a sporting shop maybe useful

  10. I have recently been approached to appraise and sell a antique rifle collection. there are several rifles that bear J Tisdall barrells. The damascus steel is quite beautifull, almost looking inlaid. There are several other rifle makers that have similar barrells such as Jeffery&Co, J Hollis & Sons, W.W. Greener, Fred & Williams. These rifles are in beautifull cases and in excellent condition. I have many pictures of these intricately inlaid pieces of workmanship, if anyone would like to view please feel free to conact us at Vernmyster@gmail.com

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