A Revolver Bull Dog by Samuel Marson & Co (Birmingham)


The city of Birmingham in England was in the 19th century one of the major capitals of European armoury, like Liège (Belgium), Saint-Etienne (France) or Eibar (Spain).


Alongside major manufacturers such as Webley, for example, many craftsmen exercised their talents there. Among these, Samuel Marson was especially known for producing high-quality hunting rifles.


The information on Samuel Marson is not as provided as for other more famous English gunsmiths. The available sources (listed at the end of the article) mention that he was born in 1845 in Birmingham itself, where he worked as an armourer from 1872. He is probably the son of another gunsmith, John Marson (1817-1905), whose business he is said to have resumed. In 1879, his company became Samuel Marson & Co. In 1881, he was listed as employing about fifteen collaborators. It seems to have continued its activity until the early 1920s.


From time to time, a collection of British Bull Dog revolvers stamped by Samuel Marson & Co can be found on the market. The specimen described in this leaflet is a nice version of the concept introduced by Webley with his N°2 model.



Note some peculiarities such as the octagonal barrel and the fluted cylinder. The weapon is calibrated in calibre 38 SW. These characteristics suggest a rather late production for a British Bull Dog, probably at the very end of the 19th century.


Moreover, there is no indication that Samuel Marson was the real manufacturer of the revolver. Rather, the author of these lines assumes the use of a high-level subcontractor, with a view to occasional distribution by Marson. The British proof markings, as well as the characteristic trigger hook, militate in favour of a production of English origin, perhaps by Webley himself.




A big thank you to Jean-Louis (a.k.a. NaturaBuyer "dipastous") for kindly allowing the reproduction of his photographs.




John Walter, Guns Dictionary, Page M29, Archiving Industry, 2001-2017




Jean-Christophe Plaquevent