The lure of a personalized and decorated weapon is centuries old. Embellished swords and knives from the 17th and 18th centuries are well known; before that, soldiers in high standing had their armor decorated. Some of the earliest firearms in existence are lavishly treated, with inlays and fine woods.
Today many people desire to have their favorite guns engraved. But where to start? There are so many engraving styles, not to mention engravers, and asking someone to recommend an engraver without any criteria is a little like asking them to recommend a band without first deciding what kind of music you want!
I’ve recommended to many clients that they start by studying the art of weapon engraving. With just a bit of research on your part, you will quickly learn the difference between various engraving styles as well as between quality engraving and the firearms equivalent of the “Velvet Elvis.”
If you’re like most people, you’ll be drawn to a specific engraving style. Once you’ve identified what you like, you can then start looking at the work of the engraver. Every engraver has a specialty; while they may do many different styles, sometimes quite well, they’ll generally do their best work in one particular style.
How do you get this education? I’ve found one book to be incredibly useful: “Steel Canvas” by R. L. Wilson. (Yes, I know all about his shady business dealings – but the book is superbly done, perhaps the most accessible of all books on the subject.) This large-format coffee table book is a bargain at about $45. In it, you’ll see the very best examples of all the styles from many well known engravers current and past. This one book will help you identify the style you like most, and will show you the best examples so that you can judge for yourself if the engraver you’ve chosen is any good.
I can’t recommend this book enough. Even if you don’t have any intention of having an engraved gun produced, you should get it just for the superb photographs of “best quality” firearms. Of all the gun books I own, this is the one I thumb through most often!
Look at it this way: to get a good engraving job will cost you time and money (quality engravers don’t work cheaply or quickly.) Spending just a fraction of that cost, and a few pleasurable days looking at stunning photos, is a very small investment that will repay itself for years to come!
-=[ Grant ]=-
- Posted by Grant Cunningham
- On January 22, 2007