Some of the most beautiful work of this craftsman, and many others, are in this book “Liège Gunmakers through their Work. 1800 - 1950”.

For more detail see: LIEGE GUNMAKERS

Pire J.

The Munitions factory of war, hunting and export PIRE of Antwerp, officially known under the name Establishments J Pire and C°, was created in 1885 per Jules Pire, originating in Liège, his father Nicolas, arms manufacturer with the Belgian army, having undoubtedly inoculated the passion of the weapons to him.

Always it is that the young person Jules Pire, large amateur of weapons and of old weapons, arrives one fine day to Antwerp and buys a house Avenue De Keyser (33 still in 1899, become 41 in 1904), the "smart" avenue of Antwerp since making the junction enters the station and the city itself.

It establishes the company Jules Pire there and C° in 1885 and it launches out in the trade of weapons and ammunition, of course, but with two quite particular additional activities: the repurchase of military surpluses on the one hand, weapons for the colonies on the other hand, especially the State independent of Congo. Thus the company will repurchase everywhere in Europe of the surpluses of the Belgian armies (happy time when the Belgian army did not destroy its displaced weapons...), Frenchwoman, of the various "states" having constituted Germany, Italian, Spanish, and even Cuban! Rifles, guns, bayonets, lances, sabres, helmets, armours: all that is stored in old channels of Antwerp ("ruien") which was covered, and is cleaned and sold progressively request.

The consultation of the catalogues of the years 1900 will make dribble the collectors. That it is said: all was of course sold since...

Jules Pire also takes care of his succession and in 1888 is born his son Raoul, whom it will send very young to the United States. He works there three years in the famous arms manufacturer of New York "Shoverly Daily & Gale" of which he becomes even the sub-manager, mainly in charge of the purchases near the large companies like Winchester and Remington, but also of the control of the weapons bought in Europe, before their sale on the American market.

During this time, the activities are flourishing in Antwerp, by traditional arms manufacture, the sales of weapons of panoply and by the weapons for Congo. It should be remembered that at the time, and still after the 2e world war, one did not embark towards the Colony without a good revolver and a good shotgun, even a rifle for the shooting with big game. The pupils of the colonial School of Antwerp and the colonists will constitute during decades an important market for the Pire house. It sent besides every day several parcel postal made up each one of box metal (manufactured by the Schulbroek company which also did those well-known of the biscuits De Beuckelaere), it even placed in a wood box, containing 150 cartridges and weighing ten kilos.

Returned of the United States, Raoul Pire will add another activities to the company, namely the skeet, the shooting with the clay pigeons, the point to create in Schilde, close to Antwerp, in 1919, a stand which will organize international championships quickly and will be copied a little everywhere in Europe (Paris, Geneva, etc). That will cause an enormous passion for superposed rifles of the FN, that the Pire house will sell much in the from Antwerp high society.

Let us note how a little before the 2e world war, Its highness "Prince de Ligne" asked Raoul Pire to arrange to him a stand of skeet in its field of Beloeil, which were worth the honor with the son of Raoul, Jules, grandsons of the founder (who made us the honor and the pleasure of recalling us all the history of the company), to be received in the large dining room castle and to lunch there, beside the Princess!

The stand of Schilde, whose activities were stopped in the years 1970, had, with the Release, a famous host, namely the General Armstrong, which ordered anti-aircraft artillery defending Antwerp and its port, mainly against the attacks of V1.

Let us retrogress a little: after the 1e world war, in front of the development of the activities, the house of the avenue De Keyser had become too small and Pire arms manufacture moved very close, in a perpendicular street, the n° 10 of the street van Ertborn. It was an old butchery with large cellars (a length of 30m), with the quite thick walls not to disturb the neighbours because one killed the pigs previously there... is to say that the cellars were used as stand of test for the weapons of any kind.

It is the time when the Pire house put on the market its rifles at the trade marks "Buffalo" (system with triple Greener bolt) at external dogs, and "Trajector", a rifle hammerless system Holland & Holland. These weapons were manufactured in Liege. The Pire house also sold many others weapons, FN, Martini, Warnant, Mauser, Luger, etc.

One will also note that the Pire house is also related to two other establishments, arms manufacture Van Cauwenberghe in Suikerrui, Mr. Van Cauwenberghe being the husband of the sister of Raoul Pire (stopped activities end of 1970, at the beginning of 80). And a little further, with the quay Van Dyck, another Pire house was, specialized in the cheap cutlery and weapons for the sailors whose ships, at that time, still accosted along the quays of the Scheldt.

At the beginning of 1970, repurchased for the construction of Antwerp Tower, the Pire house moved in Appelmansstraat where it is always, from now on entrusted to the care of Raoul, wire of Jules Pire, grandson of Raoul and back grandson of Jules Pire, the founder. It will be stressed that Jules Pire (the second of the name, born in 1926) spent three years to Liege to the School of Arms manufacture after the 2e world war.


Jules Pire & C°

This weapon is with my direction a Belgian rifle ALBINY but the photographs representing the weapon supplements are not very clear.

It is doubtless about a displaced weapon repurchased by the PIRE firm in ANTWERP and reconditioned gauges 28 of hunting of them!

It was also shortened out of snap hook.

This weapon carries a multitude of marks and punches which I classify as follows:

Marks of the Manufacture d’Armes de l’Etat in Liège:

GB in an oval: mark Belgian government (state-owned property) used of 1831 to the surroundings of 1920.

The small mark beside GB is illegible for me. Could be an inspection mark.

1870: year

999: n° of work order of Manu.

Mark round on wood (strongly erased and overloaded) Punch of government (L in a crowned circle, LEOPOLD I or II)

300 m: beside the rise is the distance from shooting.

735 GH: probably mark of controller.

S: lawful marking indicating that the weapon was useful in the regiment of pomegranates.

FP in a crowned oval: marking of tests of Manu.

Punches of the proofhouse of Liege

The weapon having been reconditioned in gauge of hunting, it has undergoes a new test and was struck following punches:

ELG * in a crowned oval: final acceptance post 1893.

Peron: inspection post 1853.

A spangled: countermark of the controller post 1877.

28 C in a rhombus: gauge, of use of 1898 to 1924. This marking thus states that the reconditioning was practiced between these two dates.

The retailer

Marking on the stick: It is about the arms manufacturer Jules PIRE & C° in ANTWERP, 33 avenue of Keyser.


The two coins encrusted in the stick are decorative additions probably placed by one of the owners (civil) of the weapon.


J. Pire & Cie

An example of the business of J.Pire & C arms manufacture in Antwerp.

Here a Vetterli rifle with double trigger (system thury) model 1871 types II to 11 shots plus 1, bought with the arsenals Swiss and modified out of snap hook with 6 shots for Belgian Congo.

For memory: the federal arsenals will store these weapons until towards 1950, date on which the last specimens will be yielded for… three frank and now, alas for our budget!!!


J.PIRE & Cie

It acts of a shotgun to juxtaposed unrifled bores of gauge 20, locks hammerless ahead are finely decorated of English engraving, the key of opening is of type Top lever.

The stick in drowning is of English type.

Figure 1 damascened with the fine gold is visible with the thunder. One of a pair? it is probable.


The weapon was tested with the proof house of Liege, the visible punches are as follows:

Spangled ELG in a crowned oval: acceptance - 1893/1968

1Kg 286: weight of the gun - 1924/our days

Z in small letter: yearly letter of 1947.

18.3: chokés guns - 1924/1968

M spangled: countermark of the controller - 1877/1968

12-70 in large C: gauge nominal and length of the casing -1924/our days


POLDI ELECTRO STEEL KLADNO JP: mark (not Belgian) steel used for the clothes industry of the barrels.

J.Pire & Cie Armes fines à ANVERS : manufacturer largely evoked on the site.


Photographs from "LUXARM - BRASSCHAAT" with my grateful thanks

Photos Littlegun