The engraving of steel is a centuries-old practice which has essentially been used to embellish weapons. An engraved line in steel differs from that of silver or gold engraving because the engraver generally isn’t trying to achieve bright reflective cuts. The medium of steel is much harder than precious metals like gold and silver and the engraving is used to depict scenes, lettering and scrollwork.
Engraving in steel in the main absorbs light. This makes fine engraved lines look dark, in the spectrum of grey to black. This enables an engraver to create pencil-like lines or dots that can produce almost photographic images in this medium.
Today there are a handful of engravers worldwide that are regarded as masters of this art. Their embellishments, whether it be on guns, knives, watches and so forth, are astonishing as they incorporate techniques such as multi-coloured gold inlay, three dimensional carving, enamelling and precious stone setting.
Although many advances have taken place in the tools and techniques used, steel engraving still remains fundamentally a traditional art and craft. Britain has a long history of talent in this regard and many engravers are still practising here and advancing the art. British sporting guns remain the best and most bespoke anywhere in the world and British engravers are respected as part of that success.