Some success engraving knives as a hobby in the early 80’s encouraged Stephen to enroll in the Robert E. Maki School of Firearms Engraving in Glenview, Illinois. Here, Stephen acquired an unrestrained devotion to the quality of the cut itself as well as mastering chisel making and scroll design. Due to the rigors of the program, very few students graduated. Stephen persisted, received his diploma in 1993 and immediately began engraving quality firearms on a very high level. That same year Stephen took up engraving on a full-time professional basis.
Lefever Arms in Lee Center, NY discovered that Stephen could exactly duplicate the engraving on any European or American firearm. He was quickly set to work by them, duplicating all the factory engraving styles from Purdeys to Parker’s , mostly for restoration purposes.
A few years later, the Perazzi importer (Giacomo) bought Lefever Arms, and Stephen suddenly found himself engraving Perazzi’s, Giacomo telling him that his work was “...better than what I can get from Italy.”
After a couple years later the novelty of “besting” the Italians wore thin as well as the stuffiness of the Europeans and Brits in general. Stephen believes that any work done in Europe, artistic or otherwise, is nearly always done better in America, by Americans.Stephen relates that “My experience with Lefevers was a tremendous opportunity in that I gained a wide range of experience in museum quality restoration engraving as well as custom engraving, not to mention the engraving commissions collectors brought directly to my own shop.” “Purdey’s, Westly Richards, drillings, fusils, jaegers, matchlocks and all the fine American doubles, rifles and pistols crossed my bench in those years.”
Since the advent of the Pennsylvania Longrifle, Americans have continued to make overall, the best firearms in the world. Scroll engraving in the correct style for the period of the Spencer and Maynard rifles are some of the most graphically correct and beautiful that have ever been executed. I’m very proud to be engraving quality American made firearms for the L. Romano Rifle Company custom shop.
Stephen L. Olin