Stewart Granger had 2 Westley Richards 577′s. The rifle shown above was made originally in 1923 for Count Alfred Potocki whose uncle Joseph, was author of the very rare and desirable book ‘Sport in Somaliland’. The rifle in the picture with Granger is a 577 ‘White Hunter’ model which he bought from us on his completion of filming King Solomon’s Mines. The gold inlaid animal heads which were inlaid at Granger’s request represent the game he shot during his trips to Africa, the c represented ‘charged’!
Rashid first worked on a Westley Richards gun in 1994 when he started a commission we called “The Hummingbird Gun” a project originally destined for the Brown Brothers, but withdrawn due to a huge price hike in their work.
For Rash it was a substantial project following on from his work with Holland & Holland on the Swan Gun. Having married an Australian girl, Rash had moved to a beach house outside of Perth from where he worked. Progress was slow, actually very slow and I remember being told lots of stories on the progress but never, ever seeing any photographs! After a year or so I became concerned and asked if everything was OK. It wasn’t, he was on his own in an empty house with no money for food. At my request one of my clients who lived in Perth came to the rescue, picked him up and put him on a plane to London. Rash arrived a few days later with a small bag of engraving tools and the Hummingbird gun hardly started! This was the start of what was to become 16 years of working with Westley Richards.
After many years of taking our guns to photographers with mixed results, I decided, having had Terry Allen here for a four weeks doing the photographs for the book, to equip the space we had been using so we had a permanent facility in house. To record all the guns we produced in future seemed a sensible plan, one of the most evident and annoying things to come to light as we compiled the book, was how few of the modern guns and rifles that we made, had actually been photographed.
We now have a very nicely equipped space, with Leica S and Canon cameras and Profoto lighting. Of course what we don’t have in abundance, is the photographic skills! So this is a message to anyone with those skills who may like to share them in exchange for using our kit, space and guns for your own projects. I would be happy to learn from you!
The latest Fall edition of African Hunting Gazette, which is now on the newstands, has a very nice article about the return of Ernst Hemingway’s Westley Richards .577 rifle to Africa. In the hands of the new owner Bill Jones, we all feel it showed a great deal of confidence in our rifles to head off back to Africa to hunt dangerous game with this 100 year old single trigger rifle which had been sitting on display for many years in a guest house in Florida. A rifle which also set a world record price for a rifle of this kind at auction a few years ago . Having not been used for about 50 years it shows the beauty and simplicity of our Hand Detachable locks, take them out, a quick clean and off you go!
Bill Jones at Safari Club 2012
I was really pleased recently to find a complete copy of “Dogs in the Field” by Marguerite Kirmse. The volume is an oblong folio of 24 lithographed plates and with an additional set of 6 lithograph prints which are so often missing. The work was printed in an edition of 685 copies in 1935 by the Derrydale Press. This work has now inspired the engraving on a set of three 20g Ovundo’s we are currently completing.
Westley Richards have always been very active dealers in good quality used guns and rifles. Finding great guns and rifles to offer our customers has become very much harder over recent years, with more and more collectors gathering in large quantities of best guns. We have been fortunate this year to once again have had some superb guns, all of which have been snapped up pretty quickly. This 20g Boss OU, which was completed in 1946 and in “as new” condition is a prime example of what we get, or should I say was, as it has now gone to a new home where it will probably lay undisturbed but admired for another 50 years. A couple of years ago we were fortunate to have a similar condition Boss .410 OU for sale which was turned down by the gentleman who bought the 20g. He valued the .410 then at $75,000 which is about what you expect to pay for a very good 12g! As only a handful of .410′s were made pre-war it is a decision and value he will regret for a long time!
His Higness The Maharajah of Patiala at the Coronation Durbar.
The Original Order of 1924.
When I joined Westley Richards in 1987, it was very apparent we had to start taking new gun making seriously. My father had spent most of his years at the company dealing in secondhand guns and rifles, these he acquired in India from his frequent visits and relationships with the Maharajah’s. In the early days these guns and rifles were bought and sold in crates to buyers like Abercrombie & Fitch who paid by weight rather than content, each shipment a surprise! Double rifles had little value, there was no ammunition being made and they were thus “obsolete”.
There were three individuals competing for the business in India at the time, Malcolm Lyell, the ex Manager of Westley Richards’ London shop, owner of our London agency, and Managing Director of Holland & Holland, Paul Roberts of J. Rigby, and my father. Malcolm and my father were long time friends and worked, more often than not, as a team with Hollands providing finance and Clode doing the deals. Paul Roberts was the competition and to some degree still is! More on this subject another day I think as I drift from the point!
When I started to consider making our new guns it was at a time when we had one of Patiala’s .410′s in stock. I remember taking it to the Safari Club Convention in 1988 and selling it there, for what I recall, about $30,000. A huge sum for one of guns at the time! This sale led to our starting the new “drop lock” production with the .410 model, which has now continued over the past 25 years to our making the final size of 4 gauge today.
The initial order for the 6 .410′s was received in October 1924, part of a total order valued at £4079.00 and consisting of 18 pages of typed items similar to the sheet above. Considering a new droplock .410 at £135 this order equated to 30 new guns!
Correspondence (above) shows that by late November, our then Managing Director Leslie Taylor, was apologising to His Highness that he would be unable to make the Christmas delivery and assuring him that the new guns ordered in October would all be completed and on board a ship to India before the end of January 1925.
It took 4 months to develop and deliver the first 6 .410 dro locks! Leslie Taylor, “Please, please come and tell me how you did it”!
One of the 6 Patiala .410′s formed part of the Robert E. Petersen collection and is now offered for sale by Tony Galazan at Connecticut shotguns for $75,000. Unfortunately the image is so bad I cannot display it. Alternatively we would be pleased to built you a new .410 Detachable Lock, unfortunately not within 4 months, but for $55,000.
A New Westley Richards .410 Hand Detachable Lock Shotgun.