Just back from engraving is this very nice little 20g droplock shotgun which as you can see from the pictures is destined for the bird hunting fields of Texas. The engraving of the gun is a collaboration between David and Bradley Tallett who are a father and son engraving duo who have worked on various projects for Westley Richards over the years. Dave who is now semi retired has contributed significantly to the British gun trade having engraved for most of the fine gunmaking houses.
The gun features a fine scroll design executed by Dave, with small rose bouquets set within it. This slightly tighter layout of engraving works very well on the small gauge droplock shotguns that feature prominently in our order book. Bobwhite quail and dove were the choice of bird for the game scenes, which along with the carved fences were executed by Brad. All in all a very nice design for a great little gun.
Flushing Bobwhite quail.
Beautiful fine scroll with rose bouquets.
Flighting dove, a popular quarry in the southern states of the USA.
Hammerless black powder rifles, particularly in the smaller calibres like this .400 Express are always a pleasure to look at and handle as they are so often more delicate than there nitro express cousins. Double rifles built in the period between the box lock hammerless design of 1875 and the first reliable smokeless powder cartridges of the 1890’s can be some of the most elegant rifles built, with slim action file ups and long gently tapering barrels.
Aesthetics aside, this very nice little double rifle by W.W.Greener has some wonderful game scene engraving depicting animals appropriate to European hunting fields. Retaining lots of its original finish the rifle has clearly been well looked after and was a prized rifle to its former owner. It is great to see dogs featuring in the engraving layout as they have always featured heavily in big game hunting traditions, particularly in Europe. It is easy to picture this rifle on a classic driven hunt, once the sport of Kings, nobility and heads of state.
For those eager gun enthusiasts among you the name Donald Dallas should need no introduction. He has almost single handedly written the history of many of the great names in British gun and rifle making including that of Holland & Holland, James Purdey & Sons, Boss & Co., David McKay Brown, John Dickson & Son and now with his latest publication, Alexander Henry.
Alexander Henry was unquestionably one of Scotlands finest rifle makers, posts on this blog testifying to the outstanding quality of the rifles built by him. What makes this book so special is the access Donald had to family archive via the great great grandson of Alexander Henry himself, one Richard Brown. Between the two of them they have put together the most complete history on the maker which is long overdue.
In Donald’s own words:
“It isn’t often that a gun or rifle maker is known to the general public, but Alexander Henry is with the Martini-Henry rifle. Although Henry was in business for a short time between 1852 until his death in 1894, he became a very well-known rifle maker not only in Great Britain but throughout the world. Henry was of a clever, inventive mind with his 1860 rifling and drop block action of 1865 and in addition, he was also astute in promoting this riflemaking ability. He attended all the major competitions, gave his rifles as prizes and was an early enthusiastic founder of the burgeoning Volunteer Movement.
By the 1860s Alexander Henry was the most well-known and pre-eminent rifle maker in Great Britain and the Empire. Orders flowed in from all parts of the world, with the customers in his Dimensions Books reading like a veritable Who’s Who of the period. He received Royal Warrants, unusual for a gunmaker outside London, and was on personal terms with the Prince of Wales.
Such were Henry’s achievements and fame that he featured regularly in The Scotsman and The Times newspapers in their records of shooting competitions, new inventions and military development. This contemporary documentary evidence is quite unusual for a gunmaker and was a great benefit in writing this book. He was a very public figure with not just self-interest driving his ambition, he was very patriotic and was keen to strive towards the greater good for his country.
One fortunate element in writing the Alexander Henry history is the existence of his complete records in the form of two Dimensions Books dating from 1852–1950. These books belong to John Dickson & Son and record in great detail every single firearm he constructed, making it possible to build up a very accurate account of his production.
Yet, for all his undoubted success in business and his contribution to rifle development, his personal life was marred by immense sadness and disappointment. However, he seemed to rise above this despondence and right to the end of his days strove constantly for perfection in all his works. The history of Alexander Henry is one of the most interesting histories of a gunmaker that I have encountered, an amalgam of worldwide success, yet tinged with disappointment and tragedy.”
The book contains around 200 full colour photographs, including the trade labels, patent drawings, photos of Henry’s personal shooting medals, with all 8000 guns and rifles listed by serial number. No gun library should be without a copy!
To purchase Donald’s latest book and for information on his previous publications, please visit http://donalddallas.com/
A couple of weeks back we posted images of a very nice rifle formerly belonging to the Nizam of Hyderabad. Well here is another and it is certainly one of the most unusual percussions rifles that we have seen!
Built in four barrel format, the rifle is in truth a double barrel rifle that revolves once you have discharged the first two shots. There is a very simple sliding top lever that you pull back with the locks on half cock, so allowing you to rotate the barrels and prime them in preparation for the next two shots. Each side by side configuration of barrels has its own set of open sights as well as a sling swivel attachment.
Probably the most unusual feature of the whole rifle package is the fact that it has two stocks and actions. The only discernible difference is that one has a straight hand grip and the other a conventional pistol grip, more common to a double rifle. We have never come across this double stock and action configuration before and can only wonder at the difficult and considerable cost of construction!
As with the previous rifle, this one is fully gold washed and comes complete in its case with numerous accessories in an unfired condition. It has to be said that Charles Lancaster really did build some truly outstanding and unique rifles, this one in our humble opinion being one of the finest.
Two stock configuration certainly unique!
Gold washed action parts.
Sliding top bolt to lock the rotating barrels in place.
A name we don’t see too often these days is that of E.M.Reilly & Co, of London, another of those semi forgotten names from the golden age of British gun and rifle manufacture. It is therefore a pleasant surprise when something special by the maker passes through our factory and reminds us once again that the gun industry has a long tradition of producing magnificent guns and rifles.
This fabulous combination 12 bore rifle and shotgun was built for King Alfonso XII of Spain (1857 – 1885) and displays all the fine qualities in a firearm built for a king. True to the time, the late 1800’s, the gun focuses more on wood to metal fit, graceful lines and functionality, than it does to fancy embellishment. Surprisingly it has a piece of wood that by modern standards would be considered ‘exhibition’ grade, something uncommon at the time. Engraving wise the royal coat of arms sits nicely in gold on the action tang, whereas E.M.Reillys own business name seems to dominate the rest of the gun!
The magnificent case was manufactured and fitted out in the French style with no lack of imagination where tooling was concerned! All of the handles are made from ivory with many of the pieces engraved by hand for that extra unique finish. The interior lining is in a striking blue velvet that has been gold leaf embossed with the makers name and address. Interestingly the exterior has a fantastic brass frame, fully engraved, with the central crown of the King sitting above his monogram.
Taken as a whole, this is a package in every way fit for a King……………..
Gold inlaid coat of arms for King Alfonso XII.
Presentation case in the French style fitted with full tools and accessories.
Brass framed case exterior, unusual for a British cased gun.
Just in time to start some serious quail hunting is this sweet little 28 bore droplock shotgun. Unusual for our droplock shotgun format is the wooden panel with drop point behind the scroll back which is normally reserved for our droplock double rifles. It certainly adds a unique touch to the shotgun and as with all things Westley Richards, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
From an engraving perspective a bold acanthus leaf layout with carved vine leaf and grape fences has been designed to fit around the dainty frame of the gun. Once again it highlights the diversity in Westley Richards engraving portfolio and proves that when carefully designed and executed the uninterrupted surface of the droplock can accommodate all manner of engraving.
Weighing a sublime 5lb 4ozs and fitted with Teague multi chokes, the gun should prove deadly in the quail cover of Texas.
It’s fair to say that we in the U.S. have a long-held and deep appreciation of the best English gun makers. This explains why their order books are so often filled with the names of American clients. Underlining the point, Westley Richards has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success here and, over the years, gained a loyal, enthusiastic following. As Westley Richards enters its third decade of serving our clients through a dedicated Agency – and after more than two hundred years in business – the firm now stands as the only English gun maker with a flagship store here in the United States. Indeed, at a time when it seems other companies are scaling back their presence in America, Westley Richards is, we are happy to say, growing and expanding.
This fall we opened a newly renovated and fully stocked Agency in a brand-new location in the town of Gulf Breeze – just across the bay from the beautiful city of Pensacola in Florida’s Northwest Panhandle. One of the main reasons for relocating was to make it a lot easier for many of our customers to reach us.
We are now just a day’s drive from Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham and Atlanta – and only one flight away from eleven different international U.S. Airports. Add the wonderful weather, crystal clear waters, pristine beaches, friendly people and sheer positive energy of the place and you can see why moving here was such an easy decision!
The new Agency itself is housed in an old warehouse space that has been tastefully repurposed to our design. While it is impossible to replicate the history, grandeur and ambience of our factory in England, the new showroom has all of the hallmarks that make it still recognizably Westley Richards – an inviting and relaxing atmosphere where you will find a level of service you would expect from one of the world’s most prestigious names in gun making. We also stock the same carefully assembled range of leather goods, shooting accessories and apparel offered in our English showroom and factory. The perfect environment for customers to see, touch and feel the quality for which Westley Richards is famed.
I am proud to say the Westley Richards’ promise, to make “as good a gun as can be made”, is matched by our commitment to ensuring a great all-round customer experience. In today’s world, where most things can be bought online with the click of a button, we believe a ‘bricks and mortar’ store allows us to deliver a truly personal service where customers are given all the time, care and attention they need. With a U.S. Agency run by an expert team that holds to the same exacting standards as those of Westley Richards in England, we look forward to welcoming you to Gulf Breeze and sharing with you our pursuit of excellence.
Last year we were lucky enough to have through our hands some magnificent Charles Lancaster percussion weapons built for the Mahrajah of Jodhpur. Well by another struck of lets say luck, several more items have surfaced, this time built for the Nizam of Hyderabad, once the head of one of the richest families in the world.
Clearly the nobility of India was infatuated by the guns and rifles being built by the great British gun houses and all credit must be given to Charles Lancaster for producing such superb examples of the gun and rifle makers craft. Founded in 1811 in the City of London, Charles Lancaster Snr was renowned as a barrel maker and soon established himself as one of the capitals premier makers. With the expansion of empire so followed the expansion of the company and in particular an association with the Indian continent. Royal patronage both at home and abroad was very much a part of the company’s history from the mid 1800’s up until the 1930’s when the company amalgamated with Grant & Lang.
This particular percussion rifle is a 6 bore single barrel big game rifle with all furniture and lock work gold washed, as much for display of wealth as for protection from the Indian environment. Certainly unfired to this day, the rifle in its original case with every tool necessary to keep the rifle in service, is a wonderful time capsule and probably more valuable today than when it was originally built.
Stunning gold washed lock work and furniture.
Wonderful array of tools to keep the rifle in service.
With safari season drawing to an end our shotguns certainly start to take priority for the avid wing shooter as the game bird seasons get into full swing worldwide. Whilst the British formerly begin shooting mid August with the start of the Red Grouse season, the US tends to get underway mid September with Ruffed Grouse shooting.
The featured 20 bore droplock is to all intents and purposes our traditional gun as perfected by Westley Richards in 1909. It has a fabulous piece of exhibition marbled walnut that has a wonderful dark figure. Combined with vivid case colour hardening, carved fences and delicate gold touches the gun speaks elegance.
Destined for the USA, it was interesting to find in our archive the catalogue page illustrated below which bestows the virtue of the 20 bore as a gun ‘especially adapted for shooting in the United States of America’. Clearly our history and sporting gun connection to the USA has been a long and valued one, something we are proud to continue to this day.
It is interesting to see that we have now built over one hundred .577 double rifles and that the calibre continues to be a favourite of our clients. This particular rifle, finished last week, was built to complement a .500 3″ droplock double rifle that we completed for the client several years ago, which has seen regular use in Africa.
He always fancied ordering something larger, but initially wanted to start with a calibre that was more manageable. Once he got used to the .500 3″, the .577 3″ seemed a natural progression, although in real terms it really is a step up from the .500 3″, delivering serious horsepower!
The rifle has the more square bodied action file up which was requested by the client. We offer this style and the more rounded body with the scroll back, found traditionally on our droplock shotguns. Featuring scenes of the ‘Big 5’ the rifle embodies all that is classic in a Westley Richards dangerous game double rifle.