For about 25 years I attempted to buy an American Cowboy hat at the SCI convention, having bought the Loveless boots, a belt from Clint Orms, a pair or 2 of Russell’s there was not much else “American custom” you could ever buy, unless of course you wanted a rifle and I can do that myself in-house! The annual attempt at buying a hat always ended in the same way, arrive at the stand imagining yourself as Clint Eastwood, try on a few hats, realise you look a complete pillock and leave. Nobody ever explained that there is a huge variation in the hats and you need someone with a good eye to get the right hight, width, form and whatever to suit your head.
I met the John Morris’s, Snr. & Jnr. who run the Rocky Mountain Hat Co. a few years ago at Safari Club who put me straight and they have made me and my friends some superb Safari hats in the years since. It is always a pleasure to visit them in Bozeman when I come, an essential stop to buy something from the West, to see them at work, steaming, forming and sewing all varieties of hats.
When not making hats both John’s will be found out hunting either in their home state or perhaps in Africa where they travel to both photograph and hunt. Senior John hunts Huns in Montana with his hammer .410 and I have always had great respect for a man who hunts a hammer .410!
A Heinze Blocking Machine from Germany used for forming the hat.
John Morris Jnr. blocking a hat and below.
The Blocks for all shapes and sizes of hats.
A traditional hat makers bench.
John Morris Snr. putting final touches to the form of the hat using steam.
And look Neil, I found you the perfect hat my dear Irish friend! Top right of course!
I am often asked why did I choose Bozeman as the American home for Westley Richards, why not Texas or New York etc. In fact it seems that every customer of mine over in USA has always thought their home town was the best location for our American store, I think every state has been suggested at one point or another.
America is a huge country and our customers are spread throughout the country so I have never felt it necessary to have a high street shop in a big city, the overheads of that and this business just don’t work, ask Holland & Holland and any others who have tried, I think Purdey even attempted a New York premises for a little while.
The main purpose of our office in USA is to facilitate our customers with import and export and to have a Westley Richards voice on the end of the phone in the same time zone. The agency agreement with another gunshop such as we had prior to setting up our own owned base here, never really worked. To that end it doesn’t seem to matter where we are located and Fedex and UPS can have a parcel delivered from us the next day to anywhere in the USA.
Bozeman has a very strong hunting, and as such, gun loving and pro gun community and as most of you will know is also a mecca for fisherman and skiers. You can close the shop at 5pm and have a fly in one of the worlds best trout rivers by 5.30pm, quite an incentive!
I have enjoyed spending time at the Bozeman office here these past 2 weeks and thank everyone who dropped in to say hello, talk guns and hunting and welcomed me to the town.
In a slight departure from the normal English guns and rifles that we sell, we will shortly be bringing to market a substantial collection of high end Perazzi’s which have been collected by one of our long standing clients. The collections covers a wide spectrum of Perazzi models and includes 12g, 20g, 28g and .410 guns, mostly in new and unfired condition. As soon as the guns have been properly listed they will be found on ourused gun site.
The manager of our US shop is on vacation for 2 weeks so I decided to come over and sit in our Bozeman office for a few weeks and catch up with friends this side of the pond. Flying into Chicago I have made my way here by road, stopping off and filling my rented suburban with guns. I think my timing could have been better, everyone is away on holiday and July 4th is not the best time for a Limey in Montana!
Whilst here I have managed to pick up some very nice new guns to offer on our website which are being photographed now and will soon be online. I will also be heading down to Twin Bridges to visit Sweetgrass rods who have made my first replica WR split cane rod. I look forward to collecting it and trying it out on a spring creek.
Anyone who would like to catch up whilst I am here, and anyone who has some unwanted guns needing selling please call me on the office number in Bozeman where I will be during the week.
A Pair of Holland & Holland 28g Royal Deluxe engraved by S. Coggan.
A set of 3 Holland & Holland Royal Deluxe engraved by the late Phillipe Grifnee.
A Pair of .410 round body shotguns by David McKay Brown. Creative Arts engraving.