The ‘Spy’ and other caricatures from Vanity Fair with a shooting theme.

Visitors to our stand at Safari Club in Las Vegas, will have perhaps noticed amongst the framed pictures behind the sofa, there were a few of the Vanity Fair hunting related caricatures. One of our clients was interested in a set and having found them I thought I would share before posting off!

Vanity Fair’s reputation and legacy did not rest exclusively on its political views, weekly columns, special articles and its prose style. Its popularity in the nineteenth century and its influence on British journalism are in no small part to be attributed to the caricatures. Like all other features in Vanity Fair, they were conceived by Thomas Gibson Bowles who, in early 1869, brought to his struggling magazine an unprecedented design and style of colour illustrations.

On 16 January 1869, Bowles announced that since the literary offering of Vanity Fair had received so much favour, it was now proposed ‘to add to them some Pictorial Ware of an entirely novel character.’ Two weeks later, on 30 January 1869, the now famous caricature of Disraeli appeared, the first of over 2300 caricatures published in Vanity Fair. It was drawn by Carlo Pelligrini, using the nom de crayon ‘Singe,’ which he shortly thereafter angilicized to ‘Ape.’ Gladstone came next, followed by numerous dignitaries, including foreign Royalty, Earls, Lords, Bishops, politicians and a few women of social position or notoriety. This list was later extended to include such diverse characters as judges, journalists, criminals, sportsmen, artists, actors and Americans.

At first some people were reluctant to be seen in the pages of Vanity Fair. However, as the popularity of the caricatures grew, they became less hesitant. In succeeding years, it became a mark of recognition to be the ‘victim’ of one of the caricaturists hired by Bowles.

Besides ‘Ape’ there was also Sir Leslie Ward ‘Spy’ who was responsible for 1325 of the caricatures

Clockwise from top left:

F. C. Selous, Walter Winans, Earl De Grey, Sir R.W. Payne-Gallwey, Richard Lloyd Price of Rhiwlas, Lord Saville, H.R.H. Prince of Wales, Makunan HH Ras, Walter Winans, R.H.R. Rimmington Wilson.

A Westley Richards .500 Hand Detachable Lock Double

Westley Richards 500 Droplock double rifle

We don’t often have any readily available, modern manufacture double rifles for sale in our used guns department, we had a couple of .470 rifles as we went into the shows in January but these promptly sold.

This .500 rifle which is a few safari’s old and very lightly used, is just passing through the workshop now, getting a service and polish up before being put up for sale.

With 24 inch barrels, 14 3/4″ length of pull over leather pad, extra locks and cased it is a great opportunity for anyone who doesn’t want to wait the years it takes for a new rifle to be built.

Westley Richards 500 Droplock double rifle


Westley Richards 500 Droplock double rifle


Westley Richards 500 Droplock double rifle

Faliero Sarti Scarves at Westley Richards

W R & Co. scarves by Sarti.

I appreciate that The Explora is primarily about guns and  gunmaking but it also hopefully encompasses some other very nice things. I number amongst these nice things, Faliero Sarti scarves which for me neatly fulfilled the role of placating my ‘other half’ when I treated myself to a new toy, be it a gun, stereo, camera or whatever.

A beautiful cashmere or silk scarf from this fine Italian company will always help keep the peace and are available on our online store. Faliero Sarti Scarves.

Safari Scarf

Westley Richards Ephemera, The small paperwork & stationary.


Besides making wonderful guns ‘in the old days’, they created the most superb stationary and paperwork. Business cards, notices, catalogues were all made with such attention to detail and had such charm. I am lucky to have boxes of these bits and pieces from the past and whilst we featured some in our book we by no means showed them all.

I hope that I have laid this small selection below in a gallery which you can enlarge and enjoy individually, it keeps the post a little more compact and if it works I will use it again. If you all tell me it is useless I won’t!


Westley Richards small catalogue of sporting requisites.