In mid May I wrote a post about a pair of Damascus Barrelled Westley Richards Game Guns titled A Pair of 12g 30″ Damascus Game Guns Sir? A ‘Project’ Pair of Westley Richards 12g Droplock’s Arrive at the workshops .
Tomorrow, a little over 3 months after that post, the pair of guns leave the country, headed for USA and a new, patient owner who was fast to pick them up for his personal use having seen them on The Explora. There was a lot of interest in these guns and I think rightly so, damascus, 30″ with good stock measurements all suggest a useful pair of guns in any circumstances. The very nice wood, hand detachable locks, original Westley style case with all original labelings, just make the package perfect.
The process of gun and rifle refurbishment is something I have always been very interested in, it is an area I believe that Westley Richards is exceptionally good at, we retain skills learned from the refurbishment work done on literally 100’s of best guns from the Indian continent, carried out during my Fathers tenure of the company, skills which remain in house and are passed over to the new gunmakers.
Restoration is the art of not having been there, bringing back the guns or whatever it may be to life, near its original condition, with no obvious signs of dramatic changes. For it to work everything has to be faithful and of its period. A distinct knowledge of ‘what should the particular gun actually look like’ is essential, which is where our collection of over 200 vintage guns and rifles plays a vital part in that decision making. Our craftsman can look at a very good example with ease and apply what they find.
Modern case colours, are I find, one of the biggest culprits for destroying English guns than any other work. Executed by some this work is often too intense for English guns, they are immediately noticeable and in my opinion rarely enhance the guns value but rather degrade it. Of course in some cases the guns need ‘some help’ so that is also fine, it is of course to the client and owners personal taste but the grade and value of the gun should be considered before this re-colour work is done. I know in general I walk away from any gun that has been re case coloured by the unknown practioner. Annealing, colour hardening and freeing a gun is no small task and is one that requires considerable skills knowing the distortions that can occur in this process.
There are many other areas which have to be considered carefully for the job to be done correctly. Re-stocking should be done faithfully to the makers shapes, we all have individual shapes of stocks and re-stocked guns are often so obviously over fat and with awful lines that destroy the guns original looks. If you have the original stock insist the shape is copied. Try your best to select a piece of wood that is appropriate to the age of the gun in colour and style of the era it was made, hard but possible.
For the blacking of barrels and parts the polish is foremost, without a good polished base the black or brown will look flat and always find the very best barely blacker or browner available, flat dull black just doesn’t work.
Consider carefully any suggested mechanical work on the gun, it is sensible to have anything that is obvious done but ‘we should replace this or that’ is often a waste, if it is not broken leave it, as there is no knowing when it actually will. We have suffered the embarrassment of a spring breaking after a full and lengthy restoration but this is fate rather than anything, it could have lasted another 100 years.
The pair of guns seen below have undergone a full restoration as we see needed nothing more, after some use the stocks will dull down, the barrel brown will wear, the guns will look of their period, but for the moment they show of the damascus and stocks to their original best and I think are a super example of the work we can do.