Well they just keep coming! Another .500 3″ hand detachable lock double rifle has just been completed from engraving this week and it once again shows a subtle variation on the classic Westley Richards ‘house’ scroll. Yet another style of carved fence which combines a banner with acanthus leaves, nice indeed.
It seems that we are one of the few double rifle manufacturers actually getting anything out there these days. The beauty of this rifle is that it is going to a young enthusiastic hunter who will use it considerably, once again proving that we build genuine user rifles as well as the fabulous presentation pieces you see on this blog.
Whilst we often associate the sporting gun with the British sportsmen and the great shooting that this country has to offer, it is always worth remembering that the sport of shooting is a truly worldwide affair.
The USA was and still is one of the largest markets in the world for shooting and hunting related products. At one time meat on the table was often through the efficient use of a favoured gun or rifle and the ‘market gunners’ of old kept a very healthy and expanding population fed with what many saw as an endless supply of game birds and animals.
Obviously where there was the need for shotguns and punt guns to take quarry so there was the need for powder and shot to take them. It is therefore nice to see vintage items like the one illustrated here turn up from this now bygone era.
Clearly a salesman travelling companion this very neat case outside inscribed ‘Tathams American Standard’ is a wonderful fold over case that contains inside 20 samples of American shot sizes ranging from the very finest ‘Dust’ to ‘FF’. The quality of workmanship in the whole piece is superb and once again it goes to show the detail that companies once went into with everything they made. The shot itself is perfectly round and was obviously made from a ‘drop’ tower so that the lead shot formed perfectly.
On the edge of the case you can clearly read Patented June 19 1874 which dates the whole thing very nicely. Tatham Brothers was a lead pipe, sheet lead and shot supplier based in 82 Beekman Street, New York. In existence from the 1840’s they appear to have patented many improvements in both the manufacture of shot, bullets and other projectiles, and were heavily involved in supplying the Union Army during the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865. It would appear that the manufacture of lead shot with the company ceased prior to 1907 when their own ‘shot tower’ was demolished. The rest as they say is history.
Finding real quality in vintage guns is certainly getting harder and harder these days. Much of what is coming to the market is clearly tired or in many cases now of recent manufacture. It is therefore nice to see a pair of guns like these lovely Holland & Holland ‘Royal Brevis’ guns from the 1930’s.
Hardly used the guns retain practically all of their original case colour hardening and it has to be said they are in fantastic condition. The original ‘Brevis’ name came about in the 1930’s in response to the success that E.J.Churchill were having with their short 25″ barrel guns. The word Brevis is taken from the latin meaning ‘short’ and the Holland guns were originally built with 26 1/2″ barrels primarily aimed at the grouse and partridge shooting market. In 1932 the name was changed to ‘Royal Brevis’ as the guns were of Holland’s best quality.
With the short barrels and Holland self opener, these guns really are very handy and quick to shoot and quite honestly there is no reason why they would not be relevant today on a good grouse moor or for shooting partridges in Norfolk.
The guns are fitted with Hollands detachable locks.
The engraving on the bottom of the actions clearly highlights the self opening patent of 1922.
As loyal followers of the Explora blog you will have seen there is a diverse amount of hunting related items that surface from the most unlikely places. Knives are always a favourite of ours and generally the bigger the better. Take for example the two knives which a client of ours recently acquired from a house clearance in the north of England.
The first is one of the nicest hunting knives that we have seen in a long time, produced by a cutler named W.Thornhill & Co., Kensington, London. The company can be traced back to 1734 and had a very illustrious history particularly under the later leadership of Walther Thornhill whose company name is stamped upon the blade. During the golden age of empire under Queen Victoria the company offered silverware, writing boxes, dressing cases and other luxury goods, exhibiting at the Great Exhibition of 1851, Paris Exposition of 1855, International Exhibition of 1862 and Paris Exposition of 1878. In 1885 the company was awarded the Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria.
This particular drop point knife, the ‘Graham’ is still in fabulous condition with all the original accoutrements, including scissors, boot hook, corkscrew, scalpel, tweezers and pick. The quality of workmanship is really superb when you look at the detail on the spine of the blade which can almost be described as scallop back. The knife comes in a pigskin sheath with beautifully made silver fittings. Sadly the business of W.Thornhill & Co. ceased trading in 1912 which is a genuine shame considering the quality of the work.
Our second knife is a very large folder made by Holtzapffel & Co, of Haymarket, London. With its 6″ blade it very clearly was not intended as your casual pocket knife but certainly the knife of a serious hunter. The quality once again is superb and the address would date it at between 1907 – 1930. The nickel silver pivoting guard which is pinned through the rear of the blade is a really nice touch as are the ivory grips and carved bolsters.
Regrettably no history of the original owner could be found which is a real shame as we are sure there would be some great stories to tell!
Whilst the shooting season may well be behind us now it is always nice to be finishing guns with a view to the coming season which for many is only 6 months away! The pair of guns shown here will certainly be one of the first pairs put to good use when the grouse season starts.
These 16g guns are built with 30″ barrels on our hand detachable lock action with traditional full scroll engraving, case colour hardening, double trigger and Prince of Wales grips. The slim beaver-tail forends are an unusual choice on a pair of guns for the British shooting scene, such forends found more commonly on guns built for the US market. That said the new owner shoots big days and is a big man so the extra surface area of the beaver-tail should make for comfortable grip on a hot peg!
Presented in our dark tan lightweight leather case with tools and gold leaf leather label, they make for a wonderful package which the new owner will have years of fun using. Hopefully the grouse numbers this year will be kind to him!
Whilst we are best known for our hand detachable lock (droplock) shotguns which are the mainstay of our shotgun production, it is always nice to see our sidelock side by side shotgun pass through the factory. At present we have several pairs of 12g, a trio of 16g, several 20g and a 28g passing through the works.
Our sidelock shotgun is built on a round body action with assisted opening, Southgate ejector work and exhibition walnut as standard. We offer both pinned and pinless locks with the majority of exhibition grade guns now moving towards pinless so that the engraving is uninterrupted.
Here we have a lovely pair of 12g guns with elaborate relief scroll, carved fences and traditional game bird scenes. The rounded lines of the guns lend themselves to a wrap around format of engraving that is certainly very elegant and keeps everything flowing. The wood is once again outstanding, another signature feature of Westley Richards best guns and rifles.
New in this week from engraving is another of our traditional hand detachable lock double rifles in .500 3″ NE. This particular rifle has been built on a heavyweight frame as the client requested that the rifle weigh close to 12lb 8ozs on completion. Aesthetically the additional size at the breach ends makes for a nice sweep in the barrels which will become more evident once the rifle is finished.
Engraving wise we have another variation on our traditional ‘house’ scroll. In this instance the fences have been carved with a design that complements the scroll very well. The game scene of a mean old looking buffalo combines carving with fine detailing, as opposed to the more rounded carving of animals you get to see, which often lacks lifelike details. There is a nice perception of distance with the scene that should be highlighted more when the cover plate is blacked in the traditional manner.
We are looking forward to getting this one completed and out to the hunting field this year where with a bit of luck it will take a big buffalo or two!
The Princely rulers of India were noted for the opulence and extravagance with which they led their lives. The possession of beautiful objects made from the most precious of materials was a display of both wealth and power. Images abound of these rulers draped with the finest pearls, diamonds, emeralds and rubies assembled into some of the finest jewellery the world has ever seen.
Naturally this extravagance extended to the personal weapons carried by these individuals and here we have a selection of some of the finest Indian edged weapons that we have seen in a long time. Primarily jade handled, the curve bladed daggers or ‘Khanjar’ as they are known in India, are set with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, the stones in fact set in place with fine gold. One dagger has very fine pearls set into the blade which is most unusual and each of the blades is decorated with fine gold damascene work.
One all steel dagger or ‘Kard’ is fully damascene embellished including the hilt which forms the shape of a bird with rubies for eyes. The quality of craftsmanship is superb as you would expect from the very finest workers of the day, engaged by the great families of India. You can now appreciate where some of the creative influence for the ‘India’ rifle came from and why we chose to inlay precious stones.
We are lucky enough here at the factory to hold quite a diverse collection of guns and rifles both old and new. Amongst these is this very nice .577 ‘Elephant’ rifle that we completed a few years ago. The rifle had never in fact been photographed properly and so we have just taken the opportunity to take a few shots.
The rifle is built on our square back hand detachable lock action in the classic .577 3″ magnum load. This round had a formidable reputation as a real ‘elephant’ calibre and so we decided to engrave the rifle with semi carved elephants entwined in an elaborate scroll design.
You would not know it, but the rifle has in fact been on safari which is always good to know as so many people assume that such rifles are only built for display. We have always looked at the guns and rifles we build from the purist eye of the gunmaker, functionality and aesthetics first, embellishment second. Ultimately, if you combine these elements well, then the final product can be an outstanding example of craftsmanship.
You will probably notice that the action is more square overall in the actual file up compared to the more recent roundedness that we have been doing. We actually offer both options to clients as some do prefer the more classic ‘box’ shape of the pre-war rifles. Beauty they say is in the eye of the beholder!
The British Shooting Show has a habit of delivering interesting items for the discerning eye. This year we were lucky enough to come across this very nice leather compact 12 bore cartridge magazine that appears to be of French manufacture.
Such aged items are always a pleasure to find as they remind us of a period of great ingenuity and quality when even the most simple items were made to the very best standard. The attention to detail is outstanding from the lovely brass latches to the quality of stitching found throughout the item. Someone clearly cared about making this item.
With a capacity capable of holding 28 cartridges, split 14 either end, this magazine was clearly never intended for big days, but rather the ‘walk up’ shooter, perhaps woodcock hunter who might only fire a handful of cartridges in a day.
Hopefully next years show will throw up another little gem!