Westley Richards ‘The Explora’ Journal – In From The Printers!!!!

Hot off the press and looking magnificent is The Explora journal by Westley Richards. This last week we received the first 10 copies for approval and we all have to say that it surpasses even our demanding standards!

Having taken 2 1/2 years to bring to fruition it was with great excitement, trepidation and relief that we got to handle the first copies fresh in from the printers. This project was a true labor of love for the team here at Westley Richards, so it was finally great to see the fruits of all that hard work.

The front cover features Westley Richards stunning and as yet unseen ‘Forest Rifle’, a magnificent .600 droplock double rifle specially commissioned to reflect the Central African forest environment. Fully carved in exceptional detail with the flora and fauna of the forest floor, the story of this rifle unfolds in the stunning photography The Explora fans have come to expect from Westley Richards.

Other articles, specially commissioned, focus on engraving, gunmaking, historical weapons, shooting and gun fit, topics we hope will be close to the heart of many an avid sporting man and woman.

Presented in a beautifully-designed luxury format with a combination of high quality uncoated and gloss coated paper stock and an outer cover finished with a scratch resistant matt lamination with spot gloss varnish and gold foil embossed logo. The 180-page journal, epitomises the exceptional standards and painstaking attention to detail synonymous with Westley Richards.

With a limited print run of only 1000 copies, never to be re-printed, The Explora journal is set to become a collectors item that no self respecting Westley Richards afficiando should be without.

The first copies to clients will be coming out in the next few weeks so for those of you yet to place your order now is the time!!!!!

To order your copy of The Explora journal click here

Or

Telephone:  UK 0121 333 1900   USA +1 850 677 3688

Email: retail@westleyrichards.co.uk

 

 

 

A Small Westley Richards Find

Every now and then one of those nice little finds gets passed our way here at Westley Richards. And so it is that this 10 round .22 rimfire stock magazine came our way recently and has been added to the archive here at the factory.

Discovered in the back of an old shop as literally ‘dead stock’ it must have been there from before the First World War and once again highlights that you never know what might be lurking, tucked away in some dark corner. One day I hope to find that elusive Westley Richards howdah pistol, complete with case and accessories in pristine unfired condition…………..

Pair of Westley Richards 16g Holster Pistols

I am just returning from a trip in which I visited one of America’s oldest and most historic cities. A fitting place to find this pair of cased Westley Richards 16g Percussion Holster Pistols made in the first half of the 19th Century.

Originally ordered for stock, this pair of pistols was shipped, in their ‘box”, on May 16, 1839 to the London Agency at 170 New Bond St. Now, 180 years later, these pistols are being offered for sale by this firm. Only this time, at Westley Richards’ U.S. Agency.

A “boxed” or cased set of pistols like this were a sign of status and they were finished to a very high standard. The locks, hammers, trigger guards and breach blocks are decorated with a traditional acanthus scroll engraving and the maker’s name is engraved on each lock plate.

The small sized, bar action hammer locks have flat plates and are fitted with flat faced serpentine hammers with stylized dolphin heads and back sliding safeties.

Each pistol has 8” twist octagon barrels that are engraved with the maker’s name on the top flats. They have V-notch rear sights on the breach irons and small brass beads at the muzzles. The barrels are fitted with bridled steel ramrods that still operate flawlessly.

Lightly figured European walnut stocks have “bag” shaped grips and forends that extend to within 5/8” of the muzzle. The stocks have very nice flat top checkering, are iron mounted and have rectangular crest plates engraved with a “rising eagle”.

Overall the pair’s condition is excellent and the guns remain completely original. The locks and hammers display strong amounts of their color hardening and most of the original brown is left on the barrels that have excellent bores. The stocks are also sound, crack free and in superb original shape retaining almost all their original oil finish. The forearm wedges and triggers still show a vivid charcoal blue and almost all the original black remains on the trigger bows.

The pistols are paired in the original mahogany case that is also in very nice original condition still retaining the original trade label and well preserved green baize.

This pair of pistols is another great example of the high-quality arms Westley Richards has produced and sold for over two hundred years.

The Perfect African Accompaniment

The debate of what rifle, in what calibre, is the best for hunting in Africa is a discussion as old as the sport itself and I don’t intend to delve into or attempt to answer such a lengthy and hotly contested question in this blog. But what I want to share with the readers, is a rifle, that has recently come through our doors, which I believe quite comfortably covers with ease, a wide range of African game and safaris and has a serious chance of answering the aforementioned question for me.

Ray Ward Gunmakers, based in Knightsbridge London, have been a high end gun retailer for a number of years and in more recent times have become a gunmaker in their own right. One such rifle to have been built by the London makers is this superbly versatile take down bolt action rifle, two barrel set in .375 H&H Magnum and .416 Remington Magnum. Completed around 2001, the rifle is built on a standard length Obendorf action with two interchangeable, screw threaded barrels using the Jeffery style screw in peg to secure them in place. The .416 barrel measures 23 3/8” with a ramp foresight and single standing express sight. While the .375 barrel is 22” with the same open sight configuration with the addition of a flip over foresight hood. The Zeiss Conquest DL 1.2-5×36 scope is mounted on H&H QD mounts and the rifle weighs 10lbs 1.7oz in .375 and 10lbs 7oz in .416.

The pistol grip stock is beautifully figured and measures 14 1/8” to the centre of the Silver’s recoil pad with a cheekpiece, grip cap, gold oval, sling stud, two recoil bars and horn forend tip. Expertly engraved by David Tallett with a bold scroll coverage, the case colour floor plate is engraved in gold with the calibres and FOR BIG GAME. The scope rings are also gold inlaid with the calibres and makers name.

The rifle is finished to a very high standard, is well balanced and points with ease. The action is smooth, the barrels are tight on the action and the bores are both in mint condition. It is neatly presented in its leather case with a sling, turnscrew, cleaning rods and accessories.

The .375 has proven its worth time and time again and shouldn’t need me argue its case. The .416 Remington since its introduction in 1988 has gained the affection of hunters world wide, non more so than legendary PH, Robin Hurt. Firing a 400 grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2400 fps, it is capable of taking Africa’s largest game and compliments the .375 perfectly. It’s an attractive and beautifully made African all-rounder that you’d be hard pressed to find a hunt it didn’t suit.

Pair of Westley Richards Percussion Belt Pistols

A rarity for sure, our latest find is this truly outstanding pair of Westley Richards, double barrel, belt pistols, we believe completed somewhere around 1830. Although there is likely to be a serial number present if you were to strip the pistols, sadly there is no number on the external so we can’t trace the history exactly, but what I can tell you, and is plain to see from the images, they are in absolute first class condition and are a marvel of early 19thcentury craftsmanship by this firm.

Built with brown twist, sighted, 3 ¼” smooth bore barrels engraved ‘Westley Richards London’ with a stirrup ram rod and blued steel belt hook. Both pistols retain vivid case colours and are engraved with a foliate scroll coverage, high fences and dolphin head hammers with a slide back safety. Crisp, finely chequered handles with silver escutcheon and engraved grip cap with trap. Weighing 1lbs 14oz they point effortlessly and remain in unmolested condition, even the pins are clean, straight and untouched.

It’s safe to say we don’t get pistols in like this very often at all and the fact that they are made by our predecessors and remain in such fantastic condition is great to see. Sadly they are not cased but nevertheless, they are quite superb in every way.

Spicer’s Stalking Records – Westley Richards & Co.Ltd

An interesting find this last week was this ‘Spicer’s Stalking Records’ of 1914, detailing Red Stag trophies from the 1913 season. The reason we say interesting is that a close link existed between Westley Richards and the famed taxidermist Peter Spicer of Leamington Spa, which until now we have never seen published in anything other than Westley Richards ‘Centenary’ catalogue of 1912.

Peter Spicer was born in 1839 and died in 1935, aged 96. He was one of the pre-eminent taxidermists of the day and was renowned for the quality of his cased birds, fish and Red Stag mounts. His studio operated primarily from Leamington Spa with an offices based in Inverness, Scotland, that handled many of the trophies hunted in the north.

Peter Spicer 1839-1935

The opening page of ‘Spicer’s Stalking Records’ giving the two retail address’s used by Westley Richards at the time.

Individually ‘tipped in’ photos of some of the better stags shot during the 1913 season.

‘Spicer’s Stalking Records’ is a very nice publication that detailed many of the great deer forests, along with the best trophy Red Stags shot on those estates. Many of the better stags have tipped in images along with a short story about the trophy. The would unquestionably have been fierce competition amongst estates to produce the best trophies!

Westley Richards clearly had strong links with Peter Spicer and although no records exist today of how this relationship came about, it is probably safe to assume that it was of mutual benefit between the two great companies. If clients shot game with Westley Richards guns and rifles then clearly they needed a good taxidermist to prepare the varying trophies. It is worth remembering that Westley Richards also offered fishing rods, reels and accessories at the time and so all forms of taxidermy were a requirement for the sporting elite of the day.

Interestingly, Spicer’s Inverness office offered for sale Westley Richards guns and rifles, clearly acting as an agent in the north for the company, something we were until now unaware of.

The First World War would soon consume everyones attention and it would be somewhat sobering if time permitted, to see how many of the names listed in this 1914 Stalking Records actually survived the war.

An advert for Westley Richards Deer Stalking rifles.

Vintage William Evans .500 Boxlock Ejector Double Rifle

With the international following that Westley Richards has, most of both the new and pre-owned guns and rifles that we sell never return to the factory, having been shipped out to some far flung corners of the globe. On the odd occasion, guns that are sold slightly closer to home can sometimes end up back in our hands, generally with more character and a few more war stories to tell.

One such example in this classic William Evans .500 nitro express, boxlock ejector, double rifle. Sold to an Englishman by Trigger and Simon through our Grange Road factory 22 years ago.

Completed in 1912 for Consul General Christian Thams it was built as a plain, 2nd quality boxlock ejector double rifle with 26” barrels with a raised, engine turned top rib with ramp foresight, flip up moon sight, 100 yard standing express sight with two folding leaves regulated at 200 & 300 yards. A 14 3/8” pistol grip stock with no cheek piece, grip cap and traditional recoil pad. The fixed lock, double trigger action interestingly is fitted with an automatic game safety and is engraved with a small coverage of fine scroll. The barrels are engraved; William Evans (From Purdey’s) “500 3″ Solid Taper Case”
63 Pall Mall St. James’s London 80 Grs Cordite 500 Grs Soft Nose Nickel Bullet.

The rifle has seen a great deal of action and has been to Africa many times. It’s a true workhorse, a classic, no frills big game rifle of the African bush. It’s easy to see why the English boxlock ejector was the go to rifle for client and PH alike. It’s also testament to the strength and durability of the Webley action, the rifle performs faultlessly, the action is tight as a drum, the club head barrel extension is as strong as they come, and the rifle points with ease. On first inspections, the bores look a little frosty, but the rifling is good and as they say, the proof is in the pudding; this test target shows just how accurate the rifle still is, after all these years and many a safari.

William Evans ledger from 1912 showing rifle No. 9897

It’s hard not to admire an old rifle like this, although simple in design and engraving, it’s just a very cool, classic double that has been there, done it, got the t-shirt and after 106 years, is ready to do it all over again.

Vinatge Westley Richards .318 Accelerated Express

WR .318 1

There are certain things that Westley Richards is famous for, such as the drop lock action, the .425 or the snap lever work, but the .318 Accelerated Express cartridge is about as Westley as it gets and one that provokes great emotion, not only with collectors but the ‘gun nuts’ here at the factory. This .318 that we recently acquired has been round all the gun makers, each one, in turn, taking his time to admire the shape, feel and form of a classic Westley rifle, hand crafted by their predecessors 104 years ago. They cannot but appreciate the skills they possessed, feel a sense of pride that this is ‘one of our own’ and then try and work out how they are going to acquire it for themselves! It’s really quite special to have this rifle back in our possession and a rarity to say the least.

The .318 is a thing of legend and its credentials needs no questioning. Formidable for its size and a firm favourite for many a hunter, with its 250 grain bullet, it’s conquered the largest of game and has been used around the world. Even after the release and rise in popularity of the .375 H&H Magnum it was still a hugely popular calibre and other gun makers built bolt action rifles in this calibre, proving the success and demand for this round.

This rifle, which is a really super example in characterful condition was completed in 1913, features a 22″ barrel with our combination foresight, raised express sight with one standing 100 yard and four folding leaves regulated to 500 yards. The action is engraved with bold scroll, chequered bolt grip, has a flag safety and a hinged magazine plate with release latch. The full pistol grip stock measures 14 1/2″ to the centre of the steel plated butt and has a grip cap with trap, side panels with points, horn forend tip, cheek piece and a neat peep sight fitted into the nose of the comb. The rifle weighs 7lbs 14oz, has been tested on our range and shoots a 1.5″ group at 50 yards. It will be on our used gun site soon!

WR .318 2 WR .318 3WR .318 #39452-2773-Edit WR .318 #39452-2776-Edit

Henry ‘Harry’ Albert Kell 1880 – 1958

Burin-Harry-Kell

Many names spring to mind when one thinks of the most famous, important or influential engravers to have worked in the English gun trade over the years and you could reel off a list as long as your arm, but one name which should always be near the top of that list, if not the top, is Henry ‘Harry’ Kell. He was a pioneer in game scene and animal engraving and pushed the boundaries of artistic, unusual and life like styles of engraving. For three quarters of a century the name Harry Kell, both father and son, was associated with the very best London gun making.

Considered to be possibly the most famous work Harry Kell did was three miniature guns that were presented to George V on his silver jubilee and of course the pair of Purdey guns he engraved for Queen Mary’s Doll House. He engraved for all the best London gun makers but most of his work was unsigned. His work inspired a new generation of engravers, most famously Ken Hunt, who was apprentice to Harry and was taken on by Purdey’s in 1950.

Harry Kell, born Henry Albert Kell in 1880 into a family of engravers served an apprenticeship under his father, Henry John Kell (1860 – 1929), also known as Harry. Henry learnt his trade under Thomas Sanders and worked for his engraving business, Thomas Sanders & Son, which he joined around 1875. Thomas Sanders employed a small team of engravers doing work for much of the London trade and established his engraving workshops, which were based in Soho at 13 Dean Street, in 1862, moving to 6 Greek Street in 1866 and just before the outbreak of the First World War, he moved to 142 Wardour Street where he remained until the business closed in 1919.

In 1919 Henry Kell, who was already a partner in the business, took it over and named it Henry Kell & Son. Henry kept the business at 142 Wardour Street for a few years until moving it to 38a Broad Street in 1921. The business remained there until 1937 when it was moved to 45 Broadwick Street (Broad Street renamed) where it saw out the Second World War and remained until 1957.

Harry Kell was apprenticed to his father around 1894 and took over the company when his father died in 1929. Harry changed the name of the business in 1952 to Henry Kell, but remained at 45 Broadwick Street until 1957 when failing eye sight and health forced him to move into the Purdey factory, he died a year later in 1958.

The latest used gun to pass through our hands is a Purdey 12g sidelock engraved by the great man himself. Completed in 1932 as the No. 2 of a pair it was made as a lightweight gun weighing only 6lbs 3oz, with 28” barrels made for M.M. Johnson Esquire. Beautifully engraved game scenes with pheasants flushing from a wood, surrounded by intricate rose and scroll on the left lock, partridges in a woodland scene, again surrounded by rose and scroll on the right and a retrieving spaniel on the bottom of the action with more rose and scroll. The gun retains some lovely case colour and is a truly superb example of what between the wars engraving had become and what lead the way for future engravers, pioneered by the likes of Harry Kell.

J.Purdey & Sons #24609-1955-Edit-Edit-EditJ.Purdey & Sons #24609-1977-Edit J.Purdey & Sons #24609-1996-Edit

Some Vintage Safari Postcards Circa 1910

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On our travels we are always on the look out for any interesting ephemera, photos and journals that may have a link to either the history of Westley Richards or the sport of hunting itself.

Last week in the US we picked up several vintage postcards that certainly make for fascinating viewing.  Published in 1910 they depict various hunting scenes from the epic safari of Theodore Roosevelt’s which was conducted from 1909-10.  At the time this was the largest safari ever conducted in Africa and involved some of the greatest hunters of the day including F.C.Selous and R.J.Cunninghame.

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Over 500 animals and birds were collected by the former US President and his son Kermit, all of which were carefully skinned, prepared and shipped to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.  This huge safari set the standard for the luxury safaris that were to follow and clearly put East Africa on the map for the dedicated US hunter.

Today Africa remains a magical safari destination where sportsmen from around the world can still participate in one of the last great adventures.  Whether or not you would be able to send postcards such as these today is another matter altogether!

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