I seem to be having quite a lot of luck on the miniature item front recently, the very nice small 1890 vintage .410 cartridge magazine of a few weeks past and now a very small version of our Perfecta cartridge bag, again something I had never encountered before. I was actually very surprised and pleased when the package was opened as I thought it was just a normal size bag when I bought it online.
This will certainly now head for the leather shop and a faithful reproduction! It will make a nice ladies purse size bag too, for Christmas in crocodile!
As you have seen with the various ‘gun junk’ I scatter around my photographs, I like picking up bits and pieces relating to our sport as I travel around, they all add to the collection of interesting, nicely made items, each with a story to tell, that I keep in my apartment here in England for use as photo ‘props’.
A few weeks ago I made a quick trip to Florida to meet contractors and shop-fitters for our new offices in Gulf Breeze. With the shop being next door to Gulf Breeze Firearms I spent quite some time in there. Duke McCaa has amassed over his years in the trade a treasure trove of little bits and pieces. ‘Cutlery’ is a large part of their business besides firearms and I have always enjoyed picking up simple and useful types of hunting knives and wing shooting knives so I thoroughly enjoyed picking through his collection and trying to pry the rarer pieces from his private showcase.
I had never seen or heard of these ‘Hobo Knives’ before and ended up getting the three here which I am very pleased with. I see them as a very useful ‘campaign’ type accessory, nice to have in your pocket when deep in the bush for a picnic.
This interesting article about the history of the Knives is for anybody else who has yet to discover the Hobo. Each page can be clicked on to enlarge and read.
The Game Fair is the celebration of all things country and field sports related which was this year held at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire, roughly 40 minutes from Birmingham and 2 hours from London. The show, in it’s first year under new management, felt very much like previous game fairs and had very much the same layout and vibe about the place.
When first arriving upon 8am it was fairly quiet with just a few shoppers and shooters, but by 2pm the aisles had a good flow of traffic of people and with the sun shining the beers were flowing in the Gun Makers pub!
Friday is usually the day traders do the most business as people have taken the day off work and are in the market for a new shooting coat for the up coming season or a new gun to add to their collection, Saturday tends to have more families having a nice day out and on Sunday it quietens down.
There was the usual clay pigeon shooting have a go stands, 50 bird sporting, fly fishing demonstrations, a huge variety of food and drink stalls from around the country and wide variety of exhibitors.
When the CLA decided to step down from organising and running the show, there were a few different organisations who came up with their own versions of the Game Fair which slightly confused exhibitors and punters alike on which was going to be the show to make the effort to attend. Up until a month or so ago there were two main contenders fighting to be the best show, however when the UK Game Fair was cancelled, it left the Ragley Game Fair as the as the only place to go.
With uncertainty of which show would prosper and other concerns, quite a few well known names in the industry decided to take a step back this year and see how this show panned out. Therefore this year missing from the show, most noticeably was us, then the likes Holland & Holland, Purdey, Blaser, GMK and a few other big names. The feedback and success of this year will no doubt determine the show’s reputation for the next few years to come.
Even with the big gun names missing, the show has great backing from the likes of NFU Mutual, Viking cruises etc.
It’s a great day out for country and town folk alike, especially if the weather continues to hold out, and it’s easy when you are in the gun trade to become numb to a show like this and leave feeling unsatisfied, but for the youngsters and newcomers to our sport who are yet to discover the thrill and excitement of everything fieldsports and the British countryside has to offer, there’s no other event like it.
Next years show will be held at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, only a 20 minute train journey from London’s King Cross station, from the 28th – 30th of July.
Vince Crowley and Paul Lantuch in conversation about all things engraving.
It is always a privilege to bring together 2 very talented people in the same occupation together, today was such a day here at the Westley Richards factory. Paul Lantuch is over from USA to complete the finishing work and patination on the Africa Rifle as well as discuss and design of the next projects that follow. Vince Crowley kindly came in to Lacquer the rife for Paul after his work and also show us the .600 sidelock rifle he has now been working on for over a year himself.
So in the factory we had two similar size and style Westley Richards .600 sidelock rifles, two distinctly different styles of engraving, two exceptional projects and two extremely modest engravers who quietly demonstrated a huge amount of mutual admiration of each others work, both of which I can only say is truly exceptional in every respect. You have seen the Africa Rifle and Vince’s rifle will come before you in a few more months, no taster here yet! Paul was saying to me quietly, Wow, fantastic, amazing, I wish… when a man of his talent is so generous with his praise of another you can expect to see some exceptional work. In return Vince was also in awe of the work done by Paul, certainly the pace at which he executes his work so precisely and the variety of techniques used creating coloured inlay metals and other age old techniques, all generously and openly shared.
We finished the day with Trigger and I hosting long conversation and a barbecue upstairs, I did all the cooking and washing up and Trigger served the drinks, did most the eating and held court with the talking!
It gives me great pleasure to put a face to these talented engravers names for you!
I am not plugging this book simply because it has used our photography on the cover and extensively inside, but rather because it is an excellent reference of modern engraving. Altogether it is very well illustrated and very nicely designed. I am unable to comment on the writing due to my language skills, which being typically English, are nil!
This is a comprehensive work of 432 pages, a large book the same size format as our own book In Pursuit of the Best Gun. Half of the book covers techniques and a general overall look at gun engraving and the second half of the book focus’s on the work of 16 individual engravers.
One of my daily chores is updating our Instagram account where we have 57,500 followers, this requires a constant feed of new photographs which we take on a daily basis here at the factory. Visitors to my apartment here at Westley Richards always enjoy all the (what I call) ‘gun junk’ which covers all the tables, shelves and window ledges here. I thought I would put some of it in order and show those unable to visit the bits and pieces I like to gather in.
Of course any additions are always welcome – I am a keen buyer for anything WR or other similar associated gun junk!
This item is for testing the force of the blow on the striker and cartridge cap of a gun lock. Made by ICI, no doubt as an assurance that the cartridges they were supplying were getting the correct ‘blow’ or ‘strike’ from the makers gun or rifle. We have above 12g and .577 testers. A weak blow/strike to the cartridge cap will result in a misfire.
Instructions For Use.
(1) Insert a copper crusher between the two steel pads in the tester body.
(2) Place the tester in the gun chamber and snap off the trigger.
(3) The striker blow is satisfactory that is at least 3.5 ft.lb., if the crusher is shortened sufficiently to pass freely through the slot in the base of the tester body.
(4) The pad receiving the blows of hardened steel but if the striker is of correct hardness no damage should result unless too frequent tests are made. If the point of the striker is found to be flattened after the test it is probably too soft.
Contents of Box.
(1) Tester Body
(2) Three steel pads, one spare.
(3) Pad extractor
(4) Fifty copper crushers in metal container.
Please direct any questions on use to the resident expert in its use, Ken Halbert care of this blog!
I was really pleased to be shown and then able to buy this piece of Leather ephemera, a vintage etched mirror which was an award of some kind. It seemed an entirely appropriate and irresistible prop for the photography we do. Whilst I cannot and do not wish to take credit for the actual award, we did not make leather at that time. I do think it is appropriate for our small leather workshop and feel they would have given the competition a good run for their money, had we been making our leather goods then!
The thumb stick or walking stick is always a useful addition to throw in the back of a car when off for a days shooting. This is especially the case when shooting on the wet, slippery and undulating terrain in England, where your legs can literally shoot out from under you unexpectedly.
There are many stick makers in the country, all developing their own style from simple to very elaborate. The sticks may be all wood or be topped with stag horn or something similar, it is common to have a V or a crook to rest your thumb for extra grip. The sticks are tall and come up to about your under arm height, in the case of the bottom one above, you can place it under your arm and comfortably lean on it.
On Friday I travelled to a country show to see some of the countries best carver/makers, unfortunately I was a little late and sales had been brisk, but I was able to get a handful I liked and was able to place an order for a further selection to be made over the coming months. Grey and red partridge, grouse, pheasant and a woodcock with the beak stretched out are some of the choices. These sticks are made by arguably the best carver in the country and the delivery, such is the demand, falls right in line with that of one our guns.
To many people, these are perhaps just too fancy to take out in the field but as an example of the craft they make a wonderful addition to any pile of sticks you may have waiting by the back door.
A very generous gift from one of our friends in USA this year, a cutlery dealer amongst other things, was this hand carved piece of white stuff which has a distinct Ivory like feel. The piece arrived directly from the carver at the Dallas show and was firstly shown proudly to the man’s son who commented “Dad it is very nice, but they were established in 1812 you…”!
It makes a better story and has joined the other treasures in my apartment here. Thank you very much and after all what’s a couple of years in a couple of hundred!