THE WESTLEY RICHARDS ‘HIGHEST POSSIBLE’ AIR PISTOL

Westley Richards Highest Possible

I have waited many years to get hold of a nice version of our Highest Possible air pistol,  today finally one has been found! As always timing plays a part,  Trigger heard someone being told on the phone that we were not interested when he had called in to sell it, ‘no get it was called out’ and the deal was done!

The Highest Possible has been a very elusive item, perhaps because so few were ever made which then had to survive the next 100 years. I have no exact records of the production figures but the Collectors Guide to Air Pistols by Dennis Hiller suggests that the highest serial number known is 1052 suggesting only 1000 odd were ever made.

WR Highest Possible Air Pistol

Engraved on the L.H.S of the air chamber “WESTLEY RICHARDS HIGHEST POSSIBLE – AIR PISTOL”. On the frame near the sear is stamped the serial number, 369, which also appears on various other parts. On the left side of the frame is engraved “WESTLEY RICHARDS & CO. – LONDON W” and near the action latch appears “PATENT 24837 1907”. The pistol has black chequered vulcanite grips and a 9 3/4 inch rifled barrel. Rear sight appears to be adjustable for elevation only. Length from tip of barrel to base of butt is 12 1/4 inches. The above design was patented by E. Anson, a relative of W. Anson of the well known partnership Anson & Deeley.  The “Highest Possible” was also available nickel plated. Highest serial number seen is 1052. Inside of grips are usually scratched with the serial number of part of it and the rifling appears to be anticlockwise. ( From Air Pistols by Dennis Hiller)

The above sequence of photographs shows the cocking of the air pistol.

Cased Highest Possible Air Pistol

22 thoughts on “THE WESTLEY RICHARDS ‘HIGHEST POSSIBLE’ AIR PISTOL

  1. Congratulations on your newest acquisition. To my eyes, the Highest Possible is an absolute beauty. I suppose you’re still on the hunt for the even rarer Concentric version. By the way, would you happen to know what the factory specifications are as regards muzzle velocity and energy? Or have you been able to test your air pistol over a chronograph?

    • Thank you, it has been a long wait and I think I will again just allow the Concentric version to walk in the door rather than spend time hunting for it! I do not, I am afraid, have the original ballistic specifications for the air pistol and I am not sure if the chronograph we have in our test tunnel will record the pellet. If I do try it I will post the result!

  2. Mr. Clode,
    I am honored to be in correspondence with you, the owner of the iconic and legendary Westley Richards Company. When I first posted my comments regarding your pristine Highest Possible air pistol, I had no idea that you owned Westley Richards. I had erroneously simply assumed that you were just another vintage airgun collector, given that I had crossed paths with your website as a result of my great enthusiasm for the Highest Possible and other superlative British vintage air pistols, from which I derive pleasure in doing research over the internet. Only after I had read the other superb previous articles on your website, did I eventually learn about who you truly are. No doubt that a Concentric Highest Possible shall one day return home to its creators, whom are also the most rightful curators of such fine sculpted works of art.
    Thank you.
    -Ronald

  3. Hi there

    I have an air pistol with the same maker markings.

    Can I send you some pictures so you could tell me more about it

    Thanks Matt Billington

  4. Dear Simon,
    I have what I presume to be a Westley Richards Highest Possible air pistol although it is not marked as such. The serial number is 712. The pistol is stamped “The Unity Air Pistol” on the left hand side of the spring housing. The left hand side of the frame is stamped “Shimwell Bros. South Africa” and “Patent 24837 1907”. I actually worked for Shimwell Bros i the 60’s and know that the company was formed in the late 1890’s and closed in the 1970’s. They were dealers in arms and ammunition as well as Triumph and BSA motorcycles amongst other things. On the arms side “Unity” was the name used on firearms and ammunition that the imported from various suppliers. I think that this was because the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910. Your comments would be appreciated.

    • Thank you for writing. I am afraid I am not familiar with Shimwell Bros, I have never noticed the name in our ledgers but I haven’t really looked either! I assume you have matched the air pistol and the story of the company importing the firearms and motor cycles sounds correct. As a company we would I am sure, have stamped our air pistols with the name if that was requested. Sorry not to be of better help!

      Simon

  5. hello every one ….
    I have a very good condition. Westley Richards air pistol and looking to sell it ..
    Can any one guide me to the right place to list it for sale ….

  6. Dear Simon,

    Thank you for the very interesting article regarding your acquisition of a Highest Possible and the superb photographs. I came into possession of one many years ago, in quite crisp condition, missing only the hand grips, (which had been replaced by home-made wooden ones) and the rear sight. unfortunately, the trigger had been broken at some time – not sure how this could have happened as the construction is somewhat bomb-proof, but has had a repair using a bright metal, which looks fine. I don’t suppose it would be possible to still obtain hand-grips? I will make use of your photographs by scaling up to life-size and attempting to recreate the grips – and the rear site. If you are interested I will forward some photographs with serial numbers etc. Again, many thanks for the article – and all the others in the The Explora and compliments to your excellent photographic team.

    • Thank you and please let me know if you need detail photos to help. I am afraid we have no parts, I felt lucky to find this item in the condition it is in!

  7. Hi I have owned an origional bright nickle pistol with horn grips for some time now, it is the only nickle one I have come across, it retains 80% of the origional finish.
    Any info would be appreciated.

    Andrew Robinson

  8. I have a Westley Richards Highest Possible air pistol serial no. 483 which I would like to sell Any one interested?

    Peter Chapman

  9. I have one I would like to sell No 1907. It’s in excellent condition, but have no idea what it’s worth. I have owned it since 1962.

  10. Dear Mr Clode,
    I don’t want to dispute Dennis Hiller’s work, but I have a Highest Possible with serial number 1153.
    It has the same patent number and functions, but the finish is not quite as well preserved as your example.
    I thought you may find this an interesting part of the Westley Richards’ story.
    Kind regards,
    Vaughan Condron

    • Thank you, I think that is indisputable! Someone pulled me up about a date I put in our recent little catalogue to which I replied “I must be right as I wrote this catalogue” the fact that I had sent him a rifle history that dated his rifle was made 3 years before I mistakenly said the cartridge was introduced!

  11. Hi Simon,

    What a fine pistol that is, looks to be in unrestored condition, someone has taken good care of it over the years, it looks to have been much loved.

    But what about that “Holster” it fits the pistol like a glove, it’s certainly rarer than the pistol itself !

    Did “Westley Richards” retail the Holster ?

    In the advertisement that begins the blog, it shows a cased pistol with everything needed, but I see no mention of any holster.

    Now I know the configuration of the holster I will certainly keep both my eyes open.

    Great Blog,
    All the topics that arise from your meanderings seem to stimulate interest, keep it up !

    Regards. Pete.

    • No, I think this was just a hand made holster by the owner. I don’t think it is anything that we made.

      Thanks for you kind comments on the blog!

  12. Hello
    I have also come across a highest possible air rifle 1907. Serial number 1205. It made it’s way all the way to New Zealand. It was my grandfather’s and then my father’s which was taken off him by an auntie for about 30 years for being naughty.
    Thanks
    Fred Ward

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