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Old March 13, 2001, 08:24 PM   #1
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I am trying to find out some information on a side by side shotgun that belongs to a friend of mine. It is an exposed hammer gun with back action side locks. The lock plates on both sides have the words "W Richards" on them. I am assuming this stands for Westley Richards. It has a straight grip stock with a steel butt plate. There is no wood on the fore-end, and the lever for breaking the action open is on the fore-end. It pivots 90 degrees to the right to break open the barrels. The gun looks to be quite old. According to my friend it belonged to his father, and he got it when he was fairly young. It has a rust brown finish and is in fair condition. There is a crack in the wrist of the stock, and the half cock notch on the right hammer no longer works very well. He said he has not shot it in about 15 years. The barrels are fluid steel, and the action is still tight. The serial no. is 10XX.

Can anybody tell me if it is in fact a Westley Richards as I suspect, and how old it is? He is also interested in the value although he has no plans to sell it. Any information would be appreciated.


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Old March 13, 2001, 09:22 PM   #2
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
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Take off the barrels and look on the under side, also on the "water table", which is the flat part of the action where the barrels come down. There should be some marks.
Let us know the markings and maybe we can help.

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Old March 14, 2001, 12:30 AM   #3
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While there is not enough information here to identify your friend's shotgun, in the interests of perhaps adding to your caution if you are thinking of buying this arm, let me just quote W.W. Greener (The Gun and It's Developement, 1910), under his subchapter "The Spurious Gun, and Its Detection":
"No one would forge 'Smith' or 'Jones', and happy the gunmakers who possess such names; but names such as 'Greener' will be spelled 'Greenen', Purdey as 'Purdy', 'W.C. Scott & Son' as "J.N. Scotts Son', whilst of the imitations of 'Westley Richards' the name is legion."
The name "W. Richards' should ring alarm bells in your head if you know this. It is unlikely that "Westley Richards" would have abbreviated his well known name.
At the turn of the century, things like this were very common and it was difficult for very small, but prestigeous arms making shops to effectively fight against it.
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Old March 14, 2001, 08:34 AM   #4
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W. Richards was a name commonly found on second- and third-rate Belgian doubles. Concensus is that they are JABC=just another belgian clunker. You can ask for more info, particularly belgian proof marks, over at I promise you that the responses won't be pretty. Seems W. Richards surface all the time and none are worth more than wall hangers.
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Old January 31, 2011, 03:57 PM   #5
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W Richards


W Richards were a provincial maker based in Liverpool in England going back as far as 1801. From about 1850 onwards they enjoyed major success opening a branch in Melbourne Australia and further operations in Northern England.

They enjoyed the patronage of a number of members of the royal family of the day including the then Prince of Wales.

They were not the same as Westley Richards of Birmingham.

There are any number of "badge engineered" copies made in Bellgium and the USA most of which aren't any good. A real W Richards is a fine quality, handmade English gun. I know, I've got one!

The real thing has an inscription on the top of the rib W Richards (gunmakers) Ltd, Liverpool (or Preston or Melbourne).
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Old January 31, 2011, 08:26 PM   #6
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[The lock plates on both sides have the words "W Richards" on them. I am assuming this stands for Westley Richards.]

Just as the maker hoped a buyer would assume - but, today, we all know what "assume" means..............

Some spurious makers did the same thing by adulterating the names of other famous makers, also - like "J.Purdey" ILO "James Purdey".

Gennies, aka the real deal, will have their London or Birmingham addy on the gun - they were proud of their location and heritage.

The ripoffs from Belgium, for instance, will be stamped "ELG" somewhere not readily noticeable on the gun - usually under the forend wood, etc.

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Old January 31, 2011, 09:28 PM   #7
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
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Jameshvolley is correct, and here is the current W. Richards web site. Still, it was a small producer and the "W. Richards" guns seen in the U.S. are almost always the Belgian guns as previously described.

Jim K
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Old January 31, 2011, 09:37 PM   #8
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I am assuming this stands for Westley Richards.
Incorrect. Westley Richards was ALWAYS spelled out on its guns - this is a common way for cheap Belgian knock-offs to make folks think they were getting a better English gun
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