I have just picked up a 10 guage sidelock shotgun that is marked W. Richards on the lockplates. The shotgun has engraving, not fancy but most metal parts have some. The barrels are 32 inches long and are marked on the rib- "London Laminated Steel". However, looking at the W. Richards website my gun in not marked as a W. Richards should be.
Underneath the barrels are marked 1916 ( as is the watertable and forearm) a number 11 on both barrels and what appears to be a set of crossed tomahawks(?) there are three separate sets of these marks. Both barrels underneath are marked damascus. Both barrels also have F*W*W which is even with wherethe forearm locks into the barrel. Barrel has very minor pitting.
I know this question gets asked all the time but what do I have?
If your gun is marked W. Richards (not Westley Richards) there are two possibilites I am aware of. The most numerous W. Richards guns are inexpensive Belgium knockoffs trying to take advantage of Westley's good reputation. But those should have typical Belgium proof marks which is not what you are describing. The other possibility is the gun was made by W. Richards another known English maker but this is also not Westley. The tomahawks may be the crossed Halberds which is the mark of the Birmingham Proof house versus the London house of Westley Richards. If this is the case you should have a reasonably well made gun. The 11 on the barrels is probably the actual bore size. There should be a 10 over c inside a small diamond indicating the size cartridge the gun is intended to fire. The gun was probably made after 1887 and before 1904 when the Birmingham proof mark became a Crown over BP. I am still figuring out the British marks so hopefully someone more knowledgable can make corrections where I missed.
There is a possible mark of c but the mark after looks like an 11 under a magnifying glass. There are two marks closer to the breech that are unreadable and struck deep. Is this a mark of being out of proof? I read the Birmingham Proof site after posting this?
It would help a lot if you could post some (very) close up pics of the marks.
Note that if the gun was made prior to 1887 it will not carry the chamber mark. I have a 12ga side lever W Richards hammer dbl carrying Birmingham marks. It has the normal provisional, final, & view marks with the marking of 13 for bore size. This gun definately does not have Belgian proofs, but also upon looking up William Richards it does not seem to have proper markings for that either. Also prior to 1887 there were no in-between gauge marks so this 13 could well have been nearly up to a 14ga size. It measures slightly over 14 now, but is badly pitted. As there was no chamber mark is hard to say if was originally a 14ga which has been rechambered to 12ga or if was built this way. Either way it now carries a 12ga chamber.
I have read that the English W. Richards worked out of Liverpool. It sounds like he was the maker and the bbls were proofed in Birmingham probably for an export to America or the Colonies.
I will open this topic up again. I will have pictures to post on Wednesday.
I have looked at the website. My barrel is marked "London Laminated Steel" not "W Richards (Gunmakers)Liverpool Ltd or Preston London
While the minimal description of the proofs may indicate the gun is proofed in Birmingham, that London Laminated Steel on the barrel really has me concerned this is the other W. Richards emanating from Belgium. Sort of the second part of the effort to trade on Westley Richards reputation. Hope the photo's on Wednesday show us it is Birmingham.
For the record,the Richards family name has been recorded in the history of british gun making since circa; 1700 as a result many poor quality guns bearing the spurious name "Richards" have shown up in the market.
The name "Richards has occured in the annals of British gunmaking since 1700.Over the years this has resulted in guns of inferior quality being sold bearig the spurious name "Richards.
During the period your gun was made the use of spurious names became so serious that the industry working through the british magazine "Shooting"conducted a survey to identify the markings of genuine guns.Here are the statements made by the "Richards"family in 1887.
W. Richards, Liverpool.
"All my guns have W. Richards Old-Hall Street on the barrels,W.Richards,on locks,Guards are numbered."
W.Richards, Preston [Lancashire.]
"All my guns have W. Richards,44 Fishergate, Preston,on the top rib.W. Richards onthe lock plates,all guards are numbered."
Westley Richards,London [and Birmingham.]
"Westley Richards and appropiate address on rib [OrWestley Richards & Co; on lower grade guns].
All gus have Westley Richards on lock plates and bear the Westley Richards,"triangle" trade mark."
Most W. Richards gus I have seen, in particular when marked London Fine Twist are of dubious origin and of inferior quality!The probable source being:
312-314,Broadway, New York N.Y.
I have seen many examples sold by this company some with Belgium and some with Birmingham proof bearing the name W.Richards ,without exception they are of very inferior quality.
If your gun is by any of the makers other than Folsom you will have quality find.