33 items of correspondence from the files of the Birmingham gunsmiths Westley Richards & Co. Ltd., mainly addressed to Walter A. Clode and Harry S. Rogers, relating to ten accounts including those of Indian Maharajas and American hunters.

Walter Alexander Clode (b.1929), Managing Director, Westley Richards & Co. Ltd, Birmingham gunsmiths [Eckhard Boden; Bud Helmericks; Robert M. Lee; Chris Pappas; Nawab of Savanur; Maharaja of Jodhpur]
Publication details: 
From Britain, America and India. Between 1966 and 1974.
SKU: 13304

Westley Richards & Co was established in 1813. In 1957 W. A. Clode bought the firm from Captain E. D. Barclay, and it remains within the hands of the Clode family today. The firm's own history recounts how, after the war, Clode 'made regular visits to India buying for resale classic weapons from the Indian Princes who had been such strong supporters of the firm in earlier days - this was to be the firm's salvation.' The present collection contains 17 items of correspondence relating to ten of the firm's accounts (and a colleague, see Item Eleven), with copies of 14 of the firm's replies, and two other documents, with four photographs (see Item Seven below). It provides an interesting insight into the firm's business methods in the 1960s and 1970s, the requirements of its customers, and the firms nurturing of client relationships. ONE. Eckhard Boden of Istanbul, Turkey: 3 TLsS to Clode, 1970 and 1971, and one original TLS from Clode in reply, on Westley Richards letterhead, 1970. In the first letter (21 March 1970) Boden enquires about the mounting of 'a scope mount similar to the one I saw on that big double .465, that belongs to that American who sent it back to you and whom you never heard from since'. In the course of his reply (2 April 1970) Clode comments: 'I have had a Nickel telescope on order for six months from the London agents and this has never arrived. You might be more successful with Nickel than I am!' In a long letter on 10 October 1971 Boden expresses 'deep disappointment in regard to the mounting of the scope. The picture you sent, thank you for the effort, does not show much of the rifle but one can see the mounting quite clearly and that is about the most ugly mounting on a double that I have seen so far. [...] I am sorry, Mr Clode but that will not do. Any gunsmith could have done that.' TWO. J. P. Chatterjee, Calcutta Agent to the Maharajadhiraja Bahadur of Burdwan, India: TLS to the firm, 1967 ('Enclosed please find copies of Arms and curios kept since a long time from the period of Moghal Emperor's time at the shelakhana of the Maharajadhiraja Bahadur of Burdwan.'), with copies of two 1967 applications for licences from the Maharajadhiraja to the District Magistrate, Burdwan, one giving the number of weapons being disposed of, and the other describing the firearms by name. With copy of TL from Clode to Chatterjee, 1967, in which he complains: 'My Agent called on you at Calcutta last year and I understand there may have been some misunderstanding about this deal'. THREE: Delhi Gun House: TLS to firm, 1970, with reference to 'your verbal order placed with us by Mr. Rogers, during his last visit to Delhi, for the supply of 5 pcs. of M.L. Pistols & Revolvers for a total price of £.225 ex our Show Room.' With specimen order form. FOUR: Bud Helmericks [Harmon R. Helmericks (1917-2010)], Alaska, USA: 8 ALsS (two cut in pieces on opening) to members of the firm, 1970-1973, with copies of five typed replies, 1970-1973. A friendly correspondence, underlining the strength of the firm's customer relations. Helmericks writes to 'Harry' on 8 June 1971: 'I haven't had any luck in finding a job for your son here this season. There just ain't any position available since much of the oil operation has stopped.' Helmericks letter of 27 September 1971 begins: 'The first snow of winter is blowing across our prairie and ice is making up in small ponds. I pulled our sea plane up from the river today and we are getting things in order for the winter days ahead. It has been an unusually lovely summer and fall here with just one beautiful day after another. We have had a good season of hunting and each of our Clients took really beautiful Dall Rams, Caribou and Moose, along with some superb grouse shooting. We are now getting ready for our fall fishing under the ice using gill nets. It is really quite an operation.' On 2 April 1973 Helmericks expresses pleasure at the news that 'Harry is enjoying his retirement and I trust he will enjoy Ireland'. In the same letter he declares: 'I consider the Westley Richards Best Quality firearms to be the finest made in the world. I am indeed proud to own this double rifle.' On 30 November 1973 Clode writes: 'Things have become in such short supply that I think we will case up the rifle in a plain canvas case for the time being. I will take a drawing of the rifle and send the proper case when it is finished. It is just not possible to get a delivery promise from the casemakers.' FIVE: Copy of TL to Private Secretary to H.R.H. The Maharajah of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, 1970. 'You may remember that about 8 years ago we bought a considerable number of weapons from you. I know that you must still have huge quantities of old and obsolete weapons. It looks as if the holding of large quantities of arms may be discontinued if teh present Bill on privileges passes through both Houses of Parliament. Quite a number of weapons are this month being offered through the Indian market, which I am sure have originated from your armoury.' SIX: Robert M. Lee ('Bob') of Lee Expeditions, Ltd.: TLS to Rogers, 1968. Long letter (6pp., 8vo) dealing in detail with a range of rifles which he is developing with the firm. The letter concludes: 'I had a whole mess of .358's in Kenya, but some years ago, when they cleared out the arsenal at Gilgil, they confiscated the ammunition and dumped it since they thought I would never return for it. | I think that I have amply covered all the points raised in your letter, and if it takes you as long to read this, as it took me to dictate it, I feel sorry for you.' SEVEN: R. S. Namdeo of Satna, India: Two TLsS to the firm, 1970, with two copies of TLs in reply by Clode, 1970, and four small photographs of cannons. Namdeo's first letter (16 February 1970) describes the cannons. On 16 February 1970 Namdeo writes: 'I suggest that your representative may bring one Radio Transistor of 3 waves, and one wrist watch of midium [sic] cost with his personal luggage as presents in my name at the Customs Office checkings and duty paid. I will pay him the cost if desired. This I want to influence staff for reduction of the prices as suggested by you.' On 4 March 1970 Clode writes to Namdeo: 'I regret to say we are not interested in either the cannons or the used postage stamps. To be quite honest I don't think these stamps are worth anything'. EIGHT: Chris Pappas of Illinois, USA: ALS to Clode, 1974, with copy of Clode's TL in reply, 1974. Pappas writes regarding 'the four main Farquharsons', which, 'Through thirty years of hard seeking' he was able to purchase 'for a nice collection', and his desire to acquire 'the baby W. R. and the Jeffery': 'I understand that you do go to India frequently, andn am wondering if you can locate these two Farquharsons that I need, in that country.' NINE: The Nawab of Savanur, Bangalore, India: TL to Clode, 1966 ('I have a number of old arms daggers etc. used by the Rulers of the former Savanur State'), with copy of Clode's TL in reply, 1966 ('[...] does this mean that there are any muzzle loading pistols or muzzle loading weapons for disposal [...] I have not planned at the moment to go to Bangalore but as I will be in Madras it will be no trouble for me to visit you so long as the quantities of arms for disposal are worthwhile'). TEN: Gajraj Singh, Administrator, Marwar Darbar Household, Rajasthan, India: TLS to the firm, 1970, with copies of two TLs in reply by Clode, 1970. Singh writes: 'It was good that your partner Mr Harry Rogers could meet His Highness last month for a preliminary discussion on the subject.' ELEVEN: Richard Van Oss, Birmingham, England: TLS to Rogers, 1970, with copy of Rogers's TL in reply 1970. Van Oss writes regarding 'a very overgrown fifteen year old whose rather slow manner of speaking does not do him justice. [...] He is concentrating on metal work and is absolutely besotted about restoring antique guns and gun making generally.' Rogers replies that the firm 'could probably do very well with an expert restorer of antiques in the future as our business in that direction is expanding. [...] I am not clear where this boy lives but we have had poor success with apprentices who have to live in digs. Birmingham is a gloomy place for the homeless, at any age.'