Do the Rigby gunmakers have favourite rifles to work on?
This is something we often get talking about, whether it’s our favourite guns ever made here or the most exciting things we’re working on at the moment. It’s interesting that, in any given year, most of the staff will mention the same gun as being the one they like most. This year it’s been a .350 take-down London Best. Saija [Koskialho] did a beautiful, finely-carved engraving job – it looked absolutely spectacular. It also had a gorgeous Traditional English Guncases oak and leather case that was made with live oak instead of traditional white oak, plus a goat skin lining.
What are they getting stuck into at the moment?
On previous blogs, I’ve mentioned the incredible pair of 28-bore Rising Bite shotguns. They have amazing wood and some stunning scenes carved by Saija onto a gold background. They’re about to be fitted to a client’s custom Rigby Land Rover Defender, along with a .300 Win Mag take down with the same engraving. We hope to be displaying at least one of these at The Game Fair this month. Saija will be continuing to engrave the second gun live on the booth, which should be fascinating to watch.
We’re also working on several Highland Stalkers and Big Games, including a number of special editions, for customers and dealers around the world.
We’ve seen a great variety of stunning engraving recently, where do the Rigby engravers take their inspiration from?
I’m a firm believer in letting the artist do the art. I think I’ve got a pretty good eye for engraving and art in general, but I’m not an artist – I don’t use that part of my brain. The engravers draw inspiration from different sources depending on what they’re doing: it could be designs from period books; it could be museum visits; if they’re looking at animals, it could be watching David Attenborough documentaries. Ultimately, they have a gift and will find inspiration where others might not even notice it. The customers who, in my opinion, get the finest and the best results, are those who set a general idea and then let the artist-engraver come up with an amazing concept and bring it to life.
Will customers get a chance to see gunmaking in progress at The Game Fair?
Saija will be there with us engraving one of the pair of 28-bore Rising Bite shotguns. We’ll have a large screen and camera rigged up, so visitors will be able to watch and see exactly what she sees through her microscope as she works. We’ll also have Geoffrey there showcasing Rigby Art. He’ll be working on an incredible life-sized drawing of a roebuck charging in towards the viewer, which will be very timely as the roe rut ought to be getting underway at around the same time as The Game Fair.
How is London and Rigby HQ feeling now lockdown is easing?
Morale is still very high in spite of everything that’s happened over the past 18 months, and – while the pandemic isn’t over yet – we’re looking forward to regaining some form of normality. To keep everyone safe, we still have a full complement of health and safety measures in place. There’s nothing like being able to welcome enthusiasts from all around the world and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to do so again soon.
Can you share any autumn plans with us?
Next month [August], I’ll be grouse shooting, which the whole family is really looking forward to. It’s something my wife and I do with our daughter every year. This year, however, Mrs Newton will be six months pregnant, so might have to take it easy walking on the hill. I was also due to go on an exceptional safari in Zimbabwe in November, but the baby coming has meant putting the brakes on that one. There aren’t many things that will trump that sort of trip, but this is definitely one of them. So, in general, the big plans are to spend more time at home for the rest of this year, continuing to support the company and developing the projects we have been working on in the background.