Rigby is planning to host valuation days with Holts auctioneers once Covid restrictions are lifted. What do you like most about old guns and what are your favourite historic Rigbys?
The British gun trade pretty much builds its guns onwhat are basically classic designs, some of which have barely changed in 150 years. Take our rising bite, which was originally designed in 1879. While some of the shapes on it have altered, the fundamental working elements haven’t changed at all. The result is that the guns made and purchased today are very similar to their historic counterparts. The only thing that really changes is the storywoven around each one, and that’s what really makes these things special: without their storiesthey’re just beautifully made tools.
When a classic rifle or a shotgun comes in and welook it up in the ledgers, it starts to reveal its story: who it was made for and where it’s been. Then we can start investigating. Of course, these days with the power of the internet you can really build up a tremendous amount of information on a gun and what’s happened to it. For me, that’s what makes these old guns so fascinating, and I think what excites a lot of people about collecting is the provenance that goes with them.
My own standout favourite classic Rigby would be the Jim Corbett rifle, for obvious reasons, but we’ve got other very beautiful guns here, some plainer, some more elaborate. They vary from rifles that belonged to the sporting artist and writer H. Frank Wallace in the early 20th century, to a pair ofGeorgian duelling pistols. Each one has afascinating story though, so when I see guns come along in auctions I’ll always try to pick them up for the museum so anyone who visits us can see them too.
The UK’s flagship summer show for fieldsports, The Game Fair, is only a few months away.What can people look forward to seeing from Rigby?
I don’t want to give too much away yet, but we have something pretty special planned. Everybody is somewhat burnt out with Covid and not having been able to get away as much as usual. We’ve decided that if you can’t get to the safari, we’re going to bring the safari to you. We’ll also be unveiling a very exciting partnership and the new partner company will be on the booth with us.
It’s set to be a real hub of excitement and a place for like-minded people to come, share stories and share their passion for the camaraderie that makes hunting what it is, and of course for Rigby guns. We will also have Traditional English Guncases on the booth with us, who we partnered with last year.We’re extremely proud of what they do for the British gun trade and for us. They’ll be demonstrating some beautiful examples of the art of leather and canvas work on their cases and sleeves. There was a time when there would have been a lot of guys keeping these crafts going, but now there are only a handful in the UK so it’s great to be able to showcase and celebrate them.
Has spring finally sprung, and have you managed to get out after any roebuck?
Spring has been quite late this year because we’ve been having such cold nights, so it has been a bit weird. It has finally kicked along in the past week or so, but up until then the English countryside seemed somewhat confused as to what month of the year or even what season it was meant to be!I’ve still managed to get out though.
I recently took a Highland Stalker out with Simon Barr from Tweed Media, who heads up our marketing, and we had a fantastic morning out with a guide. The guide had seen the particular buck we were after over previous years and had decided that this was the season to take him out. He was a really mature, old boy and we spent a good morning on his patch before an opportunity for a shot presented itself, which was really satisfying.
Being able to identify one buck and know its history and place in the local deer hierarchy is fascinating in much the same way as knowing the story of avintage gun. A lot of thought goes into a sustainable management plan and you know you’re making the right decisions for the benefit of all the roe deer and of the woodland environment that the buck was living in. By taking the older animal, you’re allowing a younger male to come through and pass on his genes. It’s what it’s all about – animal husbandry and good woodland management – and it’s even better when you can do it in the company of friends.