Webley Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) No.1 model revolver in .442 calibre, six shot, with rich 80% foliate engraving to frame, backstrap and triggerguard, excellent original nickle finish with remnants of gold wash in protected areas, and ivory grips.
Introduced in 1867, P. Webley & Sons' latest revolver quickly assumed its name after the adoption by the Irish Constabulary the same year, although the model would go on to be used by several British colonial police forces, among them South Africa and Canada, as well as Australia - in Victoria and NSW.
This particular model has a two-digit serial number, indicating it was among the very first of the model produced in 1867. It is one of two known examples with ivory grips and nickle finish, and has been speculated that - in an effort to promote the new model - Webley produced a limited number of high-grade presentation examples to be distributed to selected dealers around the globe. This one carries James W. Rosier's name and address on the top of the frame.
Interestingly, Rosier had only recently returned to the business after having left the trade for a few years to deal with family issues arising after the death of his mother and two younger brothers. He had nonetheless obviously retained his reputation as a leading Melbourne dealer for Webley to consider him; or equally, he saw the value of re-establishing himself in Melbourne's trade by actively promoting the latest model.
Webley revolvers are among the more common of English revolvers retailed by Rosier, who would supply the Victorian Mounted Police with 100 Webley RICs in 1873, and go on to become the sole Victorian agent for the British firm two years later, in 1875.
A single barrel, percussion 'deer' rifle in .58 calibre, retailed by James W. Rosier, Melbourne, approximately mid-1860s/ 1870s.
These single-shot, heavy barreled rifles - often referred to as deer stalking rifles, from their European origins - soon become known in the Australian colonies as kangaroo rifles, as their larger calibre meant they were easily adapted for pursuit of this new quarry.
This was again a much-sought after item, with Rosier-marked deer rifles having an interesting story behind them. In 1988, a cache of 27 rifles - all but one of them marked with Rosier's name - were found in the roof of an elderly women who lived in the Camberwell area, Melbourne. They were wrapped in local newspapers dating from the First World War and had been placed in the roof by her husband, apparently before he went off to the War. Although he returned, the rifles remained seemingly forgotten until after his death. The twenty-seven items subsequently passed to a Melbourne gun dealers Cobb & Co in 1989 for sale. The group consisted of one .500 calibre Rosier marked double rifle, a single-barrel percussion rifle by English maker Charles Osborne, and the remaining twenty-five all being Rosier-marked, single-barrel percussion rifles - all similar with steel ramrods and heavy octagonal barrels, but of varying calibres and engraved decoration.
It seems likely they had been purchased either just before Rosier sold his business in 1916, or from the sale itself, as nearly all of them that have been noted have been - like this example - in particularly fine condition. That they had been wrapped in newspaper contemporary to Rosier's sale of business further supports this premise. Rosier's own catalogue of sale lists thirteen single-barrel, muzzle-loading rifles marked with his name, with varying calibres. Similar rifles also appear retailed by English firms of W.W. Greener, Thomas Murcott, and Manton.
This particular example was purchased by a collector who saw it advertised in Melbourne's Trading Post newspaper some decades ago from a vendor in the Sorrento area, along the Mornington Peninsula. It was subsequently acquired by its immediate past owner, from whom I acquired it. It is one of four of the batch of twenty-five known in 1989 that I've seen in the past decade of collecting.
There should be another twenty-one still out there, waiting to be uncovered!
James W. Rosier junior worked in his father's business in the later decades of the nineteenth century, until the early onset of loss of hearing forced him to continue his gunsmithing from his private residence in Rusden Street, Elsternwick.
He constructed a miniature rifle range in the backyard, and developed a number of patents in the early twentieth century, one of them being this one - patent no. 20181 - for improvements to small bore rifle ammunition.
A double barrel, break-open rifle in .50 calibre, retailed by James W. Rosier, Melbourne, approximately mid-1870s.
These double rifles in .50 calibre are widely understood by Australian collectors to have been supplied by Rosier to the Victorian Government for use by warders in the penal system, prior to being replaced by the 1873 Winchester carbines - also believed to have been supplied through Rosier - in the 1880s.
Fifty were ordered, with twenty-seven being introduced into service in May 1874 at Pentridge Prison, Coburg. Among contracts Rosier subsequently fulfilled for the Victorian Government, in 1879 and again in 1880, was the supply of ammunition in '500 bore for double rifles' - presumably for the rifles he had supplied the Government a few years earlier.
While this example has a vacant silver escutcheon under the stock, another example in the collection is marked with an apparent rack number '47'. This is the highest rack number noted on these models to date, further supporting the reported order quantity of fifty and that Rosier was involved in the initial supply.
This latest acquisition comes after waiting for this particularly fine example to become available to me, having first seen it over a decade ago. It retains very strong original blued finished to the triggerguard and under-lever, and attractive greyed patina to the other metal, with an attractively figured wooden stock in very good condition.
This item was loaned for exhibition in 2001-02 as part of the exhibition on bushranger Ned Kelly - 'Ned: The Exhibition' - held at the Old Melbourne Gaol and subsequently at Southbank.
Hi Chappers, many thanks. I caught up with Adrian at the auction this weekend, and it came up that you had probably contacted me through the Guild about your Webley. Hope the notes were of use. Happy collecting!
Hi, Im amazed by the level of research that you have conducted good sir, I have a Webley RIC No.1 that trying to find more about and if you could point me in the correct direction, i would be thank full.
Hi Glen, sorry I didn't see your message earlier. I can't help you with cartridges, as I' a collector only, rather than shooter. I would add the cautionary note to get any antique gun properly checked out by a gunsmith before putting a round through it, particularly a snider. Can make a horrible mess if the cover doesn't have a good seal. In terms of value, I'd have to see good pics or inspect the item itself, but hopefully the estimates I gave Mike elsewhere on this site (see the actual Snider rook record) might help. I'd certainly be interested in your s/n for my records, if you were happy to provide it?
A cased presentation-grade Tranter model 1868 solid frame revolver with rich foliate engraved frame with gold wash.
It is believed that this cased set was purchased from James Rosier by notable Victorian pastoralist, John Hunter Kerr, c. 1870. An escutcheon inlaid into the case lid is engraved 'John H. Kerr'. Rosier was only at 45 Little Collins Street - the address on the trade label - between 1867-70. The trade directories show no likely candidates, until John Hunter Kerr moved to Melbourne in 1870 to take up the role of Inspector of Sheep. He died shortly afterwards, in 1874.
Kerr is well-known today for his amateur photographic work, particularly his early images of Victorian aboriginals during his time on the Loddon River, in north west Victoria, during the late 1840s and into the 1850s.
Madeleine Say, Pictures Librarian at the State Library of Victoria, has written on Kerr's photographic work, a web version of which can be found at the below link: