c. 1850-1860's, Stagecoach Size Percussion Double Barrel Shotgun, Made by W. RICHARDS, England, Fine. This Stagecoach Size 36.25" overall length, Percussion Double Barrel Shotgun has 19.5" long, .72 caliber, (12 Gauge) steel side by side smoothbore barrels. The barrels have a very dark almost black finish. Back-action percussion locks each maker marked, "W. RICHARDS" and remnants of case colors are visible under an age patina. Steel furniture. Wood ram rod. The half stock is solid with checkered wrist, scratches, and dings from years of handling. Both actions are in good mechanical working order. Many shotguns were cut down to various lengths depending on the needs of the owner. Short barreled shotguns were favored by stagecoach drivers for protection against robbers and native American Indian attacks. The shorter barreled shotguns were also used by Cavalry units during the Civil War especially by the Southern Army. Simply a great looking period, double barrel shotgun.
The Maker, W. RICHARDS (Westley Richards) was a British gunmaker. The company was founded in 1812 by William Westley Richards and remained in the hands of the Richards family until it was purchased by Clode in 1957. See Ref.: page 168, “GUNMAKERS OF LONDON 1350-1850” by Howard L. Blackmore, 1986.