Webley Fosbery Automatic, fun and rare
Hello all, I just joined the board to give a bit of advice to a woman trying to find out how to sell her Webley Fosbery .455. I recently sold my WF .38 through Cowans Auctions in Ohio and one of the moderators here C3 asked if I could give a little background on it.
My Father was A Mountain Infantry Officer in the mid 50's stationed in Austria with the First Buddy Platoon ever tried. A buddy Platoon was one where Officers, NCO's and enlisted all attended basic Tng Together and then were shipped as a platoon for AIT and permanent Party together hence forth. While he was in Austria, he purchased a few weapons and they returned home with him after he sustained a leader fall and shattered his Arm, Leg and Military career.
One of the Pieces he bought (for about $50) was a Webley Fosbery 38 Auto in full nickel and as originally sold other than some wear and tear from being 50+ years old and surviving at least a couple World Wars. Because he was a lefty, he immediately removed the safety then lost it! Other than coming out every once in a while to pop a few off, it remained in his sock drawer until he died in the mid 60's, then my Mother held on to it for safe keeping.
My best Friend and I were avid hunters but we would occasionally take the old girl out to plink telephone poles, it wasnt really a hunting weapon so it got very little hot time for 20 years or more. It was however one of the most fascinating weapons to shoot! No kick, accurate at 30 yards or more and worked like no other gun Ive ever fired before. After I returned from active duty in 84, my mother presented me with the WF and from that point on, it sat in my sock drawer!
Last year, I started looking around the web to see what I could find out about it and boy was I shocked. These things were going for 5-10 K in less than great condition and .38's were as rare as frog fur! I was shocked, it went from the sock drawer to the safe that day! I got in contact with A gentleman in the UK named Richard Milner, owner of Webley Scott Archives and he got me all the info he could about my piece including photo copies of the original entry in the production and transfer ledger. The info he found on it showed the revolver was sold on 8 September 1911, to be named for “S. C. Coombs Ltd, Rangoon”. It would appear that Lyon & Co. who were retail gun dealers with premises in Calcutta, were in this particular case acting as forwarding agents for Coombs Ltd.
He also added the following data on the production, The entire production of the Webley Fosbery Automatic Revolvers was less than 4500, of which only 417 .38 calibers were ever produced. 141 were dismantled prior to 1914 and the small parts used to produce .455 Fosberys. At least 72 more .38 caliber Automatics were factory converted to .455 calibers and retain original serial numbers leaving the total number of 38's unmodified by Webley at less than 160. Webley Scott Archives, armsresearch.co.uk
Richard is probably the most knowledgeable person about anything to do with the WF and Webley's in general. He has the serial numbers and has tracked most of the existent WF's and asserted as a fact that mine was one of two still in its factory configuration known left to exist in the world!
Im not rich, I cant afford to own anything that valuable to have it sit in a safe where it cant be appreciated and the last weapon I shot worth that kind of money was a MK 19 Grenade launcher (it wasnt mine, it was The US Army's, no sweat off my brow if I broke it, send it to the Armor!) Thats when I decided to sell it, Cowans auction house happily picked it up in January and sold it in May, they did a fine job and I was extremely pleased with the selling price of $17K+! Not bad for a revolver that cost my dad $50, was panned by all the critics and couldnt be given away after the solid body pistols with clips came to be!
I still think shes a beauty and Im sad I will never hold her again but Ive got my share of Longarms both very old and not so old to shoot whenever my heart desires!
If you own a WF, keep it if you can, It will only become more valuable every year! If you must sell it, take it to a real Auction House or broker, you wont be sorry!