Mr. Hughes, here it is over 7 years on from your initial post, but I only just joined this forum and I do have information on this make. Even if the shotgun has long since passed from your hands, it may be that other folks have come across this site via a search for the elusive "R Wakefield" make. I therefore hope that this information is of value:
"R Wakefield" was not a real person's name, but rather a trade name registered by Mr. R. H. Kilby of Montreal, Canada. Mr. Kilby was a prolific dealer and importer in the 1870's. http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/scripts/l...;imageID=141372
Mr. Kilby manufactured no firearms, but was a dealer for many British arms manufacturers in Montreal. As he expanded his operations, he began commissioning custom-marked firearms under the "R. Wakefield" name. These were low- to mid-market offerings, constructed from roughs and finished by cottage makers in the custom of the time, especially for export to the African and South American markets. Kilby's self-stated intentions were to invest slightly more time into the finishing stage, in the hopes of serving the North American market.
Here is Kilby's letter to the editor of Forest & Stream, Rod & Gun, a sportsman's periodical in Montreal. The letter was published in 1873, Volume 9 of the publication.
"WHO IS R. WAKEFIELD?"
The above question was asked by one of your correspondents at Whitehall, in your issue of October 4 r and you gave a very correct reply. "R. Wakefield" is the trade mark I put on guns of English manufacture, and this, in conjunction with the Lion and Beaver and the mono-gram BHK between them, is registered at Stationer's Hall, London, England, and can only be used by myself.
Craving your polite indulgence, I now ask you to permit me, through your columns, to state by what motives I was actuated in adopting any name as a trade mark, which was not my own. I don't make guns, I profess to be the architect, but not the builder.
My guns are constructed after my own designs, and I employ builders, who will furnish the best work at the most reasonable price. Makers who are both the architects and builders of their guns, and who have deservedly earned an enviable reputation, may sometimes yield to the temptation of trading on their fame, and tons either furnish an article of mediocre merits at a price beyond its real value, or a
really good article at a fancy price.
My motives then are:
1. Not to be identified with, or tied to, any maker;
2. To be entirely independent of fancy prices;
3. To secure the best work at the lowest figures;
4. To employ such builders as are best calculated to satisfactorily construct the various-varieties of guns suited to fill the wants of my correspondents.
I hope your readers will have charity, enough to refrain from saying that I must be some relative of the famous Captain. Bragg, if I assert that I understand what a gun should be. I have handled a gun ever since I had strength enough to carry one, and I hardly like to confess how many years that is since.
Thus, you wouldn't invite the trade of any particular maker. I strive more to put (through the trade) Into a sportsman's bands as good a gun as can be made (no matter by whom) for the price charged. Sportsmen are as quick as moat men to detect anything In the form of humbug; and, as I have the conceit to believe that I am not an unwelcome member of the kind and hearty fraternity, I must, therefore, ask them to accept my assurance that my endeavor now is to put in the market the best work and material at a cost which cannot be achieved under other conditions.
I would not have ventured to trespass at such length on your space had I not thought the reply to your correspondent at Whitehall— accurate though It was— might have placed me in a position capable of various interpretations. Your love of fair play— which I have so often seen evidenced— could not, I am sure, permit this, hence my reliance on your good nature to receive this communication.
I am, dear sir, yours truly, R. H. Kilby.
I hope this information is of use to you, and any others who might happen upon this page in search of info on the elusive "R Wakefield" make of firearms. Your shotgun is likely a mid-1870's cottage import. Mass produced by a large maker in Birmingham with London registration, shipped somewhere in England for finishing by a small cottage outfit, commissioned by Kilby for export to Canada, and sold in small numbers throughout North America.
It is fairly rare, reflecting the low volume of a cottage maker, but unless someone has some particular affinity for Kilby himself, that rarity doesn't impart any measurable increase in value. I believe it to be an average example of cottage guns of this era, having held two in my hands.