Anderson, who was the first English bowler to pass 400 in Tests, came into the third Investec Test needing three wickets to join an even more exclusive club. Among quicks, only Glenn McGrath and Courtney Walsh have previously managed to combine threat and longevity to the same level; out ahead, beyond the 600 mark, are the spin trio of Anil Kumble, Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan.
After striking twice on the first morning of the match to move to 499, Anderson was made to wait for the landmark as Ben Stokes ripped through West Indies' first innings with figures of 6 for 22. But second time around he didn't have to wait long, spearing a full delivery through Brathwaite with his 12th delivery.
After taking a five-for on debut at Lord's against Zimbabwe in 2003, Anderson's early years with England were characterised by struggles with injury and changes to his action. His return to the team on the 2008 tour of New Zealand - having reverted to the distinctive delivery style that sees his head facing the ground - marked the start of his ascent to becoming England's most prolific international wicket-taker.
In Antigua in 2015, he passed Ian Botham's mark of 383, which had stood since 1992, and he then raised 400 against New Zealand, at Headingley, a few weeks later. Anderson is also England's most successful bowler in ODIs, with 269 wickets, to go alongside a further 18 in T20 internationals. Last month, he was honoured by Lancashire with the naming of the James Anderson End at Old Trafford.
Although he has been reluctant to set targets, Anderson has often spoken of wanting to play for England for as long as possible. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo last week, he said: "There's no reason I can't play until I'm 40. I am now as skilful a bowler as I have ever been and consistent as well. I don't know whether I've peaked but I think I'm bowling as well as I have.
"I wouldn't rule out playing in the Ashes of 2020-21, either. I'm very fortunate to have the body I have. For a fast bowler, not much stress goes through my body. A lot less than a lot of other fast bowlers. It's just a case of looking after myself. If I can keep fit, keep my speeds up there's no reason why not."
While Anderson's injury record in 2015 and 2016 was cause for concern, as he missed Tests against Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and India, he has maintained his fitness this year and been as potent as ever in English conditions. In seven Tests against South Africa and West Indies, he has taken 33 wickets at an average of less than xx and remains, at 35, an immensely skilful practitioner.
"His record speaks for itself," Chris Woakes said during the second Test, at Headingley. "If you think of the greats that have gone on to get that sort of landmark it's pretty amazing. He's a great guy to have in the dressing room. The thing we take from his as bowlers is he's still motivated to improve and get more."
Anderson is set to go on his fourth Ashes tour of Australia this winter, where he may be able to contemplate surpassing Walsh, the next man ahead of him, on 519. A little further along, on 563, is McGrath, who said last year that Anderson could "easily" break his record for a fast bowler, if he stayed fit.