As if one beautiful 18th century flintlock pistol isn’t enough, having a matched pair is even better! A few weeks ago, I ran into a friend who showed me a pair of mid-18th century French …
As if one beautiful 18th century flintlock pistol isn’t enough, having a matched pair is even better! A few weeks ago, I ran into a friend who showed me a pair of mid-18th century French flintlock pistols. They were both in wonderful condition with only light wear from age and use with nice walnut stocks and iron furniture. They had never been buffed, or even cleaned other than light oiling. I held them both for a bit and thought about the craftsmanship and kills that went into making this pair of pistols in a time before the modern machinery we have today.
Each one was hand made with each part numbered and fitted to the gun. Some tend to think that a gun was made from start to finish by the same craftsman, but most of the time they were not. Barrel making was a tough skill to master as they were made from a piece of flat stock and worked around a mandrel, with the seam welded. Then it was bored and filed to make it round and then proofed to make sure it wouldn’t blow out. Lock making was another separate skill making sure that the lock functioned and was timed properly. Then they had stockers who would assemble the guns and final fit all the pieces. So, when you look at a pair of these that are so alike, it makes me think about each pair of hands that made each part and how amazing these pieces of history are.
After looking at the French pistols, I came back to work and pulled out two pairs of English pistols I had.
One pair is made by Elston and is so marked on the rounded lock plate in block letters. They are brassbarreled and marked “LONDON” on the top. The fittings are brass except for a silver grotesque mask on the butt of each pistol. Like many other English pistols, the stocks are walnut.
Another pair I had were made by Jover, a maker who also built and sold officers’ fusils. The locks are rounded, and the name is nicely engraved under the pan in cursive. These are beautifully made pistolswith brass fittings throughout. The trigger guard bows, butt caps, and side plates have engraved foliate designs. The barrels are steel and marked “LONDON” also on the top.
Not that collecting a single pistol isn’t good enough. It is, but sometimes having a pair of wonderfully made pistols can add quite a bit to a collection.
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