Help please with this percussion pistol

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by jakrabid, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. jakrabid

    jakrabid New Member

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    Hi guys,

    I just took receipt of a percussion pistol in a mahogany case with accessories.

    I would appreciate some help with identifying the country of origin (Belgian?), the maker and circa of the pistol.

    I would also like some help with identifying the origin/make and circa of the case and accessories, but I will post a separate thread for those.



    The pistol has a hexagonal screw off barrel and a number of marks stamped into the metal.

    Please see the pictures below...
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I looked forward to learning what you guys can tell me about this pistol,

    cheers
  2. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    The barrel proof is faint, but appears to be the pre-1893 ELG in an oval Liege, Belgium mark.

    (The barrel is octagonal, not hexagonal)
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
  3. jakrabid

    jakrabid New Member

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    The auction description from when I bought it also said that it was marked ELG, but my eyes aren't what they used to be because I can't make it out...

    oops... didn't even notice... ummmm yeah... like I ever actually stood any kind of chance of making out the ELG :D:bleh::D


    Thanks HRF.

    Do you know if any of those marks denote a date of manufacture?
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
  4. whirley

    whirley Member

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    Can't help you with the pistol, but the metal lined box may once have served as a tea chest. Sometimes called a tea caddy. Mine, which came down from my grgrgrandmother is lined with tin plated copper.
  5. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Lack of a crown on the ELG oval dates it before 1893, but that's as close as you'll probably get as there were thousands of these made. I don't find a match for the initials PM(?)

    I don't think that's a powder flask, although it may have been used as one.
  6. jakrabid

    jakrabid New Member

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    Ahhh, that might explain why try as I might I haven't found any powder/shot flasks to match it. Good thing it isn't also octagonal in shape as I'd never find it... hmmm it isn't is it? :eek::eek::eek:
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
  7. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Member

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    Pistol, entry level quality, was the 'saturday nite special' of its time, 1830-70.
  8. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    The chest and pistol were not together originally. The accessories (except for the bullet mold) don't resemble any pistol accessories I know, and may be for the tea set Whirley mentioned. It looks like the pistol, the mould and some balls of two sizes (neither of which might fit the gun) plus some miscellaneious old pieces, were simply tossed into a handy case so someone could claim it was a "cased pistol with accessories."

    The pistol certainly does not come up to the level of engraved silver; it is a utilitarian Belgian-made box-lock pocket pistol of the roughly 1830-1860 period, of no special interest or value, perhaps $200 at retail on a good day.

    Jim
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
  9. dustydog

    dustydog New Member

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    Agree that it seems a" put up "set.Case resembles a case for a quack box(patent electric cureall system popular around 1880-1890),the blue shotglass could most probably be dated post 1920,the spoon is from a salt cellar set.Definatly a Belgian pocket pistol,have its twin and still shoot the little bugger.Powder flask is North African,but better quality than the current tourist dreck.Curious about the silver colored knob,cane top?
  10. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    FWIW, I don't think that "thing" is a powder flask; the mouth is far too wide. With its screw-on cap, it looks more like a whiskey flask. The other silver piece looks like the knob of a cane or walking stick.

    As noted, the whole thing looks like a bunch of old stuff just tossed in a box so it could be described as "accessories" in an auction description.

    Jim
  11. Buffalochip

    Buffalochip Active Member

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    I don't think it is a tea caddy--tea caddys had locks to safekeep the contents. It does look like a hodgepodge of stuff thrown in a box (nice handcut dovetails).
  12. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

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    i gotta agree, the flask is a tipple flask ( and where the slang term for a quick drink comes from ) if that has hall marks it may be worth a bob or two ..

    the balls dont match the gun nor the spoon ( its a salt or mustard spoon)

    i think its a caddy box ( for holding tea and refined sugar)

    but the pistol seems to be a gentlemans box lock percussion which needed a good clean a few decades ago ;)


    overall for what you paid, good score ...
  13. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    It is a shame that folks are allowed to get away with that kind of thing, but I guess it is inevitable given the "sight unseen" purchases on "the net". One thing that immediately struck me was that the case was far too deep for a pistol case, and I couldn't imagine what would have filled the space. Some cases had drawers for accessories, but that one didn't seem to fall into that category. Then I saw the quite ordinary pistol and objects that seemed to have nothing to do with the gun, and the conclusion was obvious.

    Perhaps had the item shown up at a local auction or a gun shop, the claims would have been obvious, but with only pictures, and perhaps not very good ones, someone could easily believe the misleading hype about the "cased pistol."

    Jim
  14. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

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    i agree Jim and Jak gave me a heads up on this and a feel even worse now as in the original pic's it did not shpw the depth of the boz, i stated then it did not match the pistol , but looked older than the pistol , i still think that but no way was it for a weapon ever ( unless you count tea as a weapon)
  15. jakrabid

    jakrabid New Member

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    Thanks guys for the great info, it's been very interesting and useful...

    and sorry Jim for the duplication & confusion caused posting the other thread.:eek:


    It's not actually metal lined, though it's possible it once was... I do believe you're right about it starting out as a tea caddy though.
    I've had a few antique dealer friends of mine look at it over the weekend and the consensus is that it is quite old, 'Georgian' mid 1700's to early 1800's, and that it was most likely a tea caddy originally.

    Yes, most did, but not all. Most timber boxes had locks whatever their purpose, whether they be gun cases, jewellery boxes, humidors, stationary slopes, nautical equipment cases, etc... they generally all had locks as they were designed to be portable and/or secure. Portability/security probably wasn't as great a necessity for tea caddies or tea chests (except when travelling), as it was for many other types of boxes, but adding a lock didn't require much more cost or effort and it did make it easier for moving/handling the caddie without spilling the contents so a lock was usually fitted.


    Sorry about not mentioning that, it's a bottle stopper, hallmarked sterling silver London 1831. It's the type that is a hollow cap that a cork fits tightly into, so if it breaks or perishes the cork can simply be replaced. In this instant the cork has been broken and only the section inside the cap remains, which is why it does look a bit like a cane top.

    I believe you guys are right. What's gnawing at me though is that I'm positive i've seen one of these before, I just cant remember where or when. :eek:

    Unfortunately Jack, it isn't hallmarked.


    Hmmmmm didn't 'tea' start a war once upon a time in some little English colony in a land far far away? :p

    I do believe you guys are right about it being a 'hodge podge' of stuff thrown together. As Jim suggested, very possibly in order to present it at auction as a 'cased pistol, accessories, & ephemera'. However, whilst it's possible that the 'accessories' & ephemera were thrown into the box for the auction I purchased it from, the pistol has definitely been with the box for some considerable length of time previously.

    Due to the mismatch between the pistol and box, the ill fit has led to the hammer of the pistol wearing a deep 3-4mm groove into the side of the case. This groove is clearly not recent, but has been worn down over an extended period of time. Also, there is a large 5mm gaping crack across the bottom of the case which may account for the degree of surface rust to the (left) underside of the pistol as opposed to the lack of rust on the (right) topside of the pistol. Perhaps this crack 'over time' has allowed some small amount of damp air to rise up through the box and lining to cause this rust to the surface of the pistol that it came into contact with?

    It is still possible the pistol and box were thrown together for a long past auction/sale. It's also possible that someone in the mid-late 1800's wanted to store the very cheap pistol they had just bought and so married it with an equally cheap & ill fitting converted old tea caddy/box, rather than go and pay more for a quality case than they had paid for their pistol.

    Whatever the case it doesn't really matter why or when the pistol & box were thrown together, at the end of the day the pistol and box don't match... unless both being 'cheap & nasty' qualify as a match. ;)

    I'm content with it.

    I've had the opportunity in the last week to research some of the antique ephemera (documents) that were included with the pistol and case, and I'm confident they alone will recoup more than what I paid. :)

    It has been a chore deciphering some of the hand writing though, as much of it is written in the 'old English' style... my head hurts :eek:
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