Identify - flintlock pistol

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by JoeF, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. JoeF

    JoeF New Member

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    Hello all.

    First post on this forum and I'm hoping someone can help me identify a semi-relic flintock holster pistol. It's a sleeper and does not appear to have had any alteration or restoration work apart from a light cleaning I gave it recently. All the fittings are iron apart from the butt cap which appears to be silver. Various patterns are crudely engraved on the lock, sideplate and trigger guard (see photos) and a word, possibly London is stamped on the barrel, there is no makers name to be seen on the lock. There are two proof marks by the breech, one looks like a B, the other only shows an an oval indentation. Curiously the barrel is only fixed by the screw on the breech tang, there are no signs of any pin fixings. Also there is no foresight.
    Old flintlocks are not really my field, so any ideas, my best guess is European about 1730?

    Cheers

    Joe

    Attached Files:

  2. JoeF

    JoeF New Member

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    2 more pics...

    Attached Files:

  3. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

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    Well, for one it isn't as old as 1730. Proof marks only started to be used in 1750. If you can get a closeup pic of the two proof marks that look like the B and oval it may be helpful.
  4. JoeF

    JoeF New Member

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    Thanks for that which puts an earliest possible date on the piece. As I say, flintlocks are not my field, or should I say I'm just starting. My date of 1750 was from studying the odd book and magazine article but they seem to deal mainly with top of the market pieces and I have seen very little regarding the more run of the mill pistols of the day.
    By the way the calibre is approx .62 inch. The 'Sculpture Park' thing in the 1st pic is a 30cm 1ft ruler btw.

    These are the best pics I can get of the proof marks.

    ps I wont be replying until about this time tomorrow as its lights out here in the UK and work tomorrow, sigh...

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    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
  5. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Private proof marks were used as early as 1580 in Suhl and 1630 in England. Legally required proof began in the latter country less than a decade later.

    As to the pistol, I think it is a "bitser", put together from pieces of several guns, probably in the middle east. The severely rusted barrel doesn't quite jibe with the less damaged lock and the fairly well preserved stock. The lock just doesn't fit that stock the way it should and the lock itself is pretty crude compared with English work. The stock shows signs of Eastern work, probably using parts and decoration from an older gun. The silver wire work is typical of the middle eastern region, and is poorly done.

    It looks to me like a "souvenir" pistol from the Afghanistan/Pakistan area, though it is better than most and looks like it might be functional. (No attempt should be made to fire it; the touchhole is so large the powder charge would blow the lock off.)

    Jim
  6. JoeF

    JoeF New Member

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    Thanks Jim, the possible Middle eastern connection gives me a new avenue to explore.
    Yes it is functional, after a lot of gentle working I was able to free up the hammer and pan and the lock functions with both full and half cock being very positive. I have not dry fired it though as I worry it would be too much for the mainspring. As for actual firing - well I don't have a death or serious injury wish!

    In fact the lock fits very well, its just at the moment the remaining side nail does not screw in fully and the lock is actually held in place temporarily with a cable tie. Having said that the stock does appear to have shrunk slightly and as can just be seen the ram rod has distorted and is now almost 'moulded' into the timber of the stock. Another thing, I suspect it has been fired at some time as when I cleaned around the wood near the barrel tang it showed a light almost bleached colour which I suspect may have been caused by burning powder affecting the original finish.

    The one thing i do know about this pistol is that it has been in storage for about the last 150 years, so if it is a souvenir 'bitser' then it's quite an old one. It came with a second later looking pistol which I will post some pictures of soon.

    Cheers,

    Joe
  7. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    THe 150 years definitely rules out any recent manufacture anywhere. But I still have the same problems. Look at the silver wire work in the stock. In good quality European work, the circles should be concentric, and as perfectly round as they could make them. Here the circles are not round and even, but are "bent" and uneven. The lock looks odd because it is a curved bottom ("banana") lockplate that is set in the stock with the front pointing downward. No law against that, but usually with a curved lockplate, the front is straight and the rear is dropped, following the line of the pistol grip stock. Nothing really, really odd, but a few things that seem to be out of synch with the picture of a well made pistol.

    Jim
  8. JoeF

    JoeF New Member

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    Hi Jim

    The more I handle this pistol the more questions it raises. As you deduce from the photos there is almost nothing about this pistol which shouts quality. The lock and barrel seem to be of a reasonable standard but the engraving is little more than scratched in. The sideplate is just an unshaped steel cutout and the trigger guard is not much better.
    Coming to the stock though (see photo 5) the carving seems to be quite good, almost as if the wood had been moulded - note the bevelling where the trigger guard is inlet. But again as you say the wirework is poor, its not symetrical and in places seems to go off course or is missing altogether. Also when the buttcap is removed the hidden wood is crudely finished to the point of being hacked into shape.

    It makes me wonder if this was originally a cheap but competent pistol that has been 'pimped up' by it's former owner, perhaps in some foreign port or backstreet workshop, to look more prestigious that it actually is. Who knows, Im only speculating and have little enough experience of flintlock firearms anyway.

    I will disassemble it shortly and post some more pics.

    Regards,
    Joe
  9. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Member

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    Jim K is right. Eastern pistol assembled from European parts. Eastern decor for sure. It was probably assembled and used in the late flint period and has the (hard to explain) awkward 'look' of Eastern pistols, grip angle, tilt of lock vs barrel, etc.. --- That said, looks like a good example of its type and of interest to a collector, either one of few specializing in Eastern pieces or as a variant example.
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