Please help identify and value a pair antique pistols

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by dmerz2, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. dmerz2

    dmerz2 New Member

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    This pair of antique pistols has been called dueling pistols by some and target pistols by others. Each pistol is 16 inches long and 7 inches high with a 9 1/2 inch barrel. The guns are numbered "1" and "2". Inscribed on the top of the barrel is: Fr. Jaeger Hofbuchenmachen Wiesbaden. On one side of the barrel is inscribed "Guss" and on the other side "Stahl". I think he caliber is .36

    Please help identify and value these pieces. Thanks, in advance, for any and all information. Doug

    PS: I several more pics but only 4 were allowed.

    Attached Files:

  2. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    Are they rifled or smoothbore?
  3. dmerz2

    dmerz2 New Member

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    I am not a gun expert - I think they are smoothbore.

    Attached Files:

  4. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Very nice rifled target pistols; Guss Stahl = cast steel.

    The rear sight appears to have adjustable elevation.
  5. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    A beautiful pair of pistols and refreshingly plain for that era. A Google search turned up other guns by Fr. (Franz?) Jaeger, most very elaborately engraved and inlaid.

    "Hofb├╝chsenmacher" means gun maker to the court, presumably at that time (c. 1840-1850) the court of the Duke of Nassau whose seat was at Wiesbaden. That does not mean that the guns were made for the Duke (it is like the British "By Appointment To..."), and the guns' plainness indicates they were made for someone far less wealthy than they Duke of Nassau.

    Wiesbaden is in the south of Germany, near Frankfurt am Main, and is (or was) the site of a large U.S. Army installation.

    I don't think they are duelling pistols, because true duellers would be smoothbore and have no sights or only a front sight. I would call them high quality target pistols. The pistols are certainly German with something of the French influence. I would value the pair at around $4000, much more if there is a case with accessories.

    Jim
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  6. dmerz2

    dmerz2 New Member

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    Thanks, very much, to Jim K & hrf for their informative comments. I would appreciate any additional comments or valuations. I will probably try to sell these pistols. DBM
  7. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    If you plan to sell them, my suggestion for appraisal and exposure would be one of the large gun auctions, such as Rock Island in IL, Amoskeag in NH, or Bonhams in CA.
  8. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    If you do decide to auction them, we would appreciate knowing what you get for them.

    Jim
  9. dmerz2

    dmerz2 New Member

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    Jim K & hrf,

    In your opinion, which of the three actions mentioned would be best for my pistols? Thanks for your thoughts. DBM
  10. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Member

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    For comparison is a similar pair, but duelling pistols, from collectorsfirearm.com. Arguably the largest dealer in collectible guns - and for sure up there in pricing. Like a few others, you pay for the confidence you gain in dealing with a merchant of EXE repute.

    http://www.collectorsfirearms.com/pair-of-belgian-made-dueling-pistols-ah3153/

    If this doesn't bring up the pictures, go to-- collectorsfirearms.com --and find it with all their perc pistols.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2012
  11. musketshooter

    musketshooter New Member

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    I believe they came from a boxed set of dueling pistols. If they had the box, they would be worth several thousand. Without it, about $1500.
  12. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Maybe 1500 each.
  13. dmerz2

    dmerz2 New Member

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hrf
    If you plan to sell them, my suggestion for appraisal and exposure would be one of the large gun auctions, such as Rock Island in IL, Amoskeag in NH, or Bonhams in CA.
    Jim K & hrf,

    In your opinion, which of the three actions mentioned would be best for my pistols? Thanks for your thoughts. DBM
  14. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    I listed those three to cover midwest and both coasts, but have no direct experience with them.

    However, I'm impressed by Rock Island's marketing.
  15. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Member

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    Rock Island paid me for a part missing from one of their guns I bought. Some of the others won't even discuss issues.
  16. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I have heard good things about Rock Island, but have no personal experience.

    A note just to say that a case (casing) is always good to have with any antique pistol, but cased pairs are common and not necessarily indicative of duelling pistols. Just FWIW, here are a few things to look for on duellers. Not all will apply and there are regional and national variations:

    1. Dull appearance; no shiny surfaces that could reflect light into the eyes of either the holder or his oppponent (remember, the principals did not know which one would have which pistol).
    2. Natural pointing from the raise pistol position. There was no time to aim and most versions of the code banned guns with sights, or at least rear sights.
    3. Large caliber, .45 or over. Small calibers are usually target pistols.
    4. No rifling. Again, there were variants to the code, but in general rifling was prohibited. (A few guns were made with rifling that ended short of the muzzle and was invisible; needless to say the use of such a trick was considered contemptible.)
    5. Very well made. Those who participated in formal duels were usually wealthy and their pistols reflected that. Needless to say, reliability was paramount.

    Duelling pistols were not always the property of one of the participants. Seconds could provide the weapons, and gun makers frequently rented pairs of pistols. ("Hurts Rent-a-Duel - Ten Dollars a Day and 10 Cents a Shot.")

    Jim
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