Unknown trade sign

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by mike williams, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. mike williams

    mike williams New Member

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    Hi Everybody!
    I am new to the Firearms Forum. I have a question and would value members opinion about it. A couple of years ago I bought an old gun shop trade sign. The seller in Denmark told me that his father had picked it up in an antique shop in London in the early 60s. The sign is obviously really old and not a modern reproduction. It is made of a heavy wood like Oak perhaps, and the nails are very rusted. The paint is thick but has come away in a few places. The sign says PAWLSTOCK & Co. 18 ST.JAMES LONDON. MAKERS OF ALL SUPERIOR FLINTLOCK PISTOLS & GUNS SINCE 1760. The problem is that I have been unable to find any record of this company having existed. 18 St.James is still there but is a restaurant now. I checked with London postal records for this period without success. Do you think that someone would have faked such a sign so long ago?
    Thanks very much for any thoughts.
    Mike Williams.

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  2. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    1960 "so long ago"? Gawd, you make me feel really old. I can't find any maker by that name and think the sign is a fake. English inn signs and gunmaker's signs have been faked for ages. The bullet holes are a nice touch, until one considers them. No one would shoot up a hanging sign (where would the bullets go?) and if someone used an old sign for target practice, why did he hit only the edges? Plus the drawing is not realistic and I would think a real gun maker would make sure it was done better. The wood could be old; it looks like a trunk or box lid of some kind.

    Faking didn't begin last week. Many of the "ancient Greek" statues in the museums are fakes from the Roman Empire. They made them in mass production in Italy to sell to the rich Roman suckers who thought they were getting Greek antiques.

    Jim
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011
  3. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Plus, if they were bragging they were in the "flintlock" business for a long time, why is the picture cap-n-ball?
  4. mike williams

    mike williams New Member

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    Thanks for the opinion guys. Jim, I did not say that the sign was made in 1960, only that it was bought then. Some antiques people here have examined the sign and think it is much older. I don't think the bullet holes are supposed to fool anybody into thinking they are real, but are only added as a decoration. The sign does show a cap and ball pistol, but if the company started in 1760 they would have started with flintlocks.
    Mike
  5. mike williams

    mike williams New Member

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    Hi again.
    Something I forgot to say. The pistol on the sign is not painted on as it may seem in the pics. It is a model of a pistol about half as thick as the real thing that stands out from the sign.
    Thanks again.
    Mike.
  6. ole iron sights

    ole iron sights New Member

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    seems like the floor is open gentlemen?.... say it was formed plastic?.. and how about the fasteners?. i would take it to an antiques dealer see what they have to say, altho it does have that ole" snuffy smith" thing going on, good advertisement !
  7. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Pawl could also be Paul ( double U, or dub -u English use ). the store could have also been a retailer, selling guns form other makers, a very common practice. Or, and this a possibility, the seller of the sign could have had a store room full of such signs. If it was used as an out door sign for any time at all, in wet sooty England, it would be in much worst condition. In the cracks and crevasses of the sign, look for coal soot. It could even have been used as a " decor" item in a pub. An expert could look as the nails and determine if they were modern or not.
  8. Buffalochip

    Buffalochip Active Member

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    It is pretty obvious that those are drilled holes and not real bullet holes, put there as decoration--there is no chipping out of the wood as bullets would invariably do. You could check tax records if you're really ambitious. And most likely the sign was made by a signmaker and not a gunsmith--leading to the "artistic license" displayed by the firearm design and the artist's interpreation of what a flintlock looked like. The type of paint used would indicate its age. If it hung outside, it was protected from the elements, it probably was displayed in a store window. I suspect it is old, but maybe only late 19th century. When did they outlaw handguns in England?
  9. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    If it was bought in 1960, I think it was made not long before that, though the wood may be older. Of course there are all kinds of fanciful ideas if one believes that the sign is an authentic antique, but I still say it is a fake. I don't recall seeing a gunmaker's sign but I have been in an antique shop in London that had a dozen old inn signs on which the paint was scarcely dry. I guarantee there were a lot more "King's Head" and "Green Man" signs than there ever were pubs or inns with those names.

    Jim
  10. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Member

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    I agree it is a recent product for reasons given. That maker is not listed in Carey's English, Irish & Scottish Firearms Makers - probably the best in print on the subject. A London maker of many years would have been there.
  11. mike williams

    mike williams New Member

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    O.k. thanks for the thoughts about the sign. I guess I will have to write this one off as not genuine then. I paid about a hundred bucks for it, and so I'm not too disappointed as I like it anyway. I live in Sweden and I often come across flintlock and cap and ball firearms, and so it did not seem like a big stretch to think it might be real.
    cheers,
    Mike
  12. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    While it may not be a genuine antique it is still a neat sign and would look good in someone's gun room or gun shop wall. I think it is well worth what you paid for it as a novelty and I enjoyed your sharing it.
  13. grcsat

    grcsat Member

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    Hi,
    I am quite familer with this form of " Applique" in regaurds to your sign.
    It has been repaired in the past and SORRY but done very poorly.

    However on a good note there is a market for this type of art and should be worth about $150 to the right buyer. Had the repairs not been done, I expect that it would be worth between $200-$250 on the US market.

    Just my 2 cents

    I do regaurd this as ART and not a sign or an add.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  14. mike williams

    mike williams New Member

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    Thanks again for the opinions of my sign, and thanks for the generous comments Todd.
    Mike
  15. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Still is a neat sign though. I agree with the thought that it's more art than authentic, but darn good art anyway.

    Would look nice next to the favorite one I've seen in a while that I'm trying to get my wife to let me buy for the family room:

    "You look like I need another DRINK!"
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