Can anyone shed some light on my flintlock pistol? I inherited it from a great aunt who lived in Alabama many years ago and I know nothing about it. It sure would be a big help if anyone could tell me what it is and if it is worth anything.
Interesting Germanic style pistol of fair* quality with early and later characteristics, common of small gunmakers who tended to be 'square' in the sense of cherishing the old and still appreciating the new. Its long lean look, banana shaped flat lockplate says early 1700s, but internal frizzen screw and 'waterproof' pan, straight trigger without curl say maybe a century later. Barrel probably started out 12" or longer but shortened to now looks like about 9", dimensions guestimated only. From pix posted, looks like the barrel is octagon at the breech, fading into round, common practice had the octagon portion about 30% of barrel length. Fair* quality based on mediocre decor of butt mask, thumb piece, etc. What appears to be a metal muzzle cap and lack of ramrod pipe could indicate some time in the mid-East. Human faces on decor augur against mid-East make. Interesting pistol, fortunately spared modern bubba attention. Not mainstream for flintlock collectors, maybe $1000 plus-minus a few hundred.
And, yes, it would shoot with only minor cleaning but with the scores of old flint pistols I have handled, I have never fired one. I have fired those I built.
If it were as late as 1800, it would have a double neck cock and a straight bottom lockplate. Not absolute, of course, because, as rhmc24 says, gunmakers tended to keep to the old ways. I agree that the muzzle cap is not original and was used when the barrel and stock were shortened. I believe the slender "tapered" appearance was the result of that work also, not part of the original design.
As to varnish, it looks like the whole gun was varnished at some time, possibly as a preservative, but more likely just to make it shiny for display.
From the crude wood carving, wood finish, sloppy fit and finish and use of what looks like pot-metal on the grip... I'm gonna call "Modern Reproduction" on this one. Maybe from the Middle-East or something. But not that old.
Thank all of you for the wonderful information. I am starting to get a better idea of what the pistol is. Yes the pistol works. Attached is a picture of the frizzen open. And it does appear that someone put either varnish or some type of wax on the gun. Please keep the opinions coming.
Varnishing entire guns for 'preservation' is not uncommon. I had two wheellock rifles referred to me by a Houston dealer that had heavy varnish all over. Owner's father brought them back from WW2 and every 5 years gave them another coat and put them back above the fireplace.
They were recognizable by their almost black shape alone. After taking off maybe 1/8" of dried baked on varnish, cleaning and a couple minor fixes, he had a beautiful couple of wheellocks, one by one of most famous gunmaker families of the time.
That one, incidentally, was dated 1756, almost a century after wheellocks went out - an example of German conservatism, hanging on to the past. I check out the maker's name and it was correct for his active period - probably made for someone like today (like me) who will buy and make repros.
Just to stir the pot, the forearm carving appears to have been done after the barrel was cut and the forearm itself tapered. I am reasonably sure the forearm was originally straight because the ramrod pipe and groove appear now to be bent upward, something that would not have been the case originally.