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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought this at an estate auction yesterday. I normally collect 20th century C&R cartridge firearms, and don't know a bloomin' thing about black powder antiques. So any help you could offer would be appreciated. Specifically, I'm hoping to find out who made this or where it was made, an approximate date of manufacture, and an estimate as to its value.

It's a double-barrel percussion pistol, and from a rough measurement of the bore I'm going to guess it's .58 caliber (?), as the muzzles are just a hair over 9/16" diameter. If there's some precise measurement I'm supposed to take, please do let me know. The condition is not wonderful, but I would still call it good for its age.

A basic side photo of the pistol is below. My limited Googling seems to indicate that it may be French (or at least made in the French style). I can find no maker's mark, numbers, or other identifying marks on it. But the style of the butt cap and other features seem to point to French origins in all the similar examples I've seen.




The wood appears to be walnut, darkened with age and well worn in places. There are the remains of a carved floral design on top, as seen below.




Here's a photo of the bottom of the pistol. There is obviously a lot of wear and smoothing of the metal forward of the trigger guard, as well as light wood coloring, which I would think was the result of holster wear. You can also see some pitting on the trigger guard and butt cap areas.




Another photo from a different perspective.




What you can't see in the above photos is some fine engraving on the tops and sides of the barrels. Almost halfway down the barrels, there is a floral/swirl motif engraved on top, which comes down to the sides and rearwards to just in front of the percussion nipple area. The only way to capture these with my camera was to reverse the black and white to bring out the pattern, which is shown below.

Top of barrels:




Side of the pistol, showing a series of dots:




Now, knowing as little as I do about antique pistols, my guess is that this is an early percussion pistol from around 1810-1820, made in the older style as many flintlocks of similar shape. Judging by the details, it doesn't appear to be converted from a flintlock.

Any guesses or additional information would be appreciated.
 

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The pistol overall looks to be European, but the engraving on the barrels gives it a Middle East look; perhaps it was "enhanced" in that area at one time. I also think it started out with barrels and stock about 2 - 2 1/2 inches longer than what is there now.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was kinda thinking it had been trimmed down too. The reshaping at the forearm of the stock seems a bit crude, and the ramrod extends past the muzzle, which seems a bit odd. The front sight installation doesn't seem to be executed with as much precision as I'd expect, so it's possible that it was relocated.

Hmm. Middle Eastern theme to the engraving? I wonder if it could be Turkish made. They apparently made a lot of pistols in a similar style, although theirs tend to be a lot more decorative than this example.
 

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Have you looked on bottom side of barrels for proofs? Should be proofs somewhere.
 

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Agree with others, barrels likely shortened, maybe 4" or so. It is likely French. lock shape says mid to late 1700s, originally flintlocks & I see nothing to indicate Mid-East. Good pix but lack of good full side view of pistol and full side view of a lock leave much that might or not be confirmed.

The French were big on double barrel flint pistols. I have had several -- one a tiny cute one about 7" overall, double flint locks making it almost half as wide as it was long.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Have you looked on bottom side of barrels for proofs? Should be proofs somewhere.
I can't see the bottoms of the barrels. To do that, I'd have to disassemble it. And I have no idea how to do that.

Agree with others, barrels likely shortened, maybe 4" or so. It is likely French. lock shape says mid to late 1700s, originally flintlocks & I see nothing to indicate Mid-East. Good pix but lack of good full side view of pistol and full side view of a lock leave much that might or not be confirmed.

The French were big on double barrel flint pistols. I have had several -- one a tiny cute one about 7" overall, double flint locks making it almost half as wide as it was long.
Here's what I hope is a "full side view of a lock". Does this help?




If this was converted from flintlock, wouldn't it have additional screws on the sides that held the original frizzen spring?

*edited to add: Hmm, now that I asked the question, I'm wondering if there actually was a screw there, at the forward tip of the lock plate. I see a circle that could be a screw that was cut off and ground flush, or some other sort of filled screw hole.
 

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Your re-frame of the lock in the first picture helps. The remains of the pan are there, usually removed when converted to perc. You are right about screw holes for the frizzen screw and frizzen spring screw but if the holes were plugged and heated and forged a bit, they wouldn't show.

There might be marks under the barrels but not necessarily. It was made before proof marking was common. Marks, if any, would likely be a maker's mark, usually a die mark of a couple letters or maybe design of some kind. Many can be ID, many can not. Probably not worth much effort to find out because unless by a famous maker, if able to ID, it might be a town, maker name and period of activity. The source of European gun marks is a book by "Stockel" pre-WW2 and a later New Stockel. I have the old in two volumes, had the New but think the old is better. If any mark is found that can photo, I will try to ID it.

All that said, the lock looks to be set too low in the stock for the pan/vent to center with the bore. That could mean the gun could have been made up in the perc period, using locks converted from flint - or even locks built up as perc from unfinished flint lock plates.
 

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That odd-shaped hammer practically screams, "Ich bin Deutsche." but if the gun is a conversion it could mean only that the conversion was done in Germany.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Your re-frame of the lock in the first picture helps. The remains of the pan are there, usually removed when converted to perc. You are right about screw holes for the frizzen screw and frizzen spring screw but if the holes were plugged and heated and forged a bit, they wouldn't show.
I went over it last night with a magnifying glass, and there are definitely filled holes on both locks. I was having a devil of a time trying to get my camera to focus well enough to get a decent photo of them. You have to hold it just right to the light to see it. There are actually two in the photo below, but the rear one can't be made out at this camera angle. I put an arrow to the forward one, though.




There might be marks under the barrels but not necessarily. It was made before proof marking was common. Marks, if any, would likely be a maker's mark, usually a die mark of a couple letters or maybe design of some kind. Many can be ID, many can not. Probably not worth much effort to find out because unless by a famous maker, if able to ID, it might be a town, maker name and period of activity. The source of European gun marks is a book by "Stockel" pre-WW2 and a later New Stockel. I have the old in two volumes, had the New but think the old is better. If any mark is found that can photo, I will try to ID it.
Unfortunately, despite a very thorough search of the exterior, I cannot find one single mark. In fact, the extent of the metal surface looks as if it has been sanded. There are clearly visible swipe marks or striations all over the barrels and lock plates, some of which can be seen in the photo just above. I'm thinking that this pistol was scrubbed clean of its original finish, which possibly wiped out any maker's marks. It may have happened during the upgrade to percussion, whilst trying to hide filled holes and refinish it. Interestingly enough, though, I did find several areas where there are the remains of a brass or gold plating over the metal which didn't get completely removed. They are visible in some of the deeper areas where sandpaper or other abrasives wouldn't reach. For example, down in the engravings, the remains of the plating are still there and are visible when the light hits it just right. There are a couple of other random places on the barrels which have remains of the plating as well, which indicates that it was completely plated. This is the best I could do with my camera, and the gold color is somewhat visible in the engraving. Incidentally, the engraving work seems a bit amateurish, as it's not evenly done across both barrels.




I rather tend to think that this was gold plating, and not brass. Considering the age and condition, if it were brass, it would be tarnished and dull, maybe even turning green. But the remaining plating is still bright and shiny. Unfortunately, though, it looks like I'm not going to be able to come up with any marks for this piece to positively identify its source. The best I can do is hope to find a known example with identical features, which may be impossible. I did get a better photo of the top, showing the wood carving and such, if it helps at all.




All that said, the lock looks to be set too low in the stock for the pan/vent to center with the bore. That could mean the gun could have been made up in the perc period, using locks converted from flint - or even locks built up as perc from unfinished flint lock plates.
I suppose that's possible. One thing I notice is that the percussion locks and hammers don't really match the finish of the lock plates or barrel. They're a bit darker, and may not have had the same exact original finish. I would think that if they were built on it originally, the armorer would have matched things up a little better. This, coupled with the fact that the entire pistol has had its original finish removed abrasively, would seem to indicate that it was a rework, not an original build. But that's mere speculation, of course.

That odd-shaped hammer practically screams, "Ich bin Deutsche." but if the gun is a conversion it could mean only that the conversion was done in Germany.
Interesting. I've tried looking up examples of French and German hammers to see if I can tell a difference, but I can't. There seems to be a lot of variation there. But it would actually make a lot of sense that a pistol made in France (if indeed it was) could have been reworked in Germany.

I'm still very curious as to the possible value. I know there isn't a 'blue book' value for this type of thing, especially with its dubious history and the fact that it's not original. But I'm interested in what you folks think it might fetch. Not that I'm planning to sell it; I am just curious whether I got hosed on it. At this point, assuming that we have a possible late-18th century French flintlock pistol that was converted to percussion, cut down, and refinished, is there even a guess? What would an antique muzzle-loader collector think it's worth as a curiosity? Ballpark number?
 

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Given all the questions raised here (and which might be raised by a buyer) and the overall condition, I doubt it would bring $800 if that. But that is just my $.02.

Jim
 

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The pistol is in its "15 minutes of fame", far beyond its collector importance. A dealer would see it as a sawed off percussionized piece in fair survivor condition. Just merchandise and probably offer $250 with the expectation of pricing it for 5 for and taking less.

If you plan to sell it, I would put it in one of the auctions with a starting price you can live with and let nature take its course. A couple people might fall in love with it and run it up to a respectable number.
 

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Just FWIW, I don't think that color is gold inlay or the remains of gold plating. I think it is "gold" paint put into that engraving to enhance the appearance of the gun.

Note that my WAG on value was based on a "maybe" retail value, not on what a dealer would pay for that gun. I suspect rhmc24 has a better feel for the value than I did.

Jim
 

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Its a conversion for a highway man,be worth more if made that way not altered.
Double barrel pistol was one of their favorites. 200 whol -400 retail at best.
As for the rest agree its several countries influence and work not unusual for the times.
And since all are unknown with no markings readable the lower prices tend to stick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just FWIW, I don't think that color is gold inlay or the remains of gold plating. I think it is "gold" paint put into that engraving to enhance the appearance of the gun.
That was my first thought as well, but it appears elsewhere on the barrels, besides just the engraving. For example, in the grooves on top between the barrels. You can sort of see it in my previous photo, appearing almost like glitter. There are also some score marks on the left and right sides of the muzzle that still retain some of this gold coloring. This is not a very good photo of it, but you can sort of see it.




As for the value, it seems that the consensus is that it's probably between $250 and $500, possibly more if someone just really likes it. That's good news, since I paid $400 for it. I was a little on the high end, but at least I didn't grossly overpay for it. It was worth the money to me just to have it.

Thanks for your help, fellas!
 

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If the gold is just paint, solvent or paint remover will take it off. It may be real gold. Before electroplating, gold plating was done by dissolving gold in mercury, into a paste. Paste was applied in whatever design and fired to burn off the mercury, leaving a deposit of gold. That may be what you have.

If you like the gun, $400 is not a bad deal.
 
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