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Ole Jørgen Lie




Location: Norway
Joined: 24 May 2007

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri 25 May, 2007 4:08 pm    Post subject: Identifying a flintlock pistol.         Reply with quote

I have come across an old pistol that I would like some opinions on. I don't know much about it, only that my grandfather bought it in Switzerland probably some time in the sixties. I also know very little about firearms in general, but from looking at similiar weapons at a local museum I'm thinking it may possibly be as old as 18th century. A few qualified opinions on the age and origin of this piece would be highly appreciated. I will link to a few photos of the weapon and hopefully some of you will be able to enlighten me a little...


Right side shot: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/ojl79/F...4D0D8F.jpg

Left side shot: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/ojl79/F...CF0153.jpg

Closeup of the flintlock: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/ojl79/F...1OQP5R.jpg

Shot from above: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v56/ojl79/F...CF0156.jpg


As you can see it is somewhat corroded, but I hope some of you will be able to gain some information from the pictures.
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Fri 25 May, 2007 4:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are there any markings on the pistol? (Maker's name, inspection stamps, proof marks, etc.?) In Antique Arms and Armor, Wilkinson states that the butt cap with long side spurs is a trait of 18th century flintlock pistols, so yours might fit into that period. It has the utilitairan look of a militay pistol (as opposed to a civilian pistol), but that is purely conjecture. www.swordsandpistols.co.uk might be able to help or point you in the right direction.

Good luck!
Jonathan


Last edited by Jonathan Hopkins on Fri 25 May, 2007 5:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Ole Jørgen Lie




Location: Norway
Joined: 24 May 2007

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri 25 May, 2007 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

None that I have found, I will take a closer look tomorrow. Are there any particular spots these markings were usually applied to?
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Fri 25 May, 2007 5:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ole Jørgen Lie wrote:
None that I have found, I will take a closer look tomorrow. Are there any particular spots these markings were usually applied to?


The lock plate and the barrel were often marked. Without a mark it may be difficult to assign a national origin for the pistol. It's probably safe to say it is European. Firearms are not my thing, though. If you are patient soemone with a deeper knowledge is bound to come along!

Jonathan
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Lin Robinson




Location: NC
Joined: 15 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Fri 25 May, 2007 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ole Jørgen Lie wrote:
None that I have found, I will take a closer look tomorrow. Are there any particular spots these markings were usually applied to?


Jorgen...

There were usually markings on the face and inside of the locks and the top of the barrels. There could also be some elswhere on the gun.

This is certainly a military pistol. It is solidly built, seems to lack any sort of decoration and the barrel band is more common on martial handguns than civilian models. Because the cock is single instead of double-throated it probably dates from the mid to late 18th century. Other than that I cannot offer much in the way of identification. It has some of the characteristices of French-made pistols but it could also be English or Swiss or maybe even German. You may be able to get more information if you take it to the folks at the Haermuseet in Oslo., assuming it is open now.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Gordon Frye




Location: Kingston, Washington
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PostPosted: Fri 25 May, 2007 10:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ole;

I'll throw out that it looks (to me at least) like a bobbed-down French Mle. 1733 Cavalry pistol, though it certainly could be earlier. Just an off-hand suggestion, since I don't have my reference books for stuff from that period handy, but that was my first reaction upon seeing your photo's.

The style was quite popular among other armies of Europe who were aping the French at the time, be they Dutch or from the various German states, so there are plenty of candidates for an actual place of make/use. But it could well be Swiss, in fact, since the Confederacy used plenty of arms based upon the French models during the 18th Century.

I'd also like to point out that, because the frizzen screw lacks the later bridle from the pan, it's of a fairly early (probably pre-1750 if a military piece) make. Some civilian locks were still made without the bridle until quite late, but it is weaker, and so most military establishments insisted upon their addition in the later half of the 18th Century.

At least this is a place for you to start, I hope.

Cheers!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
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Lin Robinson




Location: NC
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PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2007 5:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:
Ole;

I'll throw out that it looks (to me at least) like a bobbed-down French Mle. 1733 Cavalry pistol, though it certainly could be earlier. Just an off-hand suggestion, since I don't have my reference books for stuff from that period handy, but that was my first reaction upon seeing your photo's.

The style was quite popular among other armies of Europe who were aping the French at the time, be they Dutch or from the various German states, so there are plenty of candidates for an actual place of make/use. But it could well be Swiss, in fact, since the Confederacy used plenty of arms based upon the French models during the 18th Century.

I'd also like to point out that, because the frizzen screw lacks the later bridle from the pan, it's of a fairly early (probably pre-1750 if a military piece) make. Some civilian locks were still made without the bridle until quite late, but it is weaker, and so most military establishments insisted upon their addition in the later half of the 18th Century.

At least this is a place for you to start, I hope.

Cheers!

Gordon


Having had time to consult several references, I think what we have here is a French or Dutch or English military pistol from 1700 - 1785. Because of where it was found it could also be Swiss. And, without locating any markings, that is about as definite as we can be.

The lack of a bridle connecting pan to frizzen is almost universal in the early 18th c. but there are later military pistols with locks in that configuration too. The butt cap gives no real clues as that style was found on guns made in several countries. The side plate is no help either because it is found on lots of guns with different origins. After giving it some thought, I believe the gun has been shortened, which would be the reason for the barrel band, to provide some additional strength to the shortened stock.

If it is, as Gordon suggests, a cut down Model 1733 French cavalry pistol - and I don't think it is - you should be able to find the remnants of a marking on the lock plate, which would be a crown over "S E". The style of lock plate and sideplate do not match the Model 1733 at all.

Very mysterious piece. If you find any markings please post a reply. I have some other references that address markings and may be able to make a connection. Also, if you have not done so already, check to be sure it is not loaded. A lot of old guns in the US - mainly long guns - were put away with a load in the barrel(s). Black powder retains its volatility for a very long time so even a very old charge can explode.

Thanks for sharing the photos of your gun.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Ole Jørgen Lie




Location: Norway
Joined: 24 May 2007

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2007 4:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I checked the gun closer for markings today, but could still not find anything. Only place I didn't check was the inside of the lock plate. I wasn't sure if you ment that I was to actually unscrew it and look on the inside of the gun or some place facing inwards. Either way I left it alone as the whole gun seems quite fragile. The wood has several large cracks in it and even the brass is broken in some places. Besides, I don't know how these things are constructed. I have quite a bit of experience with mechanical constructions of different sorts, but 18th century firearms is different from brand new equipment in that parts can't be replaced. I learned the hard way that picking apart something that you don't know how they put together is a risky business... (On brand new replacable stuff mind you... Wink )

I did, however, notice something else that might be of interest. The wood at the front of the gun has an odd "step" in it and is somewhat blackened, as if metal had been covering it. It seems to me that the gun originally had another band around the barrel and stock. Very similiar to the one still on it and roughly same width, but all the way to the front of the barrel so that the band and barrel would line up exactly at the opening. I don't know if this was a common way to do things, but if not it might indeed suggest that the barrel was at some point cut right in front of this band and that the band was used as a "guide" to make the cut straight. I'm visiting my girlfriend at the moment so I can't check right away, but when I get the chance I'll take a closer look for sawmarks or similiar around the end of the barrel.

I also asked my father a bit more about it and got some more information. Actually he is the one that bought it, though very likely with my grandfathers money as he was very young at the time. Either way, I learned that it was bought in Geneva, which according to him is the French-speaking part of the country and close to the french border. I'm thinking this makes it more plausible that it is of French origin. To top it off, he mentioned his brother bought a similiar weapon at the same time. Which is interesting to say the least. I'll have a talk with him and see if I can locate this piece as well and have some pictures taken of it.

Lastly I want to thank you for your help. I'm new to the forum, and I must say my first impression is a very good one! Happy


Edit: Thanks for the heads up, I'll check that it isn't loaded just in case.

Edit again: Upon arriving back home I realized that the missing band and the barrel end wouldn't have lined up exactly at all, I don't even know where I got that from... Actually the band must've been placed slightly further back. I must've been sleepy...


Last edited by Ole Jørgen Lie on Mon 28 May, 2007 4:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Lin Robinson




Location: NC
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PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2007 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes...you would have to remove the screws holding the lock in place to look at the inside of the plate and, since you say the wood is fragile it is best not to try to take the lock out.  It would probably be hard to remove, requiring some use of leverage and the wood simply would not take that sort of activity. You did the best thing by leaving it alone.

What you have found may well indicate that the barrel and stock have been shortened, as I suspected.  The darkening of the wood would be caused by exposure to brass or iron.  Saw marks will be a clue, but you probably will not find any.  Whoever shortened the barrel will have filed the marks off.

My feelings are that it is a French gun, but I have nothing but a feeling to back that up.

You may want to clean it up just a little to preserve it. However, do not use strong abrasives, steel wool or anything like that to do so. An oily rag used on the metal and a damp (with water) cloth on the wood will remove surface dirt. Beyond that I would leave it alone.

Glad to be of help. Please let us know if you do find out anything else about the pistol.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982


Last edited by Lin Robinson on Sun 27 May, 2007 10:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ole Jørgen Lie




Location: Norway
Joined: 24 May 2007

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2007 7:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The barrel and some other parts are pretty much covered in rust, however it seems like it's only surface rust and should be easy enough to remove. However, I think I will consult a specialist at Forsvarsmuseet before attempting even basic cleaning (Armed Forces Museum, I think this is the place that was referred to as "Hærmuseet" further up in the thread. http://www.mil.no/felles/fmu/start/museet/English/). Those people know what they're doing, and they have an extensive collection of old firearms from this age. They will be able to tell me how to preserve it in the best possible way, and might also be able to help with identification. I'll contact them next week and keep you informed.
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GG Osborne





Joined: 21 Mar 2006

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PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2007 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Many pistols and smoothbore shotguns of semi-military style were built for importantation to French colonies as trade items. The metal to wood fit and the plainess suggest - to me at least - this is a possible providence. A lot of old military parts were used haphazardly so locks and band and barrels just were thrown together randomly but of the same general period...just to confuse everyone 200 years later!
"Those who live by the sword...will usually die with a huge, unpaid credit card balance!"
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