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Michael Erb





Joined: 28 May 2013

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 7:11 am    Post subject: Antique Pistol identification         Reply with quote

Hello, I've got an old pistol that has been passed on to me by family. I have absolutely no idea what it is, its age, origin or anything else. All I do have is lots of photos and am hoping someone can help get me started in identifying it.

The barrel is about 2.25". The barrel diameter is about 10mm. Wood handle.

Two sets of markings which are depicted in my photos but I can't quite identify them.

Here is a link to my photos on Flickr
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cnymike/sets/72157633763042784/

Hope you can help.

Michael



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Last edited by Michael Erb on Tue 28 May, 2013 10:24 am; edited 3 times in total
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Sean Flynt
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Location: Birmingham, Alabama
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PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 8:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's a 19th c. percussion "box lock" pistol, minus guard and trigger. Google "box lock pistol" and check the "images" listings for many variants. Here's one very similar to yours from an auction. It's described as English, ca. 1850 and "...3" .45 cal. screw off barrel, Birmingham proofed. Center hammer lock with foliage engraved side plates. Slab side wallet grip with GS escutcheon. Barrel, lock, hammer and trigger guard all with raised storage rusting. Would clean with scattered pitting. Mechanically excellent. Grip excellent as well..."

If yours is one of these "screw barrel" types, that means the barrel is removed, the charge is seated in the breech and the barrel is replaced for each shot. It's the sort of thing you'd keep in a coat pocket for emergency use.



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-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Tue 28 May, 2013 10:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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Philip Melhop




Location: Wokingham, Berkshire, UK
Joined: 24 May 2008

Posts: 131

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean has it pretty well covered. A 19th C turn-barrel pocket pistol of indifferent quality, in really quite avarage condition. Does the trigger appear if you cock the piece? What condition is the lock in, still operational?
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Michael Erb





Joined: 28 May 2013

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 9:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Melhop wrote:
Sean has it pretty well covered. A 19th C turn-barrel pocket pistol of indifferent quality, in really quite avarage condition. Does the trigger appear if you cock the piece? What condition is the lock in, still operational?


The trigger(?) pops down when the the hammer is pulled back, but the hammer does not lock into position. However if the flat trigger is pushed back into the body, the hammer locks in the open position.

If that thing is a trigger, it's unlike a regular trigger. Maybe I don't fully understand the operation of the mechanism.

I'm not quite sure about how to appraise quality but it seems to me that my pistol is well above "indifferent quality". It has no rust and the scroll work is well defined. What makes it "indifferent" and "quite average?"

Here is a look at the barrel



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Lin Robinson




Location: NC
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PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I looked at the proof marks on your flickr account. It appears to be a Belgian proof mark. LG stands for Liege. The most common marks are a crown with LG underneath, with an E slightly above and between the L and G. In spite of the difference, these have to be Belgian proof marks. The other marks are "view marks" and I cannot make them out in your photo.

Sean is correct that you have a mid-19th c. pocket pistol made with a box lock mechanism. I do not see a stud on your barrel for use in turning it off with a special wrench but the view of the muzzle indicates that it is a screw off barrel. The four, extra deep, grooves in the bore probably were to accomodate a spanner which was used to remove the barrel for loading. I have not seen one made that way before but that is one explanation. It would also be somewhat dangerous to screw a barrel onto a loaded chamber with your hand positioned so close to the muzzle of a loaded pistol but things were different 160 years ago than they are now.

Box lock pistols were made in huge numbers by a lot of gunmakers and, while they are very interesting, they are also quite common. Yours appears to be in pretty good condition and probably has some collector value, in spite of the apparent trigger problem. By the way, that is the trigger. These guns were made with retracting triggers to prevent the trigger being snagged on clothing when carried in the owner's pocket.

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 Tue 28 May, 2013 7:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Erb





Joined: 28 May 2013

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
I looked at the proof marks on your flickr account. It appears to be a Belgian proof mark. LG stands for Liege. The most common marks are a crown with LG underneath, with an E slightly above and between the L and G. In spite of the difference, these have ot be Belgian proof marks. The other marks are "view marks" and I cannot make them out in your photo.

Sean is correct that you have a mid-19th c. pocket pistol made with a box lock mechanism. I do not see a stud on your barrel for use in turning it off with a special wrench but the view of the muzzle indicates that it is a screw off barrel. The four, extra deep, grooves in the bore probably were to accomodate a spanner which was used to remove the barrel for loading. I have not seen one made that way before but that is one explanation. It would also be somewhat dangerous to screw a barrel onto a loaded chamber with your hand positioned so close to the muzzle of a loaded pistol but things were different 160 years ago than they are now.

Box lock pistols were made in huge numbers by a lot of gunmakers and, while they are very interesting, they are also quite common. Yours appears to be in pretty good condition and probably has some collector value, in spite of the apparent trigger problem. By the way, that is the trigger. These guns were make with retracting triggers to prevent the trigger being snagged on clothing when carried in the owner's pocket.


Very interesting. Thanks for all the great info. Here's about the best I can do with another photo of the marks...

Any ideas of value?



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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK...

The better close ups confirm the Liege proof marks which are L E G with a star below the letters, the whole thing encircled by a single line. Belgian made. A visit to the Track of the Wolf archives turned up a pistol with the same arrangement for turning off the barrel, in fact they could be twins as far as the barrel goes. The other markings I cannot ID but they could be a maker's initials or view marks made by inspectors.

As for value, I do not usually like to try to assign values to items like your pistol because in auction situations, especially, they are all over the map but in this case I can make a guesstimate. It is not worth a great deal. These guns, as I mentioned were made by many manufacturers in huge quantities. The most valuable examples are complete and functioning 18th c. flintlocks which are highly decorated, inlaid with silver or gold and with fine wood stocks. Yours, unfortunately, does not fit into that category. My guesstimate would be between $100 and $250 dollars but that is a big ballpark guesstimate. Nobody has ever gotten rich speculating in mid-19th c. box lock pistols. All that being said, they are interesting little guns and good conversation pieces and, since it has been passed down in your family, the sentimental value probably exceeds any monetary value any way.

Thanks for sharing it with the group.

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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Michael Erb





Joined: 28 May 2013

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 8:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
OK...

The better close ups confirm the Liege proof marks which are L E G with a star below the letters, the whole thing encircled by a single line. Belgian made. A visit to the Track of the Wolf archives turned up a pistol with the same arrangement for turning off the barrel, in fact they could be twins as far as the barrel goes. The other markings I cannot ID but they could be a maker's initials or view marks made by inspectors.

As for value, I do not usually like to try to assign values to items like your pistol because in auction situations, especially, they are all over the map but in this case I can make a guesstimate. It is not worth a great deal. These guns, as I mentioned were made by many manufacturers in huge quantities. The most valuable examples are complete and functioning 18th c. flintlocks which are highly decorated, inlaid with silver or gold and with fine wood stocks. Yours, unfortunately, does not fit into that category. My guesstimate would be between $100 and $250 dollars but that is a big ballpark guesstimate. Nobody has ever gotten rich speculating in mid-19th c. box lock pistols. All that being said, they are interesting little guns and good conversation pieces and, since it has been passed down in your family, the sentimental value probably exceeds any monetary value any way.

Thanks for sharing it with the group.


You are certainly correct about the sentimental value exceeding the monetary value of the pistol. For that small sum of money, I"d hold on to this. It's worth way more than that to me. If it were valued more like $600 or $700, I'd consider selling it. But at the value you assign it, I'd rather keep it.

Thanks for your input.
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Sa'ar Nudel




Location: Haifa, Israel
Joined: 02 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Wed 29 May, 2013 2:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This pistol is sometimes being referred to as "muff pistol". They were sold in pairs for use by the travelling lady. Hand warming muffs were in fashion in that era, and they had internal concealment pockets for that kind of arms. The trigger is of popping style, when the hammer is being cocked, so there is less chance of things getting caught in the way when drawing the piece.
As single pistol the value given here is true. Complete sets pretty rare - they contain a box, a pair of pistols, turn key, turn screw, percussion cap tin, ball box, ramrod and powder flask.

Curator of Beit Ussishkin, regional nature & history museum, Upper Galilee.
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Michael Erb





Joined: 28 May 2013

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed 29 May, 2013 2:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sa'ar Nudel wrote:
This pistol is sometimes being referred to as "muff pistol". They were sold in pairs for use by the travelling lady. Hand warming muffs were in fashion in that era, and they had internal concealment pockets for that kind of arms. The trigger is of popping style, when the hammer is being cocked, so there is less chance of things getting caught in the way when drawing the piece.
As single pistol the value given here is true. Complete sets pretty rare - they contain a box, a pair of pistols, turn key, turn screw, percussion cap tin, ball box, ramrod and powder flask.


Thank you for the additional information. I had no idea.
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