A Very Unusual (PAIR/BRACE) of British/American Naval Brass Barrel Flintlock Pistols
A Very Unusual (PAIR/BRACE) of Antique British/American Naval Brass Barrel Flintlock Pistols, circa. 1770-1815. Very heavy 8.75", .50 caliber smooth-bore brass barrels with brass tangs. Both barrels are stamped on the left side of the breech with an "ANCHOR" and a "BIRMINGHAM" proof mark. All brass furniture includes the triggers and very interesting single long ramrod pipes. The unsigned locks have unbridled pans and decorative engraving. Both locks have areas of rust pitting (some areas worse than others possibly from exposure during the period of use from exposure to salt water). The pistols are in their original flintlock configuration and are in good mechanical working order. Both stocks are rather simple with raised Beaver tails around the barrel tangs otherwise, solid exhibiting scratches and dings from years of service and handling with one pistol missing a sliver of wood from the upper edge on the left side at the muzzle. Both wood ramrods are intact and may be the originals. A very interesting and possibly very rare pair of flintlock naval pistols.
The pistols measure about 14" overall.
NOTE: The following comments are my opinion. The form of the locks appear to date between 1770-1780's. The overall form of these pistols is rather crude and unlike the typical British pistols encountered. The brass ramrod pipes are very unusual and are very similar to those found on known documented American made/assembled examples (see photo from the book The Kentucky Pistol). The brass butt cap and trigger guard finials are very unusual and unlike typical British made pistols. The brass triggers are very unusual and are worth noting. The brass barrels are very heavy and unusual to be made with brass tangs. It is very possible that these pistols were entirely made in America (including the locks) or made and assembled utilizing imported English made locks. Now, the confusing aspect of these pistols is the Birmingham proof mark and naval anchor stamped on each of the barrels. Assuming these pistols were made in America between 1770-1780's how did they acquire a Birmingham proof mark circa. 1813 ? When were these marks applied to the barrels ? It is possible that the pistols were made/assembled in America and then made their way back to England and were proofed in Birmingham post 1813. It is also possible that these pistols were made in Great Britain utilizing some older parts, proofed in Birmingham and sold for use on a ship. I have not encountered another pistol barrel with marks stamped in this orientation where the marks are read from left to right as opposed to lengthwise looking from the breech toward to the muzzle. Regardless, these pistols are an enigma and demand further research...
Ref. For an example of an American made flintlock pistol with a similar single long ramrod pipe, please see; The Kentucky Pistol by, Roy F. Chandler and James B. Whisker, c. 1994. p. 203 pistol #181.