This fine semi-holster sidelock pistol, one of a pair, illustrates what an old muzzle-loading pistol of quality should look like. From the third quarter of the 18th century, gunsmiths were perfecting the mechanics and decoration of the weapons of the earlier part of the century. It is the attention to the smallest detail that is a feature of pistols of this period. The graceful walnut stock with its lovely patina forms a perfect background for stock and barrel. It blends with the barrel of light coloured brass. Barrels of brass, although not often employed in pistols, were commonly used in the construction of blunderbusses. As a defence weapon carried by the driver or guard of a coach if the barrels made of steel would have rusted quickly. This pistol may have been intended for use at sea, being less liable to damage by salt water. The barrel, swamped at the muzzle, is round for half its length terminating in a baluster turn and is octagonal from there on to the breech. It is held to the stock by steel pins which pass through loops on the underside of the barrel and by a screw from the top through the barrel tang. On a flat section on the top of the barrel at the breech is stamped the maker’s name ‘W. Brander, Minories, London’. The graceful sweep of the butt is further enhanced by the protective silver butt plate, the arms of which extend up either side. The grotesque mask is separate and can be detached. On the top of the butt, surrounding the barrel tang, is a carved wood apron featuring the shell pattern of the period. Beneath is a large silver escutcheon. Silver is also used for the ram-rod pipes which are plain but for a baluster turn top and bottom. They contain a beautifully made ram rod of dark wood, probably ebony, tipped with contrasting ivory. The silver trigger guard whose long sweep accentuates the graceful line of the butt and blends with the walnut stock. The trigger, often a useful check on the period of a pistol, is of the solid backward curl type, usually referred to as ‘Queen Anne’. A graceful cock, of flat section and engraved, sets off the well-made lock. The finish of working parts inside are a perfect example of the finest tradition of the English locksmiths of the period. There is also a safety, the catch for which is behind the cock.