Scottish Percussion Pistol by Bond, c. 1830


Antique Pistols 1690-1815

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In 1810 the Rev. Alexander Forsyth invented a new method of ignition using a detonating compound (fulminate of mercury). The system involved the hammer striking a spring-loaded pin which then struck the fulminate in a plug, to ignite the charge. But the magazine had to be precision made so production was costly. By 1825 the fulminate was contained in a copper cap placed over a nipple plug connecting directly with the breech. The golden age of Scottish gunsmiths was between 1625 and 1775. Thomas Caddell brought fame to the Perthshire village of Doune through the craftsmanship of his pistols. It is reputed the first shot fired in the American War of Independence was from a Doune pistol. But by the early 19th century the volume of guns produced in Birmingham undermined the Scottish gunsmiths. In 1822 King George IV made the first visit by a monarch to Scotland in 200 years. One of the organisers of the visit had been Sir Walter Scott, by then celebrated throughout the land. This visit propelled all things Scottish to public attention and gave birth to the explosion in the wearing of tartan, and a reawakening of interest in Scottish weaponry. The London and Birmingham pistol makers were quick to exploit that market and many pistols made in the Scottish style bear the names of London or Birmingham gunsmiths. It is thought this pistol may have been made by Edward or William Bond in London. The metals used are steel and silver. The stock, which ends in a simple ramshorn design, is covered with a heavy silver plating, finely engraved in leaf foliage and ropework. The pricker (1) is in the form of a thistle. The barrel is uniform throughout its length, round in the centre and polygonal at the breech and muzzle. The round section has foliage engraving surrounding an oval panel on which are depicted a shield bearing the Union Jack, cannon, cannon balls, drum and flags. The hammer is dolphin type with foliage engraving, repeated on the lock plate bearing the name of the maker. All the steel parts are blued making a fine contrast against the silver.

Additional information

Dimensions 43 × 25.5 cm