English Flintlock Pistol by Cuff c. 1810
Antique Pistols 1690-1815
This is a heavy double-barrelled pistol. Multiple barrelled weapons have interest to collectors mainly in the locks. Barrels may be over and under, as here, or side by side. In a double side-lock pistol the left-hand lock is the right-hand lock in reverse. Few single left-hand lock pistols were ever made. The gun can take a heavy charge of powder so is a formidable weapon that may have been carried by big game hunters in the event of surprise. This pistol was made about 1815, about 15 years before the end of the flintlock era. Gunsmiths had been making flintlocks for over a century by men who took pride in their trade and sought perfection in their field. Complete reliability gave confidence to purchasers. Duelling was now unlawful so were clandestine affairs. Perfection in duelling pistols was a prime requirement – efficiency, not decoration, the keynote. Exacting standards of workmanship were now applied to the mechanism. The inside of the lock of any pistol of this period bears witness to its finish and design. The browning of the barrels was achieved by acid etching, to bring out a pattern of wavy lines. Before an accurate way of drilling a barrel out of the solid was developed they were hammered out of a long ribbon of flat metal fused with itself round a rod. The barrels were constructed separately and fixed together later. Along the top side of the upper barrel is engraved the name of the maker ‘John Cuff, London’ (about whom little is known except that he was also a silversmith and had premises at 106 Regent Street, London in 1827). The vent (1) is pierced in a plug of platinum, an improvement on the simple hole in the side of the barrel, which through erosion and burning, became enlarged allowing gas to escape. The ramrod is fixed to the barrel by a swivel and held in position by a clip. On each lock plate there are touches of leaf engraving with the maker’s name. The roller bearing is on the feather spring (2), instead of the heel of the pan cover bearing directly on the spring. Both locks are equipped with sliding safety catches to lock the hammers in the half cock position. On the hammer side of the priming pans and forged in one with them is an extended sweep of metal which acts as a flash-guard. The trigger guard, of steel, has leaf and circular engraving and an oval containing the Union Jack. The same engraving is repeated on the barrel tang (3). There is a shield type escutcheon on the top of the walnut stock whose only adornment is the fine checkering of the grip.
|Dimensions||43 × 25.5 cm|