French style Belgian Flintlock Pistol by Devillers of Liège c. 1735
Antique Pistols 1690-1815
In 1672 the Prince-Bishop Maximilian Heinrich of Bavaria established a proof house at Liège, Belgium. In 1743 the Liège arms industry was producing 100,000 guns a year for the armies of Europe. Near the end of the ancien régime 6,000 people were engaged mainly on military arms but there was an important trade in fine-quality arms from about 1672. Liège-made firearms by masters like H. Devillers followed French fashion of the time. They had the current Parisian pattern books at hand to serve as examples providing patterns of silver inlay on the grips. The overall length of this pistol is 12.5 cm and could be concealed in the hand so is a true pocket pistol. It is all-metal using only steel and decorative use of silver in the sheath which serves as a butt and a cover for the mainsprings. The engraving and chiselling on the butt is of scroll and foliage. Where an escutcheon might have been there is a grotesque mask. The butt is held in position by a screw in a separate tang from the breech and a screw on the underside into the frame behind he triggers. The 3.5 cm barrels are of cannon-barrel form. The tiny barrels are rifled and unscrew facilitating cleaning. It is a breech loader. The procedure was to place the powder and ball in position at the breech then screw on the barrel. The 2.5 cm steel block containing the breech is heavy for a pistol of this size but is part of the frame. Their positioning makes for a back-action lock like the box lock pistols of a later date. The locks have a safety device. The catches can be seen behind the cocks. On one end of the priming pans is cut a bridle to hold the frizzen which rides on a spring on the underside of the pan. The spring is held by a screw at the other end. Under the right-hand pan only the maker’s name ‘Devillers’ is engraved. In the space available the triggers have been well positioned, the one for the right-hand lock curving forwards. The positioning of triggers in most double-barrelled pistols favours a straight trigger for the right-hand lock, the one for the left-hand lock curving backwards. In common with Scottish pistols, no trigger guard is fitted. This pistol is like a pair reputed to have been used by Prince Charles Edward Stewart at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
|Dimensions||43 × 25.5 cm|