Original British 1777 Flintlock Pistol Inscribed CAPT R.PEARSON R.N. (Battle of Flamborough Head)
Original One-of-a-Kind Item. Acquired from the Strakaty Collection of Vienna, Austria.
A very fine example of a Revolutionary War era British officer's pistol bearing silver mounts and both a brass barrel and brass lockplate, making it ideal for naval use. The pistol was made by KETLAND & CO. who originated in Birmingham England in 1740 but opened a location in London in 1760, the company stayed in business until 1804.
The brass lock plate is fitted with a safety slide and an eared butt cap with grotesque mask. However, what really set this fine quality pistol apart from any other is that all the silver mounts including the escutcheon and trigger guard bear clear silver hallmarks of the lion passant guard, anchor for Birmingham and letter date E for 1777 as the year of manufacture. Additionally the trigger guard is stamped with the initials CF for silversmith Crispin Fuller.
Most notably is inscription on the escutcheon that reads: Capt. R.PEARSON R.N
The Battle of Flamborough Head was a naval battle that took place on 23 September 1779, in the North Sea off the coast of Yorkshire between an American Continental Navy squadron led by John Paul Jones and the two British escort ves sels protecting a large merchant convoy. It became one of the most celebrated naval actions of the American War of Independence despite its relatively small size and considerable dispute over what had actually occurred.
H.M.S. Serapis was commissioned in March 1779 under Captain Richard Pearson. On 23 September she engaged the American warship USS Bonhomme Richard under the command of Captain John Paul Jones in the North Sea at Flamborough Head, England. At the time of this battle, the ship carried 50 guns, having an extra six 6-pounders. The two vessels exchanged heavy fire and Bonhomme Richard lost most of her firepower, but by attaching the two ships together, Jones was able to overcome much of Pearson's advantage of greater firepower (although the Bonhomme Richard was a larger ship with a considerably greater crew). The famous quote, "I have not yet begun to fight!" was Jones's response to Pearson's premature call for Bonhomme Richard to surrender. The battle raged on for three hours as the crew of Bonhomme Richard tenaciously fought Serapis, raking her deck with gunfire. Eventually, Alliance, a frigate in Jones's squadron, began firing at both the attached ships indiscriminately. Bonhomme Richard began to sink, but Captain Pearson, unable to aim his guns at the frigate because he was tied to Jones's ship, surrendered, handing Serapis over to the Americans.
On eventually returning to England Captain Pearson was court marshaled for losing his ship. Despite Pearson's loss of H.M.S. Serapis, Pearson in fact saved the entire merchant fleet he had been tasked to protect. The public outcry in response to his Court Marshall caused the Admiralty review board to change their decision and turned the fury at the loss of H.M.S. Serapis into a celebratory victory at the sinking of the Bonne Homme Richard and the saving of the merchant fleet
Please understand that an inscription is just that, an inscription. We have no corroborating proof or documentation that Captain Richard Pearson owned or carried this pistol and if we did the price would be considerably higher. Had Pearson been carrying this pistol during the battle it would have been confiscated upon his capture. Therefore, it is very unlikely that this pistol was in Pearson's possession during the battle.
Included in this offering is a framed print from an engraving for BARNARD’s New Complete & Authentic HISTORY of ENGLAND that depicts; The ENGAGEMENT of Capt. Pearson in HIS MAJESTY’S ship Serapis with Paul Jones of the American Ship of War called BonHomme Richard: in which Action the former was taken while the Countess of Scarborough was also captured by the Pallas frigate.
History of the Strakaty Collection- a collector named George Strakaty of Vienna, Austria created what we now call the Strakaty Collection. George was a born Czech and actually was in the modern arms trade and worked for the Czech Government Arms Company of Omnipol in Prague. Strakaty's role was as an International salesman taking him all over the third world. However, Strakaty was a total Anglophile and every time he visited London would buy only British antique weapons.
Christian, IMA’s Owner, first met George Strakaty, at Omnipol, in 1971 and over the years they became close friends he leading Christian to many Government arms stashes he had discovered. As time passed George’s collection became quite extensive. In the late 1980s Strakaty, by then well past his prime, retired to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands together with his wife Ruth. Before doing so, however, he announced to Christian that he wanted him to buy the entire collection, it was a major undertaking and it took Christian almost five years to pay off the debt. Shortly after George passed away.
Only in the last three or four years, now that, as Christian puts it "is truly on the home stretch himself", has he reluctantly been letting go of some of the Strakaty collection.
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