Original British Cased Pair of Brass Ducks Foot Pistols by John Joyner of London - Circa 1778
Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. This is a magnificent set of a matching pair of English brass framed and barreled Duck's Foot Pistols each having four splayed cannon style barrels each measuring just 2.75 in length.Watch these guns fire on History Channel's Pawn Stars:
The pistols date between 1778-1780 we know this for two reasons; silver hallmarks (F inside a square with cut corners) in the butt cap, which indicate the silver was done in Birmingham England in June 1778 - June 1779. The maker John JOYNER (which is named on each pistol) had a shop in LONDON from 1761-1780 so that so these were made in the last 2 years of his work.
The flintlock ignition system in a brass box lock frame bears the maker's name JOYNER on one side and LONDON on the other. The walnut grips are heavily inlaid with silver wire decoration and the sterling silver mask butt caps. Each barrel is numbered 1-4 and 5-8. All barrels show correct British Proof marks of "Crown" over "V" (for viewed) on the underside.
This pair is housed in their original navy blue velvet lined fine hardwood case which measures The case measures 12" x 9" x 5. The case has dedicated compartments for each pistol, powder flask and bullet mold all of which are present. Lidded compartments include flints and lead balls together with an open compartment housing a very typical 18th century English brass draw telescope. The barrel wrapped at one point with naval rope work.
In addition, there is included a large silver coin in with the flints which turns out to be a Mexican 4 Reale piece dated 1738. Most probably a battle souvenir with a Spanish ship carrying Mexican Silver back to Spain in the late 18th century. This coin was in the case when purchased in the late 1950s from the English Antique arms dealer LESLIE SCOTT of Halkin Arcade, London.
The beautiful wood brass bound case bears the initials W.G. however at this moment significant research will be required to identify this Naval Officer (this style of volley pistol was designed to discourage mutinies much feared in the 18th century).
Flintlock Duck's foot pistols were first introduced in the 18th century, most often found in the four barrel configuration, but variations from 3 barrels to 7 barrels have been recorded. Multi-barrel ducks foot pattern pistols were intended for use in a crowd or mob situation as they discharged all the barrels at the same time in a "spread" direction. The 18th century was the era of the single shot or the occasional double shot pistol which was very time consuming to reload. A pair of 4 barrel Duck's foot pistols provided a spread of 8 balls into a mutinous crew making the presence of such multi shot pistols very discouraging to potential mutineers or an attacking mob. Production of such pistols at the time was very expensive and original examples are rare.
Ducks foot pistols are highly prized by collectors most were originally purchased by wealthy owners more often than not by a Naval Officer or his family to discourage mutiny, an all too common event in the harsh Naval times of King George III. Those that do come to the market are typically from a deceased collector's estate which would indicate that such unusual weapons are the last things a collector wishes to part with.
In fact, the lack of original examples and paucity of historical references to them have given cause for some collectors to speculate that they never really existed. We are confident, however, that this is not the case here due to many factors, such as the high quality of work. These pistols are almost entirely hand crafted. This exceptional work includes silver wire inlay, gorgeous brass chambers, barrels perfectly engineered to screw and unscrew with aligned matching numerals or frame and barrel (1-8). All barrels show with clear British proof markings and the locks are signed by the well known London gun maker JOYNER. The silver 18th century hallmarks are genuine and further confirm their authenticity and date of manufacture. Furthermore, these pistols have been successfully test fired showing that they were indeed built to perform and not as some type of fantastical prop.
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