Original British Over and Under Double Barrel Howdah Percussion Pistol by William Griffiths of Manchester - circa 1850

Item Description

Original Item: Only one available. Now this is a pistol that really brings back the romance of "Big Game Hunting" during the early British Victorian Era. These very large bore pistols were originally made for close range use in a Howdah, which is the box compartment that sat on the back of an Elephant and used in tiger hunts throughout India and Nepal.

Officers would pursue this sport using high power sporting rifles to shoot their game from these locations of safety. Once in a while a tiger fought back climbing up the side of the Elephant to confront the Howdahs occupants. Therefore, the Howdah pistol was specially made to handle really substantial loads of powder together with a real tiger stopping Ball over .50". Hopefully the hunter found time to lean over the side of the Howdah and shoot the invading tiger at point blank range for if not, he was quickly the tiger's lunch!

These were usually made in England, and sold to officers or other well-off people, and they became popular not just for Tiger hunting, but also for self defense. The name Howdah however stuck, even though many were never destined to be used while hunting tigers.

This is a very nice example of a Victorian British Double Barrel Howdah Percussion pistol, in the popular "over and under" configuration. It measures about 10 inches in overall length, with 4 1/2 inch long double barrels. The shorter length of this example would suggest it was used as an overcoat pistol, kept in the large pockets for self-defense. It features a lovely checkered wooden grip, and the box lock is covered with ornate foliate engraving. There is a banner design on the top with the name W. GRIFFITHS inside, for gunsmith William Griffiths of Manchester, England. This maker was known for making guns of exceptional quality, and while it shows wear, the very high level of original manufacture is unmistakable.

The locks both have safety catches for the hammers, which can be engaged at half cock, preventing the hammers from being moved to full cock until the safety is disengaged. Both locks are still fully functional, holding at half cock, and firing at full, and the safeties work great as well.

Condition overall is very good, with a lovely worn look. The engraving on the trigger guard and lock are well retained, and the grip is in great shape, with an unmarked silver escutcheon on the rear. The barrel does show some damage and wear, and may have been used as a bludgeon or something similar at some point, as there are numerous dents on the top of the top barrel. The pistol has a provision for a ramrod, but unfortunately it is now missing.

A very nice example of a high end British Howdah big bore over and under pistol, with a lovely patina of age. Ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: circa 1850
Bore Diameter: about .58"
Ammunition Type: Lead Ball & Powder
Barrel Length: 4 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 10 inches
Action: Percussion lock side action
Feed System: Muzzle-Loaded - Over and Under Barrels

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