Friday, 13 May 2016


This week's Mystery Object.  This was one of the six lots I purchased on Wednesday at Bonham's Knightsbridge saleroom. I've photographed it on the palm of my left hand to give some idea of size (I think my hands are of the average male size). The pistol is just over four and a half inches long. the turn off barrel is just under one and a half inches long. The bore of the pistol is just over three tenths of an inch, and the barrel is chambered to take a very slightly larger ball than the bore, so that the muzzle velocity would be good.  It would be interesting to see what you can tell (or deduce) about the  pistol from the photographs.

P.s. I have several more photos of the pistol, if more details are required. The pistol  has already been  sold to a keen local collector.


Z said...

It looks quite like a little derringer that Russell owned, but I don't know what happened to it and can only assume he sold it some years ago. I'll be interested to hear more. Wicked little thing, it was.

Crowbard said...

Early to mid 19th century provincial muff or pocket pistol. Flint box-lock; the trigger only descends when the hammer is fully cocked to prevent it being snagged or inadvertently operated. It looks to have a safety catch which probably prevented the pan cover from accidentally opening and spilling the priming powder. I'd expect the barrel to have a slightly smaller diameter chamber to hold the ball tightly and achieve best muzzle velocity. I assume the maker or retailer was G & S Younge. The butt is plain and the decorative work on the side-plates is quite coarse. It looks to be a solid and dependable piece.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Z and Crowbard. I think that between you, you got everything possible about the small pistol. It is traditionally known as a muff pistol, supposed to have been carried by ladies in their muffs to protect their virtue when travelling (footpads and highway men etc)-hot blooded fellows those highway men!

Crowbard - that safety catch you can see not only locked the pan cover in position, but also locked the cock in the half cock position. It is, in its way rather a sophisticated little weapon. I was told once by an opinionated fellow that such a small weapon couldn't possibly have done much damage. I pointed out that it was breech loaded, tightly loaded, and that the bore was slightly larger than the .303 rifle, which we used (to good effect) in both World Wars.

My thanks to you both for joining in, and again - well done!

Mike and Ann said...

P.s. Don't ever let an antique dealer sell you a standard pocket pistol as one of these tiny muff pistols, which are much smaller, and generally rarer and more valuable than the pocket pistols. If you ever see the two side by side, you will be struck by the sheer difference in size.

Mike and Ann said...

P.p.s. See next entry, for Tuesday, 17th May, 2016.