German Target Pistols & English Case

Value (2008) | $6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction

GUEST:
They were my grandfather's. He traveled around the Caribbean in about the '50s, I think it was. And he did a lot of personal favors for some families, and as a result of the favors, someone gave him this as a gift. And that's really all we know. We don't know very much about it.

APPRAISER:
What do you think pistols like this would have been used for?

GUEST:
We think they're dueling pistols.

APPRAISER:
Where do you think they're from?

GUEST:
We think they were made in England, but we're not sure of that, either, so...

APPRAISER:
Okay. Well, this is actually a typical English casing for a pair of dueling pistols from around the early 19th century. The case has a label in it that says William Dooley, from Liverpool, and the case set here has what appears to be their original accessories, and would have originally held a pair of probably a Flint dueling pistols.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Unfortunately, the pistols themselves are actually German. The pistols have a mark right here in gold that says Kraus in Hertzberg, and they date to about the mid-19th century. So they're a little bit later. So at some point or other, the box and the pistols were married together. That said, too, is that they're actually not dueling pistols.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
They're typical target pistols. And one thing that you can tell about a target pistol is is that they have rifling right in here. And that would help the ball move straighter. Now, in your traditional English pistols, the dueling pistols, they were smoothbore.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And one of the reasons was is that when they were in a duel, they didn't want, necessarily, the bullet to go straight.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
They wanted the bullet to sort of wobble in the air because it was considered ungentlemanly to take that much accuracy in this contest between two gentlemen over a matter of honor. So you would almost never see rifling in that type of pistol.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The other thing about it, which is very typical of this type of target pistol, is right here you'll see, behind the sight, there's a little nut there for adjusting the actually level of the sight, depending on the range that you were looking for. So, again, those are very typical target features. The pistols themselves are probably, I would imagine, worth, at auction, about $5,000 to $7,000.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
With the case, you may be able to add another thousand.

GUEST:
Oh, okay. Well, thank you.

APPRAISER:
You're welcome.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2008)
$6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction
Event
Chattanooga, TN (July 19, 2008)
Period
19th Century
Form
Case, Pistol
Material
Metal, Wood

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