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Old 1st August 2019, 04:04 AM   #1
phil.reid
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Default Belgian pepper box with cutlass bayonet, arabic????

Hi Guys ,
Have a old pepperbox which looks european/belgian to me, no maker mark but stamped$ all over including the blade which with the dot pattern on both sides looks abit arabic to me
Any ideas or seen one like it(thinking its a one off not like the elgin cutlass pistol)
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Old 6th August 2019, 09:19 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Kinda surprised no response on this.....well, maybe not.
This is of course VERY unusual, and the first thing I think of is the notably unusual Elgin cutlass pistol of 1838.

The Bowie knife had of course become enormously popular after the Alamo (actually before that with Bowie's notoriety) and in 1837 G. Elgin filed a patent for the Bowie knife. Right after that he decided to create the cutlass pistol..which had a .54 cal. boxlock pistol with a Bowie blade attached.

Apparently there were only 150 of these made and a number issued to the US Navy. C.B. Allen of Springfield, Mass. was the primary producer but Morrill, Mossman and Blair were other contractors as well.

These as far as known were never really used but some were taken on a naval expedition.

While this pepperbox may well be Belgian (usually 1840s) this blade seems to have the 'sickle marks' and trimurti dots often seen on Indian blades. These were of course copied from Italian blades of earlier centuries, but widely applied in India on blades in the 19th century, and especially in the north on Afghan arms.
With the Afghan skills in duplicating arms, I would be tempted to suggest this may be a weapon recalling either the Elgin weapon, or toward the Indian penchant for combination weapons.

MOST unusual piece!!!


I do not have my copy of "Firearms Curiosa" by Winant at hand, but if anyone out there has it, perhaps they might have a look to see if there might be some reference.
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Old 7th August 2019, 03:06 AM   #3
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Thanks for the Reply (yes , was getting worried i hadn't received even a " well thats different " reply) Very interesting in regards to the blade marking and does look like a cut-down tulwar
Very helpful and meant to say all parts on this piece including blade and bayonet fitting are stamped'4'( hit $ by mistake)
many thanks
phil
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Old 7th August 2019, 01:02 PM   #4
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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A great subject ~ I looked up a few blade and gun combinations as below and at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pistol_sword

The weapon with the axe is Polish.
The stiletto dagger combination is German
The One with the duck motif is Belgian.

There are some interesting references and one book looked especially inviting I thought..

BLADES AND BARRELS
six centuries of combination weapons
by H. GORDON FROST.
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Old 7th August 2019, 03:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phil.reid
Thanks for the Reply (yes , was getting worried i hadn't received even a " well thats different " reply) Very interesting in regards to the blade marking and does look like a cut-down tulwar
Very helpful and meant to say all parts on this piece including blade and bayonet fitting are stamped'4'( hit $ by mistake)
many thanks
phil



You are very welcome Phil, and I'm grateful for you posting this fascinating piece! The thing about combination weapons is that they are so esoteric and unusual that few collectors enter into such daunting areas. However, in the 'golden years' of arms collecting one key dealer/collector took on the task of gathering such pieces and wrote the now classic "Firearms Curiosa", by Lewis Winant (1961).

Actually your thoughts on Belgian origin on this were extremely well placed, as the makers in Liege were not only prolific in producing many of the most popularly known arms in most countries, but most innovative as well.
With combination weapons, as mentioned, Elgin contrived his combination gun and cutlass in 1838, but later, in 1869, Louis Dolne of Liege came up with a combination knuckle duster, and 7mm pinfire revolver which was also mounted with a small knife/bayonet.

This odd combination was not particularly lethal, however it was 'impressive' and later popularized in turn of the century Paris by gangs of street toughs known as 'the Apaches'.

The combination of gun and edged weapon was hardly new, as well noted by Ibrahiim in his entry, and for example many 'hunting swords' (hirshfangers) were mounted with pistol actions in earlier centuries. In India, armourers were always coming up with imaginative weapons to impress prospective clients and the patronage of princely figures.

That is what I suspect this intriguing example you have posted may be, and the arms of Liege often became available in India through British forces and diplomatic exchanges along with the volume of other arms.

The '4' numeral is a very curious application, and it seems I have seen it on other arms of the Subcontinent in similar manner. It does not seem to be from a lot or administrative number or production mark, but possibly to do with some symbolic case.
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Old 7th August 2019, 03:50 PM   #6
fernando
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Interesting item indeed, Phil ...
Indeed a piece that falls into the 'usual unusual' items. Meaning that here and there, composites of this kind pop up, regardless of their non massive proliferation. Take French Dumonthier, who used to come in the market with variations on knife pistols, some embellished to a high end grade. Also we can see examples as sophisticated as the barrel and blade being made in one only piece.
Thinking of Jim's suggestion for this possibly been a setup made in Afghanistan, due to their duplication ability, i notice technical details that would never cross my mind would be object of their 'skilled' smiths attention, namely the Liege type engraving on the cylinder, the way screws are inset on the stock and the preoccupation to stamp an assembly number (#4) in all parts.
Also interesting that we can see out there (in a blog) a rusted example similar (equal) to the one posted, said to be found in a remote land, under the skeleton of a pirate. Go figure !

PS
Oh, i didn't see that Jim meanwhile came in with further considerations!


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Old 7th August 2019, 04:41 PM   #7
Richard G
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The old East India Company mark was a "4" surmounting a heart. This could explain in being adopted by local manufactures as a mark of "quality" in some instances.
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Old 7th August 2019, 05:23 PM   #8
Jim McDougall
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Richard, exactly what I was just researching, and had thought perhaps that suggestion might be a bit tenuous, so Im glad I was not alone!!
The East India Company of course had the heart and VEIC letters quartered with a cross atop. This was of course in line with the well known globe and cross used in marking arms and many items with its Christian connotations.
With the EIC the mark with the cross was intended as a balemark to identify and as a kind of protective amulet mark.

With trade to India, it has often been claimed that the cross was altered by adding a line, into a four, to avoid offending or concerning the Muslim trade partners.

These EIC markings were of course well known throughout India, and in the Anglo-Afghan war of 1839 the markings became prevalent from the locks of the Brown Bess muskets captured by Afghans. The use of these EIC hearts which were topped with a '4' became popular with Afghans using the locks from these guns through the century to fashion their own jezails.

Tribal people tend to see such images symbolically rather than of course their original meaning in the context of origin, and may have seen the '4' as a mark of quality or protective imbuement. They likely disregarded the EIC heart as of course an element of British aggression, much in the way Tipu defaced the mark on his cannons adding his own over them.

Purely speculative, but as Richard has observed, a reasonably plausible idea.
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Old 7th August 2019, 05:25 PM   #9
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Fernando, I just saw your considerations as well, good examples, thank you!


To my suggestion that pepperbox revolvers were known in Afghanistan and thus duplicated is seen in this Afghan made interpretation, with the usual added decoration typically on jezails.
As noted Phil's example does seem to be a Belgian made pepperbox .
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Last edited by Jim McDougall : 7th August 2019 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 8th August 2019, 11:56 AM   #10
fernando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... To my suggestion that pepperbox revolvers were known in Afghanistan and thus duplicated is seen in this Afghan made interpretation, with the usual added decoration typically on jezails...

Notwithstanding those decorations have no European touch, like Phil's example; still i agree this as obviously being a pertinent approach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...As noted Phil's example does seem to be a Belgian made pepperbox .

Jim, the way i have read you, you were inclined towards both Belgium and Afghan possibilities.
And while i still consider this to be an European (Belgian) born pistol, i will also have to admit that the blade has undeniable Asian traces.
Would be a far too long shot thinking that this pistol had its disassembly screw lever modified to support a cut down talwar blade ... either before departure from origin workshop or afterwards, as per owner's design ?

On the other hand, it would be interesting to know from Phil which particular parts are marked with the "4"; if not for something else, still good for perusal.

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Old 8th August 2019, 10:27 PM   #11
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FWIW, I reviewed my copy of Blades and Barrels, and there is only one pepperbox sword in the book. It was made by Robert Lawton under US Patent number 481, and it does not resemble your sword.

There are several other revolver swords in the book, but not similar to yours.
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Old 9th August 2019, 01:01 AM   #12
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Goodness , artillery 1832 sword blade on that example .
ill check on the '4' stamps when i get home tonight and post
cheers
Phil
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Old 9th August 2019, 11:09 AM   #13
fernando
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Wink A bit of a detour

They say that, the worst blind is the one who doesn't want to see.
If we look at Phil's gun, the ignition system is the one perpetuated by Allen Thurber, known as 'bar hammer'.
With this acknowledged, you browse the net for Liege pepper boxes with this system and, what we find is that, the Liegeois were not (at all) fond of such percussion system for their 'poivrieres', and what pops up is a massive number of bar hammer pepper boxes made by ... British; and still a recurrent number of versions consistent with the possibility to support a blade ... even one inspired by the same muse.

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Old 9th August 2019, 04:22 PM   #14
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While unsure if I am among the blind, I am unclear of what is being illustrated here, and admit I am entirely trying to learn in these discussions so trying to see.
It seems that 'pepperbox' revolvers had been produced in England in the 1830s evolved from of course many years of multi barrel innovations. For some reason, in my limited experience, the British examples I have seen were not marked by the makers.
I am wondering if this may have had anything to do with the propensity of the exposed percussion cap nipples causing multiple discharge and gun failure if not injury or worse to user.

Actually the American versions were indeed often called 'Allen' pepperboxes as the patent holder was Ethan Allen (1837) however his partner Charles Thurber was included in the name Allen & Thurber on the revolvers.

I am quite unclear on the 'bar hammer' term which is suggested different from other pepperbox revolvers? I had thought this notable bar type hammer was present on these overall. That is the case with the British and American examples I have seen personally and in research. Clearly the type of gun has been produced in Russia, Sweden and other countries.
I was not aware that Belgium (Liege) did not care for the ignition system on these (though with the misfire and multiple ignition cases understandable), but it seems they produced 'knock off's of virtually most guns regardless.

The Allen & Thurber pepperbox (illustrated) is the same revolver used by Joseph Smith in Carthage, Illinois in 1844 as he was attacked and assassinated. Apparently he fired with three chambers igniting and three misfires. The gun itself is in the Mormon tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I am curious if the 'bar hammer' used on Allen& Thurber and various British pepperboxes is somehow different than on some other pepperboxes.
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Old 9th August 2019, 05:43 PM   #15
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Jim, i was referring to my self inflicted frustration for not noticing what looked obvious (to me) in the first place; not expecting such zealous assumption to be hijacked .
As i started by mentioning the Allen & Thurber in my previous post, of which i didn't include a picture because their typical stocks are not the type of Phil's or British examples. For the matter, it is only the firing system that counts.
For perusal, here is a number, among many, of Liege pepper boxes from my little book "Pistolets et Revolvers de poche au XIXème siècle".

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Old 9th August 2019, 11:48 PM   #16
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Thanks Fernando, I would have never have thought that's what you meant. With these pictures I now realize I have never seen a Belgian example, and I had thought that they basically copied the forms and patterns of other countries. I do appreciate the explanation and illustration, and helps to learn the differences here.
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