Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > European Armoury

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 15th February 2021, 03:23 PM   #1
M ELEY
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NC, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,795
Default Old flintlock conversion to percussion

Here is a pistol that started me into collecting over 30 years ago. I received it from a great uncle and I must confess that I didn't pay it too much attention as I assumed it was a target pistol and late 19th c. percussion. The other day, I took it down from the mantle and really looked at it and realized that it might be (???) an old flintlock with later conversion to percussion? Again, for give as I am more an edged weapon collector.
The mechanism on the piece is crisp and works well. I tried to capture the detailing on the piece. Although a worn example, one can still make out traces of gold inlay, a scene on the top of the barrel of a stag, foliage work on the butt-cape, beautiful wood scrolling/patterning to the wood. It has it's original ramrod and a small repair with nail (unfortunately cracked). The interesting thing about it is that the gun is very light despite not being a small weapon by any means.
My questions are- Am I right that it is a conversion piece? How old might the original pistol be? Country of origin? Dueling pistol? Target? Would it be worth my while (with this piece's rugged condition) to try and restore a flintlock to the piece and what might be involved? I don't care about the value. really, but I also wanted to know if the value is greatly affected by the percussion conversion? I'm assuming so-
Attached Images
      
M ELEY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th February 2021, 03:31 PM   #2
M ELEY
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NC, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,795
Default More pics...

Some more pics of the pistol-
Attached Images
      
M ELEY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th February 2021, 05:25 PM   #3
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 8,353
Default

If it is a conversion work, is very well 'disguised', Mark.
Trying to get it back to flint is an option; which i wouldn' adopt myself.
It is admitable that a gun converted to percussion would not keep its original value but ... what the hell; it has an history, all the same.
I like the shadow of your elegant hands while taking the first picture .
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th February 2021, 06:03 PM   #4
M ELEY
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NC, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,795
Default

[QUOTE=fernando]If it is a conversion work, is very well 'disguised', Mark.
Trying to get it back to flint is an option; which i wouldn' adopt myself.
It is admitable that a gun converted to percussion would not keep its original value but ... what the hell; it has an history, all the same.
I like the shadow of your elegant hands while taking the first picture .

Well, you know I am a 'hand model', Fernando-
M ELEY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th February 2021, 07:13 PM   #5
Fernando K
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 615
Default

Hello

First of all, restoring this piece to flint implies having a cock (hammer) model and we don't know what it was like. Of course it is a careful conversion, the places where the frizzen spring was have kept their original design. I do not see the threaded holes of the screw of the frizzen and its spring, properly plugged, but it is a test of careful work. The presence of gold is not incrustation, but gilding on fire (an impossible practice today, due to its toxicity). It is not a dueling pistol, due to the profuse decoration. The English dueling weapons had little decoration and the French pairs were much later. For decoration, I lean towards France, sometime in the 18th century.

I would leave it like this, restoring the wooden box and cleaning. You can never go back to the original state.

Affectionately
Fernando K is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th February 2021, 09:35 PM   #6
adrian
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 68
Default

I agree with all Fernando K's comments and I would also go further re the original configuration of this pistol to state that I think it has not been converted from flint. I see no sign of the holes that would have been filled on the face, and perhaps inspecting the rear of the lock, as well as the nipple lump attachment etc would determine this for certain. May I suggest that you look closely at the face for evidence, such as seen in the photo below that I have extracted from a book.
Attached Images
 
adrian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2021, 02:53 AM   #7
M ELEY
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NC, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,795
Default

Thank you, Fernando K and Adrian, for your input. Adrian, you are correct that the lock on mine has no filled holes and the existing lock fits snugly. I guess the reason I thought perhaps a conversion is I've seen the 'nipple' cut into old locks and the cap holder on this one possibly looked 'added'. Likewise, the aging on the pistol, with it's wear and patina to the wood, made me suspect older. I guess in leu of this information, this must just be an early percussion pistol, perhaps 1820's?
M ELEY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2021, 05:41 AM   #8
Philip
Member
 
Philip's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: California
Posts: 904
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by adrian
I agree with all Fernando K's comments and I would also go further re the original configuration of this pistol to state that I think it has not been converted from flint. I see no sign of the holes that would have been filled on the face, and perhaps inspecting the rear of the lock, as well as the nipple lump attachment etc would determine this for certain. May I suggest that you look closely at the face for evidence, such as seen in the photo below that I have extracted from a book.
I must respectfully disagree. If it was made as percussion, why would there be that unmistakable shaped "platform" on the forward end of the lockplate that is of ideal shape to support a frizzen-spring which has since been removed? Also, I see a slight shadow and a partial arc where the frizzen spring screw would have been, it hints that this is a filled screwhole.

A general observation -- the proportions of the gun, and the relative crudity of the foresight and the end of the forestock suggest that the barrel had been shortened, possibly at time of conversion but not necessarily so.

The decoration on the breech and furniture, and the decorative carving on the buttstock, indicate that this pistol was quite a fine thing in its heyday. I agree with the consensus of opinion on the thread so far -- restoring it to flint is probably not a good idea, but a judicious cleaning and overall conservation work will improve it greatly and halt any ongoing deterioration.
Philip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2021, 10:28 AM   #9
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 8,353
Default Following Filipe's observations ...

After having admitted in my #3 that it could have been a subtle modification work, i had a second thought in that i looked at it as definitey being a conversion to percussion. But i didn't risk to post my uneducated guess and rather wait for the cavalry .
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2021, 11:58 AM   #10
Fernando K
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 615
Default

Hello

One more thing; The plugged holes, although they were carefully treated on the outer surface, inside the lock they are not usually treated equally, and you can see the marks they have left. You would have to see the inside of the lock to see what is discovered ...

Affectionately
Fernando K is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2021, 12:19 PM   #11
Raf
Member
 
Raf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 130
Default

The critical issue in deciding whether this is an early conversion is the relationship between the percussion bolster and the barrel. Looking at image 4 it looks as if the barrel and bolster have been forged in one piece . In which case it definitely isn't a conversion. The only way to be sure is to dismantle it and look for any tell tale signs of brazing between the bolster and the barrel. If present then its almost certainly a skilful period conversion. Admittedly it is weird that a gunsmith would go to the trouble of removing a flashpan , carefully filling the holes and not re - shape the area where the frizzen spring fitted although they did add a bit of engraving in this area. If it isnt a conversion then a tentative theory might be that since period gunsmiths relied on supplies of components made by outworkers a part finished lockplate origionally intended for a flintlock was re purposed as a percussion lock .

The ethics and aesthetics of conversions back to flint is a grey area bordering on forgery. Probably justified where a high quality flintlock has been butchered by a provincial gunsmith with a crude drum nipple conversion or as sometimes seen a bad modern reconversion. Otherwise leave well alone .

Last edited by Raf; 16th February 2021 at 01:28 PM.
Raf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2021, 01:00 PM   #12
Fernando K
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 615
Default

Hello

Another question; the decoration from the middle of the lock, under the pump and up to the front of the plate has been interrupted, as if it had been carefully removed. If it were an original percussion plate, the decoration of scrolls and fire-gilding would cover the entire space. The decoration of simple stripes on the front and also on the cock (hammer) is not consistent with the rest of the decoration, and the eyes and the feathers of the hammer are reminiscent of English percussion hammers ...

Affectionately
Fernando K is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2021, 03:33 PM   #13
M ELEY
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NC, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,795
Default

Thank you all for commenting on the piece. I had also noticed the 'feathered/eyed' hammer found on many percussion pieces of the period. I am leery on taking the gun apart to look at the lock from the inside. As the pics show, there are some instabilities/cracks in the wood. The piece is solid and intact, but once one starts unscrewing the mounts, I'd be afraid I could ruin the piece. I might just have to chalk this one up as a 'possible' conversion. As I am not an expert, I don't want to cause any more harm to it-
M ELEY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th February 2021, 07:23 PM   #14
Fernando K
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 615
Default

Hello

I differ. The locks of any old weapon have been put in place with two screws (and some with a hook and a single screw) and removing them is not dangerous. But you are the owner of this gun, and you have the right to do whatever you want, according to your beliefs. The same happens if you want to restore the wood, you will have to disassemble the lock, the barrel, and the trimmings.

Affectionately
Fernando K is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th February 2021, 02:40 PM   #15
rickystl
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: St. Louis, MO area.
Posts: 1,577
Default

Nice old pistol.

Have to agree with Philip's comments. Guessing the conversion was done sometime during the 1840's.

Unfortunately for us collectors today, shortening the barrel and fore stock was quite common in the day.

Fernando K makes the good observation of the original lock decoration abruptly ending in the front portion of the lock plate - where the original frizzen spring would have been. The simple add on decoration added during the conversion.
Still, the conversion looks to have been well done.

To me, this pistol has a bit of Italian flair to it. (But maybe French)

Rick
rickystl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17th February 2021, 05:33 PM   #16
Will M
Member
 
Will M's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: In the wee woods north of Napanee Ontario
Posts: 287
Default

Interesting pistol with great details. The hammer reminds me of Prussian arms.
Will M is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 12:00 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.