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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vive la France!

Oh, the French.  Our relationship with them this past decade or so hasn't exactly been cozy (Sarkozy?).  Historically, however, our two nations have a strong friendship and alliance extending all the way back to our nation's infancy.  Let me refresh your memory in case your early American history is a little hazy.

- They supplied and fought with us in the Revolutionary War, helping to birth our country.
- They sold us the Louisiana Territory, effectively doubling our country's size.
- They gave us the Statue of Liberty in 1884, one of our nation's greatest symbols.
- They were an ally in The Great War, a.k.a. World War I.
- Were an ally again in World War II
- They placed troops in our control during the 1991 Iraq Gulf War.

How's that for a list?  And those are the just the things that France has done for us as a nation.  They've also shown our country volumes in the way of the painting, writing, wine, film, and cuisine.  Today's post is for one more thing they've sent our way, or rather, a pair of things.  Though to call them "things" seems a grave insult.  They are stately, elegant, and one of the most beautifully understated pairs of dueling revolvers to ever come out of 19th century Paris.

It seems that any number of photos is inadequate to capture every remarkable detail, but I shall do my best.

Try and claim that this is not stunning!

You are feasting your eyes on two Gosset Underhammer Percussion Dueling Pistols, Lot #1182 in our April 2013 Premiere Auction.  They were made by none other than the revered Parisian gunsmith Louis-Marin Gosset sometime between the years 1820 - 1825.  Gosset worked from 1793 - 1813 as an assistant to Nicholas-Noël Boutet, who was the armorer to the Crown, "arquebusier ordinair du Roi" for Louis XVI, and also made weapons for Napoleon I.  Gosset's tutelage and skill were obtained directly from what many consider to be the pinnacle of French gunmaking.  Every square inch of these guns is saturated with exquisite craftsmanship.  In this case a picture truly is worth a thousand words, so I shall let the pistols speak for themselves.  Please click the photos for larger images.

These pistols showcase the following features:

Gorgeous coloring from the carved walnut grips to the case hardened barrels, hammers, and trigger guards.

Phenomenal gold inlays, which also label the pistols "1" & "2"

Gold front and rear sights and octagonal, rifled barrels.

Stallion heads are engraved on to each gun's trigger guard.
This image gives an idea of how wonderfully small these detailed engravings truly are.

Whether or not this particular genre of firearms is your specialty, its aesthetics are undeniable.  These are the timeless works of a master craftsman and would be a jewel in any collection.  Even the case is handsomely crafted out of mahogany, is French fitted, features a German silver plate on its lid, and a brilliant green baize lining.

Auction Description

Lot# 1182: Magnificent Cased Pair of French Engraved Gold Inlaid Underhammer Percussion Pistols by Gosset -A) Gosset Underhammer Percussion Pistol
Deluxe cased pair of percussion pistols manufactured by the premier Paris gunmaker Louis-Marin Gosset c. 1820-1825. The pistols have distinctive underhammer actions with octagon poly-groove rifled barrels with swamped muzzles. The pistols have spur trigger guards and carved flattened European walnut grips with oval pommels. The barrels, hammers and trigger guards are casehardened. The barrels have gold fore-sights and back-sights. Each barrel is gold inlaid with two bands, foliate designs and the numbers "1" or "2" at the breech. "Invention Gosset" followed by a floral spray is inlaid in gold on the top flat of each barrel. Each barrel tang is gold-inlaid with the number "1" or "2" ahead of the back-sight and inlaid with "GOSSET/A PARIS" in gold oval behind the sight. The iron forearms, hammers, spur trigger guards, receivers and barrel tangs are covered with delicate relief-engraved floral designs. A small oval panel on the forearm of pistol "1" is engraved with a detailed bear head. Pistol "2" is engraved with a lion head in the same position. A stallion's head is engraved on the bottom of each trigger guard. The pistol grips and the sides of the flared butts are relief-carved decorations. The oval shaped pommel caps feature a detailed Medusa head wreathed in serpents. The pistols have a mahogany French fitted case with a German silver plate in the lid and a green baize lining. The case contains: a pewter oil bottle with urn-shaped top, a carved mahogany cask for percussion caps, a mahogany ramrod, a casehardened single-cavity round ball bullet mold, a mahogany mallet and a combination nipple wrench/screwdriver with fluted walnut handle.

Fortunately, our two nations are beginning to thaw their recently icy relationship and we can again unabashedly appreciate these fine French pieces of art.  These pistols are still an excellent opportunity to feast your eyes on some of the finest craftsmanship of the era, normally reserved for kings, emperors  and other important persons.  Firearms of this period show unequaled technical perfection and precision and these pistols are no exception.  Their beauty even draws comparisons to the firearms designed by Tiffany & Co., but that's an article for another day.

Psst!  If you liked these cased French dueling pistols, you might like these too!  We have no shortage of gorgeous weapons at this auction!


  1. The French never did anything wrong to deserve the imposed U.S. icy relationship. They were correct from the beginning because they knew there were NO weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which is why they refused to join in the Bush unprovoked attack on Iraq. I'm sure if France's intelligence knew this so did the U.S. The U.S. should be offering an apology to France but that's not the U.S. way, is it?

  2. Personally, I'm glad Saddam is gone and the 4th largest standing Army in the world does not exist in the Iraqi nation anymore.

  3. On the other hand...this absolutely exquisite