Object Title

Flintlock muzzle-loading pistol - Model 1789 (conversion)

Flintlock muzzle-loading pistol - Model 1789 (conversion)

Date

about 1789

Object Number

XII.1843

Provenance

Old Tower Collection

Physical Description

Cavalry or Dragoon Pistol. Originally a Model 1731 produced during the reign of Frederick the Great 1740 - 1786 then later modified. It is stocked to the muzzle with no provision for a ramrod, the barrel is retained by two pins and has a brass sheet fore-end cap. It is equipped with a heavy brass trigger guard of early French pattern, with flat surface and bevelled edges, the front and the rear finials being a series of three irregular balls tapering to a tear drop at each end. The trigger is curled and the gun has a heavy faceted brass butt cap with long spurs extending up the grip to the rear of the lock and side plate carving. The bottom has a round cap. The right side face is deeply engraved with the cypher of Frederick III to which a W has been added at the bottom. The rear of the lock plate, barrel tang and rear of the side plate flat have raised carvings terminating in tear drops, with bevelled edges. The brass side plate is flat, proud of the surface and with a bevelled edge, and the two locks screws and screws through the tail are flat and flush with the plate. The lower right side of the butt is stamped 6. The fore sight is a long brass blade is brazed 1 ¾ inches from the muzzle. The barrel tang is slightly raised at its front with a groove through it to act as a back sight. The round barrel is baluster turned at the breech in the standard Prussian style with a broad curving turn and line at the front. There are vestiges of the Prussian eagle proof-mark on top of the barrel at the breech. The lock is standard Prussian pattern for their 18th century arms, suitably reduced for pistol use. The flat plate with its broad bevelled edge and pronounced tit at the tail measures 5 5/8 ins. by 1 1/8 ins. There is a single broad groove cut across the tail. The faceted detachable iron pan is made without a bridle and the steel has a flat top and faceted back. The steel spring has a spear-point finial and decorative cutting and faceting. The swan neck cock is flat with a bevelled edge and the jaws are hexagonal in shape with faceted top and bottom surfaces. The spur is broad and curls inwards at the tip. The plate is stamped POTSGAMMAGAZ ahead of the cock and on the bevel beneath S & D (Splittgerber & Daun, proprietors of the Potsdam manufactory between 1722 and 1774).

Techniques

Mass Maunfacture

Materials

Dimensions

OverallBore0.63in.
OverallBore16mm
OverallLength19.17in.
OverallLength487mm
OverallWeight1.44kg
OverallWeight3.175lb oz
BarrelLength11.61in.
BarrelLength295mm

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number NVN

Calibre

16 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

Assembley/ Serial Number?
6
Lower right side butt
Stamped
Royal Cypher
Crown over FWR.
Grip
Engraved
Manufacturer's mark
POTSGAMMAGAZ
Lockplate
Stamped
Proof
Prussian Eagle
Breech
Stamped
Controller's Mark
S&D
Bevel lockplate
Stamped

Notes

From the above markings and the obvious addition of the W to the royal cypher it is apparent that this is a pistol made either from older parts of subsequently updated by the simple modernising of the cypher. The style suggests the former idea, and would therefore perhaps indicate that this is a Model 1731 which has had the barrel cut down to resemble the Model 1789. It was originally thought that the cypher onthis pistol was of Frederick William II who did not come to the throne until 1786. However it could also be that of his son Frederick William III (1797-1840). This pistol was probably an original Model 1731, which was produced during the reign of Frederick the Great (reigned 1740-1786), and remained so until 1786-1815. During the French occupation of Prussia 1806-1812, the Prussians had to arm themselves with whatever they could and so it is possible that the possible modification of this pistol occurred between these dates, with the W being added to update it from the cypher of Frederick the Great to the cypher of Frederick William III.