The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Double-barrelled flint-lock gun with ramrod
  • Double-barrelled flint-lock gun with ramrod
  • Possibly Etienne-Hippolyte-Nicolas Coudray , Silversmith
  • Possibly Pierre Denis Coudray, Silversmith
    Armand (active between: 1780 - 1798), (lock and barrel)
    Alphonse, (stock)
  • Paris, France
  • c. 1805 - c. 1810
  • Steel, gold, walnut, silver, whalebone and horn, engraved, browned, gilded, inlaid, chiselled and carved
  • Length: 125 cm
    Length: 83.8 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.5 cm, calibre
    Weight: 3.6 kg
  • Inscription: 'ARMAND A PARIS - CANON DE HENRI DOMBRET' In gold letters
    Maker's mark: Mark with 'A. RUBAN' Stamped
    Maker's mark: 'ARMAND À PARIS'
    Inscription: 'ALPHONSE' Stamped
    Stamp: Paris excise mark, mark for 1st standard silver, two maker's mark (one given as Coudray)
    Stamp: Excise and standard marks
    Stamp: Petit garantie marks
  • A1132
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Further Reading
  • Double-barrelled flint-lock gun, the barrels of finely-watered steel joined by a central rib. The surface is browned, the breeches gilt and engraved with masonry supporting two mortars at the moment of discharge, with the shell bursting above them. The foresight is surrounded by a cloud-burst inlaid in gold. The central rib is inscribed in gold letters:

    ARMAND A PARIS – CANON DE HENRI DOMBRET

    On the underside is stamped a maker's mark and the inscription:

    A. RUBAN

    The false breech is gilt, with shallow sighting groove engraved with a head of Phoebus Apollo surrounded by rays, the finial engraved as a pineapple.

    Locks of bright steel, the lock-plates engraved with the maker's name:

    ARMAND À PARIS

    The cocks have spur necks and are slightly engraved with foliage. The steel and upper jaw of the cock are chiselled in relief with a pair of volutes supporting two balls and surmounted by a spike. There is no wheel in the steel-spring. Gold-lined pans. The lock has both internal and external bridles.

    Stock of walnut finely carved with conventional foliage on the fore-end, by the false-breech cornucopias, on the underside of the butt is a stag's head, and at the end of the cheek-piece a foliated volute. On the right side of the butt is stamped the name:

    ALPHONSE

    This is probably the name of the stock-maker. In place of the usual chequering the small of the stock and fore-end are carved with a scale-pattern of laurel leaves. The mounts are of silver finely chiselled in relief, the borders of the heel-plate have on the right side a dog putting up a duck, on the left a dog pointing at a partridge. On the top finial is a nude huntsman spearing a boar, on the bottom a dog attacking a fox; see also the design on left side of heel-plate of A1134. The design on the bow of the trigger-guard is the same as that on the trigger-guard of A1134, but in this case the workmanship is superior; the finial has a figure of Diana. On the ramrod socket is a displayed eagle and a satyr's mask. The two ramrod pipes are carried on the lower barrel rib. The heel-plate is stamped with the Paris excise mark, the mark for 1st standard silver and two maker's marks, one of which gives the maker's name as Coudray; the trigger-guard with excise and standard marks only. All mounts stamped with the petite garantie mark. The pipe at the ramrod socket carries a small steel loop for a sling and another is screwed into the underside of the butt. Whalebone ramrod with horn tip and silver ferrule, which has a curiously tapered thread. The horn tip has originally had a cap of metal, probably silver, which is now missing.

    French (Paris), about 1805-10.

    This gun is of the finest quality and bears comparison with the work of Boutet himself. It is particularly interesting to find a gun of this date with locks, stock and barrels all signed by their respective makers. Little is known, however, of the three craftsmen who collaborated in the production of A1132, which is the more remarkable in consideration of their obvious skill. Coudray, the silversmith, may be Etienne Hippolyte Nicolas Coudray, son of Etienne Pierre Coudray, or his younger brother, Pierre Denis Coudray (H. Nocq, Le Poinçon de Paris).

    The scene involving a dog attacking a fox is based on a painting by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, now in the Musée Conde, Chantilly, engraved by the painter himself in the same year, 1725. It subsequently became a favourite source for French decorative craftsmen (see Norman, Country Life, GXL, pp. 692-4, figs. 1 and 3). The figures on the trigger-guard are based on the frontispiece of the Cayers de trophées of Jacques Juillet, of 1768 (Norman, op. cit., p. 693).
    The figure of Diana is an addition dove-tailed into the trigger-guard.
    Of the silver marks, the first is the poinçon de titre, for the period 1798-1809; the second, which appears on the butt-plate and, much more clearly, inside the trigger-guard, is the maker's mark of Etienne- Hippolyte-Nicolas Coudray (his four initials around his family name); the third is the so-called mark of the Association des Orfèvres, for 1793-4 (see under A1126); and the fourth is the poinçon de garantie for Paris for the period 1798 to 1809. All parts except the butt-plate bear in addition the hare's head, the petite garantie for Paris for the period 1819 to 1838, indicating that A1132 was on the market during that period.

    Blair, Pollard's History of Firearms, 1983, pI. 123.

    Armand is recorded in N. Støckel, I, p. 29, as being active from about 1780 to 1798, for the last three years in the Manufacture de Versailles. P. Jarlier gives his dates as 1814 to 1840, at first at 268 rue du Roule, and later at no. 19 (Repertoire, col. 5). A working life of sixty years is unusually long; no doubt more than one man is involved.

    The barrel-maker's mark is not recorded by N. Støckel, but of course could belong to a member of the Dombret family. There is a double-barrelled fowling piece by this maker in the National Museum at Cracow (no. V1461; Hayward, Art of the Gunmaker, II, p. 193, figs. 60a and b). It is signed 'ARMAND RUE DU ROULE A PARIS, no. 19' to which address he moved after 1804 and before 1807 (J. de la Tynna, Almanach du commerce de Paris, 1804 and 1807). The Dombret family may have been Belgian: the Royal Armouries sold a gun in Belgian style from the Ranken collection signed on the barrel B. Dombret (N. A. Kennard, personal communication).

    The Coudray family are referred to by Nocq, Le poinçon de Paris, I, p. 301. The father, Etienne-Pierre, described as Joaillier-orfèvre, was established at 267 (?) rue du Roule.