The Wallace Collection

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Flint-lock pistol with ramrod
  • Flint-lock pistol with ramrod
  • Ascribed to Isaac Cordier , (engraving)
  • Paris, France
  • c. 1660
  • Steel, gold, ebony, silver and copper alloy, blued, damascened, engraved, chiselled and gilded
  • Length: 64.2 cm, overall
    Length: 44.9 cm, barrel
    Width: 1.4 cm, calibre
    Weight: 0.99 kg
  • Inscription: 'Le Conte'
    Stamp: Three small marks
  • A1207
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Flint-lock pistol, a pair with A1208. The barrel is octagonal at the breech, changing to polygonal, the rest round. The surface is brilliantly blued and is overlaid with gold arabesques at the breech, muzzle and at the beginning of the round-section area. On the top plane of the octagonal portion is inlaid the signature in gold:

    Le Conte

    On the underside at the breech end are three small marks.

    Lock. Lock-plate engraved with a bird amid flowers and foliage, on a hatched ground, the rear end of the plate chiselled with a boar's head, gilt, the rest of the plate being of bright steel. Ring-necked cock of flat section engraved like the lock-plate with flowers; the head of the pin is chiselled as a lion's mask and gilt. The upper jaw and screw are missing, and the comb has been broken away. Pan-cover and steel quite plain and free from engraving, the head of the securing screw is gilt, as is the end of the steel spring which is pierced with foliage. The lock mechanism has a sear of the type found in snaphaunces and early flint-locks.

    Stock of ebony inlaid with fine corded lines of silver wire. Flattened butt with butt-cap of gilt brass pierced and engraved with a design of flowers backed with a foil of blued steel. Gilt brass trigger-guard, pierced with a panel of flowers backed like the butt-cap with blued steel. Trigger shaped as a dolphin. Single, gilt-brass ramrod pipe pierced with a floral design. Screw-plate on the left side of gilt copper shaped and engraved as a dolphin. Gilt-brass fore-end cap engraved with flowers. Ebony ramrod with polygonal tip of brass, formerly gilt, and steel worm.

    French, Paris, about 1660.

    Provenance: H. Courant (receipted bill, 20 September, 1866, Une paire de pistolets noir et encrustée d'or, 1,400 fr.); Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    These pistols are of the finest workmanship throughout. Le Conte signed the flint-locks: Le Conte à Paris of a fine double-barrelled gun with decoration by Jean Berain of Charles XI, King of Sweden, in the Kungl. Livrustkammer at Stockholm (no. 704). A pair of pistols signed: L. LeComte, were in the Brett sale (1895, lot 227), and another pair (perhaps the same) at Christie's, 8 August, 1917, lot 45, which may have been by a later member of the same family.

    The engraving of the locks, and possibly the mounts, of A1207-8 is from a pattern engraved by Philippe Cordier Daubigny (fl. 1635-1665), and is probably the work of his brother, Isaac Cordier. A pair of pistols with almost exactly similar locks, once in the collection of M. Pauilhac, are signed: Cordier fecit, on the locks, and Isaac Cordier à Fontenay, on the barrels (Post, Z.H.W.K., XIV, 54; these pistols are now in the Musée de l' Armée, no. M.Po.819; Reverseau, Musée de I' Armée, 1982, p. 108, fig. 27). There is also a pair of wheel-lock pistols signed in the same way at Berlin (Post, Z.H.W.K., XIII, 235; illustrated by Müller in Guns, Pistols and Revolvers, 1981, pls. 52-4). Compare also a pair of wheel-lock pistols at Vienna (Böheim, Album I, pl. XXXII, 5, 5a).

    The sear pivots horizontally but does not pass through the lock-plate. There is no external bridle on the lock.

    Hayward, Art of the gunmaker, 1, 1962, pp. 148 and 293, pls. 49a and 51a;
    Kennard, French pistols and sporting guns, 1972, p. 23.

    J. F. Hayward (op. cit., p. 293) suggested that the engraving was probably carried out by Isaac Cordier, a native of Aubigny-en-Artois, Pas de Calais, who worked at Fontenay, after a design by his brother, Philippe Cordier Daubigny. The latter produced a series of designs for guns dated between 1634 and 1637 (Grancsay, Master French gunsmiths' designs, 1950, pls. 70-1). Hayward dates these pistols about 1660. N. Støckel, I, p. 244, suggests that the Fontenay in question could be Fontenay-le-Comte, in Vendée.