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Late 18th Century Brass Barreled Flintlock Holster Pistol by Richard Welford

Late 18th Century Brass Barreled Flintlock Holster Pistol by Richard Welford

  • Product Code: FHG-2264-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

This is a really lovely original and unaltered Brass Barreled Flintlock Holster Pistol by Richard Welford of London. The pistol is from the latter part of the 18th or early part of the 19th century and was likely produced circa 1770-1790. According to Blackmore’s Dictionary of London Gunmakers 1350-1850, the Richard Welford family of gunmakers started with Richard (1) who had been apprenticed to Henry Champante in 1703 and was subsequently “turned over” to Thomas Power in 1704. Richard (1) was “free of Gunmakers Company” in 1712 and served as a contractor to the British Board of Ordnance from 1715-1719 as well as a contractor to the East India Company through 1743. His establishment was at Bell Yard on Gracechurch Street and appears to have passed away in 1747. His son, Richard Welford (2) learned the trade apprenticed to the senior Welford and was made free of Gunmakers Company in 1744. Richard (2) worked in Goodman’s Field and is last seen in the directories in 1776. Richard Welford (3), son of Richard Welford (2) also apprenticed to his own father in 1759 in much the same way that Richard (2) had apprenticed to his father, Richard (1). Richard (3) was free of the Gunmakers Company in 1767 and worked at Fines Court and Mansell Street. He became a contractor to the East India Company in 1770 and was made a Beadle (minor official) of the Gunmakers Company in 1772. Richard (3) worked until his death in 1793. The touchmark on the barrel is the {CROWN}/RW mark that Blackmore shows as Figure 248 on page 214 and identifies as the mark of Richard Welford (1) on page 215. However, families often used the touchmark of the founding gun maker through the end of the family’s work in that field. Based upon the style and features of the pistol is likely from the last quarter of the 18th century and could potentially be an early 19th century pistol, produced by a gunmaker who may have taken over the Welford business upon the death of Richard Welford (3).


The pistol measures 13 ½” in overall length with a 7 7/8” brass barrel that is secured with pins keys and a screw through the iron breech tang. The barrel is a classic mid-to-late 18th century style, and is round, slightly swamped, with the baluster turned rings at the breech and an extended flat nocksform at the breech. The smooth bore pistol is nominally .63 caliber, or about 18-Bore, which is slightly larger than the British military would refer to as “pistol bore” during the period, and close to what they would call “carbine bore”, which was about .65 caliber or about 17-Bore. The top flat of the barrel is engraved with simple boarder lines. The left angle flat of the breech has two raised London commercial proofs in depresses ovals, the usual {CROWN}/V and {CROWN}/GP. Welford’s {CROWN}/RW maker’s mark is present between the two proofs. The stepped, flat iron lock plate has a small teat at the rear and a beveled edge. The lock measures 4 3/8” in length. The lock has a rounded and fenced integral bridled iron pan with a curved frizzen toe. The cock is of the flat beveled, swan-neck design with simple foliate engraving on the neck. The lock is engraved {ROYAL CROWN}/GR  under the pan and R B at the tail of the lock. The pistol is mounted with plain brass furniture and triggerguard which terminates in a plain pineapple finial. The pistol has a single Pratt style tapered pipe with baluster turned rings that secure a horn tipped wooden ramrod. The stock is gracefully carved of attractive walnut with a plain wood rounded grip that has no furniture and is reminiscent of simplified Dragoon pistols produced during the latter part of the 1790s. Both the lock mortise and counterpane terminate with a simple flat finial apron at their rears. The presence of a “King’s” marked lock on an otherwise commercial pistol with commercial proofs suggests that the gun was produced for the Board of Ordnance but was not a military issue gun to the regular army. Similar guns were produced during the late 18th and early 19th century for issue to Canadian militia, as well as for use as trade pistols with friendly indigenous peoples in North America. Another similar pattern was produced for the use of the French Prince of Bouillon who was a royalist, serving as a captain in the British Royal Navy and was stationed on the Channel Islands circa 1796. These guns are referred to as Philippe D’Auvergne pistols by collector’s today. These guns had brass barrels and fittings, Crown over GR marked locks and commercial proofs. The guns were produced by Durs Egg of London. The exact use of this government lock marked brass barrel holster pistol is not clear, but more than likely its simple and relatively inexpensive construction suggest a gun destined for North America for use by the Canadian militias or the Native American allies of the Crown.


The pistol remains in FINE condition and is extremely attractive. It remains 100% complete, correct and original, with the possible exception of the ramrod which a period rod but may be an incorrect replacement. Both the lock and barrel remain in their original flintlock configuration. The engraved and stamped markings remain clear and crisp throughout and are all clearly legible. The barrel and brass furniture have a mellow, rich golden mustard patina that shows no indication of having been cleaned in recent times. The brass has a slightly greenish tone and some of the brass shows the buildup of old green verdigris here and there. The iron lock, cock and breech plug tang have a dull, smoky gray patina with some scattered flecks of surface oxidation and discoloration. The lock remains mechanically fine and fully functional. The cock is original to the lock and both the top jaw and top jaw screw both appear to be original to the cock as well. The bore of the pistol is in about FINE condition with some moderate oxidation and some scattered discoloration along its length but no real pitting to speak of. There are some minor dings around the upper portion of the flared muzzle. The stock of the pistol is in about FINE condition as well. It is full-length, and free of any breaks or repairs. The stock shows no signs of sanding and retains crisp edges and sharp lines. The wood does show scattered bumps, dings and mars with a handful of small impact marks on the butt of the grip.  There is a tiny, tight grain crack running from the rear lock mounting screw to the barrel channel, the typical result of the screw being over-tightened. There is some very tiny surface chipping around the rear edges of the lock plate. The apparent “hole” under the lock plate is the end of the hole for the pin that secures the triggerguard post. The pin is visible flush against the counterpane but is slightly short, making the opposite side look like a hole.  As noted, the horn-tipped wood is period but may be an incorrect replacement as it is only 5” in length. However, it also appears to have been broken and the pinned horn tip and wood shaft are the correct size and pattern, suggesting that it might be original to the pistol, but just short due to damage.


Overall this is a really attractive Brass Barreled Flintlock Holster Pistol by Richard Welford (3) of London produced circa 1770-1790. The King’s marked lock combined with a commercial pistol suggests that this was either a pistol produced for the Board of Ordnance for use by militia or Native American allies in North America. Like most pistols of the period,  it was likely part of a pair when originally produced. The pistol has wonderful lines and remains quite crisp with clear markings and fine mechanics. While likely from the post-Revolutionary War period, the pistol was produced by a quality London gun maker who worked during the Revolution, as well as during the early Napoleonic War period. This would be a lovely addition to any collection of late 18th or early 19th century English arms and would be quite appropriate to a collection of Napoleonic or War of 1812 period English arms as the gun quite saw service during those conflicts.


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Tags: Late, 18th, Century, Brass, Barreled, Flintlock, Holster, Pistol, by, Richard, Welford