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Antebellum English Pistol Retailed by Hyde & Goodrich

Antebellum English Pistol Retailed by Hyde & Goodrich

  • Product Code: FHG-1549-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

This is a great example of an Antebellum New Orleans retailer marked percussion pistol, retailed by the famous firm of Hyde & Goodrich. Hyde & Goodrich was established in New Orleans as a jeweler and retailer in 1814. They concentrated on offering a wide array of jewelry, silver, high end imported items and firearms, most of which were imported as well. These imported arms were regularly marked with the name of the firm on their barrels or topstraps. In the antebellum south, they became one of the largest and most important importers of English made arms, most especially revolvers by William Tranter. The company remained in business through the early days of the Civil War. On July 1, 1861 the company was reorganized as Thomas, Griswold & Company, which became one of the more famous Confederate sword makers and retailers over the next year. The company remained in business through the war, becoming A.B. Griswold & Company at the end of the war, and returning to their roots as jewelers and retailers of high end imported goods. This particular pistol was manufactured by Richard Hollis & Sons of Birmingham, England. Richard Hollis established himself as a Gun & Rifle Maker in 1817 at 40 Loveday Street. In 1832, the firm became Richard Hollis & Sons, and operated under that name until 1840 when they went out of business. During the last 3 years of their operation (1837-1840), they were located at 27 Staniforth Street in Birmingham. As the lock of the gun is clearly marked Rich Hollis & Sons, the gun was manufactured between 1832 and 1840. The pistol was originally manufactured as a flintlock gun, and was altered to percussion during its service life with a simple French or “drum” conversion and the addition of a percussion hammer.

The pistol is a typical mid-19th century English “dueling” or sporting pistol of very high quality. The gun is large caliber and smoothbore, with an adjustable trigger; all typical of dueling pistols of the era. However, the gun has a rear sight, which is not a typical feature and is more common on defensive and sporting arms than dueling pistols. The lock is engraved Rich Hollis & Sons along the lower edge, forward of the hammer. The lock plate is also engraved with neatly executed foliate pattern scrolls. The percussion conversion hammer is neatly engraved as well, but of a slightly different pattern, and was clearly decorated in an attempt to match the lock, without actually having to execute the lovely foliage on the lock plate. The lock and hammer have a smooth, plum brown patina, and show only some lightly scattered peppering and minor pinpricking. The lock functions crisply and correctly on all positions and is mechanically excellent. The original flintlock sliding safety is present on the lock, behind the hammer, but is no longer functional; likely as a result of the percussion alteration. The interior of the lock is marked R H for Richard Hollis and has the file slash mating mark | | along the top edge of the lock plate. The gun has a 10 ““ octagon barrel with a break off breech. The barrel is of high quality Damascus steel and retains much of the attractively swirling Damascus pattern in the metal. The pistol is about .54 caliber (approximately 30-bore) with a smoothbore. The barrel has a 4 15/16” metal under rib, which terminates at the silver plated forend cap that graces the end of the pistol’s half stock. A single iron ramrod pipe is present 2 ““ from the muzzle. The top of the barrel’s breech is engraved LONDON in Gothic script, and the top of the barrel flat is engraved Hyde & Goodrich in a lovely, flowing hand. The bottom of the barrel has a pair of post-1813 Birmingham commercial black powder proof marks, the initials R H and the file slash assembly mark | |. The bottom of the barrel is also numbered 192. The “London” mark on the barrel is a classic ploy of Birmingham gunmakers to imply that the gun was manufactured there, even though it was produced in Birmingham. The barrel is secured to the stock with a single flat key, which is surrounded by a silver plated oval escutcheon, and by the hook at the rear of the breech plug, that engaged the false breech. The barrel has a relatively smooth, mottled patina that is mostly plum brown over a pewter base color. The metal shows some light peppering and pinpricking in the breech area, becoming smoother towards the muzzle. The breech is engraved with a lovely foliate pattern matching the lock. The percussion cone seat is a simple bag shaped bolster, which has been brazed over the original flintlock touchhole. The alteration is typical of those found on many found on the civilian arms used in the Antebellum south. The original percussion cone is present in the bolster, but it is battered and worn. The bore of the pistol is in about GOOD condition. It is dark and dirty and shows light to moderate pitting along its entire length, with a couple of patches of more sever roughness noted. The original German silver front sight is in place in its dovetail near the muzzle. The triggerguard has the same pleasing plum brown patina that is found on the lock, and is engraved with a matching foliate pattern. The triggerguard has a hooked finger rest at its rear, and a lovely pineapple finial to its front. The forend cap, key escutcheons and wrist escutcheon are all silver-plated and in very nice condition. What appears to be the original ebony ramrod is in place under the barrel. The 9 3/8” long rod has a German silver tip and a brass jag at the opposite end. The jag unscrews to reveal a threaded ball puller. The stock of the pistol is in about FINE condition. The stock is made from a very attractive piece of European walnut, which is highly figured and furniture grade. The simple bag shaped grip is neatly checkered at about 18 lines per inch. The stock retains the majority of its original varnished finish and is free of any breaks, cracks or repairs. The stock shows only a variety of scattered handling marks, bumps and dings from carry and use.

Overall this is a really attractive example of an Antebellum era English import pistol marked by the famous New Orleans retailer Hyde & Goodrich. Based upon the lock markings, we can narrow the original production date for the pistol to between 1832 and 1840. The pistol was then altered to percussion during its service life, likely in the Deep South during the mid-1850’s. The gun is a wonderful example of a high-grade gentleman’s pistol from the zenith of the southern planter economy. It is very possible that the gun could have seen service during the Mexican War as a Louisiana officer’s pistol and may have even seen service during the early days of the American Civil War. One way or the other this is a lovely high-grade pistol by a famous English gunmaker, with one of the most desirable of all southern retailer marks. It would be a wonderful addition to any collection of secondary Confederate arms, and would be equally at home in a display of a Mexican War officer’s items.


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Tags: Antebellum, English, Pistol, Retailed, by, Hyde, Goodrich