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British Pattern 1799 Eliott Light Dragoon Pistol

British Pattern 1799 Eliott Light Dragoon Pistol

  • Product Code: FHG-1717-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

The middle 18th century saw a change in the way in the British Board of Ordnance approached the design of small arms. For the first time, the leaders of men in the field, whose men had to actually use the small arms provided by the board, began to influence designs and innovation. One such man was General George Augustus Eliott, who commanded the 15th Regiment of Dragoons, better known as The King’s Own Royal Dragoons. In 1759, then Colonel Eliott was tasked with the raising an training of the new 15th Regiment of Dragoons, which would be the first “light” dragoon regiment to be raised and equipped. The regiment would initially be named in his honor, Eliott’s Light Dragoons and was renamed c1766 The King’s Own Royal Dragoons. Eliott chose to equip these men with pistol of his own design, which would become known as the Pattern 1759 or Eliott’s Light Dragoon pistol. He would eventually develop a cavalry carbine as well. Unlike the current pattern of “Land Service” pistol then being issued, the Pattern 1756, the new Eliott design was simpler, somewhat more robust, was shorter and only came in one caliber, Carbine Bore. The previous land service pistol, which had changed minimally over the previous 50 years, was an elegant design with a 12” round barrel and was available in either “pistol bore” (nominally .56 caliber) or “carbine bore” (nominally .66 caliber). This had the potential to create problems with ammunition supply in the field. Eliott chose the shorten the barrel to 9”, to only offer the pistol in the same caliber as the carbine his men carried (.66 caliber), simplify the brass furniture and to alter the grip angle to make the pistol a stronger weapon, while at the same time shortening the barrel to make it handier and somewhat lighter. The P-1759 was produced with two patterns of locks, both the standard P-1756 Land Service lock then in production and one of Eliott’s design, the P-1759 Eliott lock, which was most identifiable by the entry of the steel (frizzen) screw from inside the lock plate rather than outside the plate, as was more conventional. The pistol has a 9” round barrel, was nominally .66 caliber, and smoothbore. The barrel was secured to the stock by a pair of simple iron wire pins and a single screw that passed through the breech plug tang. Furniture was simple and of brass. The butt cap was sturdy and simple with small, oval lobes, eschewing the longer spurred butt caps of earlier pattern Land Service pistols. The side plate was semi-serpentine, but flat, rather than convex. Only a single rammer pipe was utilized, and no nose cap was used. The rammer was a simple wooden rod with a brass tip. The stock was simplified and strengthened by altering the grip angle and making the pistol somewhat thicker through the wrist that previous models and most of the ornamental carving was eliminated, with only a simple oval apron (“beaver tail”) around the breech plug tang, a very rudimentary final carving to the rear of the lock, and the elimination of any ornamental carving on the reverse of the stock at the flat, that had been typical on previous models. The pistol remained in use unchanged until 1794, when the Pattern 1777 “short sear” pistol lock was adopted for use. Collectors know this pattern as the P-1759/94. In 1799 the simplified India Service pistol lock was adopted with its stamped (rather than engraved) markings and stamped boarder line decorations on the lock and body of the cock (hammer). The Pattern 1799 Eliott Light Dragoon Pistol would be the last of the British Land Service pistols to use a wooden rammer, and all future patterns of muzzle loading Land Service Pistols (including percussion arms) would utilize a swinging captive steel rammer. The Eliott design also marked the end of the 12” barrel as standard on Land Service pistols, and by the 1790s the longer barreled pistols were being phased out of production.

This particular British Eliott Pattern 1799 Light Dragoon Pistol is in about FINE condition. The pistol is well marked throughout with the lock bearing the usual (CROWN) / GR cypher of King George III (King of England 1760-1801) forward of the hammer, the word TOWER in a vertical arc to the rear of the hammer, and a British military (CROWN) “ (BROAD ARROW) ownership mark under the pan. The style of the royal cypher mark is typical of the marks found on British military locks c1805. The lock is the “India Pattern” pistol lock, which was a simplified version of the earlier P-1777 pistol lock. The flat “India Pattern” lock would eventually be given the designation of Pattern 1801 lock. The P-1801 has stamped markings rather than engraved markings, and added a bridle to the pan. The lock derived its name from the East India Company pattern guns that the lock was copied from. The simplifications in production were wartime expedients to increase the rate of production for small arms, as Great Britain was heavily engaged in war with Napoleon at that time. The interior of the lock marked with a crowned inspection stamp, but there is no lock makers name within the lock plate. The small arms procurement system of the time relied upon Board of Ordnance contractors to produce components for the assembly of small arms, which were delivered to the Tower of London (hence the often found lock marking of the era “Tower”), or Dublin Castle, where they were subsequently assembled into complete arms. As all of the arms were assembled from hand made, non-interchangeable parts, a mating system of file slashes was adopted and used through the assembly process. It is not uncommon to find more than one set of assembly marks on British small arms from the 18th century and first part of the 19th century, as various parts and components were fit together during the assembly process. In this case, the bottom edge of the lock is marked \/ | | | and \ | | | | . These two different assembly marks appear to relate to the assembly of the lock and mounting it in the gun, and then to the overall assembly of gun. The \ | | | | mating mark is found on the edge of the mainspring, and the \/ | | | mating mark appears again on the top edge of the lock. The \ | | | | mark is also found in the lock mortise. The lock itself is mated to the cock (hammer) with a set of 9 dots in a 7 dot - 2 dot pattern. These dots are found inside the lock and on the interior face of the body of the cock. Hammers and locks were often contracted for separately by the Board of Ordnance, which meant that hammers had to be fit to the tumblers of the locks during the assembly process at the Tower armory. The primary assembly mark for the pistol appears to be \/ | | |, and is found under the barrel, in the barrel channel of the stock and in the ramrod channel. The mark \ | | | | mark is also found under the barrel and in the ramrod channel. The left breech of the barrel is marked with a pair of proof marks that are somewhat indistinct. These appear to be somewhat worn Dublin Castle proof marks, which were substantially different than the British military proofs applied at the Tower of London, or the commercial proofs applied at the London or Birmingham proof houses. The top center of the breech is crisply marked with a British military (CROWN) / GR / (BROAD ARROW) ownership mark. The bottom of the barrel bears both of the assembly mating mark mentioned above, as well as the number 1 and the alphanumeric code N6, possibly indicating the barrel forger. The ramrod channel is crisply marked with both the assembly mating marks mentioned above. There are a significant number of marks in the stock that are only partially legible due to wear and use. The tail of the stock flat, opposite the lock, has a legible T with some other associated marks that are not readable. The flat also bears what appears to be a pair of opposed Broad Arrows, the mark for sold out of service as surplus, but the tails of the arrows are not clearly visible, so the mark appears to be a crude “X” where the two arrow tips meet, and not a pair of arrows point to point. A storekeepers (CROWN) / 1XXX date mark is present to the left rear of the apron, above the tail of the stock flat. However, the date is not discernable. It may read “1805”, but I cannot be certain. The presence of the storekeepers’ marks on the left side of the pistol, combined with the unusual proofs on the barrel, suggest that the pistol was assembled at Dublin Castle post-1798. After 1798, Dublin Castle no longer used that designation on the rear of the locks, and simply marked them TOWER. The lock is in EXCELLENT mechanical condition and functions crisply and correctly on all positions. The lock is in its original flintlock configuration and is not a reconversion to flint. The frizzen spring retains great strength and functions exactly as it should. The touchhole is well centered in the pan, and remains very crisp and sharp with only some minor pinpricking and minor wear noted. The lock has a medium pewter patina, with a thin, lightly oxidized brownish patina forming over it. There are also some scattered areas of minor pinpricking and lightly oxidized peppering which has caused some minor discoloration to the metal. The barrel of the pistol has a similar patina and also shows some lightly scattered surface oxidation, minor discoloration and lightly scattered pinpricking. The 9” round barrel is full length, and retains a pair of well-defined baluster turned rings at the breech. The bore of the pistol remains quite smooth and is in FINE condition. The bore remains mostly bright with only some lightly scattered pinpricking along its length and no significant pitting present. The brass furniture is in fine condition throughout and had a medium golden patina suggesting that it was cleaned and polished at some point in the past, but is starting to tone down now. A very nice brass tipped wooden rammer is in place in the channel under the stock. The rammer configuration is correct and the quality is excellent, suggesting that it could well be an original. However, it is probably a very high quality modern replacement, as the original rammers rarely survive with these pistols. The stock of the pistol rates about FINE and is very crisp. Although the stock shows numerous bumps, dings and minor mars from service and storage over the years, the stock remains very sharp. The raised carved apron (called a “beaver tail” by most American collectors) that surrounds the breech plug tang remains very crisp and the accompanying apron with oval final to rear of the lock is well defined, but lacks the depth of detail present in the earlier production examples of British pistols. The stock shows no signs of having been sanded, and all marks remain crisp and sharp except those that have been blurred by contact and wear from use, the “crown / date” storekeeper’s mark that has been worn from handling. The only item of condition regarding the stock worth noting is a small surface crack that runs in a semi-circle from the left rear corner of the breech tang through the apron on the left side of the pistol, and terminating again just forward of the breech screw on the left side of the tang. This is minor crack that is very tight and solid and appears to be a grain of stress crack related to the stock aging or drying. It is quite unobtrusive, does not affect the display of this lovely pistol and is mentioned for exactness.

Overall this is about a FINE example of an original flintlock British Pattern 1799 Eliott Light Dragoon Pistol from the middle Napoleonic War period, that was most likely assembled at the British Armory at Dublin Castle. This pistol no doubt saw service during a very turbulent time within the British Empire, with the both the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 were taking place during its service life. Whether the pistol ever saw service in North America is hard to know, but it likely fired shots in anger from British cavaliers, doing their duty in service of the empire. Elliot Light Dragoon flintlock pistols like this are hard to find in such crisp and complete condition, especially when you realize that the pistol is over 200 years old. The gun remains crisp and sharp with strong markings and has very nice eye appeal. This would be a wonderful addition to any early 19th century martial arms collection, especially one that concentrated on cavalry arms, British arms, the War of 1812 or the Napoleonic Wars.


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Tags: British, Pattern, 1799, Eliott, Light, Dragoon, Pistol