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Finely Ornamented Holster Pistol by J Marder of Bonn

Finely Ornamented Holster Pistol by J Marder of Bonn

  • Product Code: FHG-1635-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

This is a wonderful example of an early 18th century Germanic Cavalry Officers’ Pistol c1750-1770. The pistol is in FINE overall condition, and is crisply and clearly engraved with the maker’s name on the barrel, J Marder. This is almost certainly the mark of Johannes Marder of Bonn. Marder was a masterful gunsmith who worked during the mid-18th century in Bonn, and in 1783 was made the Gunmaker to the Elector of Cologne. The Electorate of Cologne was an ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire from the middle of the 10th century through the dawn of the 19th century, which was ruled by the “Elector”. The region incorporated the major cities of Cologne and Bonn, and various other territories, which eventually became part of Prussia in the 19th century and are now part of the North Rhine-Westphalia region of modern Germany. Bonn became the capital of the Electorate of Cologne in 1597 and remained so for nearly 200 years. Marder appears to have worked from about 1750 through the 1790s, and retained his title as Gunmaker to the Elector of Cologne until his death in 1795. The pistol is a wonderful example of mid-18th century gunmaking and is enhanced with engraving and gold inlay over much of the barrel and incised line and raised carving on the stock. The pistol is decorated in flowing French/Italian style, typical of mid-18th century high-grade arms.

The pistol is in FINE overall condition and appears complete and original in every way, with the possible exception of the ramrod and top jaw screw, both which may be later (although likely period) replacements. The pistol is 18 ““ in overall length, with an 11 5/16” octagon to round barrel and a cannon barrel muzzle. The styling of the pistol suggests that is was manufactured c1750-1770, and I feel it is certainly more likely to have been produced earlier than later in that time frame. The pistol bore measures about .64 caliber, or about 18 bore, and is smooth. In typical Germanic style of the era, the barrel has a brass blade sight situated about an inch or so back from the muzzle. The bore is dark and dirty and shows moderate to heavy pitting along its entire length. The pistol has a flat, beveled iron lock, which is unmarked. The lock has an integral, faceted iron pan, which is unbridled. The steel (frizzen) has a squared off profile, typical of post-Reformation era Germanic arms. The frizzen spring terminates in an attractive leaf-patterned final, and is secured internally, without an external screw. The lock functions crisply on all positions, and the cock responds correctly to the recurved iron trigger. The lock has a mostly smooth plum-brown patina, with some lightly scattered pinpricking and some light pitting present, mostly around the flash pan and touchhole. The lock is in its original flint configuration and has not been reconverted. The top jaw of the cock appears original, but the top jaw screw could be an old replacement from the period of use. The barrel is decorated with engraved simple floral and vine motifs over more than half of its length, along with simple crown and heart motifs. The engraved decorations are further enhanced with gold inlay. The top of the pistol breech is marked with a gold highlighted makers mark that appears to be some sort of wild pig, and both the left and right angled breeches are marked with gold highlighted (CROWN) / (Fleur-de-lis) marks, possibly the crest of the owner or a symbol related to Bonn and the Electorate of Cologne. The barrel is secured to the pistol by a single screw through the tapered, squared breech tang and via a series of pins through the stock. The barrel has a mostly plum brown patina, with some areas where the patina has thinned due to handling and is somewhat lighter, revealing the pewter color of the metal below. The iron barrel shows light pinpricking along its entire length, with some areas of scattered light to moderate pitting, most of which is confined to the breech area and around the flash pan. An iron wrist escutcheon is set into the stock, in the general shape of a crowned arrowhead. The escutcheon is engraved in the same style as the barrel and shows gold highlights in the crown and around the perimeter decoration of the escutcheon. One of the four pieces of gold inlay is missing from the escutcheon. The center of the escutcheon, which was left blank for the engraving of the owner’s initials or crest, is still blank. The escutcheon has a slightly lighter patina than the barrel, being a medium-pewter gray with a thinner plum-brown coloration over the metal. The pistol is iron mounted throughout, including a bulbous iron buttcap, iron triggerguard, an attractive side plate, a single ramrod pipe and a single entry pipe. Both pipes are faceted and have a medium, smoky gray patina. The vaguely triangular side plate has flowing lines and is engraved with flowing vines and has been enhanced with gold highlights in much the same way as the barrel was engraved. The two side lock screws are unadorned, but appear to be original to the pistol. The triggerguard is engraved and gold gilt on the bow, with a fairly plain grip strap extension to the rear and an urn with floral motifs finial to the front. The decorative engraving and gold gilt highlights are as found throughout the pistol. The buttcap is decorated in much the same way as the balance of the ironwork on the pistol, with engraved inter-twined vines and foliate motifs and gold gilt highlights. The butt cap, triggerguard and the side plate have the same, slightly lighter plum brown over pewter gray patina as found on the wrist escutcheon. Both show only lightly scattered pinpricking over mostly smooth metal. The pistol has an old, 11 9/16” long tapered wooden ramrod with a 1 3/8” long, pinned conical metal reinforced tip. The rod has definite age and fits the pistol well, but may not be original to the gun. The stock of the pistol is VERY FINE and shows only a couple of very minor condition issues worth noting. The stock shows raised foliate carving to the rear of the barrel tang and to the rear of the entry pipe. Similar raised carving is present to the front and rear of the lock, and incised carved lines decorate the lower edge of the stock above the ramrod channel. The stock is solid and complete and is free of any breaks, cracks, but shows a spliced repair to the wood in the forend. This is a professional and well executed with an angled joint that appears to be more like a scratch than a repair. There is a small chipped area at the front edge of the lock mortise, where there are two small areas of old wood filler and a tiny piece of original wood surface has been glued back on. There is also a tiny amount of old wood filler below the first barrel pin, forward of the lock, as well as in a couple of small areas around the front portion of the side plate. The wood shows some minor gapping around the upper rear of the buttcap, this could be due to poor original fitting, wood shrinkage with age or wear and chipping, it is difficult to tell. The minor fit issue is probably the result of a combination of all three causes. The stock shows some lightly scattered handling marks, and minor bumps and dings, but is otherwise in a simply wonderful state of preservation for a military style pistol of this age.

Overall this is a really wonderful example of a mid-18th century military pattern holster pistol from a known German maker. The aesthetic qualities of the pistol and its fine craftsmanship clearly demonstrate Marder’s abilities as a talented gunsmith. This gun was probably made for a high ranking officer, but rather than being relegated to life in a casing or valise, this gun appears to have seen some real service, particularly if the pitted bore is any indication of the number of times it was fired. While it is impossible to know if this pistol was in America during the Revolution, is a wonderful example of the type of highly embellished, high quality holster pistols that the Germanic officers from Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Hanau, Waldeck, Brunskwick-Wolfenbüttel, Ansbach-Bayreuth and Anhalt-Zerbst might have carried while in the service of the British. This would be a wonderful addition to any collection of American Revolutionary arms, and would be a great representative example of the types of pistols carried by “Hessian” officers during that conflict.


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Tags: Finely, Ornamented, Holster, Pistol, by, J, Marder, of, Bonn