Silver Mounted French Flintlock Coat Pistols by Mollet
- Product Code: FHG-2120-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
Few collectible arms are more attractive than the high quality flintlock coat and holster pistols produced in Europe during the late 17th and the first half of the 18th centuries. Old world continental craftsmen produced extremely fine arms during this period that were not only functional weapons but were also works of art, and in some cases high art. The arms are regularly embellished with exquisite engraving on the metal, raised carving in the wood and silver or gold ornamentation, making such guns status symbols as much as weapons during the period.
Offered here is a lovely pair of Silver Mounted French Flintlock Coat Pistols by Mollet of Brest. The guns appear to be from the half of the 18thcentury and due to the thematic decorations of the buttcaps, may be from the first decade of the 18thcentury. The pistols are roughly 10 ¾” in overall length with 5 7/8” long part-octagon to round barrels with turned canon muzzles. The barrels have engraved baluster rings at the transition from the round-topped octagonal portion of the barrel to the round portion, with additional baluster turned rings at the muzzle. The smoothbore pistols are nominally .56 caliber, roughly “pistol bore” for English handguns of the 18thcentury.
The barrels are engraved with a large martially themed panoply of arms on the rear portion of the barrel, behind the transition and with a crescent moon with eight radiating rays forward of the transition, near the muzzle. The engraved motifs are highlighted with gold gilt inlay. The bottoms of the barrels are marked with illegible makers marks that may read in part “ARTER”. They are also marked a fleur-de-lis mark and a crowned-B underneath. The barrels are marked with assembly mating marks of Xthat match them to the stocks. The barrels are secured to the stock with a single screw through the breech plug tang and a single pin in the forend. The pistols have 3 ½” convex locks that terminate in pointed teats at their rear. The locks are clearly engraved in two lines of script, forward of the cocks:
The locks have removable iron fenced and bridled pans and are equipped with swan-necked cocks. The locks are lightly engraved with simple boarder lines and with simple floral flourishes at their tails. The cocks and the fronts of the steels (frizzens) are engraved en-suite. The steels additionally have simple decorative lines cut around the outer edge of the pan covers and lovely curled toes. The steel (frizzen) springs have bulbous finials with projecting teats. The interiors of the locks are marked Xand XIthat mate the locks to the stocks of the pistols. One pistol this same mark is present on the edge of the mainspring as well, XI. The pistols are silver mounted with engraved silver triggerguards, side plates and butt caps, as well as silver ramrod thimbles and entry pipes. The langets of the butt caps, the interior of the triggerguards and the triggerguard grip straps are all touch marked, but these marks are generally weakly or incompletely struck, so they are not generally identifiable. The butt caps are engraved with the Sun personified with a human face and from which numerous rays radiate in all directions. This is almost certainly a reference to King Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) who was known as the Roi Soleil (Sun King), suggesting that these pistols may have been produced during the last years of his reign, or possibly early in the reign of his son Louis XV, who ascended to the throne in 1715 at the age of five and was under the control of his regent Philippe d’Orléans until 1723. The rest of the butt mountings are engraved with simple boarder lines and simple geometric patterns. The side plates are engraved with simple arabesque scrolls and feathery sprays. The triggerguards are engraved with panoplies of arms, with simple geometric boarders and leaf and floral patterns. The triggerguards have long, multi-tiered urn-shaped finials that are engraved with foliate patterns and terminate some 2” forward of the guards themselves. The simple ramrod thimble and entry pipes are decorated with turned lines that are simple and graceful. The figured walnut stocks have raised carved aprons that surround the triggerguards, mirroring the finial patterns. The forends are carved with simple decorative boarder lines and simple aprons surround the locks, terminating is a small bulbous finial behind their tails. The wrists of the pistols have raised rococo pattern flowing foliate scrolls carved around the ends of the breech plug tangs, with the decorations continuing to the tops of the wrists.
The pistols remains in FINE overall condition and with the exception of the wooden ramrods they appear to be 100% complete, correct and original. The metal of the pistols has been cleaned in the European fashion, leaving the barrels and silver mounts with a bright pewter patina that is starting to tone down. The barrels retains about 80%+ of their detailed engraving with some of the decorations weak or lost to the cleaning. They retain about 50%+ of their gold gilt decorations in the engraving as well. The metals shows some scattered surface oxidation and discoloration from age, showing some mottling. The metal with mostly smooth with some light pitting around the touch holes and around the muzzles of the pistols. The bores of the pistols are in about VERY GOOD condition. They remain mostly bright with some discoloration, oxidation and scattered light pitting. The locks are well marked with the Mollet maker mark and retain crisp detail to the simple engraving. The locks are fully functional and are in mechanically FINE condition. The silver mountings have a slightly dulled appearance and show some lightly scattered tarnish, as well as some residue from cleaning products. The pistols include a pair of non-matching wood ramrods. One of the two may be original to the pistols, but more than likely they are both replacements. Both rods are in good condition, show wonderful age and display well with the pistols. The stocks are in FINE condition as well. They are both solid, full-length and free of any breaks or significant repairs. The stocks retain fine lines and edges with crisp detail in the carved patterns and decorations. The stocks show some minor fitting issues around the ends of the triggerguard grip strap tangs above the butt caps, but otherwise show wonderful fitting and execution. The only small repair that I detected was a tiny, triangular piece of wood replaced between the lock and tang on one pistol. The is barely noticeable and in no way affects the display or pleasing appearance of the pistols. The stocks do show the usual assortment of scattered bumps, dings, minor mars and surface handling marks, but show no abuse or noteworthy damage. This is somewhat amazing, considering the guns are some 300-years old! The stocks have very attractive figuring and grain and show off the silver furniture very nicely.
Overall this are a really attractive pair of silver mounted French flintlock coat pistols that appear to date to the first half, if not the first quarter of the 18thcentury. Despite my best efforts, I could not find a gunmaker named “Mollet” or any variations there of (including “Mosset”, “Moffet”, “Moller”, etc.) in Stockel or any other reference. This may indicate that the mark on the lock is that of a retailer, rather than a gun maker. Either way, these are lovely engraved, gold gilt and silver mounted French flintlocks that would be a wonderful addition to any collection of high grade arms. They would be a representative example of the types of pistols carried by some French officers, wealthy Frenchmen for self-protection, and date from a period that they would be appropriate for inclusion of a general display of pistols that would have been typical civilian arms during the Seven Years War (French & Indian War) and the American Revolution. These guns display wonderfully and are truly a lot of gun for the money. Since they are priced as a pair, it works out to less than $2,000 a gun!