Artifact of the Day


Flintlock pistol

Turkey (1800s)

Steel smoothbore barrel of circular section becoming hexagonal at mid-point. Breech plug with flaring squared off tang pierced for a screw. Raised molding at breech, silvered. Low raised rib along top of barrel & under silver fore-end cap, terminated in leaved ends. In front of the moulded breech-band is a raised leaf motif, decorated in gold koftgari. Filling the area between this and the raised ribs, and extending forward to the rounded barrel section, is an inlaid silver arabesque of wedges in scrolled volutes. Extending down the center-line of the barrel, and continuing under the silver sheet fore-end cap, is another raised rib with leafed terminal addorsed to the breech decoration. There is a single mounting lug on the underside of the barrel. A brownish finish on the upper part of the barrel appears to be a discolored varnish.

At the breech, and covering the barrel-tang and part of the stock wrist is a thin soft silver sheet decorated with silver filigree and beads. This is attached with small tacks. A similar plate of lozenge shape, with a secondary lozenge decorated in niello (?) is fitted to the top of the circular section butt. The stock is full length, of a dark stained hardwood (walnut?); carved on the forward half is scrolls, scallops, and multiple volutes. The balustered false ramrod thimbles of silver are secured with transverse pins. The wrist of the butt extends down in a near-straight angled line to a butt of onion shape. This is also decorated in silver filigree, with beaded circular medallions at four points and at the necked cap at the end (crushed). The cap extends up the sides of the stock in narrow cheek straps reaching nearly to the lockplate. The remaining areas of the butt are filled with thin silver wire inlay volutes and lines. The rounded, flat-section trigger-guard of iron has long decorative terminals front and rear, and is finished with silver koftgari on a cross-hatched ground. Low integral blade foresight.

There is a silver-wire screw-plate opposite the lock. The lock itself is of the form associated with European locks from the first half of the 18th century. The convex, banana-shaped lockplate is rounded in section, with a rounded front end, and a distinct low cusp at the rear. The perimeter of the lockplate has a recessed border. The pan, vertically grooved steel and cock are well formed and highlighted with gold koftgari. Steel swan-neck cock decorated with engraved acanthus motifs and leafed tendrils and has pyramidal teeth to the jaws. Thin decorative lines border the lockplate, and leafed motifs are formed at the cusp and forward of the cock base and on the pan-cover and top jaw of the cock. Inside the lock, the tumbler, bridle and sear exhibit traces of heat blueing. The trigger is thin, with a loosly voluted terminal.

N.B. The pan-cover/steel is attached not by an external screw, but with a flat-headed screw that passes from the inside of the pan and engages threads in a teardrop shaped extension on the outside of the pan.