A Rare Early Pair of 30 bore Holster Pistols

Ref: 534

Price: £???

Maker: Lewis Barbar, London

Date: circa 1700

Each pistol with 12½ inch Italian (probably Pistoia) two-stage barrels turned at the girdle, octagonal breeches with rectangular gold-lined crowned ownership mark on the top flat and stamped respectively with 1843 Irish registration marks ‘T-Y9633’ and ‘T-Y9634’, border engraved tang, signed rounded lock, figured moulded full stock carved with a foliate apron around the barrel tang, mounts comprising cast and chased brass foliate side-plate and escutcheon involving a grotesque mask, border engraved iron spurred pommels with brass mustachioed grotesque mask cap and spurs engraved with graduated beadwork, iron trigger-guard with pointed finial and engraved with a small floret within double line borders on the bow, baluster ramrod-pipes, and iron-capped wooden ramrod.

Provenance:  Field Marshall Sir Francis Festing GCB, KBE, DSO, probably acquired from his friend W. Keith Neal

Literature: W. Keith Neal and D.H.L. Back, “Great British Gunmakers 1540-1740”, p. 298, pls. 117a-b

Notes: The mark on each breech may be a property mark of Prince Ferdinando Maria de’ Medici (1663-1713), son of Grand Duke Cosimo III, and is found on many Tuscan barrels of this period. Lewis (Louis) Barbar was a French Protestant, who came to London circa 1688 to avoid persecution, and was naturalised in 1700. In 1704 he was made free of the Gunmakers’ Company, and his proof piece (‘a very fine piece’) was passed. He was appointed Gentleman Armourer to King George I in 1717, and to George II in 1727. Today the largest group of firearms by Lewis Barbar is preserved in the armoury of the Duke of Buccleuch at Boughton House.