A Very Rare 40 Bore Silver-Mounted Breech-Loading Repeating Pistol on the Lorenzoni Principle

Ref: 407

Price: £22,500

Maker: Wilson

Date: circa 1770

With 5½ inch turn-off three stage cannon barrel, engraved faceted breech decorated with border ornament and rococo designs, engraved bevelled lock signed on a trophy-of-arms within a framework of rococo scrolls, engraved cock operated by a horizontal bar acting on the circular brass breech block rotated by the side-lever, engraved action with circular gas escape above and below, engraved hinged priming magazine cover with spring-catch closure, ball magazine on the left with engraved hinged cover inscribed ‘London’ on a rococo scroll and closed by a spring-catch, figured walnut butt inlaid with silver wire scrolls, engraved spurred silver pommel fitted with trophy-of-arms cap chased in low relief, engraved iron trigger-guard decorated with a shell on the bow.

Notes: William (1) Wilson (1732-1808) was apprenticed to his father Richard (1) in 1747, free of the Gunmakers Company 1754, elected Assistant in 1756 and Master four times in 1760, 1769, 1772 and 1774.

The “Lorenzoni” system originated in Italy in the seventeenth century and was copied by several gunmakers. Made to fire seven shots, loading, priming and cocking the lock by moving the side lever, it is very ingenious. However the lack of a completely gas tight seal between the breech and the powder magazine meant that the danger of the pistol blowing up increased when the mechanism got dirty after a few shots. Not many examples have survived but great credit is due to the skill and workmanship of the maker.