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James Haslett immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland in 1798 and was initially the superintendent of Robert McCormick's gunshop in Philadelphia where he oversaw production of U.S. contract muskets. He moved to Baltimore in 1803 and established his gunshop at 28 Water Street in Baltimore by 1805 where he produced high quality arms and also imported quality pieces from Europe. He eventually took his son into the firm and was operating as James Haslett & Son by the publication of the 1829 Baltimore directory. During the War of 1812, he served as a major in the Maryland militia, provided swords, muskets, and pistols; and is known to have repaired Revolutionary War surplus arms for use against the invading British Army. He was considered to be among the finest gunmakers in our young country, and this pair of pistols certainly seems much more like the high quality pistols produced by fine makers in London than those typical of the early U.S. The smoothbore, Damascus barrels have dovetailed silver blade front sights, "BALTIMORE" inscribed on silver inlaid ribbons with martial accents on top of the breech sections, gold bands at the breeches, and dual gold banded breech plugs with gold vent liners, gold ray inlays, and eagle head proof marks. The underside of the breechplugs have "HASLETT/No 21," and the underside of the barrels have "T-Y7751" (A) and "T-Y7752" (B) Irish registration marks for County Tyrone. The standing breeches include fixed U-notch sights and floral engraving. The locks are signed "HASLETT" at center and have frizzen spring rollers, gold lined pans, sliding half-cock safeties, stepped tails, burst and floral engraving patterns, and beveled edges. The spurred trigger guards have stylized pineapple finials, martial engraving on the bows, and enclose adjustable single set triggers. The forend caps, wedge escutcheons, and "Jerome Bonaparte" inscribed wrist escutcheons are silver. The stocks are finely checkered. The pair comes in an old fitted shipping crate with Lloyds Bank stamp and wax seal and a label that reads in part "Lady R.D. Ross" and a February 26, 1958, note about opening the case that is partially torn away. The included firearms information sheet states that the pair was a "wedding gift to Jerome Bonaparte (1784-1860) from his wife Elizabeth Patterson of Baltimore." It also indicates the pair were formerly in the Duane Brodersen Collection and Martin Retting Collection. It is illustrated on page 65 of "Arms Makers of Maryland" by Hartzler. The pair is also accompanied by a file of documents and information relating to Jerome Bonaparte, youngest brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, and his marriage to American socialite and noted beauty Elizabeth Patterson (1785-1879). The two met when Jerome was visiting the United States after participating in the French expedition to Santo Domingo. She was a belle of Baltimore, the daughter of a wealthy merchant and former gun smuggler William Patterson (1752-1835) who had been born in Ireland like Haslett. She was well-known for her intelligence and wit in addition to her charm and beauty, and the young Bonaparte fell for her quickly. Their engagement and subsequent marriage on Christmas Eve in 1803 created alarm and opposition in the respective families on both sides of the Atlantic and concerns of an American alliance with Napoleonic France. Her dress alone for the ceremony was cause enough for scandal and was said to be able to fit into a gentleman's pocket. They honeymooned in Washington, D.C., and also toured the American Northeast. They received support from his brothers Lucien and Joseph; however, Napoleon soon declared his youngest brother's marriage null under French law requiring parental consent to marry under the age of 25, cut off his funds, and ordered him as an officer of the French Navy to return to France without Elizabeth. Thomas Jefferson explained to Napoleon via Minister to France Robert R. Livingston that the president had no power to prevent marriages but also assured Napoleon that his brother had married into a family of the highest station in the United States. When they traveled to Europe together on her father's ship in 1805 as husband and wife despite the declarations to the contrary, Napoleon ensured they were separated and prevented her from entering France and also excluded Jerome from the imperial line of succession and attempted, unsuccessfully, to have the marriage annulled by the Pope, emphasizing that Elizabeth was a Protestant. Instead, Napoleon as emperor annulled the marriage himself. He refused to meet with Jerome to discuss the matter and instead instructed his brother to write to him. Napoleon wrote, "Your marriage is null. I will never acknowledge it" and instructed him to tell Elizabeth to return to the United States and offered her a pension if she did so and gave up the name of Bonaparte "to which she has no right, her marriage having no existence." The couple remained separated, but Jerome continued to write to his wife professing his love. Their son Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte (1805-1870), known as Bo, was born in London as she refused to sail home and concede to Napoleon. Several other members of the Bonaparte family arranged political marriages to secure power in Europe, and Jerome ultimately gave in to his powerful older brother. Napoleon soon arranged to have his brother wed to Princess Katharina of Wurttemberg in 1807, and he became King of Westphalia until 1813. As king, he continued to be a thorn in the side of his older brother due to his lavish spending and pompous lifestyle. He also led troops in Napoleon's Grand Armee. The kingdom fell in 1813 forcing him to flee to France and the United States. He supported his brother during the ill-fated Hundred Days and was later granted the title Prince of Montfort by his father-in-law in 1816. Jerome's influence continued on after his brother's death in exile, and he was president of the Senate during the Second French Republic and the reign of his nephew Napoleon III. Elizabeth lobbied for their son's rights as a Bonaparte and ultimately received a pension until Napoleon's exile in 1814. She retained her married name but finalized a divorce in the U.S. in 1815 after Napoleon's downfall. She never remarried and became a very independent woman traveling back and forth from Baltimore and various points in Europe and accumulated an estate worth $1.5 million in part via investments in real estate and finery. Her son was educated in Europe and married the wealthy heiress Susan May Williams of Baltimore although his mother had hoped he would marry a European. He later received the official right to use the name Bonaparte from Napoleon III though the family remained excluded from the line of succession. His eldest son Jerome Napoleon II (1829-1893) graduated from West Point in 1852 and served in the U.S. Regiment of Mounted Rifles and then resigned to serve in the forces of the Second French Empire under Napoleon III during the Crimean War. His younger brother, Charles Bonaparte (1851-1921), studied at Harvard and became a lawyer and served as U.S. Secretary of the Navy and United States Attorney General under President Theodore Roosevelt and created the Bureau of Investigation. The story of Jerome and Elizabeth continued to fascinate the public and is featured in the 1923 German film "The Little Napoleon," the American films "Glorious Betsy" (1928) and "Hearts Divided" (1936), C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series and the BBC's popular "Hornblower" series based upon the novels, and more recently the historical novel "The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte" by Ruth Hull Chatlien in 2013.
Very good with bright original gold, dark aged patina on the silver, dark brown patina and some mild pitting on the iron, and general mild age and storage related wear. The ramrod is crudely repaired. The stock is fine and has crisp checkering with a few worn spots, mild scratches and dings, and some edge wear. Mechanically fine. The shipping crate is good with general mild age related wear.
See "A." Provenance: Jerome Bonaparte; The Duane Brodersen Collection; The Martin Retting Collection; Property of a Gentleman
Very good with bright original gold, dark aged patina on the silver, dark brown patina on the iron, added slot in the lock screw, and general mild age and storage related wear, including some mild pitting. The ramrod is crudely repaired. The stock is also fine and has crisp checkering with a few worn spots, mild scratches and dings, and some edge wear. Mechanically fine. This is a fascinating pair of American dueling pistols from a well-known maker in Baltimore, inscribed to Jerome Bonaparte, and attributed as a gift from Elizabeth Patterson on their wedding day. Their complex love story was personally interrupted by Emperor Napoleon, Jerome's older brother, and later became the subject of books, the stage, and film.
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