These pistols were manufactured in the early 19th century. William A. Beckwith was active from at least 1802 to 1841. His widow and son Henry continued the business until around 1868. The pistols have crescent moons flanked by seven stars on most of the individual components. While the crescent moon with a star is commonly associated with the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey, a crescent with seven stars is an ancient motif and is known to have appeared on Roman coins in both the late B.C.E. and early C.E. related to the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) cluster within the constellation Taurus which is associated with the spring planting and the fall harvest. They are the star cluster most visible to the human eye at night and also have significance in other cultures. Greco-Roman motifs were very popular in Europe in the 18th and early 19th century, but this is the first time the writer recalls seeing this particular design on firearms. The pistols also have traditional European scrollwork accents with gilt backgrounds and wire inlaid floral scroll patterns on the stocks. The barrels have post front sights, "LONDON" on top at the breech, Birmingham proofmarks on the bottom, and banded transition points. The locks have "BECKWITH" in a slight arch just ahead of the pierced cocks, frizzen rollers, sliding half-cock safeties, and stepped tails. The vents are gold lined. The elaborately inlaid stocks are smooth walnut. The furniture is all German silver. The pair comes in a very nice English fitted case with brass bound corners, the flush folding brass handle forming part of the circle around the name escutcheon on the lid (not inscribed), fitted interior with two lidded compartments, and hunter green interior lining. This is one of the more attractive case styles from the period and is a style known to have been used by top gunmakers like Westley Richards. The case contains a ball mold, bore rod, screwdriver, powder flask with compartments for ball and caps, and some lead balls.
Fine. There is light heat blue in the protected areas of the barrel, and 50% original heat blue on the lock. Traces of the gilding remain in the engraving. The German silver has only light aging and verdigris and minor marks, and the balance of the iron displays mottled gray and brown patina and light pitting. The stock is very good and has mostly smooth surfaces, a subtle repaired crack in the left side between the thumb plate and side plate, slight repairs above the tendrils on the wrist and some minor marks and scratches. Mechanically excellent. The case and accessories are very good with mild storage wear, dark aged patina on the brass fittings, and some chips at the edges.
Fine with strong original heat blue finish on the upper tang and protected areas of the barrel, subtle original gilt finish in the engraving, gray and brown patina and some mild pitting on the balance, and general minor marks. The German silver has light aging. The stock is very good and has minor edge wear, a few small marks and dings, and smooth finish. Mechanically excellent. This is a very attractive and distinctive pair of highly decorated Flintlock officer's pistols.
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