Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1182: American "Kentucky" Flintlock Pistol Attributed Simon Girty

Auction Date: September 12, 2020

Historic American Flintlock Pistol Attributed to Notorious Frontiersman, Outlaw, and Loyalist, Simon Girty

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $6,500 - $11,000

Historic American Flintlock Pistol Attributed to Notorious Frontiersman, Outlaw, and Loyalist, Simon Girty

Manufacturer: Spies A W
Model: Percussion
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 59
Barrel: 12 inch round
Finish: brown
Stock: maple
Item Views: 1433
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 157
Class: Antique

The pistol is of the typical full-stock Kentucky or Pennsylvania style of the early to mid-18th century. A pistol with an almost identical butt plate, including the engraved flower, is pictured on page 420 of "The William M. Locke Collection" by Sellers, and is listed as made by Waters. It is very possible that this pistol was made by, or contains components made by Andrus Waters, who was active in Sutton, Massachusetts from 1752 to 1778. Other literature has mentions some similar characteristics on some Committee of Safety pistols. The stepped barrel is fitted with a small brass blade front sight and tang notch rear sight. The stepped lock is unmarked. The furniture is brass with an acorn finial on the trigger guard, pointed finial on the side plate, and small rosettes engraved on the butt. The stock is of finely figured curly maple and inset with four diamond shaped silver inlays along the forestock. Included documentation with the pistol attributes it to Simon Girty, a notorious frontiersman and loyalist from the Seven Years War and American Revolution. Some of the documents claim that the pistol was originally purchased from the estate of Simon Girty's widow, though another included document from the Ohio History Center states that the attribution could not be verified. (They sought estate probate of the widow who died in 1852; a difficult task to accomplish!) Simon Girty Jr. (1741-1818) was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in a time when that area of this continent was considered the western frontier. After the tragic deaths of his father and then step father, Girty was captured by Native Americans in 1756 at the young age of 15, eventually landing with a tribe of the Ohio Seneca. After earning the respect of the tribe he fought many battles alongside them against the British during the Seven Years War and Pontiac's War, before being returned to the British near the war's end in 1764. By this time Girty had come to prefer the Native American lifestyle which played a heavy hand in his future endeavors. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Girty initially sided with the colonials, fighting alongside the likes of Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, and Daniel Morgan on the western frontier. In 1778, with the North-Western tribes with which he had formerly lived joining forces against the Americans, Girty was pushed to defection, shortly afterward having an $800 bounty placed on his head. He joined the British forces at Detroit and from there waged war against American forces, even fighting against Daniel Boone at the Battle of Blue Licks. Girty however is perhaps most notorious for refusing to mercifully shoot the captured American, Colonel William Crawford, instead allowing his torture and execution at the hands of a Native American tribe. After the war Girty acquired land in Canada from the British crown where he died in 1818.

Rating Definition:

Very good, showing mostly a smooth brown patina on the iron components and an attractive antique patina on the brass. There is an old repair to the cock which is showing a couple small crack and the trigger guard bow has been reattached. The moderately worn wood is also very good with numerous minor dings and scratches throughout, two old barely visible repairs on either side of the forestock near the ramrod pipe, and some scattered minor chipping of edges. Mechanically fine. An attractive example of an 18th century large American Kentucky pistol that was quite possibly owned by a very interesting figure in American history!

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