Nicolas-Noel Boutet (1761-1833) was trained by his father, a royal gunsmith, and secured his place in the upper echelon of French gunmakers by marrying the daughter of his father's partner which allowed him to become gunmaker-in-ordinary to King Louis XVI in 1788. He became the artistic director of the arms factory at Versailles in 1792 and then the head director in 1798. Under his direction, some of the finest pieces of firearms art ever crafted flowed from Versailles. Napoleon was so impressed by his work that he granted a concession to Boutet for arms for 18 years, and Boutet continued to work in Paris after the Second Bourbon Restoration. After 1818, his fortunes declined until his death in 1833. French gunmaker Francois Prelat patented the copper percussion cap in 1818. The barrels are signed in script with "Boutet S." and "Manufre a Versailles," and the locks are signed "Boutet/a Versailles." The hammers are marked "INV ON PRELAT." The swamped barrels are finely rifled and have dovetailed blade sights right at the muzzles, deep sighting grooves that extend onto the upper tangs which are numbered "1" and "2" respectively and have notch sights. The locks were cleanly converted and have only faint traces of the filled taps, and they are tripped by adjustable single set triggers. The trigger guard have hooks and grooved floral patterns. The pommel caps and side plates also have fluted patterns, and the side plates and some of the screws are also engraved. The stocks have checkered wrists and flared pommels with contrasting caps. The case has appears to read "Manufre A VERSAILLES/Entrep se Boutet" on the lid escutcheon in varied script. The case contains a cleaning rod, ball mold, loading rods, flint knapping hammer, maller, pick, ball pulling attachment, oiler, screwdriver, and powder flask.
Very good with 30% brown finish, 20% case colors, mostly bright pommel cap, some mild oxidation, crisp markings, and mild overall wear. The stock is also fine and has some white residue in the mostly crisp checkering, some tiny hairline cracks, and a few scratches and dings. The set trigger needs adjustments, but the lock is mechanically fine. The case is good and has an absent keyhole escutcheon, broken locking mechanism, and mild storage wear, and the accessories are very good and have minor storage wear including some light residue.
Very good with 25% brown finish and case colors, mostly bright pommel cap, some mild oxidation and pitting, crisp markings, and mild overall wear. The stock is also fine and has some white residue in the mostly crisp checkering, a chip by the rear of the pommel plate, thin crack and small repaired flake at the forend cap, and a few scratches and dings. The set trigger needs adjustments, but the lock is mechanically fine. This is a very attractive pair of pistols from one of France's most renowned gunmakers. Provenance: Dr. Gerald Klaz collection.
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