Louis-Julien Gastinne-Renette (1812-1885) ran arguably Paris' most prestigious fine arms shops of the mid 19th century and won medals at multiple international exhibitions in the 1840s to 1870s. In particular, Gastinne-Renette was known for high end percussion pistols, and several pairs from his shop are in renowned collections around the world, including two pairs currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and additional pairs previously displayed there that we have sold recently. Most notably this pair is mate to a pair of pistol sold in December of 2020 from the Dr. Gerald Klaz Collection of nearly identical mounts done in silver and displayed at the Exposition Universelle of 1855 by Louis-Julien Gastinne-Renette (1812-1885) where his firm won a first class medal. They also maintained a shooting gallery where the elite could polish up their marksmanship skills and compete into the 20th century. At their core, these pistols follow the same basic form as many French dueling and target pistols from the era; they have rifled barrels with fine bead front and U-notch rear sights, carved half-stocks, percussion locks, light trigger pulls, and spurred trigger guards. However, their ornamentation is far from standard. The starkest difference is the gilt trigger guards and pommel caps which feature deep relief case floral, scroll, and shell patterns, lion masks. The barrels have "Gastinne Renette Arqr de l'Empereur a Paris" in raised silver letters, fine panels of relief engraved leafy grapevines with finely matted backgrounds, gadrooned urn shaped bolsters with scroll extensions carefully inletted into the stocks, "crown/GR" on the bottom of the breech plugs, and ".1857.900" on the bottom of the barrels. The engraving on the upper tangs flows essentially seamlessly from the barrels. The locks have relief engraved grape and acanthus scrolls with floral accents, and finely matted backgrounds and are inletted "island style" with wood between the locks and the fenced bolsters. Coordinating engraving is featured on the trigger plates, wedge escutcheons, and side plates, and these components along with the lock and barrel are finished in a smooth French gray. The sights, nipples, some lock screws, and triggers are finished in bright niter blue. Several of the engraving panels and several components have various ogee shaped finials. The nicely figured French walnut stocks have nearly full-coverage relief carved interlacing scroll patterns with stippled backgrounds and only the side panels left smooth. The case has elaborate gilt trim that coordinates well with the pistols, rosewood veneer panels, chamfered corners, gilt scroll, imperial arms, and "GASTINNE-RENETTE/ARQR ORDINAIRE/de S.M. l'Empereur" inside the lid, and closely fitted interior carrying loading and cleaning rods, engraved gilt brass measure, engraved powder flask with adjustable spout from Schaufelberger of Paris, nipple wrench, screwdriver, ball mold, mallet, turned containers, and the ornate gilt key. Also inside is silvered prize medal by Falize award to a Mr. S. Bailey for winning the 1922 Spencer Eddy Challenge with a score of 392 points. The medal features a standard Gastinne-Renette pistol, target, and vine design on the front and a scene from the company on the back. Spencer F. Eddy was an American diplomat in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and considered one of the most fashionable men of the era.
Exceptionally fine overall with crisp engraving and carving, essentially all of the bright original gilt finish remaining, minor patination on the French gray components, strong niter blue finish on the small components, and generally only minimal light age and storage related wear overall. Mechanically excellent. The case is very fine and has natural aged patina on the trim, some of the small nails that secure the trim removed and kept within the case, minor cracks in the attractive straight grain panels, and minimal wear on the interior considering the age. The accessories are generally exceptionally fine and show very minimal wear.
See "A." Provenance: Eric Vaule, Andrew Lumley, and The Robert M. Lee Collection
Exceptionally fine overall with crisp decoration throughout, essentially all of the original bright gilt finish remaining, patches of patination on the gray barrel, bright original niter blue on several small components, and minimal age and storage related wear overall. Mechanically excellent. This is a gorgeous cased pair of high end pistols from the renowned Parisian shop of Gastinne-Renette in 1857. They may have been displayed at the Exposition Universelle de Dijon in 1858 at La Place d'Armes.
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