Rock Island Auction Company
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Lot 1301: Silver Mounted Thomas Smith Percussion Dueling Pistols with Case

Auction Date: May 15, 2021

Magnificent Silver Mounted Pair of Thomas Smith, London Percussion Dueling Pistols with Case from the World Famous W. Keith Neal Collection

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $10,000 - $14,000

A) Thomas Smith Dueling Pistol

Manufacturer: English
Model: Percussion
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 22 bore
Barrel: 9 5/8 inch part octagon
Finish: brown/casehardened/blue
Grip:
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 772
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 232
Class: Antique
Description:

These extremely fine pistols were made by Thomas Smith between 1842 and 1843 when he is recorded at premises at 3 Bridge Street, Westminster. Smith had been a barrel maker to Manton (not recorded whether to John or Joseph) and worked in partnership with Robert Alden as Smith & Alden between 1826 and 1835. Smith & Alden firearms have a very distinctive style which Thomas continued with when he carried on working on his own from 1836. He is last recorded in 1860. He is noted as having advertised in 1845 “… the largest rifle in England for sale, a mile range, invaluable to gentlemen going out to India.” Handwritten notes from W. Keith Neal included with the pistols detail that Neal acquired these pistols from the Earl of Perth in 1944 and that the Earl confirmed at the time that these pistols had been made for James, Viscount Strathallen (1767-1851). Neal goes on to note that the pistols are fitted with silver furniture from an earlier pair of pistols which bear London hallmarks for 1752 and the maker’s mark “JA” for Jeremiah Ashley. With octagonal to round browned Damascus barrel with full length sighting flat fitted with a silver bead front sight and signed “THOS. SMITH. 3, BRIDGE ST.T PARLIAMENT ST.T LONDON”. Casehardened border and scroll engraved patent breech with pierced platinum plug. Border and scroll engraved casehardened standing breech and sidelock, the latter signed “THOMAS SMITH/LONDON” and with sliding safety catch behind the hammer. Blued trigger and trigger plate. Full cast and chased silver furniture comprising ramrod pipes, trigger guard with foliate finial and engraved with a martial trophy on the bow, spurred pommel with demonic mask cap, and pierced trophy of arms sideplate. The wrist with elaborate escutcheon decorated with flags, flowers, foliage, a cornucopia, a bunch of grapes and a bearded mask, possibly depicting Bacchus. Well-figured walnut full length stock with dark horn forearm cap, the forearm with two blued barrel keys each with silver escutcheons. Horn tipped ramrod with brass mounted worm. London proof marks. The trigger guard with old handwritten collection tag stating “166 B/VISCOUNTESS/STRATHALLAN/II MOD.” and “1655/NEW. NO” on the reverse, and W. Keith Neal metal disc collection tag numbered “C98”. The pair contained in their fitted oak case lined in green baize, with accessories comprising pewter oiler, brass mounted copper powder flask, brass mounted loading rod with worm, key for the case lock and a William Davis “Improved No. 24” bullet mold. The front edge of the case with old handwritten label “MAKER – T. SMITH LONDON/1. BRACE OF SINGLE BARRELED/PISTOLS – PERCUSSION – No.2”.

Rating Definition:

In extremely fine original condition with little signs of ever having been fired. The barrel retains 98% original dark browned finish with slight age related storage loss to the edges of the sighting flat and muzzle, signature remains crisp. Breech, standing breech and lock retain near 100% strong original casehardened finish with crisp engraving. The silver furniture is in excellent condition with little evidence of wear which is astonishing given they are over 250 years old. The stock has occasional minor storage and handling blemishes, and has a pressure dent beneath the rear barrel key escutcheon. Mechanically excellent. The case has some external age related storage wear, lining generally very good with a small wear hole in the lid lining from one of the pistols, some fading. Accessories generally in very good condition.



B) Thomas Smith Dueling Pistol

Manufacturer: English
Model: Percussion
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 22 bore
Barrel: 9 5/8 inch part octagon
Finish: brown/casehardened/blue
Grip:
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 772
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 232
Class: Antique
Description:

See “A”. Provenance: W. Keith Neal Collection, Christie’s, London, November 8, 1995, lot 198; and The Malcolm King Collection

Rating Definition:

In nearly identical extremely fine condition as “A”. The stock with pressure dents beneath each barrel key escutcheon. Mechanically excellent. Overall these are magnificent examples of the finest Victorian gunmakers art.



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