These incredibly ornate pistols from c. 1740 were very clearly made for a special purpose and likely owned by and/or presented by a noble within the Holy Roman Empire/Hapsburg Empire, possibly the Emperor or Empress themselves. The pistols are signed for Franco Bigoni of Brescia and have the same maker's marks featured on page 101 of "Der Neue Stockel" by Heer and are constructed so that the only visible screws are the frizzen screws and barrel tang screws, and there are no pins visible for securing the furniture or barrel. The extensive ornamentation combined with this unusual construction certainly indicates they were made for a special purpose. They are decorated with a series of classical Greco-Roman designs, executed in raised relief in the silver plates on the various gilded brass components, such as mythological figures including Diana and Mars and Lacoon, Cupid, and Venus on the pommels; a bacchic figure on one trigger guard, and Hercules on the other. The details of the different scenes vary between the pistols, but the side plates and locks on both feature putti, arms, and colors. Busts of different figures appear on the cock screws, side plates, and wrist escutcheons. The figures on the escutcheons, under renditions of what appears to be the crown of the King of the Romans, may represent Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa. There is resemblance to the pair on their marriage medal from 1736. They became Holy Roman Emperor and Empress in 1745. The two-stage, smoothbore barrels also have silver blade front sights, bands of silver at the transition points and breeches, gold and silver inlaid borders on the octagonal breech sections which are signed "IN BRESCIA" in ornate script, additional gold and silver accents, and gilt "crown/.F./BIG/ONI" and horse maker's cartouches on top at the breech ends. The locks are signed "F. BIGONI." behind the cocks. In addition to the Roman scenes, the gilt furniture features a variety of primarily floral designs. The highly figured burl walnut stocks have raised relief carved scroll designs on the horn forend caps, fine molding around the edges, raised relief scroll carving around the ramrod entry points and sides of the barrel tang, and raised floral carving at the front and rear of the flats and rear of the barrel tang. The ramrods have tips decorated en-suite with the rest of the pistols. The inside of the locks has been identified as marked for lockmaker Filippo Moretti. They appear on page 50 of the 1971 "Antique Arms Annual" from the Texas Gun Collectors Association.
Extremely fine with attractive aged patina on the silver accents throughout, mix of gilt finish and aged patina on the brass lock plate and furniture, 85% original blue on the cock, strong original blue finish in the protected areas of the barrel, smooth brown patina on the balance of the barrel, replaced barrel tang screw, distinct lock and barrel markings, and mild overall wear. The stock is very fine and has crisp carving, some repairs such as a repaired crack in the forend and at the tails of the side panels, a small chip on the left near the forend tip, minor dings and scratches, and incredible figure. Mechanically fine.
See "A." Provenance: The Cummer Collection, Geoffrey Jenkinson, Peter Tillou, and The Robert M. Lee Collection
Extremely fine with attractive aged patina on the silver accents throughout, mix of gilt finish and aged patina on the brass lock plate and furniture, 80% original blue on the cock, strong original blue finish in the protected areas of the barrel, absent gold vent face, smooth brown patina on the balance of the barrel, distinct markings, and general mild overall wear. The stock is fine and has crisp carving, some repairs such as the tails of the side panels, a crack in the forend, a crack between the lock and trigger plate, a small chip on the left near the forend tip, minor dings and scratches, and incredible figure. Mechanically fine. These extraordinary pistols are true works of art and would be as at home in an art museum as they would be in a collection of fine arms.
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