Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3251: Unmarked Double Barreled Stirrup Pistol

Auction Date: May 16, 2021

Extraordinary Double Barreled Stirrup Pistol, Attributed as One of a Possibly Unique Separated Pair of Stirrup Pistols Featured in Daly and Rutledge's "Trailing The Men of Iron" and Winant's "Firearms Curiosa"

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $6,000 - $9,000

Extraordinary Double Barreled Stirrup Pistol, Attributed as One of a Possibly Unique Separated Pair of Stirrup Pistols Featured in Daly and Rutledge's "Trailing The Men of Iron" and Winant's "Firearms Curiosa"

Manufacturer: Unknown
Model: Double Barrel- Pistol
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 11 mm
Finish: black
Grip: metal
Item Views: 2096
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 144
Class: Antique

Manufactured by an unidentified smith, this full metal stirrup is identical to and believed to be one of the pair of French-attributed stirrup pistols featured and discussed in "Trailing The Men of Iron" by Charles Noe Daly and Joseph Lister Rutledge in the second section on pages 18-20 and pages 12-13 of "Firearms Curiosa" by Lewis Winant. The stirrup pistols are shown in the iconic photographs of Charles Noe Daly armed to the teeth with a dizzying array of weaponry: a bowie knife revolver in his right hand, a pair of double barrel pistol stirrups in his left, and on his chest a steel cuirass with nineteen pistols on a set of hinged mounts. These photographs have been featured in other articles referencing Daly as well. In "Trailing The Men of Iron," Daly reports he was first told of the cuirass and stirrup pistols set 10 years before he finally saw and purchased it. He thought he would never see let alone purchase the set and even doubted it existed. He stumbled upon it by chance while in France and purchased it directly from the armorer who made it. The armorer said that if the French government had adopted his inventions, they would have ended war. Daly notes that the set had "a pair of stirrups, each carrying a couple of guns, to be aimed by the foot of the rider, and fired by pressing down on the toe, or pulling a strap." Winant states that Daly purchased them in 1917 and sold the set on June 5, 1935. On page 12 of "Firearms Curiosa", Stephen V. Grancsay of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is quoted as follows: "This remarkable effort to create a human arsenal is accompanied by a pair of stirrups, each of which contain two pistols, dischargeable by the pulling of a strap in the event of pursuit or attack. Undoubtedly the most remarkable freak in the line of small arms extant, and the life work of some French armorer of the first order." The illustrations on page 13 of "Firearms Curiosa" include internal shots of the mechanism both cocked and discharged, and this stirrup pistol is an exact match to the illustrations. The listing discussed by Winant suggests that they were intended to be fired backwards, but the article "Some Amazing Freak Firearms" by Sumner Healey in “Outers' Recreation” from 1922 suggests that the stirrups were oriented with the barrels forward when test fired by Daly, who ". . .has found that, after some practice, quite accurate results can be obtained when firing them." The location of the other stirrup is currently unknown. In form, the stirrup can be considered in two parts. The first part is the actual stirrup, which has the typical look of a European iron stirrup in a clean, martial style, with some light studding on top of the tread and four screws securing it to the pistol compartment. The pistol mechanism is contained in an iron box with a hinged lid, each barrel independently hinged with a spring loaded closure latch and a manually operated extractor. Each barrel comes with its own hammer and a flintlock-style mainspring, with a single action bar connected to a hinged trigger. When cocked, the Y-shaped bar engages both hammers, preventing them from contacting the firing pins, and when pulled brings both hammers back and then releases them simultaneously. While no manual safety is included, the resistance provided by the hammers and springs demands a hard, deliberate pull on the firing line and makes accidental discharge unlikely.

Rating Definition:

Fine overall. The surface shows a mixed brown color with mild spotting and scattered scratches and handling marks. The firing pins stick a bit, otherwise mechanically fine.

Customer Product Questions

There are currently no customer product questions on this lot