This cased set is a beautiful example of what the finest arms of Nicolas-Noel Boutet (1761-1833) looked like when they left his shop in Paris between 1818-1833, subsequent to the downfall of Napoleon following the Battle of Waterloo. They demonstrate Boutet's immense talents as a gunmaker designing firearms that were equally high quality weapons and works of art. Boutet came to prominence shortly before the French Revolution when he became gunmaker-in-ordinary to King Louis XVI in 1788 through his marriage to Leonie-Emilie Desainte. During the revolution, he was appointed the directeur-artiste of the arms factory at Versailles in 1792, the same year that King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were arrested. In 1795, the department for luxury arms was added to produce presentation arms for the Directory and Minister of War. Under Napoleon, Boutet was the head director at Versailles and given an 18 year concession by the First Consul. Under Boutet's direction, some of the finest "de luxe" firearms ever made were created by an incredible team of specialized artisans, and many of them were commissioned by Napoleon as presentation pieces for his officers, political allies, and foreign dignitaries as well as for the emperor himself and his family. Often the arms from this period included incredible neo-classical designs popularized following Napoleon's expeditions in Italy, Egypt, and Syria, but pistols like this pair reflect the more delicate style of the Bourbon Restoration, and clearly indicate the continued quality of Boutet's arms during the latter period of his life when he was in serious competition with the other high end Parisian gunmakers. In fact, some of his best and most valuable work dates to this period. The markings on the breech plugs are listed by Dean Taylor as used by Boutet in 1815-1831, and the Victoria & Albert Museum states, "When Boutet left Versailles in 1818 he set up at No. 87 Rue de Richelieu in Paris but continued to use the signature, 'Boutet à Versailles'" and also indicates that serial numbers on the barrels were consistent with Boutet's private work after 1818. The swamped Damascus barrels have fine "microgroove" rifling, dovetailed gold blade front sights, gold bands and designs inlaid at the muzzles and breeches, "103" and an arrow inlaid in gold on top of the barrels, "1" and "2" on the left flat respectively, "Boutet" on the upper left flats and "A Versailles" on the upper right flats inlaid in gold with floral and scroll accents, deep sighting grooves at the breech that extend to the breech plugs upper tangs. There are gold "BOUTET" maker's marks on the upper left and upper right flats of the breech plugs which also have gold vent liners and five gold stars on top, and the notch rear sights are fitted by the junction of the standing breech and breech plugs. The upper tangs are engraved with fine floral designs and are numbered "1" and "2" respectively. The top jaws are also numbered "1" and "2" respectively, and the locks have "Boutet/A VERSAILLES" at the center, finely sculpted plates and parts, highly detailed floral engraving, gold lined pans, and advanced roller bearings on the frizzens that ride on ramps on the frizzen springs. The pistols are equipped with adjustable single set triggers, and the trigger plates have vase motif finials with incredible detail in the engraved floral patterns. The sculpted trigger guards have delicate floral engraving. The gold wedge and wrist escutcheons have fine border engraving, and the side plates have floral engraving and "scooped" designs. The nicely figured walnut half-stocks are slender and beautifully shaped. The wrists have fine checkering with elongated diamonds and scalloped molding at the edges, and the pommels have detailed relief carved floral patterns on the edges and carved floral rosette caps made of horn. The case lid has "Manufre a Versailles/Entreprise Boutet" in ornate script on the lid escutcheon and a dark green felt lined interior with lighter green trim that is fitted to the pistols and the included accessories. In addition to the pistols, the case contains a red leather bound flask, a screwdriver, mallet, ornate ball mold with wrench on the handle, ramrods, flint knapping chisel/hammer, ball puller, vent pick, polished steel T-handle rod, finely sculpted oiler, spare frizzens, and a key.
Excellent overall. The barrel retains bright gold and has distinct Damascus patterns and exceptional dark blue finish with some faint rubs visible on bottom and a ding on the gold inlay on the top left at the breech. The breech plug retains 95% vibrant niter blue finish and bright gold accents. The lock and furniture remain bright with only light patination from age. The engraving throughout remains crisp. The stock has crisp checkering, attractive figure, a faint hairline tension crack on the left flat near the breech, a discreet repaired chip on the pommel on the left, and light overall wear. Mechanically excellent. The case is very good. The silver lid escutcheon has aged patina and a distinct inscription. The exterior has mild overall wear and some hairline cracks and repairs, and the interior has some age related staining and contact wear. The accessories are generally very fine to excellent with minimal wear. The exceptional mold, for example, remains bright.
Excellent overall. The barrel has dark original blue finish, distinct Damascus patterns, and bright original gold inlays and specks of light surface oxidation. The breech plug retains 95% plus vibrant original niter blue finish and bright gold accents. The lock and furniture remain mostly bright with faint patination. The markings and engraving throughout are distinct. The stock has crisp checkering, nice figure, slight edge wear, and minimal light handling and storage marks. Mechanically excellent. This is an outstanding pair of pistols from France's most renowned gunmaker. These pistols would certainly have been worthy of ownership by one of the returning nobles after the Bourbon Restoration and the equals, if not superiors, of other pistols from the same era known to have been owned by European kings and princes.
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