Nicolas-Noel Boutet (1761-1833) is widely recognized as one of the most talented gunmakers in history when it comes to deluxe flintlock firearms. He was gunmaker-in-ordinary to King Louis XVI in 1788 and became the artistic director of the arms factory at Versailles in 1792 and then its head director in 1798. These early 19th century dueling pistols have very fine micro-groove rifling, gold highlighted engraving at the muzzles and breeches, dovetailed blade front sights, fixed notch rear sights, and "BOUTET DIRECTEUR ARTISTE" on the upper left flats, "MANUFRE A. VERSAILLES" on the upper right flats, the inset "NB" monogram maker's mark on the top flat, inset "LC" maker's marks on the upper left and upper right flats, and inset "BOUTET" maker's marks on the top and upper side flats at the breech. The vents and pans are gold lined. The bright locks have are signed "BOUTET/A VERSAILLES" in ornate scrip, have nicely sculpted components, and sliding half-cock safety buttons on the tails. The locks are tripped by adjustable single set triggers with finely serrated faces. The bright furniture includes chiseled "scooped" floral elements providing highly attractive dimension, an urn with fruit and flowers on the trigger plate finial, trigger guard spur, and classical figures on the barrel tangs and pommels (different on each pistol). The slender full-length stocks have finely checkered wrists bordered with molding, carved accents above the pommel, and contrasting ebony pommels with beaded borders around the pommel caps.
Very fine as professionally restored with nearly all of the refinished high polish blue finish and gold accents remaining, mostly bright lock and furniture, small patches of oxidation, and generally crisp engraving with some softening mainly of the figures. The stock is also very good and has crisp checkering, distinct carving, spliced repairs at the forend tip, faint cracks in the pommel, and minor dings and scratches. The ramrod has a professionally replaced synthetic tip. The set trigger needs work; otherwise mechanically fine.
Very fine as professionally restored with nearly all of the refinished high polish blue finish and gold accents remaining, patches of oxidation on the barrel as well as the lock and furniture, otherwise bright lock and furniture, and mostly crisp engraving with some light softening. The stock is fine and has crisp checkering, distinct carving, minor dings and scratches, faint cracks at the forend tip, breech, and pommel. The ramrod has a professionally replaced synthetic tip. Mechanically fine.
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