Simeon North is among the most significant arms makers in American history and is particularly known as the "first official pistol maker of the United States" thanks to his role in producing U.S. martial pistols for decades in the early national period starting with the Model 1799 pistols. He was also a maker of the innovative Hall breech loaders and was a key figure in the development of interchangeable parts manufacturing. This pistol is similar to other known Simeon North dueling pistols from late flintlock era c. 1820, including the prominent examples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and previously in the William M. Locke collection such as the cased pair shown on page 147 of the 1971 "Antique Arms Annual" where they are noted as "undoubtedly the most important American made dueling pistols" and that pair and other dueling pistols by North that are pictured on pages 416-418 of "The William M. Locke Collection" by Frank Sellers. In addition to the overall configuration, note particularly the distinctive style of the drops on the stock flats. All of these pistols are very British in their overall style, and their components were almost certainly imported. They were likely manufactured around the same time as the pairs North was commissioned to make by the State of Connecticut for presentation to notable American military officers following the War of 1812. Pairs are known to have been made for Commodore Isaac Hull (at the USS Constitution museum) and Commodore Thomas MacDonough, Jr. in recognition of their victories during the War of 1812. The presentation pistols are more richly mounted and feature pommel caps making them suitable for use as officer's pistols, but the barrels, locks, and triggers are the of the same type featured on the current pistol and North's other dueling pistols. The smoothbore, Damascus barrel has a blade front sight, "Connecticut" in ornate script on top, and a casehardened patented breech with "S. NORTH/CONN./MIDDLETOWN" in a gold sunken maker's cartouche along with dual gold bands and a gold vent liner. The standing breech has a notch rear sight and floral engraving. "19" is marked on the bottom of the barrel inside of the barrel and lock mortises. The advanced lock has a rainproof pan, floral engraving, a pastoral scene engraved on the tail by the sliding safety, "S. NORTH/Middletown, Conn" signed at center, a casehardened exterior finish, bright polished interior, and niter blued frizzen spring. The adjustable single set trigger has a blued plate, and the spurred trigger guard is also blued and has a pineapple finial and English style floral and shield engraving on the bow. The forend cap is horn, and the wedge and wrist escutcheons are silver. A brass collection tag marked "83" is fitted on the left stock flat. The half-stock also has a small pinhole on the bottom of the forend also likely related to a collection tag or fitting. The wrist is finely checkered, and the pommel has a slight bird's head profile.
Extremely fine overall with bright original gold, attractive dark aged patina on the silver, 75% original blue and niter blue, 85% dark muted original case colors on the breech and lock with fading from age, bright interior of the lock, smooth blend of 50% faded original brown finish and brown patina long the barrel, distinct engraving and markings, and generally minor age and storage related wear overall. The stock is very fine and has crisp checkering, minor dings and scratches, minor cracking on the forend cap, a small flake coming loose on the left at the breech, and faint tension crack running up from the lock screw. Mechanically excellent. This is a unique opportunity to get your hands on a very rare flintlock dueling pistol by Simeon North.
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