Francois Prelat was a leading gunmaker in Paris in the early to mid 19th century. He became gunmaker (arquebusier) to Charles Philippe, Comte d'Artois, the future King Charles X of France, during the Bourbon Restoration. The title "Monsieur" was used for Charles Philippe as the eldest brother of King Louis XVIII prior to him becoming Charles X in 1824. Prelat patented the first self-contained cartridge in association with Swiss gunsmith Jean Samuel Pauly in 1808-1812 and also took out the French patent for the percussion cap in 1818. This early percussion shotgun has Damascus barrels signed "Prelat a Paris" (left) and "Arqer de Monsieur" (right) inlaid in gold in ornate script with scroll and floral accents. The blade front sight is also accented by a gold arrow. "323" is marked on the bottom of the right barrel and on the face of the standing breech. The locks are signed "PRELAT ARQUER/DE MONSIEUR A PARIS" at the noses and have scroll engraving and game scenes at the tails. The hammers have wyverns, storm clouds, and lightning bolts. The standing breech has a bird in the dished section and scroll and floral designs on the balance. The ramrod entry pipe trigger guard, and buttplate are cast silver with classical figures, masks, and coordinating designs. The stock has panels of checkering on the forend and wrist, a very finely carved boar's head on the bottom of the wrist, and a wyvern design at the rear of the cheek piece.
Fine with highly attractive dark aged patina and crisp designs on the silver mounts, light period refurbished case colors on the locks, visible Damascus patterns along the barrels, smooth gray and brown patina on most of the locks and barrels, minor pitting, a dent in the right barrel near the muzzle, repaired trigger guard tang, and general mild wear. The stock is also fine and has crisp carving and checkering, a couple small chips at the edge of the forend, left side of the forward lock plate, minor crack by the wedge, and light scratches and dings. Mechanically fine. This is an elegant and early French percussion shotgun by royal gunmaker Prelat of Paris.
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