Rock Island Auction Company
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Lot 1257: Cased Pair of Percussion Pistols from Morgenroth of Gernrode

Auction Date: August 27, 2022

Extraordinary Exhibition Grade Presentation Cased Pair of Extensively Gold and Pearl Inlaid, Elaborately Chiseled, Raised Relief Carved, and Sculpted Rifled Percussion Pistols from Morgenroth of Gernrode

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $150,000 - $250,000

A) Morgenroth Percussion Pistol

Manufacturer: European
Model: Percussion
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 50
Barrel: 9 3/8 inch octagon
Finish: gold/silver/copper/brown/casehardened
Grip:
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 1355
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 204
Class: Antique
Description:

This incredible cased set is a work of art from the case exterior to the pistols themselves and even to the accessories in the case and remains in extraordinarily fine condition overall. They have by tradition been attributed as made for the King of Hanover, either Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale (1771-1851) who ruled as king of Hanover from 1837 to 1851 after the death of King William IV of the United Kingdom and Hanover or possibly his son Georg V (1819-1878) who was king from 1851 until the annexation of Hanover by Prussia in 1866. It is also possible the pair was made for another Germanic nobleman. The castle on the case lid may be Schloss Dyck and the municipality of Juchen in Germany near Dusseldorf, then owned by the princes of Salm-Reifferscheid as the buildings are similar. Notably, a stalking rifle of Prince Friedrich Salm-Dyke's is listed from the Schloss Dyck arms collection (see "Die Waffensammlung des Fürsten Salm-Reifferscheidt zu Schloss Dyck" by Max von Ehrenthal). We have previously sold other Morgenroth marked firearms made for other nobles, such as Alexander Charles, Duke of Anhalt-Bernburg. Little is known of Morgenroth whose first initial is sometimes found as "F" and appears to be Franz or Friedrich Morgenroth, but the various arms with their marking are very fine. Regardless of their original owner and maker, the pair was clearly built with extreme attention to their overall quality and was built as high end target pistols rather than dueling pistols given the finely adjustable sights. The finely patterned Damascus barrels have eight-groove rifling, dovetailed bead style blade front sights, extensive inlays in various metals (mainly multi-colored gold along with silver and copper) in a variety of scroll and floral patterns, "Morgenroth in Gernrode" in gold Gothic script on top, and no proofs or other markings. The locks are also signed "MORGENROTH" around the rear of the hammers which are sculpted in the form of a Dacian Draco or similar dragon. There are rotating hammer stall safeties ahead of the hammers. The lock plates, counter plates, and complex breech plugs combine to form an interesting serpentine monster design with a lion's head possibly representing Chnoubis/Yaldabaoth so that when the pistols are fired, the dragon smashed down onto the serpent. The locks and furniture are casehardened and have raised entwining scroll patterns in multi-colored metal like the barrel. The standing breeches have screw adjustable notch rear sights. The single set triggers are screw adjustable and enclosed by spurred trigger guards that include a serpent design on the bow. The designs on the counter plates also include a phoenix like bird and another smaller bird, and the pommel caps are numbered "1" (A) and "2" (B). The stocks have beautiful raised relief carved baroque scroll patterns on much of the surfaces including a mask design with inlaid eyes on the bottom of the forends along with lovely inlaid carved pearl accents, fine silver wire border, panels of fine checkering on the wrists, and contrasting flared pommels. The beautifully figured hardwood case has engraved inlays of white metal, copper, brass, and silver on the lid forming borders, scroll designs, and a central plaque with a castle/estate on a hill above a town. The red velvet lined interior holds loading and cleaning rods, a flat horn flask with German silver fittings, spare nipples, an oiler, an adjustable powder measure, an engraved conical bullet mold, and pair of screwdrivers with inlaid handles.

Rating Definition:

Excellent. The pistol remains in incredible condition with bright original gold, aged patina on some of the other metal accents, distinct Damascus patterns, crisp engraving and sculpting, strong original case colors, and only minimal light age and handling related wear. The stock is also very fine and has crisp checkering and carving, nice figure, and minimal light marks. The lock needs some attention as it is slipping from full-cock; otherwise, the pistol is mechanically fine. The case is also very fine and has mild wear on the exterior such as some faint cracks in the grain, some tears and compression marks on the inside of the lid, the upper case latch uninstalled but included, and some light marks. The accessories are also generally very fine, particularly the mold which remains bright and has crisp engraving.



B) Morgenroth Percussion Pistol

Manufacturer: European
Model: Percussion
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 50
Barrel: 9 3/8 inch octagon
Finish: gold/silver/copper/brown/casehardened
Grip:
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 1355
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 204
Class: Antique
Description:

See "A." Provenance: The Robert M. Lee Collection

Rating Definition:

Excellent. As with the first pistol, this pistol remains in incredible condition throughout and has bright original gold, attractive aged patinas on some of the other metal accents, distinct Damascus patterns, crisp engraving and sculpting, strong original case colors, and very minimal overall wear mainly from age and handling including some small spots of oxidation. The stock has excellent crisp checkering and carving and some attractive figure, and is also very fine aside from a thin crack across the top of the wrist between the plates and upper tang and occasional light handling type marks. Mechanically excellent. This is a remarkable pair of German percussion pistols clearly designed and embellished by an incredible group of artisans and no doubt highly prized and carefully guarded by each of it owners for more than a century and a half. They would certainly have presented well at the 19th century's famous international exhibitions and would fit excellently within any private fine arms collection or art museum.



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