Rock Island Auction Company
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Lot 1275: Cased Pair of Griffin & Tow Flintlock Dueling Pistols

Auction Date: August 27, 2022

Exceptional Early Documented Cased Pair of Engraved Griffin & Tow Flintlock Dueling Pistols from the Famous W. Keith Neal Collection

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $25,000 - $35,000

A) Griffin & Tow Flintlock Dueling Pistol

Manufacturer: Griffin & Tow
Model: Flintlock
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 29 bore
Barrel: 9 3/4 inch octagon
Finish: brown/casehardened/blue
Grip:
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 558
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 226
Class: Antique
Description:

This very fine pair of early dueling pistols date to circa 1780, towards the end of the 1772-1782 partnership between Joseph Griffin and John Tow, and remain in extraordinary original condition. Joseph was the son of Benjamin Griffin, the father and son both being numbered amongst the finest British gunmakers of the 18th century. The pistols are published in W. Keith Neal, "Pistols for Two," pp. 159-160 (illustrated); W. Keith Neal & D.H.L. Back, "British Gunmakers: Their Trade Cards, Cases and Equipment 1760-1860," plate 367 and W. Keith Neal & D.H.L. Back, "Messrs Griffin & Tow and W. Bailes," pp. 132-3, plates 62 a & b. With browned swamped octagonal barrels signed “GRIFFIN & TOW. LONDON” on the top flat within rectangular engraved borders toward the breech, engraved with bands of beadwork at the breeches, and with blued blade front sights and notch standing rear sights. The upper left faces of the barrels at the breech ends are struck with London proof marks and the maker’s mark of Joseph Griffin. Casehardened standing breeches engraved with rococo ornament and flat beveled detented locks retained by two side-nails, engraved with further rococo ornament, signed “GRIFFIN & TOW” beneath the priming pans and with stepped tails, raised priming pans and blued frizzen springs with rollers. Casehardened trigger plates with single set triggers. Iron furniture comprising blued ramrod pipes, trigger guards with acorn finials and border engraved blank escutcheon plates at the wrists, and casehardened solid sideplates, the furniture engraved with further rococo ornament. Well-figured walnut full length stocks with flat-sided butts. "A" has an original wooden horn tipped ramrod with worm. The "B" ramrod is without a worm. In fitted oak case lined in green baize, with accessories comprising two-way powder flask wrapped in red leather, iron bullet mold, cleaning rods, a small quantity of cast lead balls and textile patches, and a key for the case. One partition lid with W. Keith Neal Collection tag. The case contains two hand annotated notes in Keith Neal’s handwriting, each stating “Private Collection”, one of the notes is on a W. Keith Neal business card.

Rating Definition:

Very fine and in a remarkable state of preservation given the pair are approximately 240 years old. The barrel retains 75% original browned finish, the standing breech, lock and side plate each with 40-50% faded original casehardened finish, and furniture with 90% original deep blued finish. Engraving crisp and clear throughout. Stock with attractive figure pattern and only slight age related storage and handling blemishes. Mechanically excellent. Case is very good as relined with some damage to lid lining where the exterior handle is mounted. Accessories are good, some age wear, staining and damage to the powder flask.



B) Griffin & Tow Flintlock Dueling Pistol

Manufacturer: Griffin & Tow
Model: Flintlock
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 29 bore
Barrel: 9 3/4 inch octagon
Finish: brown/casehardened/blue
Grip:
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 558
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 226
Class: Antique
Description:

See "A." Provenance: The W. Keith Neal Collection; Property of a Gentleman

Rating Definition:

Very fine. The barrel retains 75% original browned finish. The standing breech, lock and side plate each retains about half of the faded original casehardened finish. The furniture has 90% original deep blued finish remaining. The engraving is crisp and clear throughout. Stock with attractive figure pattern and only slight age related storage and handling blemishes. Mechanically excellent.



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