Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 221: Combination Flintlock and Ball Reservoir Air Gun by Dolep

Auction Date: August 26, 2022

Scarce Documented Combination Flintlock and Ball Reservoir Air Gun by Andrew Dolep with Stirrup Pump Formerly in the W. Keith Neal Collection

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $4,500 - $7,000

Scarce Documented Combination Flintlock and Ball Reservoir Air Gun by Andrew Dolep with Stirrup Pump Formerly in the W. Keith Neal Collection

Manufacturer: Unknown
Model: Air Gun
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 50
Barrel: 36 1/4 inch round
Finish: bright
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 711
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 223
Class: Antique

Andreas/Andrew "Dutchman" Rheinhold Dolep (c.1648-1713) was an innovative gunmaker in the 17th and early 18th centuries and made air guns, multi-shot firearms, blunderbusses, and high end traditional flintlock firearms. He was a gunmaker to Prince George of Denmark and came to England after he married Princess Anne of England (Queen Anne in 1702-1714). He also worked for Philip Howard, commander of the Queen's Troop of Horse Guards, and counted Lord Dartmouth among his clients. Dartmouth got him out a scrape in 1686 after he was caught not having his guns proofed. This fascinating sporting gun can be used either as a traditional black powder ignition flintlock or as an air rifle powered by a ball shaped reservoir of compressed air. This is evident by examining the pan which actually has a vent hole at the front leading into the barrel unlike most air guns. There is a rotating piece marked "W" and "S" ahead of the reservoir aperture. When Neal's collection was sold this very rare gun was noted as "Probably made for King William III, to whom John, 1st Viscount Lowther was Lord Privy Seal." It was also noted, that "The present gun appears to be the earlier recorded air gun employing a spherical reservoir" based on Arne Hoff's "Airguns and Other Pneumatic Weapons" which features this gun on the cover and states that a similar Dolep air gun was shown to the Royal Society in London on July 21, 1686, and recorded in "The Diary of John Evelyn." Also see W. Keith Neal and D.H.L. Back's "Great British Gunmakers 1540-1750" on pages 236-238 and plates 84a-f. The pump for this air gun is also shown on page 153 in plate 547 of "British Gunmakers: Their Trade Cards, Cases and Equipment, 1760-1860" by W. Keith Neal and D.H.L. Back, and the gun is referenced in the entry for Dolep on pages 83-84 of "Gunmakers of London, 1350-1850" by Howard L. Blackmore. The three-stage, smoothbore barrel has a blade front sight, a partially obscured marking ending "LONDINI" (presumably "DOLEP" before) on the sighting flat, and a brass breech section. The upper tang has scroll and border engraving. The long back action lock is signed "DOLEP" and is secured via a cross screw in the tail and two screws into the breech. There is a slot behind the pan. It's function is unknown, and a component may be absent. The iron wrist escutcheon has a crown/coronet over a monogram and a floral finial. The scrolling, pierced side plate has floral and bestial designs. The trigger guard bow has a bend to accommodate the ball shaped compressed air reservoir, and the rear tang has a fleur-de-lis style finial. The iron buttplate has a long tang that nearly reaches the tip of the comb. The stock has some fine molding and raised relief carving. The reservoir has a red-brown painted finish. A stirrup style air pump with brass body and wood handles is included. It has an old tag mentioning it goes with this gun from Lowther Castle. Both the pump and the gun have W. Keith Neal collection tags. Provenance: The Collection of the Earls of Lonsdale at Lowther Castle, Cumberland; The William Keith Neal Collection; The Collection of Joe M. Wanenmacher Jr

Rating Definition:

Good with some mild pitting on the bright polished barrel, aged patina on the brass, moderate flaking of the paint, and general moderate age and storage related wear. The refinished stock is fair and has several cracks and repairs concentrated in the breech section, distinct carving, smooth finish, series of filled insect holes on the butt, and some nice grain and figure. The gun has not been fully tested, but the lock is mechanically excellent. The pump is fine and has moderate age and storage related wear.

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