This is a very interesting piece: an early 19th century "BELLES &/HARROLD" signed boxlock flintlock pistol with Birmingham proofs that subsequently had its stock removed and then was mounted inside a tin container within a book. If the pistol is loaded and left at half-cock, it could be kept ready. Pulling the "trigger" on the top of the book out will pull back the arm inside the container and pull the cock to full-cock readying it to be fired. Pushing the trigger forward will then fire the pistol. The book is "A Compleat [sic] History of Europe: or, a View of the Affairs Thereof, Civil & Military, for the Year 1707..." listed as printed in 1709 in London. The first 112 pages remain normal, and the remainder are glued together to form a solid body around the metal case for the pistol. The muzzle is pretty much flush with the bottom of the pages. Hopefully it would only be needed once as a small explosion going off within a paper book and a muzzle flash right next to paper seems like a recipe for a fire akin to that time Aaron Burr lit himself on fire trying to light a candle with his flintlock.
Very good. While the pistol and book are antiques, the assembly was done more recently. The pistol has dark brown patina and mild overall ear. The book has old repairs to the cover and moderate overall wear giving the whole assembly a lot of character. Mechanically fine. This would make an unique gift for a historian or any collector of "curiousa" antique arms.
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