The Girardoni (sometimes spelled "Girandoni") is easily the most famous early air rifle or windbuchse largely thanks to the fact that for many years it has been associated with Lewis & Clark and their famous Corps of Discovery Expedition. It is widely believed that they either had a Girardoni or a very similar design by Isaiah Lukens of Philadelphia. The Girardoni was designed by Bartolomeo Girardoni around 1779 and is also significant as one of the first widely used repeating martial arms, with a magazine tube on the right side of the barrel for use with lead balls and a breech block that is able to be pressed sideways against spring pressure for loading/repeating capability. They were notably used by Austrian sharpshooters from 1787-1815. Because the air tanks took around 30 minutes of pumping by hand to bring to full pressure, the riflemen had assistants that repressurized the reservoirs initially and later also had more efficient wagon mounted pumps. "Wind guns" had several advantages over conventional firearms including that they were quieter, smokeless, quicker to reload, and relatively unaffected by rain. They also required less cleaning since they did not require corrosive black powder. "Klanitter" signed on the right lock, "in/Herzberg" signed on the left lock. This attractive example is chambered in approximately .48 caliber/12 mm and features a round barrel with eight-groove rifling, blade front sight, dovetail mounted two leaf notch rear sight, a walnut stock and a brass stock reservoir. Features high quality engraving with game scenes including on the top of the gold finished frame depicting a stag, foxes on the left lockplate, rabbits on the right lockplate, floral engraving on the hammer with a head, and a fox on the trigger guard. Circular brass collection tag marked "R.D. BEEMAN/PRIVATE/COLLECTION/2901" hanging from the trigger guard. More information on Girardoni air rifles can be found on pages 598-601 of the book "Blue Book of Airguns, Thirteenth Edition". Provenance: The Dr. Robert D. Beeman Collection
Fine, retains 95% refurbished brown finish on the professionally made modern replacement barrel, breech and magazine tube assembly, highly attractive bright original gold finish on the brass frame, refinished blue finish above some light pitting visible on the trigger guard and trigger, and crisp professionally recut engraving and markings. The walnut stock is very good with scattered dents and scratches, a cracked area at the bottom front of the lock, and otherwise mostly defined edges. The brass stock reservoir shows mostly darkened surface patina and likely had a protective leather wrapping at one time. Mechanically fine.
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