This impressive embellished air pistol utilizes the Girardoni repeating system, and this exact example is pictured and described on page 598 of the book "Blue Book of Airguns, Thirteenth Edition" where it indicates it was manufactured circa 1810-1820. The Girardoni (sometimes spelled "Girandoni") is easily the most famous early air rifle (pistol in this case) 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. The rifles 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. "JC" and "in Wien" signed on the right lock, and "JC" also signed on the left sideplate. This attractive example is chambered in approximately .38 caliber/9.5 mm and features an octagon barrel with fine twelve-groove rifling, dovetail mounted blade front sight, a walnut stock and a red leather wrapped metal stock reservoir. Features attractive high quality engraving covering the gold finished brass frame depicting a large shield containing a bird with a shield and weaponry, and floral and border engraving with martial motifs on the iron and gold finished brass components. Floral relief carving on the bottom of the walnut stock. More information on Girardoni air guns can be found on pages 598-601 of "Blue Book of Airguns, Thirteenth Edition". Provenance: The Dr. Robert D. Beeman Collection
Fine, retains half of the brown twist finish with a lightened appearance and some scattered moderate freckling on the barrel, breech and magazine tube assembly, highly attractive bright gold finish on the brass components, and crisp engraving and markings overall with some areas of engraving professionally recut. The walnut stock is very fine with a few small very discreet repairs and distinct edges and carvings. The leather is very good with some light age related wear and one small absent section at the top of the handle which is loose. Mechanically fine.
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