Revolution, War, Pillage – They Have Survived.

Lot 475 displays in all their magnificence, a very fine pair of 60 bore flintlock ivory and gilt travelling pistols c 1770 bearing the French House of Bourbon coat of arms. They were made to exhibition standards for either King Louis XV (1715-1774) or King Louis XVI (1774-1792).

The French monarchs were avid collectors of the finest quality arms and had specially trained gunmakers working full time for them which might explain the lack of signature on these pistols. The French royal collection began in the reign of Louis XIII (1610-1643) who soon amassed over 200 firearms for his cabinet d’armes. Louis XIV continued this collection as did Louis XV and Louis XVI. The firearms they had built were all of the finest quality to exhibition standards as is quite apparent in this pair of pistols.

The French Revolution of 1789 saw much of the collection destroyed or pillaged as the mob broke into the royal collection and as the guns were usable put them to practical use. When order was restored, the arms were placed in the Musee d’Artillerie but after the invasion of France in 1815 by the British and the Prussians, several were removed as war trophies. The 1830 French revolution again saw the collection ransacked but somehow lot 475 seemed to survive all this turbulent history. Oh if these pistols could only talk…

Lot 475 is estimated at £8000 – £12000

Donald Dallas

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