Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dueling Pistols and How They Work

Thursday, February 8, 2018
Loretta reports:

A duel figures prominently in A Duke in Shining Armor. I’ve posted about dueling practices (here and here), and will again. Today, though, I thought you might want to take a look at some actual weapons.

The elaborately fitted-out case from the Museum of London features a pair of Flintlock Dueling Pistols of about 1810. (By the time of my story, the men would be using percussion lock pistols. However, the conversion didn’t demand a whole redesign of the pistol. Many flintlocks were easily converted to percussion, as you will discover if you click on the links above.)

According to the entry on the museum website:
“In the case with these pistols are the necessary accessories for cleaning and loading them. These include a brush, a powder flask, a ram rod, a bullet mould and a ladle for pouring the molten lead to make the bullets…The barrels of the pistols are double-stamped with the mark of two crossed sceptres beneath a crown. This records that they were made privately and proofed (test-fired) at the Board of Ordnance proofing house in the Tower of London. The pistols are fitted with rain-proof flash pans, an innovation that kept the powder dry in bad weather. The name on the lockplate 'Toms' is likely to be an engraving error. The pistols were probably made by William Tomes, a gunsmith with a workshop on Whitechapel Road. Tomes was a military contractor who supplied guns to the East India Company."

In my investigations online, however, most of the cases are a little simpler. Preparing, loading, and firing a a gun in the early 1800s was, however, a complicated business. But a video is worth thousands of words: Please watch for a demonstration on Friday's video.

Readers of Georgette Heyer, not to mention numerous other Regency-era authors, will have come upon the name Manton. You can get several close-up views of a Regency era pair of these highly regarded dueling pistols here.

Photographs copyright 2018 Walter M. Henritze III.


Liz said...

I am a Georgette Heyer fan, big time. So glad you mentioned her. And, of course, seeing actual dueling pistols is so interesting.

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