Extremely Rare Serpent Side Plate Flintlock Trade Pistol

.60 caliber. 14.5" pinned octagon to round barrel. SN: NSN. Bright finish, brass furniture, European hardwood stock. Top flat of barrel engraved with a makers mark that is filled with gold but only partially legible and may be "Penzeneter a Wien" (Vienna). Two generations of Penzenter gunsmiths worked from circa 1715-1786, certainly during the period when this pistol was made. Pistol with semi-curved flat stepped lock with teat at the rear, unbridled and fenced pan and flat faceted swan neck cock that is missing the top jaw and screw. Lock lightly engraved with foliate motifs and game scenes, remains in original flint, gold lined touchhole, trigger with reverse curve at tip. Brass furniture includes a two-screw serpent side plate, engraved bulbous butt cap with long, narrow langets, lightly engraved triggerguard with urn finial. Brass urn thumb plate missing from wrist. Stock with floral motif raised carvings around the tang, triggerguard and entry pipe, with simple bulbous apron finials behind the lock mortise and counterpane. Rear tang of triggerguard broken and missing, dovetail in rear of barrel for rear sight empty, no front sight. Forend shortened approximately 7" with an added sheet brass ramrod pipe in the rear most dovetail underneath the barrel, with the forward dovetail empty. Wood ramrod is a replacement. Serpent side plate trade pistols are extremely rare, with Mr. Ness' notes indicating that he has only ever seen two other examples. This pistol is clearly Continental in origin with French being the overriding style but Austrian certainly being a possibility, with the features suggesting not much later than mid-18th century manufacture. The serpent side plate clearly indicates that it was intended for use in the Fur Trade with North American Natives and is an elegant example of what was clearly a very high quality pistol when it was initially produced. A rare opportunity to obtain a wonderful early trade pistol.

Provenance:The Collection of Larry Ness


Good. Pistol is in hard used condition with a mottled and moderately oxidized brown and gray patina with some scattered surface roughness and some pitting. Lock needs mechanical attention as the mainspring screw is missing, hammer screw replaced. Triggerguard tang broken and missing, butt cap with wear and cap shows some gapping, markings weak on barrel. Bore heavily oxidized with rust and pitting. Stock cut back with moderate wear, showing scuffing and wear along the high edges and a few chips out around the butt cap. Otherwise with scattered bumps, dings and mars and what looks like strong traces of old dark paint.

Estimate: $2,500 - $5,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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