A rare pare of silver gilt flintlock pistols from the Balkans with an Italian barrel.
According to Elgood (The Arms of Greece, 2009, nos 242-243) a very large quantity of flintlock pistols were manufactured in Prizren and exported to countries such as Turkey, India, Egypt and Persia. Those pistols were exchanged for high quality items such as gold and were often weighed against the gold.
This unique pair is layered in silver gilt and heavily chiselled with geometric and floral décor throughout the entire length of the barrel and bore. The muzzle is also sheathed in gilt copper chased with traditional, matching, scrollwork and incorporating the foresight. The pair of pistols uses a flint striking ignition mechanism. This method was used from the early 17th century till the 19th century. Near the flintlock, there is a matching inscription, etched into the steel. It is unclear what this inscription states, but it is most likely an inventory or arsenal identification. It seems to be written in English, so maybe these were captured by the British at some point. At the Olympia Auctions, Antique Arms, Armour and Militaria, 10th July 2019, Lot 86, there is very similar flintlock pistol that bears an inscription and is attributed to the Work of Ahmed. Along the top of the barrel is a figure, possibly a soldier or a king [?]. A pair of similar pistols was also sold at Hermann Historica, Antique Arms and Amour from all over the world, November 15ht 2019 – Lot 3266, which also featured a figure at the top of the barrel. The trigger features an upside-down male with what seems to be a helmet. This is a very unusual detail, which could point towards these pistol having a ceremonial purpose. The overall aesthetic of the pistols are very regal due to the extremely elaborate relief ornamentation, which also makes this pair in itself, exceptional and distinctive.
There is a pair of flintlock pistols in The Met Museum that have a similar chiselled gilt design to our example, along with a comparable style barrel. To see this example, please view The Met Museum, Accession number 96.5.151,.152. A similar example was also sold at Hermann Historica, Antique Arms and Amour from all over the world, November 15ht 2019 – Lot 3266. Analogous pistols are also published in Robert Elgood, “The Arms of Greece”, New York, 2009, nos 286 – 294.
All in all, an outstandingly splendid pair of flintlock pistols in beautiful condition.