I have had this in my family for years. No one has every messed it up trying to clean it up. Does anyone here know anything about these old handguns. There is no name or serial number on it both triggers work missing one screw but seems to pretty solid. It would be nice to learn more about this old firearm any help would be greatly appreciated.
Looks like a percussion cap type gun
In Britain the pecussion lock took some time to establish itself and it was notuntil about 1820 that it began to replace the flintlock on a large scale. On the continent,however,the virtues of the new lock were immediately recogonized and the partisian gunmakers were soonmaking copies and taking outpatents based on the designof the Forsyth lock. One of the problems of the new percussion lock was how to control the rate of flow of the fulminate, and this led to another significant developement the percussion cap.
In the Complete world encyclopedia of guns ther is a picture of one that looks simular to yours, but it is a single barrel version. It is Belgian made the hammer and round trigger guard withe the 2 side screws looks simular as well as the grip.
The one in this writing says these were so succesful at the time that many of the prominent sportsman and gunmakers of the day claimed ti=o have invented it. Colonel Hawker wrote an account in :instuctions to young sportsmen" published in 1830, saying it was his idea and that the gunmaker Joe Manton (British) had altered a pellet-lock gun to his design. Gun maker Josef Egg claimed to have made a copper cap out of an old penny piece while James Purdey claimed a cap out of the brass ferrule of an umbrella. The most likely inventor, however is English bornJoshua Shaw (1776-1860), who claimed to have made a series of percussion caps, first in steel,then in pewter,then in copper, in 1816. He went to America in 1817 and was finnally granted a patent in 1822. The patent office must have believed his claim because in 1847 Congress awarded him $18,000 for the invention.
The earliest European patent for a percussion cap was granted to Francois Prelat, a Parisian gunmaker, in 1820 as an addition to another patent issued in 1818. However, as Prelat is known to have copied other gunmakers discoveries, it is unlikely that he actually invented it, and Joshua Shaw is the most likely inventor.
Story goes on to describe the composition of the fulminate as the primer stating it was slow to be adopted being made from potassium chlorate, sulfer and charcoal, along with other ingriedents. In 1824 a london chemist took up the manufacturing of percussion caps. He based the priming on fulminate of mercury. this was more easy to manufacture and more stable, compared to other methods.
Thier also was an invention later of an underlock percussion pistol, They are the same design but the mechanism is under the barrel in front of the trigger. Under-hammer locks, however were rare. Thier advantage was that during shooting, the flash did not impair vision.
I think that you gun was a little later design of the Joshua Shaw. Even he being the maker, Double barrel and all you know this belongs in a museum. You have a real unique piece of history. Funny ther is a picture circa 1825-1830 of some well tailored gentlemen some look as they are professionals or rather rich and some are decked out military soldiers with the big tall fury hats with feathers sticking out. They are gathered what appears to be a town hall room of sorts (very large high ceiling important place) with these type of pistols in thier hands posing and chatting. Maybe the first gun club way back in the day. picture looks like a painting of characters from the upper classes well to do. Under the picture there is a caption "Shooting was to become a fashionable activity, this is a shooting gallery in a smart part of london, c1825-1830
If i were you i would go to a barnes and noble or such and buy this book, go to page 36. As thet say in the Antique road show " At auction i wont be surprised that a pistol of this shape and vintage will sell between $750,000- 1million dollars. It was my pleasure and thanks for bringing it in."
All kidding aside, you never know. The double version of this is not even mentioned in the book. Plus you got the scroll work that may be some sought of crest. i think this was commisioned for a very important and or wealthy individual, A regular pacasso of the gun world.
Good luck in finding more about it, plaease post back with any news you may find. And no do not trade this for a new glock. Again only kidding, this is giving me goose bumps, "Very nice"