IRISH PISTOLS AT BONHAMS ANTIQUE ARMS AND ARMOUR SALE
A Fine and Rare Cased Pair Of Irish 40-Bore Silver-Mounted Flintlock Duelling Pistols By McCormick, Robert, Belfast. (click to enlarge)
NO less than twelve sets of pistols, one Irish, are estimated to sell for between £2,500 to £60,000 feature at Bonhams Antique Arms and Armour sale on April 20. From the early 17th century duels were often illegal in Europe, though in most societies where duelling was socially accepted, participants in a fair duel were not prosecuted, or if they were, rarely convicted.
The goal of the honourable duel was often not so much to kill the opponent as to gain ‘satisfaction’, that is, to restore one’s honour by demonstrating a willingness to risk one’s life for it.
Lot 464, an extremely rare cased pair of Irish silver-mounted flintlock duelling pistols, was made by Robert McCormick of Belfast. Of very fine quality and workmanship they are dated 1791. The estimate is £10,000-15,000.
Lot 456 is a very fine pair of flintlock duelling pistols by Robert Wogdon of London made in about 1785 for the Duke of Bedford. Such was Wodgon’s fame as a maker of duelling pistols that an anonymous Irish Volunteer penned a ‘Stanzas On Duelling’ inscribed to Wogdon the celebrated pistol-maker (1782) which reads in part:
‘Hail Wogdon! Patron of that leaden death
Which waits alike the bully and the brave;
As well might art recall departed breath,
As any artifice your victims save.