May 27, 2020 Founders & Patriots
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/27/2020
This unique, early-American contract pistol is well-documented. It is pictured in numerous texts and has a exemplary collection history. The pistol is brass mounted with the lines of a fine Kentucky pistol. Gun is well described and pictured in several texts. Bob Reilly describes this gun in his 1986 text United States Martial Flintlocks. The barrel is inscribed on the top flat "Wise" for Lancaster, Pennsylvania maker William Wise, sometimes spelled "Weis". According to "American Gunsmiths" by Frank Seller, Wise worked in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and then at the Virginia Manufactory between 1804 and 1807. At least one finely carved Lancaster rifle signed "W. Weis" is also known to exist. The lock is inscribed “Abraham Schweitzer" (also spelled “Sweitzer”). Schweitzer was a skilled craftsman from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania who was born in 1769 and died in December, 1831. Several superb Pennsylvania rifles are known bearing his name and he is known to have delivered twelve rifles to the government under the contracts of 1792. Contract muskets of 1798 are also known which are stamped on the inside of the locks with Sweitzer’s name. The historic significance of this pistol cannot be overstated. It may be the sole survivor of yet uncovered contracts issued by Pennsylvania for pistols, and the use of the Liberty Cap proofmark dates the arm from 1799 at the latest, during which year it was discontinued in favor of the more commonly seen “CP” (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) mark, placing this weapon in the same time frame as the Assembled pistol contracts of 1797 and 1798 as well as those produced by North and Cheney. The use of a brass cannon barrel on an American martial arm is completely unique, and interestingly, the ‘…return of military stores on hand…’ at Philadelphia, dated May 1, 1781, included ‘…93 brass pistol barrels.’ By 1793, a more logical date perhaps, for this pistol, the same returns showed a total of ‘…80 brass pistol barrels…’ still on hand. These figures provide conclusive evidence that brass barrels were, indeed, among the military stores of the era, and in combination with the Liberty Cap proofmark, may well make this not only the earliest known post-Revolutionary War contract pistol, but may place it with the earliest contract arms of any kind!”. PROVENANCE: Highlighted and described on pages 64-66 “US Martial Single Shot Pistols” by Hartzler & Whisker, 1997; Norm Flayderman Collection; Pictured and described “Historic Pistols, the American Martial Flintlock 1760-1845" by Smith & Bitter”, pages 102 & 103; Reilly’s “United States Martial Flintlocks”, 1986, pages 207 & 208; pictured in “Flayderman’s Guide to American Antique Firearms”, 9th Edition, 2007, page 347. For another example of a walnut stocked flintlock pistol with a brass-cannon barrel and a two-piece sideuplate, see pages 310-311 from "Historic Pistols" by Smith and Bitter. The other example is signed by John Young, who worked in Easton, PA. CONDITION: Very good to fine overall. Iron is grey/silver overall with some light pitting. Brass retains a pleasing mustard patina. Barrel proofs are crisp including “Liberty Cap” over “P” and inspector “PG” (Peter Getz of Lancaster, PA) cartouche. The only other example known in this configuration is also marked in script “Simpson”. Walnut stock is sound and solid, one hairline just rear of lock and a few other scattered marks from use. Mechanically functional with clean smooth bore.
Barrel Length
8 - 3/4"
.56 Smoothbore
FFL Status
William Wise
Flintlock CP Pistol
Serial Number
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $5,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $10,200.00
Estimate: $10,000 - $20,000
Number Bids: 9
Auction closed on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.
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