Premier Firearms Auction
May 6, 7, 8 & 9, 2022
Our first premier auction of 2022! This event hosts collections from across the country and brings them under one roof for an amazing multi-day auction!
This is an incredible opportunity to add rare and desirable firearms & militaria to your collection.
HENRY NOCK SILVER MOUNTED DUELING PISTOL WITH GOLD INLAID “B P WILLIAMS OF SOUTH CAROLINA”, WEALTHY PLANTATION OWNER WHO FREED HIS NEGRO SLAVES.
Henry Nock was known as one of the best gun makers of his day and this pistol, one of a pair, was made especially for Benjamin Paul Williams (17XX-1809) of South Carolina. Indeed, Williams will lists a pair of silver mounted pistols by Nock as a present for his beloved friend, Elias Ball. “B. P. Williams South Carolina” is inlaid in gold on the top flat of the deeply swamped 10″ octagon bbl. Henry Nock is famous for his patented central fire system which is used in this pistol.
A gold poncoin of crown over “NOCK” “LON” “DON” (1741-1804) is on patent breech w/ gold lined touch hole. A gold line is inlaid around break off point. Breech iron is engraved with armorials and a leopard’s face. Lock, with chamfers and rebated tail, is fitted with serpentine cock, semi waterproof gold lined pan, bridled frizzen, and roller feather spring with bulbous finial. Lock is line border engraved with arms at tail, and some scroll on cock. “H. NOCK” is under pan. Trigger is set. Full length walnut stock has checkered bag grip and is silver mounted. Double beaded trigger guard has stylized pineapple finial. Grip cap has 1″ spur at rear. Both have hallmarks w/ London, sterling, sovereign’s head, date stamp “E” (1800-1) and maker’s mark “MB” (Moses Brent). Scroll engraving is on grip cap and a stand of arms is on trigger guard bow. Greenheart ramrod with worm on tail with horn tip and is held by beaded silver pipe and matching thimble. Stock attaches to bbl. with two captive side bolts without escutcheons.
Benjamin Paul Williams had a very complicated will, it was held up in court for at least 10 years, advertisements can still be found in 1822 concerning the real estate in William’s estate. The reason for legal difficulties was that Williams decided to free his slaves upon his death & give them money. This was difficult in South Carolina. Because of this litigation, South Carolina strengthened their manumission laws so that by 1820 no one, without an act of the legislature, could free a slave. This law was in effect until the end of the Civil War. In the research accompanying there is no proof that any of his slaves were ever freed. It is noted that Elias Ball, who was Williams executor & recipient of his prized, silver mounted pistols died shortly after Williams, before will could be executed. A coexecutor, attorney John Hume, renounced the position & by court decree it fell to Charleston silversmith William Wightman. Numerous ads in Charleston newspapers can be found in the 1780s & the 1790s concerning William’s business dealings, especially concerning slaves. Williams apparently never married & had no children, that is why his treasured pistols were left to friends & his monies he thought would be given to his slaves he intended to free, along w/ benefit of the Charleston orphan house.
PROVENANCE: Ex-Collection of Dr. C.G. Hopper (1925-2013)