A Superb & Very Rare Cased Pair of Best Quality Irish Flintlock Dueling Pistols by Robert McCormick, Dublin. Ex. Keith Neal Collection

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August 29, 2023

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A Superb & Very Rare Cased Pair of Best Quality Irish Flintlock Dueling Pistols by Robert McCormick, Dublin. Ex. Keith Neal Collection.


Cal. 52
S# 86 (on barrels under wood).

Robert McCormick is known to have been working in Belfast, Northern Ireland from 1792-94. He then moved to Dublin and pistols are known to be dated 1796. Were he received his training is not known however, his workmanship and attention to detail rank among the best of his era.

This lovely high quality pair of pistols have 10″ swamped octagon barrels of watered iron and are fitted with under ribs. Top flats engraved “McCORMICK – DUBLIN” are fitted with u-notch rear and barley corn front sights, dovetailed through. Gold bands are around breech ends and touch holes are gold lined. Bottoms of barrels (removed from stocks) are engraved “A.D. 1795, No. 86”, and are not proofed. Breech irons are engraved with scroll and crossed flags on tangs. Locks of the highest craftsmanship have ovolo mouldings around plates and edges of cocks in best style. Plates also have rebaited tails and are fitted with semi-waterproof pans, roller frizzens (rollers on frizzen tails) and blued feather springs having bulbous finials with teats. Serpentine cocks are beautifully filed with curled finials at tops and are held at half cock by back sliding safetys. Locks are engraved with stand of arms on tails, feather bursts behind fences and other sprays of minor scroll,  some of which surround “McCormick” engraved on gold ovals under pans. Triggers, with bulbous blades are “set” and trigger plates have stylized pineapple finials. Double beaded trigger guards are engraved with shields on bows. Stocks of dark root European walnut have fully checkered long bag grips ending in engraved steel caps. Oval silver crest plates at tops of grips are vacant except for some scrolled ribbon engraving at tops. Stocks mount to barrels with captive side bolts through engraved oval silver escutcheons. Ramrods mount through single pipes and engraved silver thimbles, rods are made of rosewood. One has horn tip and steel worm tail. The other, also with worm tail, has large brass tip. Removable top portion can be reinstalled on base portion and serves as a powder measure and loading aid to deliver powder directly to breech end of bore. This design originated with the famed Robert Wogdon.

The quality of these pistols cannot be overstated, extreme attention to detail can be seen in the impeccable engraving and fine finish with case hard locks, bright temper blue on small parts and charcoal blue on others. Internal inspection reveals very fancy filed outline to bridles and meticulous inletting.

UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: pistols are housed in their original Mahogany case with moulded edges and duel hook closure. Top is fitted with bale type carrying handle; bases are relief cast with beaded borders. Case is lined in dark green pilled cloth and bottom partitions fitted for pistols have central well holding red Morocco leather covered three compartment flask for powder, balls and patches. One open compartment holds Mahogany loading rod with ebony ball head and brass tail. Another contains nutcracker type round ball mould marked “No. 34” and a walnut handled combination turn screw. One covered compartment holds spare flints and unknown blued steel tool which fits ramrod with powder measure (possibly a ball puller as diameter of tool matches bore). Also in this compartment is a collection tag inscribed “William Keith-Neal Collection”. Another compartment holds tow, patches and balls, Corner of top is cut away as is bottom portion of compartment which holds a wonderful cut crystal glass oil bottle. Keith Neal calling card found in central compartment states “From the Collection of Charles Greener who got them from Colonel Playfair.” “Colonel Playfair obtained these pistol from the King Harman family in Ireland”.

CONDTION: exceptionally fine. Barrels retaining 80-90% original light brown finish showing off figure. Locks and breech irons retain about 90% case hardening color, nearly all temper blue remains on safetys, feather springs, sights and triggers. Trigger guards and other furniture retain nearly all their charcoal blue. Stocks retain nearly all of their oil finish with some scattered marks mostly on left sides associated with case wear. Bores are bright and shiny, locks and triggers are crisp. Exterior of case retains nearly all its original oil finish, interior cloth is very fine with some rubs and minor discoloration. Accessories are also very fine. Pistols are briefly described on page 122 of “Great British Gunmakers 1740-1790” by Neal and Back.


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