A Fine Cased Pair Of French 40-Bore Percussion Duelling Or Target Pistols Formerly Belonging To James Duff, 4th Earl Of Fife, Distinguished General In The Peninsula Wars, And Grandee Of Spain
Lot 386
A Fine Cased Pair Of French 40-Bore Percussion Duelling Or Target Pistols Formerly Belonging To James Duff, 4th Earl Of Fife, Distinguished General In The Peninsula Wars, And Grandee Of Spain
By Le Page Arqer Du Roi A Paris, No. 2940, Dated 1825
Sold for £21,000 (US$ 27,691) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Fine Cased Pair Of French 40-Bore Percussion Duelling Or Target Pistols Formerly Belonging To James Duff, 4th Earl Of Fife, Distinguished General In The Peninsula Wars, And Grandee Of Spain
By Le Page Arqer Du Roi A Paris, No. 2940, Dated 1825
With browned octagonal sighted barrels each swamped and inlaid with a gold band at the muzzle, numbered '1' and '2' in gold respectively, and signed in gold between 'Acier' 'Fondu' each within two colour gold ovals, breeches each inlaid with gold lines and a foliate band in two colour gold, dated foliate engraved case-hardened tangs numbered '1' and '2' in gold respectively, foliate engraved case-hardened detented locks each signed in gold within a gold oval bordered by yellow gold dots, the tails engraved with classical arms, the hammers each with a winged dragon, figured half-stocks each carved with a shell on the fore-end, chequered rounded butts each with a moulded dark horn pommel (one chipped) set with a case-hardened fluted steel cap, case-hardened spur trigger-guards each engraved with foliage and a flaming torch on the bow, case-hardened trigger-plates each with finial engraved as a close-helmet above a shield, pierced gold garter escutcheons engraved with owner's motto 'Deo Juvante', centred on a gold gothic 'F' and surmounted by an Earl's coronet, set triggers, and some original finish: in original brass-mounted fitted case veneered in figured mahogany, lined in blue velvet and red morocco with tooled and gilt borders, and with full accessories including case-hardened bullet mould serial numbered to the pistols, ebony and ivory flask, steel oil bottle of octagonal section, and horn-mounted cleaning rod and ramrod, the exterior of the lid inlaid in brass en suite with the escutcheons
21.5 cm. barrels


  • James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife was born on 6 October 1776. While living with his uncle at Fyfe House in London he attended Westminster School until the age of fourteen and afterwards entered Lincoln's Inn as a law student until 1795 when he became a Major in the 88th Regiment of Foot. In 1796 at the age of twenty one, with an income of £500 per annum, he joined the Army on the Continent. He returned to England in 1798 and the following year married Marie Caroline Manners whose mother was Lady Louisa Murray, later Countess of Dysart. In 1800 he was given command of the Banff and Inverness Militia, however his wife died in 1805 as a consequence of being bitten by the family Newfoundland dog, and this led to his travelling abroad where he was taken prisoner in Paris by the French. Following his release in 1806 he went to Vienna and joined the Austrian Army as a volunteer officer under the Archduke Charles seeing action at Wertingen, Ulm, Gunsberg, Augsburg, Munich and Austerlitz. In 1808 he sailed for Cadiz and with the encouragement of his relative, the Consul Sir James Duff, he joined the Spanish army. He spent the next four years fighting the French with great distinction and took part in the Battle of Talavera (1809) where he was wounded by a sabre cut to the neck while saving the life of a Spanish officer. On 10 February 1810 he took an active part at the Storming of Fort Matagorde on the Isle de Leon near Cadiz and it was here that he was severely wounded again saving the Spanish regimental colour. Following a period of convalescence with his cousin the British Consul in Cadiz he was involved with a number of the other expeditions including Tariffa, where he accompanied Lord Lynedoch, the battle of Burossa, and was at Algeciras. He became the 4th Earl of Fife on the death of his father in April 1811 however it was not until 1813 that he left Spain. His departure from the Peninsula was much lamented by all who had known him and it was at this time that the Marquis Wellesley presented him with a jewelled gold-hilted sword, believed to have been taken from Tipu Sultan in India, in recognition of the meritorious services he had rendered to the cause of the Spaniards. The Cortes conferred on him the rank of General and made him a Knight of the order of St. Ferdinand. On his return to London he was received with great enthusiasm and the Prince Regent, a lifelong friend, appointed him Lord of the Bedchamber. In 1818 he was elected member of Parliament for Banffshire and in 1827, the same year he was made a Knight of the Thistle, he was created a peer as Lord Fife. He retired to Duff House, Banffshire in 1833 where he became greatly interested in the care of his estates and tenantry by whom he was much beloved. He died at Duff House on 9 March 1857

    After the defeat of Napoleon's armies cased pairs of Parisian pistols by the Emperor's gunmakers were favoured by famous 19th Century British figures with prominent military careers. These include the Duke of Wellington (LePage), Lord Lynedoch (Boutet), and the Earl of Lucan (LePage)
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