A Fine And Very Rare Pair Of 80-Bore German 'Flintlock' Sporting Air Pistols
Lot 61*
A Fine And Very Rare Pair Of 80-Bore German 'Flintlock' Sporting Air Pistols
Sold for £22,200 (US$ 37,314) inc. premium
Lot Details
A Fine And Very Rare Pair Of 80-Bore German 'Flintlock' Sporting Air Pistols
By Friedrich Jakob Bosler A Darmstadt, Circa 1740-50
With swamped barrels in two stages divided by a turned and pearled girdle, cut with seven grooves and with silver fore-sight and iron standing back-sight, the octagonal breech sections signed in full on the top flat and finely engraved at the rear with a panel of interlaced strapwork on a dotted ground based on a design on the title page of the De Lacollombe pattern book of 1730, flanked on each side by a panel of running scrollwork, shaped border engraved tangs each engraved with a bow and a quiver of arrows, flat bevelled locks engraved with scrollwork and a monster-head and with Diana in her chariot drawn by a stag, moulded figured walnut full stocks carved in relief with rococo sprays of flowers and foliage, centred on a rocaille behind the barrel tang, brass mounts finely engraved in the French manner, shaped side-plates bearing the steel safety-catches, turn-off butts enclosing the skilfully concealed air reservoirs, large rounded brass pommels each engraved with a bust of Mars and a martial trophy, turned and fluted brass ramrod-pipes, horn fore-end caps, and original horn-tipped ramrods, in fine condition throughout: together with their iron pump, and various iron and brass adaptors for pumping up these pistols and other air weapons (a lot)
19 in. (48.2 cm.)


  • Provenance:
    F. Theodore Dexter
    G.P. Jenkinson

    F. Theodore Dexter, Forty-Two Years' Scrapbook of Rare Ancient Firearms, p. 43

    Johann Peter Bosler (d. 1742) and his son Friedrich Jakob worked in succession as court gunmakers in Darmstadt. Like his father, Friedrich specialised in air weapons, many of which remain at Kranichstein, including a pair of pistols very similar to the present pair. The guns and rifles far outnumber the pistols, which are a tour de force of the gunmaker's art

    Landgrave Ludwig VIII, for whom these pistols were no doubt made, was a most ardent lover of air weapons. A game book in the Schloßmuseum, Darmstadt records a 'specification of all the curious shots which His Serene Highness... has fired since 1742... with airgun as in other ways, which here is collected with great care'. The kills are listed on several hundred pages, each with a poem and a painting of the quarry, usually by the Hofjadgmaler (court hunt-painter) Georg Adam Eger. One page (7 June 1749) describes a buck killed with an air rifle at 154 paces (see illustration). In 1747 he killed a 22-point stag weighing 480 lb., and in 1749 over 100 wild boar, all with his air rifles. The inventory of Ludwig's possessions made after his death includes fifteen air guns and four pairs of air pistols. See Arne Hoff, Airguns and Other Pneumatic Weapons, pp. 49-53 and 55
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