An Exceptional Cased Pair Of Indian 28-Bore Silver-Mounted Flintlock Pistols With Silver Barrels And Lock-Plates
Lot 56
An Exceptional Cased Pair Of Indian 28-Bore Silver-Mounted Flintlock Pistols With Silver Barrels And Lock-Plates
Sold for £58,850 (US$ 71,864) inc. premium

Lot Details
An Exceptional Cased Pair Of Indian 28-Bore Silver-Mounted Flintlock Pistols With Silver Barrels And Lock-Plates An Exceptional Cased Pair Of Indian 28-Bore Silver-Mounted Flintlock Pistols With Silver Barrels And Lock-Plates An Exceptional Cased Pair Of Indian 28-Bore Silver-Mounted Flintlock Pistols With Silver Barrels And Lock-Plates An Exceptional Cased Pair Of Indian 28-Bore Silver-Mounted Flintlock Pistols With Silver Barrels And Lock-Plates A cased pair of silver mounted flintlock pistols Lucknow
An Exceptional Cased Pair Of Indian 28-Bore Silver-Mounted Flintlock Pistols With Silver Barrels And Lock-Plates
Signed L. Col. Claude. Martin, Lucknow Arsenal, Circa 1785
With fixed slightly swamped three-stage cannon barrels signed respectively 'L. Col. Claude. Martin' and 'Lucknow Arsenal' on the top flat of the breech and chased in low relief over most of their length with rocailles, flowers and foliage against a fish-roe ground retaining traces of gilding, and engraved on the central section with a martial trophy, shaped iron tangs cut with rocailles, flowers and foliage all on a gilt fish-roe ground, rounded locks engraved with scrollwork, flowers and foliage, retaining faint traces of gilding and with a martial trophy on each tail, and a central vacant cartouche, the pans each with raised lip, large engraved concealed silver safety-catches also locking the steels, engraved iron cocks and steels each chiselled in relief against a gilt fish-roe ground, the steels (one chipped) each with roller bearing on a steel-spring with small acorn finial, and engraved with a border of beadwork on a gilt ground around the pan-cover, moulded half-stocks of Indian hardwood inlaid with silver wire scrollwork and engraved silver flower-heads, and carved in relief with a shell behind each lock and side-plate and with shells, scrollwork and a trophy of arms at the barrel tang, all the carving heightened with silver, the back of each butt inlaid with a silver plaque engraved with a seated male figure in European attire below a turban, mounts in the French taste, cast and chased in relief with shells, scrolls, flowers and foliage, all on a fish-roe ground retaining traces of gilding and comprising shaped solid side-plates, escutcheons involving swags centred on a sacred heart and surmounted by a basket of flowers, spurred pommels inhabited by birds and with Diana and Actaeon on each side, both in Classical costume and in a landscape, ovoidal pommel-caps each centred on an eagle, trigger-guards, shaped silver fore-end caps engraved with scrolls, single sliding iron ramrod-pipes also retaining the barrels, blued set triggers, blued trigger-plates, and original silver-tipped ramrods, one with iron worm and the other with pierced iron ferrule (one pistol with repaired butt and small chip behind the lock): in their English lined and fitted mahogany case (one corner chipped) with English silver-plated powder-flask, the exterior of the lid with flush-fitting carrying handle with central escutcheon engraved with owner's monogram 'AR', his crest above
20.2 cm. barrels


  • Provenance:
    Believed to have been presented to Lt. Col. Alexander Ross by Lt. Col. Claude Martin in 1792

    Alexander Ross (1742-1827) was the youngest of five sons of Ross of Auchlossin. He entered the army as an Ensign in the 50th Foot in 1760, attaining the rank of Lieutenant a year later. His military record notes him as having served 'in all the actions after the beginning of the year 1760, with the allied army in Germany' during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). In 1764 he purchased his rank with full pay in the 45th Foot, being promoted to the rank of Captain in 1775. During the American War of Independence he served as Captain of Grenadiers, participating in all of the principal actions before becoming Aide-de-Camp to Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquis Cornwallis, one of the key British commanders of the campaign. After the battle of Camden, South Carolina, in August 1780, Cornwallis sent Ross to England with the despatches, recommending Ross as 'a very deserving officer' to the Secretary of State for the American Colonies, Lord George Germain and worthy of his patronage. He was raised to the rank of Major in 1781, and returned to America in time to serve at the Siege of Yorktown where, alongside Colonel Thomas Dundas, he was one of the two British participants at the negotiations for the surrender of the town.

    Cornwallis' surrender resulted in his being placed on parole until the close of hostilities. He remained as such despite the efforts of Ross, who travelled to Paris in 1782 in an attempt to exchange an American diplomat in return for Cornwallis' release from parole. Ross was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1783, shortly after the end of the war, and appointed Deputy Adjutant-General in Scotland. He was later transferred to the post of Adjutant-General in India after Cornwallis was appointed Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief there in 1786. He appears to have remained in this post until about 1794, during which time he 'was present in every action that took place', including the Third Anglo-Mysore War (1789-92) against Tipu Sultan, serving alongside Lieutenant-Colonel Claude Martin who was acting as an Aide-de-Camp to Cornwallis.

    Cornwallis and Ross appear to have returned to England together, the latter having been promoted to Colonel the previous year and appointed Aide-de-Camp to King George III. That same year he was sent as military adviser on a mission to Vienna to discuss the possibility of placing the emperor's forces under Cornwallis' command, accompanying Earl Spencer and Thomas Grenville. Ross protested strongly, as he was about to return to Scotland on private matters, but was talked round by William Pitt and Thomas Dundas, although the mission eventually proved unsuccessful. He received the rank of Major-General in 1795 and followed Cornwallis, now Master of the Ordnance, to Warley Camp, where he was appointed Surveyor-General of Ordnance in succession to the Earl of Berkeley, and whilst holding this post married Isabella Evelyn. He was made Lieutenant-Colonel of the 76th Foot in 1795, Colonel of the 89th in 1797, and then of the 59th in 1801, and expressed the wish to retire along with his old commander that year. However, Cornwallis prevailed upon him to remain in service, and the following year he was appointed Lieutenant-General, finally attaining the rank of General in 1812 and later being made Governor of Forts George and Augustus in Scotland. On his retirement he leased Lamer Park in Hertfordshire, and in 1826, the year before his death, was granted the crest of an upright branch of myrtle or laurel. His only son, Charles, went on to marry Cornwallis' grand-daughter and to edit Cornwallis' correspondence, published in 1859, in which he described his father as Cornwallis' 'most intimate friend'

    Thence by family descent

    Howard L. Blackmore, 'General Claude Martin, Master Gunmaker', The Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting, vol. 27, no. 1 (February 1989), p. 10, pl. 12-13
    Robert Elgood, Firearms Of The Islamic World ..., 1995, p. 162
    Stephen Markel, The Art Of Courtly Lucknow, exhibition catalogue, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2011, pp. 57 and 257, no. 111 (illustrated)
    Idem, Une Cour Royale En Inde: Lucknow ..., exhibition catalogue, Grand Palais, Paris, 2011, pp. 57 and 258, no. 116 (illustrated)

    The National Army Museum, London, until 1997
    Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 12 December 2010-27 February 2011
    Musée National des Arts asiatiques-Guimet, Paris, 6 April-11 July 2011

    These pistols are almost identical to the uncased pair sold by the Hon. R.H.C. Neville (removed from Audley End) at Christie's London, Fine Antique Arms, 20 April 1977, lot 166 (£11,000 including premium). See J.F. Hayward, The Art of the Gunmaker, vol. II, 1963, pp. 204 and 207; Howard Ricketts, Firearms, 1962, p. 88 (pl. 94) and covers; and Howard L. Blackmore, 'General Claude Martin, Master Gunmaker', The Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting, vol. 27, no. 1 (February 1989), p. 10, pls. 10-11

    The decoration on both pairs is remarkably similar to that on the pair of Heylin pistols offered as lot 318 in this sale, and as the Heylins predate them by nearly twenty years, it seems very likely these (or possibly another pair of Heylins like them) served as the model for the Lucknow pairs

    Claude Martin was born in 1735 in Lyons, the son of a cooper. He served with the French army 1752-60, when he deserted in India and joined the East India Company forces. Commissioned as Ensign in 1763, he was promoted Captain and appointed Superintendent of Artillery and Arsenals to the Nawab of Oudh. With the rank of Major he established the Lucknow Arsenal in 1779. Under his supervision and training a number of fine arms were produced by European and native armourers, examples of which are in the collections of the Royal Armouries, Leeds. He reached the rank of Major General and died at Lucknow in 1800. For further information on Claude Martin, patron of Zoffany and founder of La Martinière College, see Howard L. Blackmore, op. cit., pp. 3-12
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  1. David Williams
    Specialist - Arms and Armor
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
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