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Brian Wolfe

Joseph Manton - Dueling Pistol

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Joseph Manton – Dueling Pistol

In my resent blog I made mention of the dueling pistol I had purchased from a dealer at the Christies Antiques Show held twice a year at the Christie Conservation Area just outside of Hamilton Ontario. I thought I would show it here rather than with the blog so that all those interested in firearms might have a better chance to see it. The pistol is marked “Manton Patent London” on the top of the barrel. The handle is aluminum throwing the weight of the piece toward the barrel. The grip has a piece that protrudes backwards over the hand, causing this style to be called the “saw handle” grip. The trigger guard has a spur for the second finger of the hand which further helps to make this a very accurate and well controllable weapon. The total length of the pistol is 9½ (23½ cm.) inches with a ½ bore (12 mm). This particular pistol would have been made around 1830.

If you notice there seems to be a slight deflection of the barrel “downwards” as compared with the line of the grip. This is intentional to produce a pistol that has a more natural feel and pointing ability. That is to say, when you direct your hand toward the target the line of the barrel and therefore the shot is naturally horizontal with the ground so that you can hit what you are aiming at more easily. At the usual ten or twenty paces you don’t have a lot to worry about concerning bullet trajectory, there’s more to worry about with hitting the target altogether with these smooth bore pistols. There were some manufactures who produced a “scratch bore” pistol with the intention that is would be more accurate. As the name implies the bore was spirally scratched to produce a spin to the projectile. This never became popular and no serious duelist or proper gentleman would consider using a scratch bore dueling pistol as it was simply not sporting, old boy.

The hammer draw is quite light compared with the other black powder pistols both flintlock and percussion (which this one is) that one encounters. This specimen has what could only be considered a “hair trigger” as the slightest touch will set the firearm off. All of these features combine to make the perfect killing machine.

For more information on the interesting life of Joseph Manton I would suggest you take the time to check out the article on Wikipedia.

Regards

Brian

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Here is a view of the engraving on the butt and trigger guard as well as the name engraved on the top of the barrel.

From what I read these pistols were made by another company, inder the Manton Patent, after the financial failure of the Manton company. Therefore the date of manufacturer of this piece could be closer to the end of the era when dueling was considered proper.

Regards

Brian

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Veeeeeery nice toy.... have you tried firing a black powder charge from it? Would be very interesting to see on youtube!

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Brian - A lovely pistol - what a pity it is separated from it's pair.

I regret that I must make two comments - the grip is not aluminium - this was not available until the

1880's. I would say from it's appearance that it is brass. The other point is that to be a duelling pistol

- and it is a British maker - then it has to be pre 1810 (I think that was when duelling was outlawed - perhaps

earlier ?). There were examples of percussion even at that time - but expensive. Mervyn

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Thank you Mervyn,

This is important information and it is most appreciated.

Regards

Brian

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I actually own two of these Manton pistols , they are a matching set (pistols only) and they are not brass nor are they aluminum but instead, nickel silver and were produced in the 1770's 

I am looking to sell them 

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Thank you for your comment and additional information, it is greatly appreciated.  I must admit to being surprised that these were produced in the 1770's as mine has been manufactured as a percussion firearm and not a conversion from flintlock.  Possibly there were not indeed dueling pistols but rather made as "target" pistols?  If your dating is correct then I would think they were indeed made as dueling pistols.  I do like your dating much better.;)

Regards

Brian

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Hello Everyone,

One of the main purposes of any forum in my, less than humble, opinion is to advance the knowledge of a given subject.  I must admit to having been rather remiss in the resent past in advancing this aim.  This is not in way of an apology as I will not alibi any action or lack thereof due to circumstances beyond my control.  With this in mind I would like to look deeper into the subject of this post and the probable dating of the Joseph Manton “dueling” pistol.  Taking into consideration Mervin’s point I think the pistol pictured is more than likely a target pistol rather than a dueling pistol.  However the act of dueling did linger on until the mid 1800’s even though to kill another, even in a duel, could result in the charge of murder.  The passing of any law is not necessarily a guarantee the action will cease.  After all, one of the points of one of the oldest codes of conduct (apparently there were ten points altogether) has done little to put a lid on adultery.  So it would stand to reason that “wigs on the green” would continue regardless of legislation.

Considering any boxed set of pistols is often referred to as “dueling pistols” when in fact they are not and were never meant to be used in the act of dueling I am now confident that the pistol in question is a target pistol.  This likely hood (IMO) is fortified by the historical fact that Joseph Manton was an enthusiastic practitioner of the sport of target shooting. 

I have not had the luxury of seeing photos of the set of pistols mentioned in an earlier post by Rodrigo. Therefore I will, due to this restriction, have to assume they are the same as the one I have offered up for consideration.  If we look at Rodrigo’s suggested date of manufacture as the 1770’s then I believe applying the test of Terminus post quem (TPQ), or the earliest time an event may have happened, negates this as Joseph Manton did not start his own business until 1789.  If we want to “bracket” this with the last date the event could have happened, or Terminus ante quem (TAQ) then we would be looking at 1826 when he went bankrupt. So here we are looking at a date between 1789 and 1826.

 

If we take into consideration that the pistol I posted is a percussion cap ignition (also known as the “percussion lock) then we may be able to narrow the time period down a bit more.  The discovery of fulminate of mercury in 1800 by Edward Charles Howard made it possible for the invention of the percussion ignition system.  It was the Rev. Alexander John Forsyth of Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland who patented the use of a tube with one end sealed off and the tube fill with fulminates of mercury as an ignition system in 1807 that led to the percussion system we recognize today. It might also be interesting to note here that all modern cartridge ammunition uses a similar method of igniting the charge in the in the round’s casing. 

It was not until 1842, after extensive testing by the board of ordnance in 1833, that the British military adapted the percussion lock for use with the “Brown Bess”.  This date can be ignored as private sale of newly invented ideas were always sold to the public well ahead of military use; unlike today.  I just thought I would add this information here.

Armed with these recorded historical events of the invention of the percussion cap in 1807 and Joseph Manton’s bankruptcy date of 1826 we can apply TPQ and TAQ to say that the pistol had to have been made some time between those two dates. 

A time-span of nineteen years is not as finite as I would like and perhaps someone reading this entry will shed more light on the subject.

Regards

Brian

 

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Brian, here are a couple of interesting paragraphs from:

The Book of the Pistol and Revolver by Hugh B. C. Pollard

"The principle of ignition by percussion attracted universal attention, and gunsmiths in all parts of the world turned their attention to the matter. The result was a series of devices—detonating pellets, tubes, pastilles, and paper caps, as used in toy pistols to-day, or in connected tapes or strings for special primers. All were tried and abandoned in favor of the copper percussion cap, which many makers claim to have invented. Colonel Hawker claims it for Joseph Manton; Mr. Walker, of Philadelphia, has a good right to it! Egg also claimed it, as did many other makers of renown, but by 1815 the copper cap was in limited use on high-class private arms."

"At this time, too, the saw-handle dueling pistol came into favor, but this type of handle, in which the shape was exactly like a tenon saw, was not popular for other uses. I have seen a small pair of all-metal saw-handle pieces with belt hangers and stirrup ramrods by Manton—not Joe Manton, but his successors; but these were probably a special order executed possibly for an officer of the East India Company, as the style was similar to weapons popular in the Indies."

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Thanks for the additional information Hardy. Interesting how so many people claimed to have invented the copper tube device, which tends to cloud accurate historical records today; or perhaps it was a case of parallel evolution.  With all of the ills of social medial we hear about having almost universal sharing of events and discoveries may lessen this problem.

Regards

Brian

 

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Brian, Rodrigo here. 

In response to your note regarding the matching Manton pistols I should like to forward some photos. 

You can respond directly to my email at 

 Dimondbuti59@gmail.com 

Best regards, Rodrigo ~

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Brian, Rodrigo here. 

In response to your note regarding the matching Manton pistols I should like to forward some photos. 

You can respond directly to my email at 

 Dimondbuti59@gmail.com 

Best regards, Rodrigo ~

Here you go ! 

Best regards, Rodrigo 

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Here's my pair complete with belt clips , I've heard them described as Scottish Officers Pistols as well as target pistols . They are indeed nickel silver . I have also seen a pair of similar pistols with a cleaning kit fitted in the butt , had a look in mine but it's not fitted out for a cleaning kit . 

 

Cheers Rick

IMG_0994.JPG

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