Thomas French 1814 Contract Pistol, Navy

Description
Physical Description:
This .69 caliber smoothbore flintlock Navy Pistol was made by Thomas French of Canton, Massachusetts between 1812 and 1814. The pistol is pin fastened with a walnut stock and has a wooden ramrod with a swelled tip. Its brass mountings include a brass butt cap. The unmarked barrel and belt hook are iron. The pistol is a bag grip.
“T. FRENCH” is stamped at the rear of the lockplate and an eagle over “US” is stamped under the flash pan. A horizontal “V” is stamped on the left side of the stock to the rear of the brass sideplate.
History:
In 1808, Thomas French and two other men received a contract to produce 4,000 Model 1808 muskets. By March 4, 1818, the Committee of Claims declared the contract had been fulfilled. During this time, French was also manufacturing pistols. Because of an inspector in Boston, French’s arms had to be “superior weapons” no matter the cost. The Committee of Claims ultimately issued a voucher to French for the additional cost in the production of these firearms.
The Model 1814 French Navy Pistol was manufactured for the U.S. Navy and American privateer merchant fleets in Massachusetts. It bares the same marks as the Model 1808 Muskets that were issued by the government, so it is likely they were used by the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812.
References:
Smith, Samuel E. and Edwin W. Bitter. Historic Pistols: The American Martial Flintlock 1760-1845, Scalamandre Publications, New York: 1986, p. 262.
Gardner, Robert E. Col. Small Arms Makers: A Directory of Fabricators of Firearms, Edged Weapons, Crossbows and Polearms, Crown Publishers Inc, New York: 1963, 69.
Flayderman, Norm. Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms…and their Values, Gun Digest Books, Iola, 2007. 9th edition.
Physical Description:
This .69 caliber smoothbore flintlock Navy Pistol was made by Thomas French of Canton, Massachusetts between 1812 and 1814. The pistol is pin fastened with a walnut stock and has a wooden ramrod with a swelled tip. Its brass mountings include a brass butt cap. The unmarked barrel and belt hook are iron. The pistol is a bag grip.
“T. FRENCH” is stamped at the rear of the lockplate and an eagle over “US” is stamped under the flash pan. A horizontal “V” is stamped on the left side of the stock to the rear of the brass sideplate.
History:
In 1808, Thomas French and two other men received a contract to produce 4,000 Model 1808 muskets. By March 4, 1818, the Committee of Claims declared the contract had been fulfilled. During this time, French was also manufacturing pistols. Because of an inspector in Boston, French’s arms had to be “superior weapons” no matter the cost. The Committee of Claims ultimately issued a voucher to French for the additional cost in the production of these firearms.
The Model 1814 French Navy Pistol was manufactured for the U.S. Navy and American privateer merchant fleets in Massachusetts. It bares the same marks as the Model 1808 Muskets that were issued by the government, so it is likely they were used by the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812.
References:
Smith, Samuel E. and Edwin W. Bitter. Historic Pistols: The American Martial Flintlock 1760-1845, Scalamandre Publications, New York: 1986, p. 262.
Gardner, Robert E. Col. Small Arms Makers: A Directory of Fabricators of Firearms, Edged Weapons, Crossbows and Polearms, Crown Publishers Inc, New York: 1963, 69.
Flayderman, Norm. Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms…and their Values, Gun Digest Books, Iola, 2007. 9th edition.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
pistol
pistol, flintlock
date made
ca 1814
maker
French, Thomas
Physical Description
iron (part material)
brass (part material)
wood (part material)
Measurements
overall: 16 in; 40.64 cm
overall: 2 3/8 in x 16 1/8 in x 6 1/4 in; 6.0325 cm x 40.9575 cm x 15.875 cm
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Canton
ID Number
1982.0785.13
accession number
1982.0785
catalog number
1982.0785.13
collector/donor number
P44D
subject
Military
The Bitter Collection of Firearms
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
The Bitter Collection of Firearms
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
The Adriana and Edwin W. Bitter Family Collection
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