Model 1808 Boarding Pistol

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Physical Description:
This .64 caliber smoothbore flintlock U.S. reconverted boarding pistol was made by Thomas French of Canton, Massachusetts under Massachusetts state contract. It has a full walnut stock and a wooden ramrod with a flared brass tip. It is pin mounted with gooseneck hammer, brass mountings, iron flash pan, and an iron belt hook. It also has a distinct teat at rear of lockplate.
It is stamped “T. FRENCH” under an eagle over “US” on the lockplate. The barrel is stamped “WNY” and the stock is stamped “MARSH/MA/V.”
In 1808, Thomas French and two other men received a contract to produce 4,000 Model 1808 muskets. It is likely this pistol was most likely made for use during the War of 1812 during the fulfillment of this contract. Because of an inspector in Boston, French’s guns 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.
This particular pistol however is unique because of the “WNY” stamp. It stands for the Washington Navy Yard. The stamp “MARSH” is thought to be an abbreviation of an inspector’s name. This same stamp appears on many Washington Navy Yard pistols made during this time period.
Flayderman, Norm. Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms…and their Values, Gun Digest Books, Iola, 2007. 9th edition
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.
Smith, Samuel E. and Edwin W. Bitter. Historic Pistols: The American Martial Flintlock 1760-1845, Scalamandre Publications, New York: 1986, p. 260.
Currently not on view
date made
French, Thomas
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Canton
Physical Description
wood (part material)
metal (part material)
overall: 16 1/4 in; 41.275 cm
overall: 2 3/8 in x 16 1/2 in x 6 1/2 in; 6.0325 cm x 41.91 cm x 16.51 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
The Adriana and Edwin W. Bitter Family Collection
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
The Bitter Collection of Firearms
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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