Dueling Pistol

Description
Physical Description:
This .52 caliber smoothbore flintlock dueling pistol was made by Simeon North. It has a browned octagonal barrel with blued breech inlaid, gold bands and a cartouche. It has a silver and blued mounted, half-cock safety behind the hammer. This pistol also has an iron front sight and open back sight. It has a finely engraved trigger guard and barrel tang but the silver oval escutcheon behind the tang is not engraved. There are finely checkered grips and horn tipped stocks with a wooden ramrod and horn tip.
The only stamped engraving on the gun is on the lockplate. Under the flashpan is the stamp “S. North”.
History:
In 1804, duels were common practice in America. It was a way for men from all walks of life to defend their honor. The process begins when one man offends another. He then has an intermediary called a Second challenge the offender to a duel. If he accepts, the offender then chooses the weapon.
Because of the Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Duel, the popular weapon of choice was a large caliber smoothbore pistol like Simeon North’s Model 1817. This gun was chosen for many reasons. Between the years 1750-1850, it was common for a man in America to own a pair of pistols similar to this type. Also the smoothbore makes the gun relatively inaccurate -- duels did not always result with a death.
References:
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, 142.
Pbs.org. “History of Dueling in American,” The American Experience. .
Hussey, Jeannette. The Code Duello. National Portrait Gallery: Washington: 1980
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1817
maker
North, Simeon
place made
United States: Connecticut, Middletown
Physical Description
metal (part material)
wood (part material)
Measurements
overall: 15 3/8 in; 39.0525 cm
overall: 15 7/8 in x 6 1/2 in x 1 5/8 in; 40.3225 cm x 16.51 cm x 4.1275 cm
ID Number
1983.0777.11
accession number
1983.0777
catalog number
1983.0777.11
collector/donor number
P138L
Credit Line
The Adriana and Edwin W. Bitter Family Collection
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
Military
The Bitter Collection of Firearms
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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