Dueling Pistol

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”.
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.
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
Currently not on view
Object Name
pistol, flintlock
date made
ca 1817
North, Simeon
Physical Description
metal (part material)
wood (part material)
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
place made
United States: Connecticut, Middletown
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
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
Additional Media

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