Holster Pistol

Physical Description:
This .38 caliber rifled flintlock pistol was made by Thomas Earle of Leicester, Massachusetts. It is pin fastened with brass mountings. It has a light colored fruitwood stock with horn tipped forend and floral pattern carvings around the barrel tang.
A raised “TE” in a sunken oval is stamped on the left side of the barrel. The lockplate is stamped “T. EARL.”
Thomas Earle was a prominent American gunsmith during the late 18th century. He was in business from 1770 through 1790. His factory was often frequented due to its location on the Great Post Road in between Boston and Philadelphia.
The appearance of this pistol is unusual for the time period. The butt cap has an English Cavalry appearance while the lock and trigger have a German influence. It is possible Earle studied his trade in Europe and England.
This pistol is also unique because it is the only known pistol signed by Earl. He was known to sign his long arms. There are four other fowling pieces and one fusil piece that bear his signature, but this example is the only pistol.
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, p. 57.
Smith, Samuel E. and Edwin W. Bitter. Historic Pistols: The American Martial Flintlock 1760-1845, Scalamandre Publications, New York: 1986, p. 62.
Currently not on view
Object Name
pistol, flintlock
date made
ca 1780
Earle, Thomas
Physical Description
metal (part material)
wood (part material)
overall: 14 1/8 in; 35.8775 cm
overall: 14 1/8 in x 5 1/2 in x 2 in; 35.8775 cm x 13.97 cm x 5.08 cm
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Leicester
associated place
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

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.