Virginia Manufactory Pistol 1st Model

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Physical Description:
This .69 caliber smoothbore flintlock First Model pistol was made by the Virginia Manufactory for the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is iron mounted and fastens at the forend with a double strap barrel band. This pistol has a large gooseneck hammer. It also has a brass blade sight brazed to the lower strap of the barrel band. The ramrod is iron with a bulbous head. It has been reconverted from percussion.
This pistol is stamped “VIRGINIA” under the pan and “MANUFACTORY” is script under Virginia. “RICHMOND/1808” is stamped at rear of lockplate. There is a raised “P” on the pistol.
The Virginia Manufactory is also known as the Richmond Armory and the Virginia State Armory. It was established by the Act of 1797 to manufacture arms for the state militia. It was built along the James River and was initially in production from 1802 through 1820. The man who was in charge of the armory was James Haslett. He was formerly employed by Robert McCormick. He was recommended for the job by Colonel John Shee, a surgeon from Philadelphia who served in the Third Pennsylvania Battalion. He wrote to the Governor of Virginia that they would “be enabled to engage Haslett…for the Richmond Armory.” The Armory reopened in 1860 for production during the Civil War.
This specific type of pistol is the largest American martial handgun ever made. The Virginia Manufactory cut down defective musket barrels from the iron mountings for these pistols. The raised “P” is in the place of typical Virginia regiment mark “4,V,A, REGT.”
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. 200.
Smith, Samuel E. and Edwin W. Bitter. Historic Pistols: The American Martial Flintlock 1760-1845, Scalamandre Publications, New York: 1986, p. 240.
Currently not on view
date made
associated date
Virginia State Armory
place made
United States: Virginia, Richmond
Physical Description
metal (part material)
wood (part material)
overall: 18 1/4 in; 46.355 cm
overall: 2 1/2 in x 18 1/4 in x 6 11/16 in; 6.35 cm x 46.355 cm x 16.9545 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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