North & Cheney Model 1799 Flintlock Pistol, First Model

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Physical Description:
This .72 caliber smoothbore, flintlock U.S. First Mode l 1799 pistol was made by North and Cheney. It has a brass frame trigger guard and buttcap, an iron backstrap, no forestock, a one piece walnut handle, and a steel ramrod with button head.
Under the brass frame, “S. NORTH & E. CHENEY BERLIN” is stamped. The barrel has a “P” on the left side and a “V” on the screw heads. Its serial number is “138”.
Simeon North and his brother-in-law Elisha Cheney went into business for a short period of time. They produced around 2,000 Model 1799 Contract Pistols in two contracts – the first, delivering 500 and the second, 1500. It was the first official model adopted by the U.S. government.
This first contract pistol was modeled after the Model 1777 French pistol. There are correspondence between North and the War department in 1801 and 1802 that verify shipments of these North and Cheney pistols.
This pistol has the serial number 138. It was sold to Summer Healey’s gun store in New York City in 1933. Joe Kindig, Jr. purchased it from the store. It was then purchased by Edwin Bitter. Bitter loaned this pistol to the White House and it hung in President Kennedy’s Oval Office.
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. 142.
Smith, Samuel E. and Edwin W. Bitter. Historic Pistols: The American Martial Flintlock 1760-1845, Scalamandre Publications, New York: 1986, p. 126.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1799
North, Simeon
Cheney, Elisha
place made
United States
Physical Description
metal (part material)
wood (part material)
overall: 14 1/2 in; 36.83 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