PennsylvaniaKentucky Pistol

Pennsylvania/Kentucky Pistol

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Physical Description:
This.54 caliber smoothbore “Kentucky” pistol was assembled by Melchior Fordney. The stock is curly maple, stained with a piano finish. The curved grip has a brass butt cap with a rear extension towards the tang. The brass trigger guard has an English acorn finial with a French front bar. It has two brass ramrod thimbles with two brass side plates.
It is stamped “C.Arb” on the barrel. “J/Holland” is stamped on the lock. There is a stamp of “IB” possibly for J. Bonewitz.
Melchior Fordney made pistols and rifles in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from 1807 to 1843. He was famous for his Kentucky rifles. His life and career were cut short in 1843 when he was killed with an ax by a Baptist Preacher named John Haggerty. Apparently, Haggerty he did not approve of the fact that Fordney lived with a woman outside of wedlock.
Fordney’s work often had very elaborate detailing and was made one at a time when he was not contracted by the government. This pistol, because of its large size and lack of “C” stamp, is believed to be one of the later pistols of Fordney’s work.
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. 66
Smith, Samuel E. and Edwin W. Bitter. Historic Pistols: The American Martial Flintlock 1760-1845, Scalamandre Publications, New York: 1986, p. 308.
Currently not on view
Object Name
pistol, flintlock
Other Terms
pistol; Firearms; Flintlock;.52 In; Rifled; Muzzle Load; Sa
date made
ca 1815
Fordney, Melchior
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Lancaster
associated place
United States: Kentucky
Physical Description
metal (part material)
wood (part material)
overall: 15 3/4 in; 40.005 cm
overall: 15 3/4 in x 6 5/16 in x 2 in; 40.005 cm x 16.0655 cm x 5.08 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
The Adriana and Edwin W. Bitter Family Collection
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military
The Bitter Collection of Firearms
Industry & Manufacturing
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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