COLLECTION: Mechanical Arts & Arms

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Pistol, one of a pair

1750-1770
Origin: Scotland, Doune
Barrel length; 6 3/4"
Iron/steel, silver
Acquired with gift funds from John A. Hyman
Acc. No. 2003-155,2
Label:Of the firearms produced in Great Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries, the all-metal pistols made in Scotland are certainly the most culturally distinctive. The uniquely Scottish features on this pair include metal stocks of the "ram's horn" or "scroll" buttstock form, belt hooks, silver inlays, hollow silver triggers & vent picks and boldly executed engraving on all components. Their maker, John Campbell, was part of a family whose gun production in Doune spanned from the end of the 17th century to the first decade of the 19th century, and is widely renowned today.

Although these pistols were quite capable of being used as weapons, their primary function was that of a piece of jewelry, instantly identifying its wearer as Scottish. John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore and last Royal Governor of Virginia, was portrayed by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1765 wearing a pistol strikingly similar to these two. Another nearly identical pair carried by General Israel Putnam during the American Revolution was captured on April 19, 1775 at Lexington & Concord from Major John Pitcairn of the British Marines, also a Scot.