A Rare Cased Pair of French 54 Bore Percussion Breech Loading Target Pistols by Gastinne Renette of Paris, dated 1888. With blued octagonal sighted barrels sliding forward for loading and each with fluted central section engraved Inv.on Gastinne-Renette A Paris and numbered 1 and 2 respectively along the top flat, the angles with line engraved borders, and rifled with twelve grooves, the bottom flats stamped with the makers name, serial number and date, case-hardened tangs finely engraved with foliate scrollwork and numbered respectively 1 and 2, signed border engraved case-hardened detented locks, hammers, side-nail plates, barrel-bolt escutcheons and rounded pommels all en suite, the last each with button terminal, highly figured half-stocks each with chequered rounded butt, blued spur trigger-guards, barrel levers engraved with foliate scrollwork and each with encrusted gold foliate X on the bow, gold escutcheons (one missing) engraved with owners crest and motto, and in fine condition.
In original mahogany case fitted and lined in blue baize with full accessories including Dixon & Sons powder-flask with split-ring for suspension and retaining much of its original lacquered finish, and engraved steel bullet mould, the interior of the lid stamped with makers details in gilt letters, the exterior (some scratches to varnish) with shield-shaped brass escutcheon engraved with owners crest and motto above R.D. Taaffe.
The firm of Gastinnne-Renette was probably the leading Parisian maker of target and duelling pistols in the 19th Century and won medals at the Paris exhibitions of 1839 and 1844, as well as holding appointments to Napoleon III and the King of Spain. Up to the outbreak of the first World War duelling lessons were still available at the firms premises in the Champs-Elysées, where it is still represented to this day. The crest and motto is that of the Taaffe family, probably for the descendants of the family branch of Grayfield, Co. Mayo, Ireland.
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