John Manton and Son Set of Percussion Dueling Pistols. John Manton is regarded as one of the most innovative English gunmakers of the late-18th and early 19th-centuries. His inventive spirit and desire for continued improvement challenged the designs of the old masters. Manton’s patents and new designs changed the gun industry not only from a manufacturing standpoint, but also for his gentlemanly clients.
About John Manton
John Manton was born in 1752 in Lincolnshire. He first began his career as a foreman to John Twigg. At the age of 29, Manton opened his own gun shop at No. 6 Dover Street. His business quickly prospered, and he had many elite patrons, such as the Royal Family. His sons became a part of the business as well, and the firm of John Manton and Son produced a wide range of guns for their most discerning clientele.
About these Dueling Pistols
One of the greatest technologies Manton refined was the accuracy of the dueling pistol. The inaccuracy of the dueling pistols as they were led to less wounds and deaths, and were designed for a quick draw. Manton wanted to improve the slow shot of the dueling pistol because of the increasingly popular event of target practice. Those who purchased these heavier barreled dueling pistols from Manton were at a clear advantage if they were to be caught defending their honor. Many gentleman would visit the shooting gallery of Manton to practice their slow shots, and refine their precision so that they could always be ready for a duel.
This pair of Manton and Son dueling pistols features large caliber smoothbore barrels, fixed blade and notch sights, and a high quality finish. Fish motifs are engraved on the hammers. The stocks are half length with horn forend caps and tear drop flats.
Manton’s reputation as a silversmith was on par with his reputation as a gunsmith. These pistols feature silver escutcheons and silver thumb plates that are engraved with griffins and the initials “AC.” The locks are marked “John Manton & Son Patent,” and the Damascus barrels are marked “John Manton and Son Dover Street.”
This pair of pistols features the concealed single set trigger mechanisms which allowed for deliberate aiming. Though the balance of the gun was often poor with the heavier barrel, the guns were very accurate. So accurate, that in 1824, the anonymous author of the British Code of Duel warned that the “decisive aim” of these types of dueling pistols was an unfair and dishonorable advantage in the dueling field.
Nonetheless, this style of dueling pistols became popular.
These pistols are in fantastic condition, showing signs of wear commensurate with age and use. Eighty-five percent of the original brown finish remains on the barrel, while over ninety percent of the original blue finish remains on the ramrod entry pipe and the trigger guard. Overall, there is a wonderful patina to this piece, and all of the engravings are crisp and readable.
Ten inch octagonal barrels, 15 inches in length.
This piece includes the original English fitted gun case with the original maker’s label on the interior. Also included is a cruciform multi-tool, two spare nipples, ram rod with multiple attachments, several lead balls, large cap tin, a patch, a powder flask, and a ball mold.
This is a truly remarkable piece of gun history.