The first fire arms were created in China after the Chinese invented black powder in the 9thcentury. The earliest depiction of a gun dates back to the 12th century and the oldest existing firearm is from around 1288. Before firing mechanisms were created the user would have to literally ignite the gun powder using a long wax stick. Indeed this was a most dangerous practice often resulting in an uncontrolled explosion. There are many documented texts detailing loss of life or limbs for the unfortunate individuals made to light them . Once the first firearms were introduced, gun technology advanced quite rapidly as various empires waged war. Since guns are widely collected, their history and early examples have been well-documented. This list contains some of the oldest and best examples of various early guns.
The pistol originates from Europe in the 16th Century, when early hand guns were being produced in Europe. The English word pistol was introduced in circa 1570 from the middle French word pistoled circa 1550. The earliest types were of the single shot flintlock specifications. The original French word pistoled actually means small concealed hand gun or knife.
The earliest pistols were the wheel lock type. These were essentially the first self Igniting firearms, which meant they could be fired effectively with one hand. The double barrelled wheel lock pistol made for King Childs way he is one of the earliest surviving pistols in the world, dating back to around 1540 to 1545.
As the technology of the early pistols was often unreliable, many wonderful derivatives were introduced that offered a backup of defence should the firing mechanism fail or the gunpowder fail to ignite. These typically included the axe pistol and the knife pistol.
These weapons were particularly favoured by pirates as often the gun powder became damp at sea so the axe / knife was used to defeat their enemies.
The pistol technology evolved to include revolvers which enabled the user to prime upto six shots ready to fire. This for obvious reasons was deadly and allowed its user to cause multiple fatalities in just one volley of rapid firing.
The oldest existing revolving pistols ever made was owned by Reichwein, a German officer during the 1650’s. Stamp marks on the gun provide definitive evidence that the revolver was created by Hans Stopler, a renowned German weapons black smith in 1597. The gun was made for someone of very high status and decorated with brass, bone and mother of Pearl. Unlike modern pistols the gun had to be manually rotated.
Other revolving pistols actually incorporated multiple barrels, enabling the user to fire off multiple shots after one priming. Again the barrel had to be manually turned after a shot for this type of pistol was genuinely more robust then the early revolver. As the self revolving pistols evolved so did their deadlines. The notorious London pepper box of the 1840’s was a typical example. Small enough to be concealed up ones sleeve but still more than capable of delivering a lethal dose of lead to multiple targets at close range, particularly favoured by highway men, gamblers and common criminals with no honour. Please see below the image of the replica London pepper box flintlock pistol we have in stock.
Unlike most gentlemen of the era who if a dispute arose that in anyway compromised his honour or that of his family a duel would ensue to settle the matter in an amicable fair way.
Before the invention of the pistol the weapons of choice would have been swords or rapiers. Combatants would typically meet at dawn in order to avoid the authorities, witnesses would be in attendance and usually a surgeon. Although it was illegal on the record the authorities used to turn a blind eye to such activities, most probably considering it the most practical and honourable way to settle such disputes amount the gentry of the day.
Upon the introduction of the pistol the duellists would be required to stand back to back take ten paces turn and fire. Due to the short distance many fatal mortal wounds would occur and on more than one occasion both parties would end up dying.
a pair of duelling replica flintlock pistols English Circa 1809 we stock
The first truly automatic pistol was invented by Samuel Colt in 1835 when he filed his first patent in London, then subsequently in the US a year later.
The pistols have continued to evolve but the basic firing mechanism has remained the same. In the 20th century with the outbreaks of two global wars the rise of the fully automatic weapons came to the forefront. With modern machine guns able to fire over a thousand rounds a minute, truly Devastating weapon that can now be wielded by one person.
At Scape we prefer to sell the replicas of the more traditional antique type of pistols, with their exquisite workmanship and fine attention to detail, utilising the best possible materials such as copper brass bronze Elmwood Oakwood pewter, with all night depictions of crest of arms another historical hieroglyphics.
Indeed although they are still deadly weapons, they see more to me like works of art also a true reflection of a nobleman’s prowess and confidence in an era of days gone by.
The pistols we sell are all exact replicas of the originals utilising the materials used by the master craftsman gunsmiths of the day. Below is just a small selection of what we have available, they are not toys, they are collectable items and should be cherished and passed down through the family generations for years to come.
Happy collecting! Love Scape xxx