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Percussion dueling pistols with case and accessories (8)

Object Number: 
1925.116a-h
Date: 
1810-1820
Medium: 
Wood, iron, steel, wool, silver, brass
Dimensions: 
Case: 19 1/4 x 8 5/8 in. ( 48.9 x 21.9 cm ) Part (pistol length): 15 3/8 in. (39.1 cm) Part (barrel length): 10 in. (
Marks: 
stamped: lockplate centers: "BOOTH"; barrel breeches: "BOOTH/PHILA" engraved: escutcheon plate: "WB" (William Bainbridge?) engraved: case plate: "Como/Bainbridge"
Description: 
Wood, iron, steel, silver, and brass pair of percussion dueling pistols; French-style conversion to percussion system; browned octagon iron barrel with bladed front sight and forestock at muzzle; trumpet-head wooden ramrod; blued steel furniture with two ramrod pipes and pineapple trigger guard with engraved bird and floral design on bow; silver oval escutcheon plate with engraved foliate lettering; milled and other designs on lockplate border and barrel tang; brass oval with stamped inscription inlaid at center of lockplate, and two brass bands enclosing stamped brass octagon inlaid at breech end of barrel; checkered bag handle; rectangular, compartmented wooden case with green felt lining on interior, and hinged lid mounted at top center with circular brass plate with engraved foliate lettering enclosed by beaded border; box contains wooden ramrod with wooden ball at one end, one teardrop-shaped brass powder flask, one tapered, cylindrical brass powder flask, one small brass finial or screw, and a small iron key.
Gallery Label: 
According to accession records, these pistols belonged to U.S. Navy Commodore William Bainbridge, and were used by Commodores James Barron and Stephen Decatur in a duel at Bladensburg, Maryland on March 22, 1820 that ended with Decatur's death. Bainbridge's daughter later said that her father had deliberately lost the key to the case in order to prevent the duel, but that the case was broken open with a rock, and the duel continued.
Credit Line: 
Gift of the Naval History Society
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group