Flintlock Pepperbox, Hand Rotated Four Barrel Cluster, .24-Claiber, Four Shot
Unknown Maker, Likely Experimental, American, English or Continental
Circa 1780-1820, ANY flintlock pepperbox is extremely rare - SOLD
Smooth smokey gray finish to all metal, nice old color to walnut stock. Boxlock with
safety; each pan slopes to left of touch hole facilitating the firing of top left barrel on
each occasion. Action is tight and smooth.
An Englishman named Nock patented the first flint pepperbox; he was about the only
maker of such weapons...he did not make many. When they come to market, they
generally bring $15,000 or more when in good condition. A few other English makers
are known who made Nock Patent guns and paid Nock a fee. There were a few
Continental makers who tried their hand at this concept but gave up. The inherent flaw
in these guns was the tendency to “chain fire” from one pan and barrel to the next.
Unexpectedly and dangerously.
This gun is a very small caliber and is only 4 shot. Overall it is considerably smaller
than the much larger Nock patent guns. It is quite simple in its lack of decoration and
flair; and so, it would be tempting to say it is American; however, it is more likely
European. We believe it was made as a prototype to assess usefulness and salability.
[probably failed on both counts]. The gun shows no sign of regular use, perhaps just a
test firing or two. It must have been very susceptible to the fatal flaw of all such
weapons - the “chain fire”.
The design is interesting, with the “ring” trigger (more common in the U.S.) and the
barrel release operated by pulling the trigger all the way back. The barrels are hand
rotated and locked in place by the trigger springing back to the forward position.
The pistol is certainly unique in the annals of firearms; we have never seen one like it in
many decades, in person or in any publication. (Overall length: 6.75”, barrel: 2”)